Tony Cook Adventures

Escorted walking, hiking, biking, canoeing, kiting, and surfing trips in South Africa's spectacular Garden Route. We offer day tours, shorter walks and overnight walking tours can be arranged.

Grade

Pretty Wild

Disabled Friendly

No

Accommodation

No

Team Building Facilities

Yes

Family Friendly

Yes

Knysna Forest Tours situated in South Africa

Escorted walking, hiking, biking, canoeing, kiting, and surfing trips in South Africa’s spectacular Garden Route.

Escorted walking in the Garden Route – Discover the best trails in the Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and George areas on foot. Routes are selected for the quality of walking, outstanding places of interest and the magnificent views. We will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to the guided walk of your choice. All practicalities are taken care of and you are free to enjoy the area.

We offer day tours; shorter walks and overnight walking tours can be arranged.

Mountain Bike Tours

Guided mountain bike trips in the Knysna Forest. We cater for complete beginner’s right through the experts. All equipment is provided i.e. Bikes, helmets, water bottles, permits, light refreshments after the ride, and all transport from Knysna to the forest and return. A variety of trails to choose from.

Types of hikes, walks, overnight hiking and day walks are described in the additional writing. Walks and Hikes

All the following walks and hikes can be combined to do a weeks’ walking vacation, staying in accommodation of your choice. Should you require assistance with accommodation, we would be happy to help arrange accommodation at Point Lodge, Knysna Hollow, Knysna Log Inn or Elephant Hide Guest House.

(All trips below can below also be done as a trail run)

The Elephant Walks

·         Time: 3 hours to 5 hours

·         Distance: 7kms, 8kms, 9kms or 15kms

·         Exertion: Light to moderate

·         Features: Magnificent moist high forest, the old forest railway line, the King Edward VII 600 year old Outeniqua Yellow wood tree, forest birds, fungi.

Description:

All three walks are in the Diepwalle Forest, once home to herds of 500-600 elephants of which now only three remain. (Officially, but who knows.)

This area was also home to the famous woodcutters. The walks are great for anyone wanting to get a real forest experience with all the forest birds, the fungi, the mushrooms, the bushbuck, baboons … the list is endless. Two walks can be done back to back to make a full day hike of 15kms. My personal favourite is the 8km route.

On this route there are at least 4 magnificent 800 year-old Outeniqua Yellowwoods that somehow escaped the Woodcutters axes back in the 1800’s. Forest giants in their natural habitat. There are also large areas of Tree Ferns … picturing Jurassic Park … or Lord of the Rings … it’s like being lost in time. Truly awesome. The walks are all fairly gentle and come be done anyone with a moderate fitness. I recommend this one for tree lovers!!

Goukamma Nature Reserve

·         Time: 4 hours.

·         Distance: 8kms

·         Exertion: Light to moderate

·         Features: Dune forest, dune fynbos, coastal dune/beach, Goukamma river crossing, birds, Milkwood forest.

Description:

This is a shorter fairly easy walk with outstanding views. We walk up and over some fairly vegetated dunes and return back to the reserve through the Milkwood forest.

The walk starts by crossing the river in a small boat and then we climb through beautiful dune forest up the top of the dunes for unreal 360 degree views of the completely undisturbed beach, Goukamma river mouth, dune forest and on the other side one looks straight through to the indigenous forest and the George Mountains in the distance. A fantastic coastal walk.

Millwood Mines Circuit

·         Time: 2½ hours

·         Distance: 6kms

·         Exertion: Light

·         Features: Historic interest, beautiful indigenous forest and mountains, old abandoned mine shafts in the kloofs and gorges.

Description:

A short easy but incredibly interesting walk with outstanding examples of mountain fynbos and moist high forest. The site where gold was first discovered in RSA in the middle of the Knysna Forests.

Explore old shafts in the forest nestled behind little water falls, listen to the famous lories and then visit the old mining museum and original site the Millwood village. Nothing remains of the old village except some old restored mining equipment.

The forest has basically returned to its original state and the forest slumbers peacefully in the foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains.

Kranshoek Coastal Trail

·         Time: 3-5 hours

·         Distance: 9.4 kms

·         Exertion: Moderate

·         Features: Spectacular coastal scenery, indigenous forest, Riverine forest, fynbos, rocky beach.

Description:

A circular walk, which traverses amazing coastal scenery. The full walk is fairly tough and demands a descent and ascent of 200 meters.

