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Thursday, 28 April 2016 13:53

Autumn Trails - Kranshoek Coastal Trail

Looking to take a walk on the wild side. Look no further than the Kranshoek Coastal Hiking Trail. Engaging all the senses, this challenging 9km route provides not only the ultimate workout, but also the sweet serenity that comes from being in the great outdoors.

We recommend that you set aside a whole day for this trail, it is certainly not one to be rushed. You can take a dip along the way in untainted forest streams, or perhaps in one of the rock pools along the shoreline. There are so many spots en route which are ideal for picnicking - places to linger and digest the awesomeness of our region's diverse habitats.

The trail leads to the beach, where for some distance the crashing waves will be your guiding companion. But first, you will rove through an old coastal forest, and wind your way down from the plateau into a gorge through which a gentle river flows. You will walk among a variety of indigenous trees, which rise up in unison from the leaf-littered forest floor; you will walk past giant ferns and minute multi-coloured fungi; you will hop across tannin-tinted streams. The roar of the ocean can be heard while you are still deep in the forest, but eventually, from its cool shade the trail opens up onto the pebble strewn beach.

A little way down this beach is the turn off for the shorter 4km alternative route, which is recommended for those who are not quite as fit. It does nonetheless still require a good dose of stamina as there is a fair amount of climbing involved. Throughout the hike, you will come across interpretation boards covering various aspects of the ecology, such as the geological formations and the flora and fauna likely to be encountered here. It is interesting to learn just how these landscapes have formed over millions of years.

The trail weaves its way along the coastline, passing rocky outcrops that form buttresses to the invading sea. It is a kaleidoscope of colour around every corner: boulders draped with vivid orange and stark-white lichen; the emerald green of the forest and the sea’s shifting shades of blue. Make sure to look out for the rare Indo-Pacific humpback and inshore bottlenose dolphins. They often feed in the many rocky reefs close to the shore. Also from early winter and well into early summer one can see humpback and southern right whales skirting our Southern African coastline on their epic annual migration They can often be seen breaching from the shore - a totally mesmerizing sight.

The trail often veers off the beach, moving back into thickets of forest. Parts of the hike are very strenuous as one has to clamber over boulders in the pathway and there are lots of ascents and descents throughout the route. Eventually the trail makes a turn back into the forest for the final 200m ascent towards the plateau. When you finally reach the top, you will be afforded fantastic views of the coastline, this bird's eye view giving you an even greater appreciation for the trail you just walked. The vegetation along this part of the trail is very different, consisting of a variety of Fynbos species such as protea’s and erica’s. This final stretch of about 2km is fairly easy and flat and you will eventually find your way back to the Kranshoek picnic site from where you set off.


Entry is only R22 and is payable at the kiosk at the main gate.
For more information visit www.sanparks.co.za or call: (044) 302 5606

Published in Things to do
Friday, 18 March 2016 00:58

Take a journey into our past

In the year of 1876, a farmer by the name of James Hooper was ambling along the banks of the Karatara River on his farm, collecting stones to aid the digestion of his prized ostriches (yes, strangely enough, ostriches do not have teeth and therefore eat stones to help break down their food). Among this bed of stones something shimmered and caught his eye. He picked it up and suspected that he had stumbled upon a nugget of alluvial gold. His suspicions were confirmed by Knysna’s apothecary and well, the rest as they say, is history.

Throughout history, this precious metal has held the power to seduce and intoxicate mankind and in this case it was no different. Word of the discovery of gold in Knysna’s Millwood Forest spread fast and furiously, luring prospectors locally and from abroad to seek out their fortunes.

The team at Knysna & Partners was recently invited to take part in the Historical Millwood Goldmine Tour, which is one of the activities on the popular Rheenendal Ramble tourist route and which is led by accredited and extremely knowledgeable guide, Andrew Aikman. His captivating tales of the past took us all back in time to this short- lived period in Knysna’s history, when the area was in the grips of man’s relentless thirst for gold. We learnt that a bustling town sprang up and eventually there were up to 1000 people living there. Six hotels were built as well as two schools, three newspapers were established and a host of saloons mushroomed.

