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Garden Route (Tsitsikamma, Knysna, Wilderness) National Park

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This page displays all information relevant to this park/camp, except the following:

Introduction

Along the South Coast of South Africa lies one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world, home to the Garden Route National Park.

A mosaic of ecosystems, it encompasses the world renowned Tsitsikamma and Wilderness sections, the Knysna Lake section, a variety of mountain catchment, Southern Cape indigenous forest and associated Fynbos areas. These areas resemble a montage of landscapes and seascapes, from ocean to mountain areas, and are renowned for its diverse natural and cultural heritage resources.

Managed by South African National Parks, it hosts a variety of accommodation options, activities and places of interest. A jewel in South Africa’s crown, the Park is a prime example of the country’s unique fauna and flora and will offer unforgettable views and life-long memories.



 

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Accommodation

General

  • You can choose to stay in a number of different accommodation units in the three different camps, Storms River (Tsitsikamma Section), Nature's Valley (Tsitsikamma Section) and Wilderness (Wilderness Section). To view this accommodation, simply select a camp and then view 'availability' on the left hand navigation bar in order to see what the units the camp offers.

  • You can book and pay for accommodation online or contact reservations.
  • All accommodation, ablution and kitchen facilities are serviced by cleaning staff on a daily basis.
  • Currently bedding is supplied in all accommodation (except camping).
  • Cooking utensils and refrigeration are provided in most accommodation units. Exceptions will be indicated when booking.
  • Adult is 12 years or above.
  • Child (2-11 years), under 2 years - Gratis
  • Additional Person Supplements are applicable to those units where number of beds exceeds the base occupancy, if these beds are occupied.

Description of Garden Route Accommodation

Garden Route National Park offers a variety of camp-run accommodation. Each camp has its own unique selection of accommodation types.

Knysna Lakes Section Accommodation

Camping Decks (Knysna Lakes Section)

Note to travellers:

The Campsite is not suitable for Motorhomes, Roof-top Tents or Caravans. It is only appropriate for tents to be pitched on the timber decks.

The Forest Timber Camping Decks lies in the heart of Knysna Forest. Set in a landscape of beautiful beaches and rocky headlands, shimmering lakes, green pastures and jagged mountains, the Knysna Forest Camping Decks affords the visitor an opportunity to feel at one with nature.

Tree Top Forest Chalets (Knysna Lakes Section)

The Tree Top Forest Chalet: situated in Harkeville forest between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, This 4 star chalet is tucked away at the head of a wide valley.

Basic Accommodation Types

Forest Huts

These forest huts are available at Nature's Valley and Storms River rest camps.

Family/Log Cottages & Forest Cabins

These accommodations are available at both Wilderness and Storms River rest camps.

Caravaning/Camping

All with communal ablution, laundry and washing up facilities. A maximum of six persons, one caravan with a side tent and one vehicle, or one tent and one vehicle, or one autovilla or motorised caravan will be permitted per site. These are all available in the Knysna Area as well as the Storms River Mouth, Wilderness and Nature's Valley rest camps.


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Natural & Cultural History


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How to get there

Tsitsikamma Section

  • The Tsitsikamma Section is situated some 615km from Cape Town, 195km from Port Elizabeth and 68km from Plettenberg Bay.
  • The access route from the N2 highway and all internal roads are tarred. Car hire is available at Plettenberg Bay, which is also the nearest airport (limited scheduled flights). Airports are also found in George and Port Elizabeth.
  • Gate times (Storms River Rest Camp)
  • Gate times (Nature's Valley Rest Camp)
  • Directions to Storms River Mouth Rest Camp

Knysna Section

  • The Knysna Lakes Section lies on the scenic Garden Route, some 500km from Cape Town and approximately 300km from Port Elizabeth. Rental facilities and a national airport can also be found at George, some 70km from Knysna.
  • Distance on the N2 from Knysna into Uniondale Road (R339) to Diepwalle (camping sites and guest house) is 23km. Travel on the gravel provincial road.
  • All the major car hire companies have offices at the George Airport and there are specialised companies in Knysna that provide airport transfers. The upgraded road between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth is very good, making road travel along the scenic Garden Route a pleasure.
  • Directions to Knysna Office

Wilderness Section

  • The Wilderness Section is situated close to the N2 highway, 15km from George, 2km from Wilderness village, 410km from Port Elizabeth and 450km from Cape Town. The closest airport is at George, where car hire facilities are available.
  • Gate times
  • Directions to Wilderness National Park

Guests visiting Wilderness Ebb & Flow camp, please note the road sign on the N2 to the Park reads "Wilderness National Park" (but is currently known as the Wilderness Section) and not Ebb & Flow. Guests can also use the western access through the town of Wilderness across the rail road bridge and turn right for the reception.