The walk passes through prime examples of high forest, crosses sections of coastal Fynbos and takes the hiker along some breathtaking natural scenery along a cliff coast. A chance to spot the elusive Cape Clawless Otter. Whales are abundant in season. (July – September)

Woodcutters Trail

·         Time: 1 ½ hrs or 4 hours

·         Distance: 3kms or 9kms

·         Exertion: Light to moderate

·         Features: The heart of the Knysna Indigenous Forest in the Goudveld area with many prime examples of 600+ year old Outeniqua Yellowwoods and 3m high tree ferns.

Description:

Huge trees, old giants, the hysterical cackling of Red Billed Wood hoopoes, massive Tree Ferns, gulley’s, streams, ancient Iron wood trees – this is the heart of the forest. Arum Lilies, fungi, bracket fungus, porcupines, dreams of Oupoot ( the long lost hero matriarch Elephant made famous by Dalene Mathee,) Baboon droppings, Bush pig droppings and Bushbuck droppings are seen on almost every corner.

A real forest experience, this is one you HAVE to do. Suitable for all ages, from 5 years old to…

Natures Valley

·         Time: 6 hours

·         Distance: 16kms

·         Exertion: Moderate to high

·         Features: Magnificent unspoilt surroundings, Salt River Estuary, Mountain Fynbos, Indigenous Forest, birds, wildlife, spectacular views, huge yellowwood trees.

Description:

This is a 16km circular route in Natures Valley. An amazing walk in the De Vasselot area of the Tsitsikamma National Park.

Densely overgrown mountains, impenetrable forests and deep ravines made travel by wagon and ox almost impossible, thus making this area basically inaccessible to exploiters. Previously the area was inhabited by the Khoisan (Hottentots/Bushmen).

View varied and totally unspoilt surroundings with more than 60 species of birds from 3 different habitats. A truly beautiful walk of moderate to high exertion.

Robberg Nature Reserve

·         Time: 4 hours

·         Distance: 11kms

·         Exertion: Moderate

·         Features: Unbelievable coastal scenery and views across Plettenberg Bay. Geological and archaeological interest, intertidal zone, huge seal colony, sea birds and animal-life.

Description:

The Robberg Peninsula is a nature reserve and a national monument. A moderately strenuous circular walk which leads out high on the northern side of Robberg to the point, returning along the southern coastline to the Gap.

Also the site of Nelson Bay Cave – first occupied 120 000 years ago. Hundreds of seals gather on the rocks at Grasnek and be viewed easily from high up on the cliffs. A perfect opportunity to see dolphins, penguins, and whales. ( whales only in season).

The huge diversity of bird life, amazing Fynbos, and evidence of rocks dating back to the early Cretaceous period ( 130 – 110 million years ago) make this an extremely enjoyable walk with spectacular coastal scenery. An experience not easily forgotten.

Cradock’s Berg and George Peak Trail

·         Time: 9 hours

·         Distance: 21.1kms or 19kms

·         Exertion: Very high

·         Features: Hike to the top of the world in the George region of the Outeniqua mountains. Views never seen before. Why do it? Because we can!!!!!

Description:

The views are immense from the top. You can see the whole Garden route landscape from up there. Mountain Fynbos and jagged peaks. A very strenuous walk but the rewards are unreal.

Don’t forget your camera on this one. We climb up to 1579 meters above sea-level – the highest peak in the area. Warm and wind-proof clothing is essential as the weather can turn quickly and it can get very cold up there. This is a great adventure.

Overnight Tours
Swartberg Mountain Trail

We present a guided and fully portaged trail in the Swartberg Nature Reserve. Guests carry only a day pack each day!!

Luggage is transported via 4×4 to overnight stops.

Trail duration:

·         4 night /5 day trail.

(Please note day 5 is reserved for travel home/transfers back to Knysna or George Airport)

Some facts about the trail:

Climates are extreme here. Very cold winters bringing snow to the mountains and temperatures well below zero. Summers can be very hot with temperatures reaching 40 degrees! Rain occurs throughout the year, peaking in early winter and spring, with thundershowers in the summer months.

Best times to walk are Spring and Autumn.

The vegetation in the Swartberg is very diverse and includes Renosterveld, mountain fynbos, Karoo-Veld, spekboomveld and numerous geophytes species. Some species bloom throughout the year attracting large numbers of sunbirds and sugarbirds. Great for the twitchers!!

Hikers must be fit to walk this trail!! We have decided to vary the distances and made it as easy as possible but we are still basically walking in the mountains, so preparation is everything in order get the best out of this hike. Expect moderate to strenuous walking on two of the days, no climbing required.