The problem was that no one struck gold in any large quantities and as the production was unable to sustain the large number of miners, the result was that the ‘rush’ lasted a little more than a decade.

The first stop on the tour is a visit to Mother Holly’s, one of the only remaining buildings of this gold mining boom. It houses a museum which contains fascinating relics of the past, not only of the gold mining era but also tales of the timber industry that is so deeply ingrained in our history. It also shows images of the iconic elephants that once roamed here, and sadly were hunted in large numbers.

The tour includes visits to two abandoned mines shafts, including the well-known Bendigo Mine, one of the mines in the area bearing reef gold. Walking through these dark chambers blasted out of hard bedrock, one can only imagine the gruelling life of these hopeful miners. Along the route is the restored mining equipment of the Bendigo Mine.

Our tour concluded with a visit to the amazing Tottie’s Farm Kitchen, another destination steeped in history. It is named after Florence Eleanor van Reenen, affectionately known as ‘Tottie’ by the van Reenen family. Born in 1878, she later moved to South Africa from New Zealand as a “Florence Nightingale” nurse during the Anglo-Boer War. In 1922 Tottie opened a general dealer store on her farm named Rheenendal, which is the building where “Totties” is situated today.

Tottie’s Farm Kitchen has remained in the family and is now run by her great-grandson Garth and his wife Marian. Beautiful old artefacts, coupled with antique lace, old photographs, eclectic reclaimed timber and freshly picked roses, gives this country restaurant an exquisite charm. And then there is the food. Their salads are out of this world and their burgers give new meaning to the phrase ‘gourmet burger’! On Sunday’s they offer a buffet to die for!

Looking for something to do over the holidays, check these tours out:
• Gold Mine Day Trip (Thursdays from 09h00) - Jubliee Creek Gold Mine Walk, Lunch @ Mother Holly’s, Gold Mine Tour, High Tea at Totties Farm Kitchen @ R950 per adult
• Mine and Bike Day Trip (Friday’s from 10h00) – Mine Tour, Refreshments at Mother Holly’s, 1hr20min cycle through indigenous forest and fynbos, lunch at Totties Farm Kitchen @ R950 per adult.
• Standard Goldmine Tour (Wed – Sunday: 10h00, 12h00, 14h00) @ R200 per adult
• Combo Deal (Sunday’s from 10h00) – Gold Mine Tour, Buffet Luncheon @ Totties Farm Kitchen @R325 per person.
Bookings essential via Totties Farm Kitchen 074 228 4103/ 044 389 0092

Published in Things to do

There are few things in life as rewarding as setting off on a walk into the wilderness. The Greater Knysna areas are blessed with vast tracts of untamed forest through which a variety of incredible trails have been blazed. These are diverse in nature; some are tame, easy ambles, whilst others are wilder and more physically and mentally challenging. There are certainly trails in and around Knysna to suit everybody’s taste and fitness levels.


One of the concerns hikers sometimes face is the lack of detailed information about certain of these trails, which results in some people somewhat reluctant to tackle them. This is where accredited Green Flag Trails are so useful. These trails give potential hikers all the information essential to making an informed decision before setting out. Green Flag Trails essentially strive to offer the hiker the best possible hiking experiences possible.


Green Flag Trails is a system that recognizes hikes in South Africa that meet minimum standards in terms of trail outlay, accommodation, facilities and service and safety. Perhaps the most important prerequisite for being accredited as a Green Flag Trail is that the trails and their associated facilities have to be managed in an environmentally responsible way, thus ensuring the conservation of our natural resources in the future.


Two of Knysna’s most celebrated trails, the Perdekop and the Olifant Trails received this Green Flag Status and for good reason. They fall within an area of astounding beauty, have high conservation value and promise hikers the best facets the forest has to offer with both safety and good facilities.