GPS waypoints

Storms River:

  • S 34° 01’ 18.8”
    E 23° 53’ 47.9”

Nature’s Valley:

  • S 33° 58’ 19.0”
    E 23° 33’ 48.2”

Knysna:

  • S 34° 02’ 57.80
    E 23° 02’ 44.49


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Regional/Area Maps

Knysna Section

Map of Knysna Lagoon





















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Tariffs

Tsitsikamma Section

Daily Conservation fees for 1 November 2013 to 31 October 2014

Overnight Visitors:
South African Citizens and Residents (with ID) R40 per adult, per day
R20 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport) R80 per adult, per day
R40 per child, per day
Standard Conservation Fee R150 per adult, per day
R75 per child, per day
Day Visitors:
South African Citizens and Residents (with ID) R40 per adult, per day
R20 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport) R32 per adult, per day
R32 per child, per day
Standard Conservation Fee; 1 - 2 hours only R40 per adult, per day
R20 per child, per day
Standard Conservation Fee; 2 - 4 hours only R80 per adult, per day
R40 per child, per day

Nature's Valley Section

Daily Conservation fees for 1 November 2013 to 31 October 2014

South African Citizens and Residents (with ID) R36 per adult, per day
R18 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport) R36 per adult, per day
R18 per child, per day
Standard Conservation Fee R72 per adult, per day
R36 per child, per day


Wilderness Section

Daily Conservation Fee for 1 November 2013 to 31 October 2014

South African Citizens and Residents (with ID): R30 per adult, per day
R15 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport): R60 per adult, per day
R30 per child, per day
Standard Conservation Fee (Foreign Visitors): R100 per adult, per day
R50 per child, per day


Knysna Section

Daily Conservation Fee for 1 November 2013 to 31 October 2014

South African Citizens and Residents (with ID): R25 per adult, per day
R12 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport): R50 per adult, per day
R25 per child, per day
Standard Conservation Fee (Foreign Visitors): R100 per adult, per day
R50 per child, per day



The tariffs for each camp are available under the relevant camp.


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Vital Information

Climate

Nature has blessed the Garden Route National Park (Tsitsikamma, Knysna and Wilderness Sections) with a pleasant, temperate climate; it is unique in Africa as the only area in which rainfall occurs throughout the year.

And, to cap it all, most of our rain falls at night! It's the ideal climate for a visit - at any time of the year!

Day Visitors

The park is ideal for day visitors with various picnic sites at the rest camp and at the lagoon.

Fuel Stations: Petrol/ Diesel

Vehicle fuel is available in all parks (or is available on the park periphery):

  • South African legislation stipulates that fuel stations will accept legitimate petrol/fuel/garage/credit/debit cards or cash as a form of payment for any fuel purchase.

Firearms

No firearms allowed.

Internal Road Network

The access road from the N2 is paved however the access from the northern camp is gravelled.

Please see detailed Tips & Hints at the various camp pages.

As outdoor lighting in camps is limited, a torch/headlamp is required when walking outside at night.

Contact Information

For enquiries e-mail grace.valela@sanparks.org or phone us on the following numbers:


Section   Telephone Fax

Wilderness Section

Reception Desk (24 hours)
Farleigh Forest

(044) 877 0046
(044) 356 9021

(044) 877 0366
(044) 356 9028

Knysna Lakes Section

Thesen Island
Harkerville Forest
Diepwalle Forest

(044) 302 5600
(044) 382 2095
(044) 532 7770
(044) 382 9762/3

(044) 302 5627
(044) 382 2095
(044) 532 7770
(044) 382 9764

Tsitsikamma Section

Storms River Mouth
(security gate remains open 24/7)
Tsitsikamma Forest

(042) 281 1607
(042) 281 1557

(042) 281 1629
(042) 281 1558

Nature's Valley Section Nature's Valley (044) 531 6700 (044) 531 6881

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Tsitsikamma Restaurant

Interior of the restaurant

Where is the place of much water? Where the booming breakers of the Indian Ocean relentlessly pound rocky shores, where temperate high forest and fynbos roll down to the sea in an unspoilt verdant carpet, where ancient rivers carve their paths to the ocean down rocky ravines.

This, "the place of much water", is the Tsitsikamma Section of the Garden Route National Park, where Tsitsikamma Restaurant is situated.

Tsitsikamma Restaurant is a glorious seafood eatery, contained by the Garden Route National Park. With a variety of dishes from traditional English breakfast & toasted sandwiches to burgers, pastas and steak, egg and chips however they put the most emphasis on their scrumptious seafood. Come try our Tsitsikamma Platter with ocean fresh fillet of hake, calamari, and a prawn skewer served with savoury rice and tartar sauce or our Fisherman’s Platter with a prawn skewer, mussels in garlic sauce and fresh line fish, calamari, spicy rice & chips.

The heartland of the park stretches some 5km to sea, protecting a wonderland of inter-tidal life, reef and deep-sea fish. Dolphins frolic in the breakers, surfing and playing for the sheer joy of life, and the gentle giant of the ocean, the southern right whale visits here, coming inshore to breed. Tsitsikamma Restaurant is also a SASSI Aware participant which means they support sustainable and responsible fishing and seafood.

The famous Storms River Suspension Bridge spans the river mouth. There is also the Natures Valley Rest Camp at Natures Valley. This is where the world renowned Otter and Tsitsikamma Mountain trails starts.

Trading Hours

  • Monday – Sunday: 08:30 to 22:00

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Activities & Facilities

There is a variety of fun and adventurous actvities as well as excellent facilities available at the Garden Route National Park ranging from hiking trails, nature walks and much more.


Facilities

Camping

Camping in the Forest Timber Decks and bond with nature, some of the decks are wheelchair friendly.

Birding

More than 280 species of birds are listed in and around Knysna and many water birds abound Thesen Islands, Steenbok Park and further afield at Groenvlei and Swartvlei Lakes along the Rheendal Ramble. You can read more about Knysna Lakes Section birds and birding.

Mountain Bike Routes

Knysna Town

The picturesque town of Knysna provides a wide variety of facilities and curio shops. Fishing, water skiing and pure relaxation are all part of Knysna, where conservation and recreation subtly harmonise. Private enterprises provide water sports such as sailing, angling, boardsailing and power boating in specifically zoned areas.