What to bring:

·         Hiking boots and socks

·         Slipslops

·         Insect repellent

·         Sunblock

·         Hat

·         Water bottles/Camel back/day pack

·         3 layers of upper clothing for hiking days ( shirt, fleece and waterproof)

·         Sleeping bag/pillow (For one night)

·         Extra Snacks (energy bars etc.) We will provide lunch and snacks each day.

·         Torch

Warnings:

Every precaution is taken to ensure safety. Guests will still however be required to sign indemnities before commencing the walk. The trail traverses a remote wilderness area and can only be accessed by 4×4 in daylight hours. Remember we share the mountain with baboons, honey badgers, bees, spiders, snakes and even the odd leopard!! These animals will never bother us but please be aware that they are there!! Your guides are all qualified in basic first-aid. There is no cell phone signal on most of the mountain.

Swartberg and Outeniqua Trout Farm Trails

We present a guided and fully portaged trail in the Swartberg Nature Reserve. Guests carry only a day pack each day!!

Luggage is transported via 4×4 to overnight stops.

Trail duration:

·         6 night / 7 day trail.

·         (Please note day 7 is reserved for travel home/transfers back to Knysna or George Airport)

Some facts about the trail:

Climates are extreme here. Very cold winters bringing snow to the mountains and temperatures well below zero. Summers can be very hot with temperatures reaching 40 degrees! Rain occurs throughout the year, peaking in early winter and spring, with thundershowers in the summer months. Best times to walk are spring and autumn.

The vegetation in the Swartberg is very diverse and includes Renosterveld, mountain fynbos, Karoo-Veld, spekboomveld and numerous geophytes species. Some species bloom throughout the year attracting large numbers of sunbirds and sugarbirds. Great for the twitchers!!

Hikers must be fit to walk this trail!! We have decided to vary the distances and made it as easy as possible but we are still basically walking in the mountains, so preparation is everything in order get the best out of this hike. Expect moderate to strenuous walking on two of the days, no climbing required.

What to bring:

·         Hiking boots and socks

·         Slipslops

·         Insect repellent

·         Sunblock

·         Hat

·         Water bottles/Camel back/day pack

·         3 layers of upper clothing for hiking days (shirt, fleece and waterproof)

·         Sleeping bag/pillow (For one night)

·         Extra Snacks (energy bars etc.) We will provide lunch and snacks each day.

·         Torch

Warnings:

Every precaution is taken to ensure safety. Guests will still however be required to sign indemnities before commencing the walk. The trail traverses a remote wilderness area and can only be accessed by 4×4 in daylight hours. Remember we share the mountain with baboons, honey badgers, bees, spiders, snakes and even the odd leopard!! These animals will never bother us but please be aware that they are there!! Your guides are all qualified in basic first-aid. There is no cell phone signal on most of the mountain.

Gamkaberg Nature Reserve

Trail duration:

·         3 nights, 4 days

·         (5km, 13km, 11.6km)

We present a guided and fully portaged trail in the Gamkaberg Nature Reserve. Guests carry only a day pack each day!! Luggage is transported via 4×4 to overnight stops.

Some facts about the trail:

Starting in succulent Karoo, this is a moderately strenuous trail taking hikers through a deep, forested ravine to a fynbos rich mountain plateau. Here they overnight at the remote Oukraal camp and enjoy spectacular views of the Swartberg and Outeniqua Mountain ranges.

Accommodation at Oukraal is in small 2 men, stone A-frame huts with a primitive stone shelter living/kitchen area.

Accommodation on 1st and 3rd nights is in a safari-style tent on decks, with splash pool and a kitchen/lounge area with adjacent lapa.

What to bring:

·         Hiking boots and socks

·         Slipslops

·         Insect repellent

·         Sunblock

·         Hat

·         Water bottles/Camel back/day pack

·         3 layers of upper clothing for hiking days ( shirt, fleece and waterproof)

·         Sleeping bag/pillow ( For one night)

·         Extra Snacks (energy bars etc.) We will provide lunch and snacks each day.

·         Torch

Warnings:

Every precaution is taken to ensure safety. Guests will still however be required to sign indemnities before commencing the walk. The trail traverses a remote wilderness area and can only be accessed by 4×4 in daylight hours. Remember we share the mountain with baboons, honey badgers, bees, spiders, snakes and even the odd leopard!! These animals will never bother us but please be aware that they are there!! Your guides are all qualified in basic first-aid. There is no cell phone signal on most of the mountain.

Climate:

Summers can be very hot but generally the climate is suitable for visits throughout the year.

