Wind: 14.48 km/h
Are you up for joining some adventurous or sporty activities to get the blood flowing this winter? You’d better hurry up and get those entries secured or you will be watching from the side-lines! The 2019 Oyster Festival has lots to offer for outdoor lovers of all fitness levels, so don’t get left behind!
For the cyclists the famous Knysna Cycle Tour has announced new and improved routes for their biggest events, so get your gear ready as entries close on 14 June 2019. Visit www.knysnacycle.co.za to book your place.
If you’re up for a bumpier ride, the Mountain Bike Meander has both social and competitive races with limited spots available, enter now at www.electricink.co.za.
A Kurland Forest Triathlon should prove exciting for those who need a little more of a challenge and if you don’t want to miss out be sure to book your entries at www.electricink.co.za soon.
Knysna Forest Marathon entries have unfortunately already closed but athletes should not worry as the Houtkapper Trail still has a few spots available with 15 or 27 km race options to choose from followed by fun activities for all at the Quinta Da Montanha. Enter at www.knysnamarathonclub.com/houtkapper-trail-run.
For the ‘normal’ people who like running but in moderation and have kiddies to include in their daily plans, the IKASI Colour Fun Runs and activities at Loerie Park promise to be great fun for the whole family and tickets are going fast, so get yours now at the Visit Knysna office at 40 Main Road.
FNB Family Forest Hikes, or Trail Runs for those who think walking is boring, is an exciting opportunity to get yourself, your children, your parents and friends all out of the house this holiday. Book the whole family now on www.electricink.co.za.
Now we know there are also those who don’t mind running as long as they are running after a ball! For these people we have all sorts of sporting tournaments from Rugby to Soccer and even Netball and Basketball. For those who aren’t into chasing the ball but rather hitting it away we have the Golf: Motus Heron Classic and Golf: Europcar Knysna Classic tournaments at Pezula Gold Course. But not to worry if you do not like balls at all because for you we have a special boxing tournament on Saturday the 29th. Visit www.knysnaoysterfestival.co.za to get in contact with any of the sports organisers.
Then, finally, for those who some might think are slightly crazy there is the Knysna Lagoon Mile swim on Friday 28 June. If you’ve never seen humans turn a shade of blue, be sure to attend, as this event is for the bravest of them all. Get your trunks out and hold your breath as we will be cheering for you from the side for this one!
Don’t be the left out this winter! Visit www.KysnaOysterFestival.co.za for details on these events and more now!
Set high upon the verdant southern slopes overlooking the Indian Ocean, Brenton on Sea is one of Greater Knysna's most popular seaside destinations. Characterised by lovely sweeping beaches, it serves as a bustling hub for holiday makers throughout the year.
Back in 1991, it received unique conservation status for being the last remaining stronghold for the rare Brenton Blue Butterfly, which exists here, and only here, on a small dedicated reserve. The protected colony thrives here along with many other indigenous species of fauna and flora.
Brenton is also renowned for its extraordinary ocean vistas and they say that one of the best ways to appreciate them, is by taking a leisurely stroll along Fisherman' Walk. So, that is exactly what we did, early one summer morning.
As we stepped on to the path of the Fisherman's Walk, the sky was still blushed pink and the vegetated southern slopes of Brenton on Sea were still cast in deep shadow. Only the sandy arc and homes of Buffalo Bay in the distance were lit up by the sun's early rays. The air was still and warm as we made our way along this popular trail which skirts the edges of this coastal cliff. The only sounds at that moment were that of Cape bulbuls and breaking waves. That is perhaps the true wonder and allure of this trail - that the Indian Ocean is your constant companion throughout and that from lofty heights, from east to west, we were able to experience sweeping views of this iconic coastline. Far down below, we could see the waves gently spilling onto “Millionare's Beach”, a small, isolated hidden gem popular among locals.
