12 August 2011 by Kate Turkington

Get a bird’s eye view of the Garden Route’s great trees

It’s not often you get the chance to hike in a pristine high moist closed-canopy afromontane forest. And if that sounds a mouthful - well, that’s because there really is no other way to accurately describe this magical forest.

Hike any 1 of 3 Groeneweide trails, which begin on the doorstep of George, and you’ll penetrate deep forest with one of the best collections of large indigenous trees of all the Garden Route trails. Give yourself 3-4 hours to fully enjoy either the 9km Green route or the 11km Blue route or longer for the 15km Red route.  Both trails are managed by Sanparks.

It’s not a route march, although there is a river to ford and some ups and downs, but the highlight of both trails is when you follow a contour path and walk along a ridge which puts you on the equivalent of the forest canopy.

Look down and see towering giants stretching up from the valley floor. Spot Outeniqua yellowwoods, ironwoods and get a close-up of a Cape plane tree, which, on a hot summer day when the berg wind blows, ‘sweats’ beads of moisture through its bark.

There are special birds too, including the Knysna turaco, Starred robin, Narina trogon, Olive and Knysna woodpeckers and Forest buzzards.

The magic is intensified when shafts of sunlight break through the thick canopy illuminating a leaf, a twig, a patch of ground on the forest floor.


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