Day Trips
School Tours
Mountain Biking

We offer a half-day mountain biking experience for students/learners at the fantastic Buffalo Hills African Adventure Nature reserve. Guests/learners/children/teachers can all ride on the reserve together with our guides and view giraffe, zebra, eland, impala, bontebok, and wildebeest by bicycle. The reserve is perfect for either novice riders or more experienced riders to enjoy an out-ride in the bush. Lunches at the lodge is included after your tour, or feel free to bring your own and let the kids eat picnic style on the grass. All ages welcome.

Woodcutters Trail – “Circles in a Forest”

·         Time: 2 ½ hrs or 4 hours

·         Distance: 3kms or 9kms

·         Exertion: Light to moderate

·         Features: The heart of the Knysna Indigenous Forest in the Goudveld area with many prime examples of 600+ year old Outeniqua Yellowwoods and 3m high tree ferns.

Huge trees, old forest giants, the hysterical cackling of Red billed Wood hoopoes, massive Tree Ferns, gulley’s, streams, ancient Iron wood trees – this is the heart of the forest. Arum Lilly’s, fungi, bracket fungi’s’, porcupines, dreams of Oupoot (the long lost hero Elephant made famous by Dalene Matthee) Baboon droppings, Bush pig droppings and Bushbuck droppings are seen on almost every corner. A real forest experience, this is one you HAVE to do. Suitable for all ages, from 5 years old to…

We use this walk as an educational out-door classroom for school groups. It’s a superb walk with some amazing tree’s and fascinating facts. The vast knowledge of your guides (owner Tony Cook and FGASA Tree legend Ricky Jantjies) makes this is a superb outing for learners of all ages. We are proud to have taken The Australian Botanical Society on this walk!! We learn every day!! This walk is used as a favourite for school groups to live and breathe the books of Dalene Mathee. Circles in a Forest/Kringe in a Bos comes alive in our hands…

Our guides are FGASA qualified.

Canoe Trips

We also offer a full day excursion to Goukamma Nature Reserve where we have the Battle of the Paddles! We separate your group into teams and race across a very shallow, safe, flat water section of the river in different types of water craft. Namely Fluid two man canoes, pedal boats, and Stand up Paddle Boards. SUP (Stand UP Paddle) is the world’s fastest growing watersport and we are proud to be able to offer sport as part of your excursion. This is a fantastic trip creating bonds and ensuring teams work and a competitive spirit for schools and businesses alike. Lunch is included and full catering for any group size can be included. This trip can be included with forest excursion as a full day or half day trip.

Multi-day Hiking Trails for Scholars

Knysna Forest Tours offers multi day, overnight hiking trails specifically catering to school groups/youth groups. We base ourselves at Harkeville Forest Lodge, where nature meets affordability!!

All accommodation and all meals are taken at the lodge in the Bunk House and/or Safari Tents. The lodge has superb facilities, including a pool, sundeck, and a 100ft long “foofie slide”!

The Bunk House offers four, five, six, and ten bed dormitories, leading off a central barbeque and dining area. This is an ideal facility for large groups from where guests/students can explore our beautiful forests!! The Bunk House has access to separate male and female ablution facilities with hot and cold showers. Educators/teachers are accommodated in separate rooms in the Bunk House.

The two Safari Tents, each with 24 beds, are built on timber decks. These are mainly for school groups. The Safari Tents also have separate male and female ablution facilities with hot and cold showers.

Knysna Forest Tours will meet your group each morning at Harkeville Forest Lodge and take the guests out to the trail each day. Packed lunches, permits, guides, and walking sticks are supplied each day. The group is responsible for using its own transport/school bus; alternatively we can arrange that for you. (At an additional cost.)

Forest Excursions
Big Tree Tour

Experience the beautiful Knysna forest. A guided drive through the pristine indigenous forest. We stop half way to look at the famous King Edward V11 Outeniqua Yellowwood Tree. An old forest giant approx 660 years old. We enjoy a short, gentle, relaxing circular walk of about 500m at the site of the Big Tree. We then continue our drive through the forest via Spitzkop and the Gouna Gorge. Spitzkop is the highest point accessible by vehicle in the area. From here we can see the top of the Prince Alfred Pass, George, Natures Valley, the Knysna Heads, Sedgefield, and tons of beautiful Fynbos. Stunning views of the mountains. A relaxing trip for the not so adventurous.

Duration: 4 hours.