Shopping

Knysna has a number of shopping centres, which provide for all a shopper's needs. There are supermarkets, boutiques, restaurants, coffee bars, pharmacies and a host of specialised shops. One centre is geared more towards the local arts and crafts and is housed in an up-graded historical building that was once a timber sawmill.

Restaurants

The diner has a wonderful choice of restaurants, dining in elegant surroundings by candlelight or looking out over the Knysna Lagoon. There are intimate bistros or the opportunity to eat "al fresco", a popular activity due to Knysna's gentle climate and warm evenings. A host of coffee bars and pubs offer good wholesome "pub-grub" or South African fare as well as the locally brewed beer Mitchells Brewery, a legend in its own lifetime.

Galleries/Arts & Crafts

As a result of a relaxed lifestyle, Knysna has over the years, attracted a wide variety of art and crafters, creating an artists' paradise. There are numerous galleries where one can enjoy the local arts and crafts and appreciate the talent and work that is produced here.


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Recreational Facilities in Harkerville Forest

Access to the facilities is gratis by means of self-issue permits at various unmanned access points. Certain access points are however manned at times, when entry fees will be levied.

1. The Garden of Eden

A superb example of Wet Highforest, an unusual forest-type with many examples of tall stinkwood (Ocotea bullata), kalander (Podocarpus jalca/us), wit-els (Pla/ylophus trifoliatus) and other tree species of the moister forest types. Short, circular walks traverse the area and an 800 metre trail for those in wheelchairs is route-marked. This site was first opened in 1926.

2. Kranshoek Viewpoint and Picnic Site

One of the most beautiful spots on the southern Cape coast. Kranshoek offers the visitor cliff-top views of the coast and a warm, sheltered picnic site. There is even a stream, with frogs, for the children to play in.

Kranshoek Coastal Trail & Viewpoint

3. Kranshoek Coastal Day-Walk

A nine kilometre, circular walk which traverses coastal forest and some spectacular coastal scenery. The full walk is fairly tough and demands a descent and ascent of 200 metres. Good walking shoes are essential. A shorter loop of approxin1ately three kilometres can also be taken.

4. The Harkerville Coast Hiking Trail

This two-day, 24 kilometre hike, starts and ends at the Harkerville Forest Station. It passes through some prime examples of high-forest, crosses sections of coastal fynbos and takes the hiker along some breathtaking natural scenery along a cliff-coast. Bookings for the two huts, the Harkerville and the Sinclair, should be made with the Forestry Regional Office in Knysna, Tel: (044) 3825863.

5. The Harkerville Mountain-bike Routes

These routes offer some of the finest mountain-biking in South Africa. There are three route-marked tracks, colour coded Red (23 km), Green (15 km) and Blue (12 km). All three include sections of "off-road" riding along forest paths. The Red route includes some of the most dramatic scenery in the country.

6. Horseriding

A number of horse-trails 'have been marked through the indigenous forest.

7. The Harkerville Youth Group Centre

Basic budget accommodation is provided for youth groups. A kitchen area, an outdoor boma for braais, dormitory-type sleeping accommodation and ablution facilities with showers are available.

Reservations are through the SANParks Regional Office in Knysna.

8. The Harkerville Forest Chalet

A getaway in the tree-tops. The chalet is spacious, has two bedrooms with bathrooms en suite and is superbly appointed. It is the ideal place to enjoy the peace of the forest.

Reservations are through the SANParks Regional Office, Knysna.

Harkerville Forestry Station

  • Tel: (044) 532 7770
  • Fax: (044) 532 7770

SANParks, Knysna

  • Tel: (044) 302 5606
  • Fax: (044) 3025627

GRNP offers the visitor a wide range of outdoor activities. This leaflet highlights only those in Harkerville Forest.

For more detailed information on recreational facilities in other State Forests in the southern Cape you are welcome to visit our Regional Office, in Demar Centre, Main Street, Knysna.


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Hiking and Nature Walks

Wilderness Section

Outeniqua Trail

This spectacular trail can be conquered asa series of day walks or over a full seven day period, starting at Beervlei in the upper reaches of the Park and ending at Harkerville in the East between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.

This trail carves its way in the cool shade ofundulating indigenous forest with rustic huts, a stop-over, for those endeavouring the seven day trek, or as an alternative starting point for those day walkers relative to the level of challenge you desire. The overnight cabins are regularly stocked with firewood. Water and rudimentary bedding are supplied to complete that outdoor experience.

As darknessfalls, the once blue sky, through pockets of forest, fynbos and different vegetation types during the day; now exposes a brilliant black sky pitted with billions of stars, buffered with the sounds of surrounding nocturnal activity. Perfect whether you are a stargazing astrologist, star-crossed lovers just seeking a romantic getaway or simply bonding with friends.

For those who have love for the sea, this trail makes its way down to the coast where beautiful rock formations may be explored, photographs taken or picnics enjoyed. Sea caves are often visible along this portion of the trail and tell of the sheer landscaping power of the Indian Ocean. This trail offers an unforgettable experience sure to leave walkers reeling with euphoria.

Permits can be obtained from the Knysna Regional office on Thesen's Island.

Brown-hooded Kingfisher Trail

Greeted by lush dense overhangs of thicket this trail is a jewel for bird watchers and aspiring botanists alike. A 2.5km walk, ends at a waterfall, a walk which playfully snakes through the Duiwe River valley and crosses the Duiwe River five times along its length. The trail lends itself to picnickers, at various points sheer-faced cliffs can be viewed or in the shade of the forest trees whilst you enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

The Knysna Turaco and sometimes the African Fish Eagle frequents the large trees of this peaceful valley and if you're quiet enough, you may just get to marvel at this regal predator from close-up.

