#LoveSA: More hiking trails receive Green Flag accreditation in Garden Route's Wilderness

2018-05-07 12:30 - Kavitha Pillay
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Wilderness hiking trail. (Photo: Supplied)

Known for its abundant natural beauty, the Garden Route continues to thrive almost a year after the devastating fires ravaged through the lush landscape.

However, the popular tourist region was quick to recover, ensuring that annual events remain on track as far as possible and that beauty is restored to the Route.

SEE: #LoveSA: 11 Garden Route festivals perfect for long weekend escapes

The Wilderness section of the Garden Route National Park (GRNP) adds to the area's string of exquisite natural offerings, boasting a number of hikes and trails ideal for all levels of fitness.

Flying SA's 'green flag' high, four additional hiking trails in the Wilderness recently received Green Flag accreditation from the Hiking Organisation of Southern Africa (HOSA).

"This brings the number of accredited hiking trails to 18 in the Garden Route National Park. Twelve are in the Tsitsikamma section of the Park, 2 in the Knysna sections and the recent 4 in the Wilderness section," says GRNP's Nandi Mgwadlamba.

"Two of Knysna’s hiking trails - Perdekop in Harkerville and the Elephant route in Diepwalle - received Green Flag status accreditation by HOSA back in 2015," she adds.

The four accredited trails are the Half Collard Kingfisher trail (9.65km), Dune Mole Rat Trail (8.2km), Woodville Big Tree (2km) and the Circles in the Forest (3.4km).

According to Mgwadlamba, there are more people walking trails in Knysna, Wilderness and Tsitsikamma.

"A total of 667 people walked hiking trails in Knysna during the Easter Weekend only," she says, adding that the Garden of Eden had the most walkers - 266 of the 667 - while the King Edward Big tree saw 140 walkers, Kranshoek had 132 walkers, 70 walkers took on Diepwalle, while 59 walked Perdekop.

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"About 482 people walked the Half-collared Kingfisher trail only in Wilderness during the Easter Weekend compared to 356 last Easter," says Mgwadlamba, adding that the increase of walkers can be attributed to the Garden Route Festival that takes place over the same period.

"People are also walking trails in groups and are including hiking as one of numerous activities to do in the Park," she says.

Progress of hiking trails 

Following the Knysna fires, here's an update on the progress of some hiking trails to be ready in time for the Knysna Oyster Festival in July 2018.

Harkerville Trail

"The trail was re-routed in December 2017 pending the recovery of the burnt area however the coastal portion of the trail is still closed," says Mgwadlamba. However, there's an alternative scenic route open along the coastal ridge, and bookings for the trail are open.

Kranshoek Trail

Mgwadlamba says that the Kranshoek Trail is still closed with maintenance work currently underway. "About 90% of the route is complete but rebuilding and rehabilitation of the route is underway." 

Kranshoek Viewpoint

The viewpoint remains closed says Mgwadlamba, adding that it is "not accessible to visitors as yet until management and scientists have finalised urgent deliverables pertaining to the area".