Circles in the Forest, the English translation of Dalene Mathee’s ‘Kringe in die bos’, the trail offers two distances, namely a 3km and a 9km walk. Starting from a giant Outeniqua Yellowwood (Podocarpus falcatus) estimated to be approximately 800 years old, both trails head off on one track before cutting off onto a single track which descends to a tree fern shrouded forest stream.
From the tree ferns the path gradually climbs a gentle slope to the split for the two distances, the 3km walk to the right and the 9km continuing straight.
The path follows a contour path past some old Ironwood, Stinkwood and Yellowwood trees before exiting into a picnic area adjacent to the parking area at start.
Admire the beautiful openings in the forest canopy which are caused by fallen trees. The trail then starts a gentle descent to a forest river which has numerous rock pools ideal for swimming. The best swimming hole has to be the fern fringed pool on the left of the path shortly after the 4.5km marker.
As you cross the river, a feint path turns off to the left through the ferns and leads to a large pool with a cascade flowing into it. From the river crossing, the route remains on a contour for 500m before climbing the slope to the 6km marker to rejoin the management jeep track. Considered steep by some, the track climbs for 1.5km to the upper contour back to the parking area. Along this section, scan the side of the track for elephant dung.
There is some controversy over the number of forest elephants living in the Garden Route National Park. The official stance by South African National Parks is that there is only one, The Matriarch. However independent surveys estimate the population at between eleven and 19 respectively.
Irrespective of the number, this section of the trail has ample evidence of dung which is mostly unnoticed by the vast majority of hikers. It is interesting to note that this Elephant population is the only free roaming population in South Africa.
The distinctive dark brown colour of rivers in the Garden Route is caused by tannins from forest humus and fynbos. The rivers in the Garden Route have a distinctive brown colour caused by tannins from the forest humus and mountain Fynbos. it is safe to swim in the water and if necessary, safe to drink. Some pools will have white foam on them —this is as a result of the tannin proteins being frothed as water flows over rocks.
GPS location at the start : 33°SS’OO.42”S 22°57’28.63″E