Time duration: A three hour linear route totals 5km (2.5km each way) is sure to leave you visually, breathless.

Half-collared & Giant Kingfisher Trail

This trail is within walking distance of the EBB & FLOW Rest Camp. An immense wall of green punctured only by a human sized opening welcomes walkers into this cathedral of mature forest. The most popular trail in the Wilderness region it has many picnic points and lays nestled not more than 15 meters from the riverbank and may be accessed by canoe or foot, both promising a unique experience of this exquisite ecosystem.

The Half-collared crosses the Touw River by means of a pontoon to join the Giant Kingfisher trail. Trees are appropriately numbered to facilitate tree spotters in finding their favourite trees. Mostly shaded by ancient giant trees, walkers can relax as they walk comfortably on the trail to its heart boasting a magnificent waterfall where, again, picnics may be had.

Many birds especially the well-known Half-collared and Giant Kingfisher, Knysna Turaco, Fish Eagle and Black-headed Oriole may be seen. Bushbuck is also known to make graceful appearances stunning walkers with their beauty.

Time duration: A three to three and a half hour linear route totalling 7km to the end and back guarantees a benevolent experience.

Bosduif Loop

The Bosduif loop is a short challenging trail, it is an elevated artery branching from the Half-collared Kingfisher trail. This trail climbs sharply along the hillside into the forest where the vegetation changes slightly into ghostly drapes of lichens and mosses. In total the Bosduif is unique for the short hour it takes to complete and hikers will be breathless due to its astounding beauty and steep trajectory.

Duration: One hour, challenging walk upward to the top of a forested valley with stunning, sunlit views of the Wilderness Lakes looking eastward over Rondevlei in a humid haze.

Cape Dune Mole-rat Trail

Be sure to take liquid refreshments along on this trail, there are several options on this trail e.g. there is a 6km loop and a 3km loop which overlaps. A beautiful, scenic trail traversing through a few different vegetation types. The sandy trail is soft under foot in some places. Portions of the trail overlook Rondevlei and Swartvlei lake.

Millwood Overnight Trail

Part of the Outeniqua Hiking trail this is a 15,5km section but can be walked as a two day hike to Millwood Hut from Goudveld entrance Kiosk and 15km`s back the second day. This can be done as part of the Outeniqua Trail.

Woodville Big Tree Circular Walk

Take a short +/- 13 km drive from EBB & FLOW rest camp to experience an easy 45 minute walk through lush indigenous forest which starts and finishes at an 810 year old Yellowwood Tree.

Knysna Lakes Section

Harkerville Coastal Hiking Trail

This two day, 24 km hike, starts and ends at Harkerville Forest Station. It passes through some prime examples of high-forest, crosses sections of coastal fynbos and takes the hiker along some breathtaking natural scenery along a cliff coast with low water pools and pebble beaches. Hiker sleeps over at two huts, called Harkerville and Sinclair hut, with basic facilities, including ablution, single bunks with mattresses, water, fire wood and an axe. Hikers are spoiled with sceneries over the forest and Indian Ocean after a day of hiking. The hike accommodates a minimum of two people.

Day Walks

The section provides for everyone, from old and youth, to the fit and physically disabled. Stop at Garden of Eden and learn the marked indigenous trees by name as you stroll the forest on a comfortable 800m boardwalk. Picnic, water and ablution facilities are available. The facility is situated between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, on the N2.

Other short walks included the scenic Kranshoek day walk and picnic site, with spectacular views over the Indian Ocean, and transects through Afromontane Forest, Coastal Scrub Forest, low tide pools and Coastal Fynbos. This walk is 9km long and takes you 4 to 5 hours of walking. The Perdekop day walk is also 9km long and provides the hiker with a shady forest walk, ideally for educational and spiritual fulfillment.

Tsitsikamma Section

Otter Trail

This is a five (5) day hiking trail which starts at the Storms River Mouth rest camp and ends at the small resort village of Natures Valley in the de Vasselot section of the park. The total distance for the trail is 42km and has six (6) escape routes which have forest huts for resting. This trail hugs the Tsitsikamma coast closely to the pounding surf and zigzags where the coastal plateau rises to elevation of 200 metres and cliffs drops steeply into the sea. The following are the escape routes for the five day otter trail:

  • Escape route 1-is 2.8km from the rest camp into the natural forest leading to the Ngubu huts inside the natural forest.
  • Escape route 2-the Kleinbos River escape route is 4.8km from the Ngubu huts to the river.
  • Escape route 3- Bloubaai escape route is 4.6km and has overnight stops which are the forest huts.
  • Escape route 4-Scotts hut/ Geelhoutbos Rivers is 3.6km and has overnight stops which are the forest huts.
  • Escape route 5- Jan Swart escape route is 3km and has overnight stops which are the forest huts.
  • Escape route 6-Bloukrans River towards the end of the trail and has overnight stops which are the forest huts.

Dolphin Trail

This unique guided, luxury hiking experience a 2 day spectacular trial on the Tsitsikamma coast, have luggage portaged and spend each evening in comfort of three different 4 5 * luxury accommodation. Point of departure is from Storms River Mouth Rest Camp at the Restaurant to fernery at Forest Ferns. This is made possible by a partnership between the Tsitsikamma National park, Forest Ferns and Misty mountains. The result of this is a hiking experience that will both challenge and pamper you. It covers a distance of 17km, starting at Storms river mouth and moving east through natural fynbos and indigenous, ending on the banks of the Sanddrift River at forest ferns. This includes all meals, guides, 4x4 drive through old Storms River pass and transportation of luggage. Other activities include spotting whales, dolphins and otters, bird watching, swimming and snorkelling.

