Many ask: ‘where is the garden in the Garden Route?’ Well, nature’s garden surrounds Knysna and immersing yourself in it is an authentic experience that you will treasure.
I clearly recall the profoundly spiritual experience of walking the Elephant Trail hike in the Garden Route National Park outside Knysna. It follows the pathway cut through the beautiful indigenous forest by large herds of migrating elephants over a century ago. It somehow brings you back to considering who the ‘authentic you’ is – the values that form the essence of you when all else falls away. It surrounds you gently and inspires you with its simple beauty; a gurgling stream, sunlight filtering through century old giants and the aura of the last few shy elephants that seldom show themselves.
You feel welcome here and yesterdays and tomorrows are easily dismissed from your thoughts as you are spoilt by the beauty of each now moment. It is a feeling that our souls are immediately drawn to and that will refresh you as a memory when you return to your harsher life at home. Nature has blessed Knysna and resists attempts to release its gentle domination of the town. It was the valuable timber from these forests that first attracted habitation of this natural oasis on South Africa’s famous Garden Route. And today it still enhances the livings of those fortunate enough to live in one of Africa’s favourite holiday towns.
A variety of experiences await you below the tall canopies. There are several well-marked and uncrowded walking trails ranging in length from novice to advanced. Excellent mountain bike trails criss-cross the rolling hills and sumptuous valleys. Both are suitable for self-exploration, but guided options do exist. My favourite is Tony Cook Adventures. Tony is a character of the area who allows you a wonderfully authentic experience. On a whim, he will produce his guitar and sing songs that reminisce about the old days of the forest Gold Rush, when massive trees were dragged to town to provide supplies for the next three months of forest dwelling, and ships ran aground in the treacherous Knysna Heads that guard the entrance to its renowned estuary.
It is a welcome pause in an often frantic exploration of South African highlights. It’s a discerning experience for those who have discovered the fine art of meaningful exploration.
Shaun van Eck – Tourism Coach & Knysna Fan