The upper reaches of the trail are relatively flat and easy to navigate and led us through diverse habitats and vegetation types, including coastal fynbos (Knysna Sand Fynbos and Southern Cape Dune Fynbos), coastal thicket and small tracts of Western Cape Milkwood Forest, all supporting incredible bird, mammal and insect life. One of the animals you may encounter at some point along this trail, if you are lucky, is bush buck, as Brenton residents enjoy frequent sightings. On many days you are also likely see either inshore- bottlenose or Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins close to shore, both species often seen feeding among the rocky reefs and surfing the waves throughout this stretch of coastline.
The indigenous vegetation along these southern slopes provide an important coastal ecological corridor, and the conservation of these various habitats and associated species is therefore of utmost importance. The plants rooted here also serve to stabilise potentially erodible and unstable dunes, as well as acting as a buffer for nearby homes from wind and salt sea spray.
Whilst the majority of the pathway is fairly open with views of the sea, there are several sections that are cloaked in beautiful coastal thicket. A total of 18 benches have been strategically placed along the trail, which gave us an excuse to stop, sit, and soak in the scenery before us. Some of the benches have commemorative plaques, in honour of loved ones. There are also larger viewing decks, which serve as popular whale viewing platforms. Every year we are privileged to witness thousands of humpback and southern right whales moving past our Garden Route coastline on their epic annual migration.
The trail eventually led us to a set of 255 stairs, which takes walkers down to Die Blokke Beach. Although the trail itself is not associated with any noteworthy cultural or historical heritage features, both Die Blokke Beach and Millionaire’s Beach contain shell middens and caves of paleontological significance from the Strandloper era and as such, should be conserved. We decided not to tackle the steep jaunt down to the beach and made our way slowly back to the entrance of Fisherman's Walk.
A significant portion of this trail is on land owned by the Knysna Municipality, but much of it runs directly adjacent to many private homes. The eastern section of the pathway and main access route down the dune cliffs to another beach named 'Die Blokke Beach', is located on land that is part of the Southern Right Private Nature Reserve and Estate. In order to collectively maintain the natural vegetation, a Fisherman’s Walk Maintenance Management Plan has been developed (but not yet implemented) to ensure the ongoing environmental protection of this truly incredible natural asset, which is open for both locals and visitors to enjoy.
(There are currently 4 points at which users can access Fisherman’s Walk, only two of which are official, signposted points of entry. These two official entry points are both located at Steenbras Street, more or less opposite the Sheercliff’s development, and opposite Freesia Road. )
I made my way slowly along one of the many narrow trails which lead visitors through the Pledge Nature Reserve in Knysna. It was slow going because so often I just simply had to stop and momentarily gaze at a particular plant specimen which flanked my path, the unique beauty of each flowering variety heralding the arrival of Spring.
Almost 300 different species are rooted across this reserve. The bird life is notable, too ,with at least 98 species recorded and the birdsong was therefore a constant companion throughout my walk. The upper reaches are characterised by a mosaic of rare Garden Route Shale Fynbos. I linked onto the Fynbos Trail, which is dominated by species such as Proteas and Restios. The Ericas with their wispy sprays of mauve and white flowers punctuated the blue skies, and buchu varieties filled the air with a heady scent. The trail led up to a spectacular vantage point, which boast impressive views of the estuary and the Knysna heads.
The lower-lying trails traverse through Riverine Thicket and lovely wetland vegetation and are veiled in a leafy cloak, the twisted boughs of many different trees reaching upwards in pursuit of light. They are edged with a host of shade lovers such as Plectranthus, the delicate purple flowers occasionally catching the thin rods of light which sneak in through the dense foliage. The bright orange petals of the Clivias, in strong contrast against the green palette of the forest, demanded my attention, as did the bright flowers of the Wild Pomegranate.
It was easy to understand why this place is dubbed the 'Green Heart of Knysna'. When you are in the midst of this natural wonderland, one can so easily forget, for a brief moment, that this 10 hectare reserve lies right in the middle of Knysna's very busy urban landscape. That is the beauty of it. That this remaining vestige of the natural world is there for us to enjoy, right on our doorstep.