Witelspeak Captain Harrison Trail

The Witelspeak Captain Harrison Trail is a circular route going in the direction of the Humansdorp turnoff. The duration is one day or 4hours, distance being 9km. This route takes you through natural forests, streams and ferns, starts and end at the Witelsbos state forest. There is also a picnic and braai area on the route.

The Cadeau Hiking Trails

The Cadeau Hiking Trails are situated in the Witelsbos region and it includes two trails. The Elands river trail is a very challenging one day trail. It takes up to 5hours and the distance is 5,9km. The Bloubaai trail is 5.2km long and takes up to 6hours to walk. Both trails offer views of the shoreline since it is situated along the coast.

Salt River via the Keurpad Route - Day walk

The trail starts opposite to the De Vassselot Camp site and follows the Kalanderkloof trail. The trail is 15.1km.

Grootriver Trail - Day walk

The trail starts at the entrance of the De Vassselot Camp to the Grootriver Bridge. It is 6km.

Stinkhoutkloof Nature Walk - Day walk

The walk starts and ends at Bloukrans Forest station. It is 8km and traverses through the natural forest and the plantation.

Rugbos Trail - Day Walk

This trail traverses to the forest and has three escape routes which are colour coded. There is the yellow coded which is 1.4km, green coded which is 1.3km and there is the blue coded which is 3.1km. The green and the blue coded routes starts from the Tsitsikamma Khoisan Village and the yellow starts and ends at the Rugbos picnic site on the Bloukrans pass.

Goesa Nature Walk - Day walk

Starts and ends at the Storms river Forestry office at Stormsriver. It is a 2km walk through indigenous forest.

The Ratel Trail - Day walk

The trail is divided into three routes. The green route is 1km long on it you follow a boardwalk through indigenous forest to the Big Tree. The yellow route is 2.6km, and the red route is 4.2km.

The Plaatbos Nature Walks - Day walks

Consists of three walks, the yellow route is 8,09km, the red route is 7,78km, and the green route is 5,09km. All three routes start at the Forestry office in Storms river village. On the yellow route you can have a picnic and a swim in the storms river at the old bridge picnic site. The walks are relatively easy.

Blue duiker - Day walk

The trail starts at the lookout point and is 3.7km long. It follows a circular route and ends at the Occeanettes.

The Loerie - Day walk

Starts at the lookout point and is 1km long.

The Water Fall - Day walk

It starts at the Oceanettes and is 3km long. It follows a trail in westerly direction towards the waterfall.

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Birding

Birding in the Tsitsikamma Section

Birding in Tsitsikamma offers a variety in choice of habitat.

There is the open shoreline as typified by the environment at Storms River Rest Camp. There is the more sheltered water ways of the Nature’s Valley Lagoon and the Groot River. There is the forest experience of the Tsitsikamma Forest. Then there is the mountain fynbos one can explore in the Tsitsikamma Mountains in the Soetkraal section.

At Storms River Rest Camp, cormorants ( Cape and White-breasted), Kelp Gulls and African Black Oystercatchers are prominent along the coastline. Scanning out to sea, one should pick up Cape Gannet plummeting into the water. Pied and Giant Kingfishers can both be seen hunting fish at tidal pools or in the rivers that drain into the Indian Ocean . More inconspicuous, but also inhabiting these rivers are Half-collared Kingfisher and African Finfoot. (Although the most reliable place to see these species is on the Groot River at Nature’s Valley.) The forest edges should produce Chorister Robin-chat, while the scarlet wings of Knysna Turaco (Lourie) may well be seen bursting from the cover of forest. White-necked Raven are frequently seen overhead while Karoo Prinia is prominent in the patches of coastal bush.

At Nature’s Valley is probably the best place in the park to bird. Chorister Robin-chat is usually on hand in and around the accommodation. Also common in the rest camp are Lemon (Cinnamon) and Red-eyed Dove, Olive Thrush, Terrestrial Brownbul (Bulbul) and Dusky Flycatchers. In the forested areas, also look out for Knysna Turaco, Emerald Cuckoo, Knysna and Olive Woodpecker, Narina Trogon, Sharp-billed Honeyguide, Grey Cuckooshrike, Knysna Warbler, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, White-starred Robin, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher and Cape Batis, although some of these species are elusive.

The Tsitsikamma Forest also hosts African Crowned Eagle and African Wood Owl, plus some of the accipiters such as African Goshawk and Black Sparrowhawk.

In the mountains one should look for Cape Canary , Cape Sugarbird , Orange-breasted Sunbird, Black Saw-wing and Ground Woodpecker. Also present, though difficult to locate are Protea Canary, Victorin’s Warbler, Striped Flufftail and Cape Siskin .

