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The Knysna Forest is world famous for its magical beauty, dark and mystical recesses and giant Outeniqua Yellowwoods, some of which are almost a thousand years old.

It has achieved a mythical and permanent place in South African literature through the works of writer Dalene Matthee who has found inspiration for numerous novels in the heart of the forest.

5 things to seek:

  • Millwood Mine - In the midst of Knysna Forest you will find the last remains of the bygone gold rush at the Materolli Gold Mine. Experience the history of a 19th century gold rush at the Museum and enjoy meals at the Materollie Coffee Shop and Restaurant.
  • Dripkelders - A challenging path winds its way down into a hidden and spectacular kloof.
  • The Elephant Walk - Offers three different loops through sections of the forest.
  • Big Tree - The Big Tree also known as the Kind Edward V11 tree. This is a famous landmark and visitor attraction near Diepwalle Forest Station. Another Big Tree worth seeing is close to the Velbroeksdraai picnic site. These giant Outeniqa yellowwoods are about 800+ years old.
  • Forest Legends Museum in Diepwalle Forest - If you venture into the mysterious Knysna Forest you will find, at its heart, the Diepwalle Section of the Garden Route National Park which is home to the Forest Legends Museum including stories on the Woodcutters. The museum reveals some of the forest's best kept secrets.

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Harkerville, Tree Top Forest Chalet

Hide away in the treetops, deep in the unspoilt forest.

Situated in the Harkerville forest, between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, the chalet is tucked away at the head of a wide valley. From this hideaway you can absorb the tranquility of an Eden that has remained unchanged for thousands of years.

Bird-watch, botanise or simply observe the changing light in the forest-canopy as the hours pass by. If you can tear yourself away from the large viewing deck, the comfort of this well appointed self contained chalet is yours to enjoy, you will lack nothing.

Bring your mountain bikes and ride some of the finest tracks in the country. You may, on the other hand, wish to take a more leisurely stroll along a nearby forest trail.

General Information:

  • The chalet has two double rooms, each with its own bathroom and sleeps four in comfort.
  • Due to the geographical location of the chalet, clients will have to check-in with a valid proof of payment or confirmation letter at the Garden of Eden by no later than 17:00 to collect their keys. (The Garden of Eden is situated on N2 between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.)
  • Guests arriving very late pose logistical challenges as the gates and office close at 18:00. Should you arrive late, prior arrangements must be made for the key.
  • The chalet may be occupied at 14:00 on the day of arrival and must be vacated by 10:00 on the day of departure.
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Forest Timber Camping Decks

SANParks offers Forest Timber Camping Decks in the heart of the 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.

Situated in the Diepwalle Forest area, sleep over and enjoy some of the best day walks, mountain cycle routes that take you into the heart of the Knysna Forest, bird watching, picnic sites and scenic view points.

General Information:

  • The decks accommodate a three-man tent with braai and dining areas, and have electric points.
  • The camp site is not suitable for Motorhomes, Roof-top Tents or Caravans. It is only appropriate for tents to be pitched on the timber decks.

How to book:

You can book a camping deck by emailing the park directly or calling +27 (0)44 302 5600.

Guest House in Diepwalle Forest

Bring your mountain bikes and ride some of the finest tracks in the country or take a leisurely stroll along the forest trail.

General Information:

  • Check-in time is at 14:00 and check-out at 10:00.
  • Keys are to be collected from Diepwalle office between 07:30 and 16:00. Arrangements for late arrivals are to be made with the office on +27 (0)44 382 9762.

How to book:

You can book a camping deck by emailing the park directly or calling +27 (0)44 302 5600.

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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.

  • Perdekop trail
    Distance: 9.5km; 3 - 4 hours; circular route
    GPS Coordinates: S34 02.848 E23 13.851
    Description: The trail starts from the Harkerville forestry station and follows an easy path along a circular route back to the station. Sections of the walk are shared with the Hakerville Coastal Hiking Trail. Green flag accredited hike by the Hiking Organisation of Southern Africa (HOSA).
  • Elephant trail
    • Black: 9km; easy circular route; starts at the Diepwalle office
    • White: 8km from forest station or 6.5km from Diepwalle picnic site; easy circular route
    • Red: 7km; moderate circular route; starts in Diepwalle close to the office
    GPS Coordinates: S33 56.909 E23 09.434
    Description: All three trails add up to just over 18 kilometres, Black (9km), white (8km) and red (7km). Green flag accredited hike by the Hiking Organisation of Southern Africa (HOSA).
  • Terblanche trail
    Distance: 6.5km; circular route; also known as Wandelpad
    GPS Coordinates: S33 56.716 E23 03.244
    Description: It starts and ends at the Grootdraai picnic site, ideal for a picnic before or after the hike. From the Grootdraai picnic site the trail heads in to the forest sharing the path with the Outeniqua overnight trail so be sure to keep right at the fork shortly after the start.
  • Kranshoek trail
    Distance: 9km; circular route
    GPS Coordinates: S34 04.702 E23 13.672
    Description: It starts at the Kranshoek picnic site at the top of a tall waterfall, then winds it's way through the forest down into the gorge through which the waterfall's stream flows. It follows this stream towards the coast and then leads along the coast before going up the slopes to the plateau and back to the picnic site via the Kranshoek viewpoint.
  • Flora trail
    Distance: 1km; circular
    GPS Coordinates: S34 04.696 E23 13.671
    Description: The educational walk starts in the Kranshoek picnic site. Check info boards for a flora guide of the trail.
  • Garden of Eden
    Garden of Eden walk is approximately 500 m and starts and ends in the Garden of Eden, accessible from the N2.