It wasn't always this pristine. The land was once a brick-field during the time of the timber boom of the 1800’s and thereafter it became an informal dumping ground, which then tainted the once crystal clear streams running through it and which eventually spill into the Knysna Estuary.
Fortunately the land, which lies just 200m from the Main Road that runs through Knysna, was proclaimed a Nature Reserve in a 1991 and has since , with the combined efforts of flora loving locals, been transformed and revived close to what it perhaps once was in its pristine state. It went from toxic dumping ground where invasive alien species ran rampant, to a place where indigenous life in many shapes and forms prosper.
There are various trails from which to choose, and one can quite easily spend hours ambling about the place. We are extremely fortunate to have this little green gem, which is somewhat unique for an urban centre. In order for it to succeed in the long term, it needs full support from both locals and visitors. So grab a friend and go for a walk during your lunch break, or head up to the top for an after-hours respite and take in the wonders of our unique natural heritage.
Tickets can be bought at the top entrance of the reserve, the Knysna Tourism office, Polvo Coffee and Wayside Inn.
The Reserve hosts a Full Moon Night Walk, where visitors will have the opportunity to hear and hopefully see the creatures of the night. The next one takes place on Thursday, 15 September 2016.
Guided walks with bird, plant, or wildlife specialists can be arranged.
Route: Most of the trail follows fairly easy contours in the indigenous forest and plantation. It is enhanced by winding single-track slip-paths, shady plantation and indigenous forest roads offering a regular bird's eye view of the surrounding area. It is a moderate ride with the exception of a steep 4km climb. A quality ride not requiring advanced technical skills.
Route: An easy introductory route for novice riders and families through Pine plantations and pockets of indigenous forest as well as some open fynbos offering views of the farming area below with glimpses of the sea in the distance.
Petrus-se-Brand Cycle Route
Route: Beautiful views. Ride through pristine indigenous forest, small sections of fynbos and plantations. Low water bridge crossings.
Trail Type: Jeep tracks, single track and logging roads.
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
The crisper, cooler weather of Autumn is the ideal time to tackle our many and varied hiking trails. Over the next few weeks Knysna & Partners will be showcasing several trails off the beaten track: from the mountains to the sea, and several spots in between.
Before you even get a chance to embark on the Bushpig Trail, which is just one trail option in the Goukamma Nature Reserve, hikers need to first navigate the width of the cola-coloured Goukamma River. This involves winching yourself over in a little boat and makes for an adventurous start to this really awesome trail. After reaching the other side, the start of the trail veers immediately right and if the mouth of the river system is closed, the water levels are often quite high, so you may need to walk through a little bit of water before reaching the slightly higher part of the trail. Rest assured, it will be well worth it because this trail is picture postcard pretty in every way.
Not too long after the start of the trail, after a fairly easy ascent, hikers are afforded magnificent views of the Goukamma River Valley below, the indigo Indian Ocean to the south and the distant Outeniqua Mountains to the north. The 6,5km circular route takes two to three hours depending on your pace and how often you stop to stare at the nature’s eye candy.
The trail traverses one of South Africa’s highest and most extensive dune fields, where a large variety of both fynbos and forest species prosper. In the beginning the landscape is dominated by particularly large white bristle bushes (Metalasia muricata), also known as Blombos, which are crowned with sprays of white flowers that infuse the air with their honey scent. This particular shrub is an important component of the coastal and mountain fynbos regions of the Western Cape.
Another common fynbos species seen here is the dune crow-berry (Rhus crenata), a multi-branched evergreen shrub or small tree with delicate flowers that are produced in autumn, followed by dark blue fruit which is loved by the reserve’s birdlife, seen flitting from one flowering fynbos species to another. The diversity here is rich.
The trail ascends further upward and extends westward along the fynbos covered ridge for some time. But when the trail turns and starts making its way south again, the vegetation suddenly shifts. It veers into the cooler, verdant tracts of dune forest where our national tree, the Milkwood, is rooted in abundance, along with many other coastal forest species such as candlewood and yellowwoods.