Birding in the Wilderness Section

  • The tidal nature of the Touw River adjacent the Ebb and Flow Rest Camp exposes mudbanks that host White-fronted Plover.
  • The series of lakes connected by the Touw River (Eilandvlei, Langvlei and Rondevlei) host a variety of aquatic species and is an internationally proclaimed Ramsar site.
  • Major concentrations of Great Crested and Black-necked Grebe are present on Rondevlei and Bo Langvlei.
  • Reed Cormorant,Grey and Purple Heron, Little Egret, African Spoonbill, Little Bittern and Red-knobbed Coot are prominent.
  • Wildfowl is prolific including Yellow-billed, Maccoa and White-backed Duck, Cape Shoveler , Southern Pochard and Cape , Red-billed and Hottentot Teal.
  • There is a hide at Rondevlei, from where careful scanning of the reeds could produce Purple Gallinule, African Rail, Black and Baillon’s Crake.
  • The Swartvlei Estuary immediately east of the Touw River lakes hosts many of the species listed above.
  • It is also a better venue for viewing waders. Caspian Tern and Kelp Gull are prominent.
  • The forested hillsides that surround the area are home to several raptors, including: Cuckoo Hawk, Crowned Eagle, Forest Buz za rd, Black and Rufous-chested (Red-breasted) Sparrowhawk and African Goshawk.
  • Look for Red-necked Spurfowl along quiet roads with overgrown verges.
  • The park has several walking trails, several of which are named after kingfisher species and not without reason, as Brown-hooded, Malachite, Giant, Pied and Half-collared can all easily be seen.

(For more birding information and park bird checklist, go to Information for Birders)

Birding in the Knysna Section

The tidal lagoon and open estuary of the Knysna River provides an excellent place to view waders in the summer months. Grey Plover, Marsh Sandpiper, Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper and Whimbrel are prominent. All year, but particularly in winter, the lagoon hosts some non-migratory larger species (egrets, spoonbills, gulls, cormorants, ibises). The threatened African Black Oystercatcher is present all year, but their numbers increase in winter to what is regarded as a globally significant population. Cape Shoveller , Kittlitz’s Plover, PiedAvocet and Black-winged Stilt are also present in good numbers. African Fish Eagle and Osprey should also be watched out for.

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Mammals

As the Garden Route National Park is now the merged complement of the previous national parks of Knysna, Tsitsikamma and Wilderness - the mammals will still be found in those distinct areas.

Knysna Section

Common Name Scientific Name

African elephant

Loxodonta africana

Black clinging bat

Miniopterus fraterculus

Blue duiker

Cephalophus monticola

Bushbuck

Tragelaphus scriptus

Bushpig

Potamochoerus porcus

Cape dune molerat

Bathyergus suillus

Cape grey mongoose

Herpestes pulverulentus

Cape hairy bat

Myotis tricolor

Cape horseshoe bat

Rhinolophus capensis

Cape molerat

Georychus capensis

Cape mouse

Praomys verreauxi

Cape porcupine

Hystrix africaeaustralis

Cape wild cat

Felis lybica

Caracal

Felis caracal

Chestnut climbing mouse

Dendromus mesomelas

Clawless otter

Aonyx capensis

Common molerat

Cryptomys hottentotus

Duthie's golden mole

Chlorotalpa duthiae

Forest mouse

Thamnomys dolichurus

Forest shrew

Mysorex variatus

Geoffroy’s horseshoe bat

Rhinolophus clivosus

Grey rhebuck

Pelea capreolus

Grysbok

Raphicerus melanotis

Honey badger

Mellivora capensis

Hottentot golden mole

Amblysomus tottentotus

Klipspringer

Oreotragus oreotragus

Knysna golden mole

Amblysomus iris

Kuhl’s bat

Pipistrellus kuhlii

Large grey mongoose

Herpestes ichneumon

Large-spotted genet

Genetta tigrina

Leopard

Panthera paradus

Long-eared bat

Nycteris thebaica

Long-tailed housebat

Eptesicus hottentotus

Red musk shrew

Crocidura flavescens

Rock dassie

Procavia capensis

Scrub hare

Lepus saxatilis

Serval

Felis serval

Striped polecat

Ictonyx striatus

Vervet monkey

Cercopithecus pygerythrus

Vlei rat

Otomys irroratus

Water mongoose

Atilax paludinosus

Wooly bat

Kerivoula lanosa


Tsitsikamma Section

Common Name Scientific Name

African weasel

Poecilogale albinucha

African wild cat

Felis lybica

Blainville's beaked whale

Mesoplodon densirostris

Bottle nose dolphin

Tursiops truncatus

Brant's climbing mouse

Dendromus mesomelas

Brown rat

Rattus norvegicus

Bryde's whale

Balaeoptera edeni

Cape clawless otter

Aonyx capensis

Cape dune molerat

Bathyergus suillus

Cape horseshoe bat

Rhinolophus capensis

Cape molerat

Georychus capensis

Cape porcupine

Hystrix africaeaustralis

Cape spiny mouse

Acomys subspinosus

Caracal

Felis caracal

Chacma baboon

Papio ursinus

Common dolphin

Delphinus delphis

Common molerat

Cryptomys hottentotus

Dark-footed forest shrew

Myosorex cafer

Dwarf sperm whale

Kogia simus

Egyptian fruit bat

Rousettus aegyptiacus

Euphrosyne dolphin

Stenella coeruleoalba

Forest shrew

Myosorex varius

Greater musk shrew

Crocidura flavescens

Hector's beaked whale

Mesoplodon hectori

Honey badger

Mellivora capensis

House rat

Rattus rattus

Humpback dolphin

Sousa plumbea

Humpbacked whale

Megaptera novaeangliae

Killer whale

Orcinus orca

Large-spotted genet

Genetta tigrina

Leopard

Panthera pardus

Multimammate rat

Mastomys natalensis

Pygmy mouse

Mus minutoides

Pygmy sperm whale

Kogia breviceps

Risso dolphin

Grampus griseus

Schreibers'long fingered bat

Miniopterus schreibersii

Scrub hare?

Lepus saxatilis

Small grey mongoose

Galerella pulverulenta

Small-spotted genet?

