Sawubona was recently invited to join South African National Parks (SANParks) on an exploration of their new Rooted in Timeself-drive track through the Garden Route National Park. The route, which winds through the historic Knysna Forest, offers travellers an alternative to the N2.
At the river’s edge
Included in the journey were stays at some of SANPark’s rest camps, which are ideal for travellers looking to stay over on either side of their Rooted in Time drive. The trip began at the Wilderness Ebb-and-Flow Rest Camp, an oasis in the quiet seaside town. A short drive from the Knysna Forest, guests can enjoy canoeing, hiking and mountain biking right on their doorstep.
Once in the idyllic town of Knysna, travellers continue on the N2 towards Plettenberg Bay and then take the R339 Uniondale turnoff. Before long, you’ll find yourself in the fairytale-like Knysna Forest, which is brimming with indigenous foliage, and a variety of bird species and wildlife.
Stops to take note of
There are a number of landmarks included in the route, which are a great excuse to stop for a rest along the five-hour track. Keen walkers will also find a number of walking trails marked on the map, which can be accessed online here. One of the more interesting aspects of this route is that it is home to the Knysna Elephants, the only free-roaming elephants in the country. Although luck would have to be on your side to spot one of the few remaining animals in the thick foliage, it’s exciting to know that they’re around.
A stop at Diepwalle will offer a chance to look around the Forest Legends Museum, which includes a skeleton of one of the Forest’s renowned elephants. Also on site is the Diepwalle Tea Garden, which is ideal for quick refreshment.
Although slightly off-route, a visit to the Spitskop Viewpoint is well-worth the drive as the views are wonderful. This region also offers travellers a chance to marvel at the fynbos landscape and rolling hills. Bear in mind that the drive to this viewpoint is relatively steep and will require an experienced driver!
The Big Tree is a billowingOuteniqua Yellowood, believed to be about 800 years old. Find out about the tree’s extensive history and stop for a picnic at this site. A small entrance free is charged.
A room with a view
The SANParks adventure concluded in Tsitsikamma, with an unwind and debrief at Storms River Mouth Rest Camp. The camp boast views of the seaside, which skirts the entire site, as well as a mountainous backdrop. This camp is currently undergoing upgrades to its entrance and, in the near future, its restaurant. The site offers accommodation ranging from three- or four-bedroom Oceanettes to four-bedroom Family Cottages. The layout of the chalets makes the site ideal for larger groups travelling together.
Dolphins and porpoises frequent the area and we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of whales as we left the camp.
The Garden Route is undoubtedly one of South Africa’s gems and Rooted in Time offers a glimpse into the region’s history and beauty. For more information on the Garden Route National Park, visit the SANParks website.
by Megan Whittington