Hi-Tec Garden Route Walking Festival
Words Fiona McIntosh, pics Shaen Adey
The Easter weekend sees the second edition of the Hi-Tec Garden Route Walking Festival, during which time hikers from around the country will gather to stride out on the area’s myriad trails with knowledgeable guides. Some hikes are well-known and iconic. Others are only well-kept secrets, open only during the festival, specialty walks or guided by celebrities.
Stretching from Mossel Bay to the lush indigenous forest of the Tsitsikamma, the Garden Route is a hiker’s paradise. There are high peaks to scale if you’re in need of a challenge, while those who prefer to take it slowly and smell the flowers can bumble along forest paths, stopping to check out the towering trees, colourful and rare flora, weird and wonderful fungi, reptiles and insects and listening to the calls of the birds. There’s big game in private reserves, and we all live in hope of sighting one of the last remaining Knysna elephants.
Fiona McIntosh, author of Top Hiking Trails of the Western Cape, list 10 reasons to walk the Garden Route this Easter.
1. To get a bird’s eye view of the Garden Route from one of its high peaks
Garden Route NP, Cradock Peak views, near George.
2. To spy elusive amphibians in the forest streams
3. To wander among the indigenous Tsitsikamma Forest checking out the fungi and life on the forest floor
Tsitsikamma Trail Bloukrans to Keurbos.
4. To learn about early hominids, and the Strandlopers who lived off this coastline on the St Blaize trail
St Blaize cave in Mossel Bay.
5. To walk deserted beaches and cool off in rock pools
Bathing in rock pools, Sedgefield beach.
6. To explore the rugged coastline of the Harkerville
Garden Route NP, Harkerville Coastal Hiking trail.
7. To stroll to tumbling waterfalls
Garden Route NP, Otter Trail.
8. To discover more about the marine life off the Garden Route coastline
9. To stroll the cliff paths
Orange cliffs on the Oystercatcher trail near Mossel Bay.
10. To smell the flowers
Flora in Tsitsikamma area.
South Africa’s only walking festival takes place on the Garden Route from 14th-17th April. There are over 52 different walks to choose most of which are free but since the festival supports local conservation groups and environmental charities donations are encouraged.
For the full programme and to register, visit http://walkingfestival.co.za