Genetta genetta

Southern right whale

Balaena glacialis

Striped mouse

Rhabdomys pumilio

Striped polecat

Ictonyx striatus

Verreaux's mouse

Myomyscus verreauxi

Vervet monkey

Cercopithecus pygerythrus

Vlei rat

Otomys irroratus

Woodland dormouse

Grahiurus murinus

Woodland mouse

Grammomys dolichirus

Zulu golden mole

Amblysomus iris


Wilderness Section

Common Name Scientific Name

Black rat

Rattus rattus

Bushbuck

Tragelaphus scriptus

Bushpig

Potamochoerus porcus

Cape dune molerat

Bathyergus suillus

Cape fur seal

Arctocephalus pusillus

Cape grey mongoose

Herpestes pulverulentus

Cape horseshoe bat

Rhinolophus capensis

Cape porcupine

Hystrix africaeaustralis

Cape serotine

Eptesicus capensis

Caracal

Felis caracal

Chestnut climbing mouse

Dendromus mesomelas

Clawless otter

Aonyx capensis

Common molerat

Cryptomys hottentotus

Duthie's golden mole

Chlorotalpa duthiae

Dwarf shrew

Suncus etruscus

Forest shrew

Mysorex variatus

Grysbok

Raphicerus melanotis

Honey badger

Mellivora capensis

Large grey mongoose

Herpestes ichneumon

Large-spotted genet

Genetta tigrina

Leopard

Panthera paradus

Pygmy mouse

Mus minutoides

Red musk shrew

Crocidura flavescens

Rock dassie

Procavia capensis

Scrub hare

Lepus saxatilis

Southern elephant seal

Mirounga leonina

Striped mouse

Rhabdomys pumilio

Striped polecat

Ictonyx striatus

Sub-Antarctic fur seal

Arctocephalus tropicalis

Vervet monkey

Cercopithecus pygerythrus

Vlei rat

Otomys irroratus

Water mongoose

Atilax paludinosus

White-naped weasel

Poecilogale albinucha


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Vegetation

Tsitsikamma Section

Although Tsitsikamma boasts a magical world of intertidal life and reefs in its marine part, there is also the famous terrestrial part of the park with its lush forest, delicate fynbos and sheer cliffs. One of the most conspicious trees is the Outeniqua yellow-wood, Podocarpus falcata.

Wilderness Section

The vegetation of the Wilderness Area can be divided into three major components: Terrestrial vegetation, which includes indigenous forests, plantations and coastal fynbos.

Three major zones of indigenous forest are:

  • Wet mountain forest – occurring in steep kloofs consisting of typical Afro-montain species plateau forest and - occurs on the coastal plateau and includes typical Afro-montain species dry forest – occurs predominantly in steeply insized plateau valleys and along the coast.
  • Large sections of indigenous forests remain particularly in the Karatara River, Duiwe River and Touw River. A small catchment of indigenous forest lies within the boundaries of the Wilderness National Park.
  • Large portions of the river catchments are under pine and eucalypt plantations, or are utilized as agricultural land.

Four types of fynbos found in the area include:

  • Short Asteraceae fynbos, occurring mainly on the seaward slopes of primary dunes and other slopes adjacent to the sea.
  • Tall fynbos – occurs primarily on more inland dunes and north facing slopes, consisting of fynbos shrubs and small patches of forest trees of the Kaffrarian ticket.
  • Passerina/annual herbs are restricted to land adjacent to the lakes and Serpentine channel. Passerina spp. Are dominant, with a large number of fynbos annual herbs recorded.
  • Restoid/grassy dunes are largely restricted to the Rondevlei area and consist mostly of true fynbos elements.

The latter is well represented in the Wilderness National Park, with the area between Rondevlei and Swartvlei Lake supporting this vegetation type.

Semi-aquatic flora

Semi-aquatic flora of low- lying areas adjacent to the lakes and channels, which is normally inundated at high water levels.

The most widespread semi-aquatic species include reeds (phragmites australis), sedges (Scirpus littoralis, scirpus nodosus and Cyperaceae generally) and bulrushes (Typha latifolia) with the rush juncus kraussii occupying a transitional zone between the semi-aquatic and terrestrial environments, which is inundated only during very high water levels.

Other semi-aquatic species on floodplain area include the grasses paspalum vaginatum and pennisetum clandestinum with the intertidal saltmarsh areas in Swartvlei being colonized predominantly by Sarcocornia natalensis, Salicornia meyerana, Triglochin striata, Cotula coronopifolia and Stenotphrum secundatum.

Aquatic plants of channels and lakes

One of the most striking features of the waterbodies of the Wilderness National Park is the presence of extensive tracts of submerged aquatic plants. These plants occur in monospecific and mixed stands, of which the most abundant and widespread include members of the family Characeae (Chara globuaris, Lamprothamnium papulosum), the “pondweed” (Potamogeton pectinatus), seagrass (Ruppia cirrhosa), and epiphytic algae.


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School Groups

Facilities & guided activities for school groups

The staff of Garden Route National Park is committed to manage this park for the pride and joy of all South Africans.

Through our Environmental Interpretation and Education programme, we aim to instill a conservation ethic in the people of our beautiful country with its rich cultural and natural heritage.

The variety of activities on offer has been developed in liaison with various educators, conservationists and adventure operators in order to cater for various user groups. Trained staff and eco-guides from local communities are available to ensure that meaningful environmental learning takes place amid the fun and adventure of the outdoors. All organised groups that have pre-booked an educational excursion are granted free entry into Garden Route National Park and charged only for the specific activities and services rendered by staff and guides. 

