Unforgettable overnight activities on the Garden Route

Posted on 5 August 2021 By Matt Sterne

The Garden Route – where life is just better. Is that really true? Well, the nature is difficult to beat. There’s the mountains, the forests, the rivers and the beaches. There’s a slower rhythm to life and there’s that house in Sedgefield that has dogs carved into its fence. What’s not to love? Maybe one of its greatest features is the diverse adventures right on its doorstep. Such as these three top-notch two-day excursions.

Overnight stay in the Fountain Shack, Robberg Nature Reserve

I imagine all groups follow a similar ritual upon arrival. Check out the hut, find the braai area, put up the chairs and crack a cold drink. Credit: Dania Petrik

There’s just something special having an entire reserve to yourself, which is exactly what happens when staying at the Fountain Shack. The reserve closes, everyone leaves, and you and your friends can pretend Robberg is your private empire.

Four kilometres long and just a few hundred metres wide, Robberg Peninsula is a sliver of land surrounded by the Indian Ocean. A circular walk extends around the peninsula and gives elevated views of the ocean. Look out for humpback, southern right and Bryde’s whales, dolphins and the odd great white. There’s a seal colony on the northern side of the peninsula.

The hut is an hour’s walk from the parking lot along a rocky coastal path, so it’s a logistical breeze. Carry your food, clothing and sleeping bags. With space for only eight people, the hut is simple but has decent amenities and kitchen. The Fountain Shack overlooks Die Eiland, a rocky outcrop with boardwalks, that’s linked to the peninsula through a tombola – a strip of sand with water on either side.

From R960 to R1600 per night. 0214830190

2. Hike the Harkerville Trail

Credit: SANParks

This magnificent two-day, 24-kilometre hike passes through prime examples of high-forest, crosses sections of coastal fynbos and takes the hiker along breathtaking natural scenery along coastal cliffs. Lying between Knysna and Plett, the trail along the coastline and through forest is reminiscent of the Otter Trail. It begins, however, at the end of another much-loved multi-day hike: the Outeniqua Trail. Due to this, it’s possible to add the Harkerville Trail onto the end of the Outeniqua.

The trail begins at the Harkerville Hut and will take you across wooden bridges and up ladders, chains, steep cliffs and narrow wooden stairs to soaring heights. It’s one of the more adventurous trails in the country.

Your overnight stay is at the Sinclair Hut. The long building has two cabins each with two triple bunks with mattresses. There are ladies and men’s ablutions with flushing toilets and hand basins. There’s no electricity, hot water or showers. There’s a big covered fireplace as well as a fire-pit on the huge lawn in front of the hut.

R390 pp.
Bookings for the two huts, the Harkerville and the Sinclair, should be made with the Forestry Regional Office in Knysna, Tel: (044) 302 5600.

Paddle to the Whiskey Creek Cabin

Credit: CapeNature

The Whiskey Creek canoe trail is a seven-kilometre paddle up the Keurbooms River, which takes around four hours, and ends at a self-catering cabin that sleeps up to 10 people. Another world awaits those who seek out the cabin. Within moments of setting forth on the river, the outside world disappears and paddlers find themselves in gorges thick with indigenous forests. Old man’s beard dangles from tall Outeniqua yellowwood trees, stinkwoods and Cape beech trees. Fish eagles, kingfishers and Knysna turacos can be spotted as you glide deeper into the wilderness.

After seven kilometres, the river becomes a series of low rapids. Here you’ll pull your canoe out onto the bank. From there it’s about a 300-metre walk along a timber walkway to the cabin, which is located on an elevated bend of the river. The cabin has an open-air kitchen shaded by a veranda roof, and an expansive deck with a braai area.

Peak: R2400 per night (up to a maximum of 10 persons)
Off-peak: R1470 per night (up to a maximum of 10 persons); Additional persons per night R230


Cover image by Dania Petrik

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