Forests in South Africa

Forest activities in South Africa.

Our forests are not nearly as extensive as they once were, but there are some remaining stands of beautiful old forest. The most accessible are undoubtedly the Knysna and Tsitisikamma on the Garden Route.

The Hogsback Mountains, near East London are also home to some lovely forests but the infrastructure is not nearly as well developed. In Limpopo Province, the forests of Magoebaskloof are probably the most extensive stand of indigenous forest in the country. There are lovely hikes.

KwaZulu-Natal's forests are a bit scattered but there are some wonderful examples. The most easily accessible is the Dlinza State Forest, right in the heart of the town of Eshowe, in Zululand. As well as lovely walks, and even a very short cycle trail, there is a high-level boardwalk which gives access to the forest canopy and offers wonderful bird watching.

Certainly our beautiful forests were more abundant in the past but we still have some extensive stands. The coastal forests of the Garden Route and the montane forests of the Eastern Cape are the most accessible. The northern part of Limpopo province has extensive bands of forest which are jealously guarded by the local population as they are considered sacred.

You may look at them from the edge, but may not enter. Surely, it is traditions like these that have preserved many of our otherwise endangered environments. There are some magnificent coastal dune forests in the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park. And, all over the country, there are remnant forests tucked away in deep kloofs (or gorges) in the more mountainous areas.

The forest species are mostly large trees which grow to form a huge canopy and under which all manner of shade-loving plants can grow. Mosses, orchids, lichens and an astonishing number and variety of ferns flourish in the protection of the giant trees.

One of the best places to experience our wonderful forests is in the Tsitsikamma National Park. For a really intimate experience with some big old forest trees, you could try the tree-top canopy tour in the Tsitsikamma Forest.

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