Almost at the end of the trail, there is an option to veer right toward the beach, were you can stop and relax and enjoy the uninterrupted coastline of this unspoilt reserve, which boasts a Marine Protected Area which extends for 14km in length and one nautical mile offshore. Then it is just a short walk back to the river, where you need to pull yourself once again back to the other side where you can enjoy a picnic at one of many of the tables dotted along the river bank. and take a refreshing swim in the river!
Important to note:
• No camping or caravanning/no bait collection/no spear fishing/no fires on the beach/no motorbikes.
• Permits may be purchased for R40 per adult and R20 per child at the reserve office or through Cape Nature Central Reservations.
• Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat.
• Do not hike alone.
• Carry enough food and water with you.
• Make sure you know what the weather conditions are before you depart.
• Take a warm jacket/raincoat in winter.
• Make sure you have a relevant map of the area.
• Take a field medical kit with you for emergencies.
• Obey all signage.
• Stay in a group and on the trails.
And last but not least, help protect nature, leave only footprints and take only memories with you!
There is something quite magical about walking through Knysna’s lush forest realm. It cloaks so much life, both big and small ensuring something new and interesting to see, touch, smell and hear. You could walk here every day and be surprised by something different each time.
While all life in the forest is wondrous, the unique characteristics of certain fauna and flora make them more eye-catching than others. Take, for example, some of the big daddies of the forest - the Outeniqua Yellowwoods (Podocarpus falcatus). These majestic trees soar upward towards, and occasionally beyond, the forest canopy. If you want to see just how spectacularly big they can grow, head to the Diepwalle Forest east of Knysna to admire out the King Edward VII tree, which has been rooted there for almost 700 years. This beautiful tree is more than 40m tall and has a bole circumference of a whopping 7m. It stands sentinel over this protected tract of forest like a living natural monument - one that has stood the test of time.
Another fascinating and otherworldly species that is often seen is ‘old man’s beard’ (Usnea barbata). This specie is wispy, pale green lichen that dangles delicately from the boughs of many tree species. All lichens are the product of a symbiotic relationship between a fungus and a photosynthetic partner, usually algae, which have evolved together to behave and look like an entirely new being.
What is interesting about this particular lichen is that it is highly sensitive to environmental disturbance, especially pollution, and has thus been hailed as a valuable indicator for air quality. Old man’s beard grows prolifically in our forests, and is therefore a wonderful sign of our untainted air quality.
Green obviously dominates the forest colour palette. Therefore the brightly coloured profusion of various species of bracket fungus is so eye-catching. Occurring in various shapes, colours and sizes and seen protruding like a shelf on both live and dead and decaying trees, bracket fungus plays an important role in the decomposition of wood in the forest.
Another plant that is often lit up by the early morning dappled forest light, is the common forest grape (Rhoicissus tomentosa) – an attractive, vigorous climber with velvety tendrils and pretty vine-like leaves and sprays of grape-like fruit. These forest grapes are loved by forest dwelling birds such as the Knysna Loerie. They can climb towards the tops of the tallest trees in the forest, often as high as 20 metres.
The leaves of the common forest grape exhibit an interesting natural phenomenon called guttation. This happens when glistening drops of clear, watery fluid collect on the margins of the leaf and is best seen in early morning after humid windless nights. Do not confuse these drops of moisture for dew, they are not. These are drops of liquid forced out of the plant when soil moisture is high and atmospheric conditions are not good for transpiration (evaporation of water via the leaves). The root pressure builds up and the plant cannot rid itself of water fast enough so the liquid is pushed out of the tips of the veins in the leaves.
The complex web of life in our Knysna Forests tells a captivating tale and is what makes a forest walk here so richly rewarding!
For more information on Knysna’s network of forest trails visit: www.visitknsyna.co.za
Goukamma Nature Reserve and Marine Protected Area, situated on the Garden Route between Sedgefield and Knysna, has a diverse array of fascinating habitats and an abundance of smaller wildlife, birds, fish and other recreational activities like hikes, canoeing and accommodation.