South Africa is a country of geographical contrasts. From a large savanna sub region, to high and lush mountains in the east, to a Mediterranean climate in the west and indigenous forests in the south, South Africa is an ideal country for tourists looking for a varied experience and things to do.
The Garden Route, for those who have been lucky enough to spend any amount of time here will tell you that this region is the greenest and lushest of them all. All along the south coast (The Garden Route) are indigenous forests that grow upon moist, fertile soils on large mountains that eventually glide all the way down to the coast.
With summer in full bloom, The Garden Route can be extremely hot and humid and although our coastlines supply numerous beaches in which to cool-off there is nothing like being in the shaded protection of the indigenous forests.
With the help of Colin Paterson-Jones’ fabulous trail guide “Best Walks of the Garden Route” (Struik Publishers, 1992) I have compiled a brief manual for the keen trail walker. All three of the walks are of mild difficulty, suitable for all ages and have a picnic site at the start. All three of the walks mentioned here are less than 4 kilometres long.
Below are further details:
(A perfect introduction to the forest environment)
- List of trees to be viewed on the Terblans Trail; most of them are numbered (take a copy of the National Trees List). Visit or phone your local Tourism Office/National Parks Board for more information.
- Terblans - (Faurea macnaughtonii) , grow up to 25 m’s and is the tallest growing member of the Proteaceae family in South Africa. The tree is protected now by the National Parks Board. It is a hard-wooded tree and dark brown in colour with a beautiful grain and a sweetish scent.
- Real Yellowwoods - (Podocarpus latifolius) and the National Tree of South Africa.
- Kershout- (Pterocelastrus tricuspidatus)
- Witels- (Platylophus trifoliatus)
- Tree Ferns – (Cyathea capensis) 6. Outeniqua Yellowwoods - (Podocarpus falcatus)
- At the start of the hike you will find the ‘Grootdraai’ picinic site – from there you will find a well sign- posted path that (after a short up-hill climb) will lead downwards to a small stream that eventually leads onto the Rooiels River.
- When entering the moist, dense forest ( which provides relief from the summer suns’ rays) the walker is treated to Real Yellow-woods.
- Take swimming costumes. There is a cement weir that provides a lovely spot to go bathing. You can sit next to the pool under the Kershout or Witels trees.
Do Two Leisurly Walks on the Same Day
- Next to the wonderful picnic area, a gentle stream runs through and on either side is a lush green meadow. Often, daisies are sprinkled around this area, attracting indigenous birds and beautiful butterflies. On the outskirts of the picnic area, starts the dense and heavily wooded forest. Within the shaded forest area are numerous types of moss and fungi.
- This area used to be an old mining town, from which Jubilee creek yielded mostly alluvial gold.
- About 200m in, you will find evidence of the old mining days that comes in the form of a large pit on the left hand side of the path.
- Trees found on the walk:
- Tree ferns (Cyathea capensis).
- Bluegums (Eucalyptus globulus) which were originally planted by the miners.
- Birds found on the walk:
- Chorister Robin and Eastern Black-headed Oriole
- Cape White-eye
- Passing another miners digging spot you will reach a pool and waterfall, ideal for a cool off on a hot day.
- Watch out for the occasional Boomslang; very timid creatures, who will do anything to avoid you. They pose no danger to people who leave them alone.
- During the 1880s this area was exploited for its gold.
- The Millwood Circuit begins at what was once part of the mining settlement of Millwood. It is now Monk’s Store (familiarly known as ‘Materolli’) which contains relics of the town’s industrial peak.
- There is not much evidence to say that this was once a mining settlement; yet one other building still remains, Millwood House. It’s the areas museum which attempts to recreate the atmosphere of 1880s.
- A little further along the path (along the ridge of Nol se Kop) is a beautiful view of the valley below (the Millwood Nature Reserve) and the Outeniquas ( a mountain range).
- Watch out for a sign that is labeled “To mines 530m”, this steep slope will take you down to the entrance of two old mine shafts.
- Do not walk alone.
- Use a good map (take a compass if possible).
- Always tell someone at home what time you expect to be home, and let them know of your route before you leave.
- Wind proof clothing, wear well-worn in boots, hat (essential) a ‘space-blanket’.
- Always have water and some ‘high-voltage’ snacks, such as almonds.
- Beware of weather changes.
- If you get lost, find shelter and stay where you are. If it is dark, don’t wander around; wait until day-break before you go on.
“Best Walks of the Garden Route” by Colin Paterson-Jones , Ch.8, p.108-126 (Struik Publishers, 1992).
Stay at our Knysna Accommodation and do all 3 Knysna Walks.