Cycling Trails

The Harkerville forest is the ideal location for recreational mountain-biking. The relatively easy gradients and diversity of the rides offer some of the finest cycling in the Southern Cape.

Four distinct routes have been laid out through the indigenous forest, plantation and coastal fynbos and have been colour-coded Yellow - 14km; Blue - 12km; Green - 15km and Red - 24km. All routes are circular and permits are available at Garden of Eden and Kranhoek Road entrances.

Cultural and Historical Sites

Diepwalle Guest House

The Diepwalle Teagarden and Guest house building dates back to 1880. It previously served as a forester house and is basically unchanged. The old aged architecture reminds you of the rich history of the area especially when you can still see the yellowwood floors and beams. The facility presents a lot of articles and photographs of the forest history, dominated previously by the Woodcutters.

Diepwalle Big Tree

The Big Tree, also known as the King Edward VII tree, is a famous landmark and visitor attraction near the Diepwalle Forest Station. This giant Outeniqua yellowwood (Podocarpus falcatus) tree is more than 800 years old and is one of the few giant trees left after the unsustainable method of tree harvesting was stopped in 1939.

Knysna Elephant

The Diepwalle Forest is home to the widely spoken Knysna Forest Elephant (Loxodonta africana). Today, only one of them is left in the forest and evidence of spoor, dung and sometimes video footage give evidence of its existence.

Millwood Goldfields

The Knysna Forest not only offers a natural wonderland, but also abounds with history. In the midst of the forest you will find the last remains of a bygone gold rush at the Materolli Mine, Coffee Shop and Museum. You can also explore old prospecting tunnels and adits on the Jubilee Creek walk. This facility is situated along the Rheenendal road 30km north-west of Knysna in the Goldfield Forest.

Water Activities


Kayaks can now be hired directly from the SANParks Thesen Island office: +27 (0)44 302 5600.

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How to get there

Directions to the Knysna indigenous forest complex:

Includes the Diepwalle Forest area, camping decks, Tea Garden and Forest Legends Museum.

  • Follow the N2 for 6km east of Knysna.
  • Take the Uniondale (R339) turn-off to the left and drive another 16km to Diepwalle.
  • The R339 is a provincial gravel road to Diepwalle.

Directions to the Treetop Chalet:

  • The Treetop Chalet is about 15 - 17km past Knysna, towards Plettenberg Bay.
  • There is a small sign on the N2 which directs you to the Garden of Eden on the right, where you can check-in to the Treetop Chalet.

Directions to the Garden of Eden:

  • The Garden of Eden is about 15 - 17km past Knysna, towards Plettenberg Bay.
  • There is a small sign on the N2 which directs you to the Garden of Eden on the right.

Directions to Kranshoek view point:

  • From Knysna, take the N2 East for 20km to Harkerville.
  • Turn right (south) onto a gravel road for 1.5km.
  • At the T-junction keep left and drive about 500m. Turn right, through the Harkerville State Forest to the site about 5km further on.

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Map of the Knysna Lagoon

Gouna Activities

Map of Diepwalle

Route to Diepwalle

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Knysna Section

Daily Conservation Fee for 1 November 2015 to 31 October 2016

South African Citizens and Residents (with ID): R28 per adult, per day
R14 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport): R56 per adult, per day
R28 per child, per day
Standard Conservation Fee (Foreign Visitors): R112 per adult, per day
R56 per child, per day

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Vital Information


Nature has blessed Knysna 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 and points of interest.

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.


No firearms allowed.

Tips & Hints

  • Pets are not allowed in a national park.
  • Remember to bring along a bathing suit, angling equipment, hat, sun block, walking shoes, binoculars, bird and mammal reference books. Hikers must always carry sufficient water.
  • As outdoor lighting in camps is limited, a torch/headlamp is required when walking outside at night.
  • For summer (September – March), cool comfortable clothing is recommended along with sunhats and sun protection cream.
  • For winter and autumn (April – August), warm clothing is recommended for the night times.
  • Insect repellant is recommended, especially in summer.
  • No immunisations are needed for travel to this park. The park is situated in a malaria-free area.

Contact Information

For enquiries e-mail or phone us on the following numbers:

  • Tel +27 (0) 44 302 5600

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