The Garden Route is known for its beautiful coastline with ancient forests and mountains stretching out in the background as far as the eye can see. The Garden Route has something for everyone and is filled with all types of outdoor adventures. Thrill seekers will have a ball of a time with the world’s highest bungee jump at Bloukrans (216 meters) and zip lines and canopy tours stretching from Mossel Bay to Tsitsikamma. One of the best ways to see and explore this exceptional area is by foot. The Garden Route is filled with unforgettable hikes and walks for every fitness level and will leave you spellbound and wanting more. So don’t forget your camera and sunscreen and remember to bring lots of water. Here are three must do walks when visiting the Garden Route.
Robberg Hiking Trail
Robberg Nature Reserve is a World Heritage Site, a national monument and marine protected area that lies just outside of Plettenberg Bay. The iconic Robberg peninsula is one of the must do hikes in the Southern Cape. Robberg Nature Reserve offers more than just a hike as visitors are able to visit Nelson’s Cave, a Stone Age archaeological site that dates back as far as 125 000 years. There are three walks to do at Robberg Nature Reserve, which are rated from easy to intermediate and hard. The easy walk is a quick 2km hike to the Gap and back to the parking lot. The walk offers great view points to spot sharks in the bay. The intermediate walk is a 4km hike from the car park to Witsand sand dune, which goes down to the beach and is a great walk if you want to have a swim and explore the island with built walkways. The 9km walk is the hardest but most rewarding hike and goes right around the peninsula, past the point and back around the other side of the peninsula. The hike will take visitors past the seal colony and offers breathtaking views of the bay, with lucky hikers being able to see dolphins and whales. The point circuit hike takes about 4 hours to complete and water, hats, sun block and cameras are a must! The nature reserve is managed by CapeNature and the cost is R50 for adults and R30 for children.
Salt River Hiking Trail
Nature’s Valley is a beautiful thirty-minute drive from Plettenberg Bay and offers the spectacular Salt River Hiking Trail. The drive down Grootriver Pass to Nature’s Valley gives wonderful views of enormous ancient yellowwood trees in the indigenous forest and is worth a stop. The Salt River Hiking trail is a short and relatively easy walk of about 5km. Park the car at the curio shop and walk down to the beach and turn right until you reach the notice board (about 150m) that signals the starting point of the hike. The hike winds up the hill through the indigenous forest and leads to the Salt River mouth. The river mouth makes for a great midway picnic stop and a swim on a hot summer’s day. The hike is free of charge and cell phone reception is minimal so take plenty of water for the walk.
The Forest Trail at Belle Balance
This is one of the newest and most exciting walks on the Garden Route and offers majestic views of the Keurbooms River, its tributary the Palmiet River and the Tsitsikamma mountains and has recently been completed. The Forest Trail starts at the watering hole at Belle Balance, which is located inside the Plett Nature Reserve and winds down the mountain into the valley. The bottom of the valley has rock pools that make for a beautiful, secluded and much-needed shady rest stop after the first descent. The walk then goes through the indigenous forest up the next hill. The top part of the walk winds around a hill in a loop where the cries of fish eagles can be heard in the distance. Walking decks have been put in place where the going gets tough to make the walk easier. This is a 6km intermediate guided walk, which takes about 2 hours to complete and costs R80 per person. The Boma at Belle Balance is the perfect spot to sit back and relax after completing the Forest Trail. Booking for the Forest Trail must be made in advance and is open to guests and visitors.