If we can be of assistance in any way to make a visit to Tsitsikamma possible for your group, feel free to contact us on:

  • Telephone: +27 (0) 42 28 11 607
  • Fax: +27 (0) 42 28 11 629
  • E-mail

Facilities

  • Information Centre at Storms River Mouth Rest camp
  • Group accommodation (30 persons) at Nature’s Valley Rest Camp
  • Group accommodation (60 persons) at Storms River Mouth Rest Camp
  • Tents available (and for hire) for tented camps (both rest camps)

Activities

  • Guided nature trails (1 – 4 hrs)Inter tidal pool exploration (incl. Snorkeling and treasure hunt)
  • Estuarine Excursion (incl. Canoeing)
  • River Excursion (short trail and boat ride.)
  • Forest Excursion (guided trail and experiential learning activities)
  • Adventure Activities: Diving, Abseiling and Climbing, Black water tubing, Mountain biking etc.
  • Overnight camps (accommodated in huts or tents)

Further queries can be directed to:

  • Elzette Bester - Manager: Social Ecology
    Tel. +27 (0) 42 281 1607
    E-mail

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People with Disabilities

Wheelchair Access Profiles

Accommodation

As at July 2010 there are five units in Garden Route National Park that have adaptations for guests with mobility challenges, three in the Tsitsikamma section and two in the Wilderness section.

These units need to be booked directly with SANParks as they are held on reserve for guest who require them and cannot be booked through satellite offices or through the on-line mechanism. Email reservations@sanparks.org or phone +27 (0)12 428 9111 and request a unit accessible to the mobility challenged. Do not book another unit and expect that you can swap when you get to the park.

There are also three adapted accessible campsite ablutions (one in Tsitsikamma section and two in Wilderness section) – see access profiles for images and detail. There is also a selection of privately run accommodation, in the greater area encompassed by the park and some of these private operators have adapted their accommodation to be universally accessible.

Wilderness Ebb-and-Flow Rest Camp:

Forest Cabin En Suite South (HF2ZS)

The cabin is 30m from the communal ablution which has been adapted for the disabled. It comprises two single beds, ramp, bathroom with shower,a fridge and utensils. There is a communal kitchen facility.

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Family Cottage South (FA4DZS)

The unit is accessible to the mobility challenged. The cottage features one bedroom with two single beds, on bedroom with a double bed and a bathroom with a shower. DSTV (limited channels) is available. It also includes a kitchen and fireplace.

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Tsitsikamma Section - Storms River Mouth Rest Camp:

Chalet 2-bed (CH2SZ)

The unit is accessible to the mobility challenged. The open-plan chalet features a double bed and bathroom with a shower. The unit comprises of a fully-equipped kitchen, braai facility on deck and DSTV (limited channels) is also available.

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Oceanette - Large (FNZ4)

The unit is accessible to the mobility challenged. The oceanette features two bedrooms, each with two single beds. Also included is a bathroom with shower, kitchen and DSTV (limited channels).

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Please note:

Accommodation images may differ from the actual units as refurbishment of various accommodation types occur on an on-going basis.

Accessible Activities & Facilities

  • There are trails in the park that are suitable for wheelchair users and others with mobility challenges:
    • At Nature’s Valley there is a short circular route adjacent the Groot River. This trail is a boardwalk made from recycled polywood, which means there is no impairing impact from tree roots, leaf litter, muddy or sodden ground etc. There is a kick-plate on the one side of the path and a banister on the other. The trail passes through virgin forest and is a great way for a wheelchair user to leave the signs of human development behind and with a bit of stealth get some great sightings of forest birds and mammals.
    • At the Garden of Eden (immediately adjacent the N2 between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna) there is marked 800m circular route accessible to wheelchair users.
    • At the Big Tree – an ancient Outeniqua Yellowwood (There are a couple of trees labelled the Big Tree in the area, but this one is also on the N2 between the turn off to Storm’s River Camp and where the highway crosses the Storm’s River over the Paul Sauer Bridge) which also has a boardwalk from the parking area to the tree and the track takes one through lush indigenous forest.
  • Some other forest tracks in the greater park may also be partially or fully accessible to a person in a wheelchair.
  • Although not a designated trail, wheelchair users looking for a suitable surface and gradient may wish to travel to the village of Nature’s Valley (especially outside of school holidays when many of the holiday houses are empty). The narrow tarred road network of the village is perfect for moving around and in many places the forest encroaches into the garden so much that it is almost like being in the forest itself. The village is adjacent a lagoon and people can also make their way along the water’s edge down to the beach.
  • Wheelchair users wanting to enjoy great views of the Indian Ocean can also make use of the tar road through Storm’s River Rest Camp.
  • There are a variety of privately run activities in the vicinity of the park that afford access opportunity. Two that offer good access opportunity are:
    • A visit to Monkeyland (in a 12 hectare plot in the Tsitsikamma Forest just off the N2) is highly recommended. Most of the reserve is accessible, while guides are more than willing to assist where paths are difficult. The sanctuary is a rehabilitation place for primates, including gibbon, spider monkey and howler monkey. Accessible ablutions are available. http://www.monkeyland.co.za/
    • Just adjacent this and under the same ownership is Birds of Eden, the largest free-flight aviary in the World. The pathway is accessible throughout the entire facility. It does descend down into a steep ravine, so assistance may be required by some. A plethora of bird species roam the aviary. Accessible ablutions are available. http://www.birdsofeden.co.za/

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