The beautiful Perdekop Hiking Trail is situated in Harkerville, between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna and well-known for its dense, cool, mystical Southern Afro-temperate montane forests. Here hikers can enjoy cola-coloured streams and all the vast array of species typical of these forest eco-systems. Included are some age old forest goliaths such as Cape Ash and yellowwood. This relatively easy, circular trail starts and ends at the SANParks Harkerville office and can be completed in between 3 and four hours at an unhurried pace. The direction of the horse’s muzzle shows you the way to go.

Classification: 1 day circular trail
Environmental character: Pristine
Accommodation: No accommodation
Facilities and safety: Good (heed flood warnings)
Environmental Education: Standard information along the trail.
Difficulty Rating: Easy

 

The Elephant/Olifant Day Walk is situated in the Garden Route National Park’s (GRNP) Diepwalle Forest of the Knysna Section. Named after the Knysna Elephant which once roamed these forests, the trail comprises three routes: the Black route (9km), White Route (7km) and Red Route (6.5 km). Only the Red trail has been Green Flag accreditation, but the other trails are similar in stature. This hike takes you through a classic example of Afro-montane forest; very dense and pristine with a very high moisture content. In some parts the canopy is so dense that the sun is unable to penetrate, making it wet and cool.


The trail starts at the SANParks Diepwalle forestry offices where hikers are given information pertaining to the trail, such as distance, layout and interesting aspects surrounding the fauna and flora found in and around the trail.

Classification: 1 day circular trail
Environmental character: Pristine
Accommodation: No accommodation
Facilities and safety: Good (heed flood warnings)
Difficulty Rating: Easy

For more information about the Green Flag Trails visit: www.greenflagtrails.co.za

Published in News snippets
Friday, 16 October 2015 08:24

Summertime destination gem!

The long, languid days of a Garden Route summer are truly sublime and when it comes to finding places to bask in the rays of a perfect summer’s day, we are definitely spoilt for choice.
This summer, make a plan to get to Drupkelders (literally meaning Dripping Cellars), a real gem in the Goudveld Forest near Rheenendal. To reach it, take a winding forest trail, where thousands of indigenous forest species rise up from a fertile landscape, forever reaching for the light. All sorts of forest fungi, brackets fungi, ferns and moss in countless forms and colours can be seen in the moist undergrowth of this forest.


Bird lovers will be in heaven here. Listen out for the call of the Knysna Touraco (Loerie), the rare Knysna Woodpecker or the gurgle of the Black-headed Oriole. It seems the mornings are best for forest bird chatter, so be sure to get there early.


The forest path eventually starts its rather steep descent toward the Homtini River Valley. Here you will be greeted by the murmur of rushing water. Finally, after about a 40 minute walk, the forest opens up to reveal a beautiful riverscape; a tannin coloured river that has carved its way over millennia through a valley of forest and sandstone, with a series of magnificent rock pools, boulders and waterfalls. It is the ideal place to picnic, swim and linger on a summer’s day.
This spot is actually named after the various stalagmites that can be seen in the ‘cellar’ on the banks of the river, a rock overhang where the water has percolated through the sandstone over thousands of years. A stalagmite is a type of rock formation that rises from the floor of a cave due to the accumulation of material deposited on the floor from ceiling drippings.


One of the alluring aspects of Drupkelders, is that due to the ecological sensitivity of this area it is open to only 12 people at a time, providing a genuine respite from the maddening summer crowds. This is a must-do local summer activity.


Distance: 3.6km in total
Difficulty: Moderate, quite a steep walk back.
Permits/Costs: R22pp for adults and R12pp for children under the age of 13. A permit must be obtained from the access gate at the Goudveld Entrance boom. You will turn left at this boom on your way to Drupkelders. You can also obtain a permit from the SANParks office on Thesen Island, Knysna.
Contact Number:
Thesen Island Office - 044 302 5600
Goudveld Entrance - 044 356 9021

Published in Things to do