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SSouth Africa’s forests take many forms, although they make up a small number of the ecosystems in the country. A large portion of South Africa's forests are renowned for their incredible biodiversity and beauty, with special emphasis on unique flora and abundant birdlife.
The magic of South Africa's forests finds its essence and heart in the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park. Here you’ll find rocky cliffs dropping to the Indian Ocean, and a narrow band of giant evergreen yellowwood, mountain cypresses, wild pears, stinkwood, Cape chestnuts and the unmistakable ironwood trees.
What happens below is as special—a world of ferns, lilies, witch hazel and the pale, velvet-soft, fragrant Boesmans Kooi. It is a nature lover's dream! South African forest conservation was one of the very first environmental efforts in this country, and once you visit one, you will come to see why.
MMany forests of South Africa are confined to the coastal provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Eastern Cape, although hundreds of smaller forests are tucked into the valleys and gorges of mighty mountain ranges as hidden gems.
KwaZulu-Natal’s Dlinza Forest boasts an aerial boardwalk, where you have canopy-level access to its gloriously rich birdlife, or you could visit Ndumo Game Reserve to appreciate its unique and rare fever forest.
TThen there’s the equally amazing Mkhuze Fig Forest, set in a World Heritage Site. If cycads interest you, these prehistoric plants proliferate in the Ongoye Forest, in company with the green barbet, a bird found nowhere else in the world. Other forests found in this province include Hawaan, Hlatikhulu, Karkloof, Ngome and Weza, each with its own endemic plant and animal species that set it apart from its surrounds.
The Grootvadersbosch near Swellendam is another one of the forests in South Africa that has enormous cultural and natural value. Its habitat includes rare fynbos vegetation and walking trails that wind around massive trees.
However, the most mysterious of the country’s forests has to be the Limpopo province’s Modjadji Cycad Forest. The oldest cycads in the world grow here and are inextricably linked to the magical culture of Modjadji (the rain queen) and her people, the Balobedu. The deep gorges and ravines that characterise the rugged Eastern Cape are home to forests such as the indigenous Afro-montane Hogsback, Kologha, Longmore, Plaatbos, Storms River and the fynbos biome of Witelsbos.