Millwood Gold Mine Tour

The area where gold was mined briefly in the late 1800’s is the venue for a beautiful outing into the forest. We start with a gentle 3km walk along the river. Beautiful indigenous forest, ancient trees, huge tree ferns, arum lilies, mushrooms and fungi. Explore some of the old shafts dug by the miners on route. After arriving at a little waterfall and swimming hole we turn around and stroll back to the Jubilee Creek picnic site. Following a visit to Mother Holly’s Mining museum we follow another very short trail and visit the old mining area and creep into one or two old hafts, have a peek at the old machinery.

Duration: 4-5 hours

Canoe Trips/Combination Tours

Join us for a day of canoeing on the river at Goukamma Nature reserve. The reserve is situated 15 from Knysna on the Buffalo bay road and is an official MPA. (Marine Protected Area). The area is a sublime experience for nature lovers with 7km of long, wide, completely unspoilt beaches, surrounded by vegetated dunes, some of the largest in South Africa. The river meanders through indigenous forest, dunes, milk wood forest, and farm land. Beginners and experts are welcome. We can paddle as hard or as soft as you like. For the fitness freaks there is a 12km paddle to the road and back, and for nature lovers we cruise as slowly as is necessary to enjoy the reserve. The river is flat and there no rapids, a perfect spot for swimming.

Transfers, permits, all equipment, and light refreshments are provided.

What to bring:

·         Swimming costume,

·         Towel

·         Sandals

·         Hat

·         Camera

·         Sunblock

Combination full day tours:

Mountain Biking /Canoeing. The morning is spent riding in Harkeville forest, followed by picnic lunch and an afternoon canoe trip at Goukamma River.

Walking/Canoeing. 9km Goukamma Nature Reserve Coastal Trail followed by a picnic lunch and canoe trip up the river.

Guided Trail Running Tours

We also offer off-road trail running tours. All of our hikes and walks, as well as some of our MTB routes can all be done as a cross-country run. Simply request your distance and the route of your choice and owner/guide Tony Cook will run with you through the forest. Knysna Marathon here we come!!

Our two favourite runs are:

A forest run incorporating part of the Harkeville two day hiking trail with loads of forest amazing sea-views! (15km)

Buffalo Hills African Adventure Nature reserve with the animals … zebra, impala, and giraffe … simply awesome!! (8-15km)

Kiting and Surfing Trips & Tours
Lessons

We offer a half day kiting trip for beginners which includes all equipment, guide, collection from accommodation in Knysna if necessary, transfers to lagoon/beach, 2 hours of one-on-one instruction, and light refreshments afterwards. We use a unique helmet radio teaching system which allows the student to be in contact with the instructor at all times. Safety is of prime importance and the “Headzone” teaching system is fantastic.

Tours

We offer kite trips to the best beaches with the best wind and wave conditions for experienced kiters. You guide is an experienced local kite boarder with many years of experience in the local waters. He is also a qualified skipper and qualified in first-aid. If flat water is what you’re after for freestyle and trick riding then we take you to the best spot on the lagoon for the wind conditions on the day. We supply all kit ( board, kite, helmet, harness, wetsuit), guide, transfers to the beach and a light lunch.

Surfing Lessons

Join us for a day at the beach and learn to surf. We supply all equipment (board and wetsuit), transfers to the beach, a guide, and light refreshments afterwards. You guide is an experienced waterman and will make sure you have a safe and enjoyable experience at one of our superb local beaches. Don’t forget sunblock!!

Sea Kayaking/Stand up Paddle Boarding

Knysna Lagoon is actually an estuary, providing valuable nutrients to the ecology of the coastline. The lagoon is a water sport haven. The best way to see the lagoon is with an experienced guide in a good quality boat or stand up paddle board. We use Wilderness Systems Tsunami’s for all our tours and find these kayaks super stable, efficient, and a joy to use. Complete beginners are welcome and no previous experience is necessary. Your guides are experienced waterman and will instruct you on how to paddle and to get your boat moving efficiently.

We look at the state of the tides and currents, the predicted weather on the day, and then decide whether to go up river or to the Heads. The view from the water of the heads is spectacular, a visit to featherbed beach is a must, and we often see small schools of fish and the odd Stingray when paddling through the shallows. The local resident seal has been to pop his head up every now and then much to the delight of our guests.

This is a nature lover’s trip and is a truly awesome way to experience our lagoon with qualified guide. Join us for a paddle!!

Rock Pools

A half day forest trip to Garden Route Trail Park. Enjoy a short walk to some secret hidden pools. Spend an hour swimming and exploring the pools, enjoy a snack and then head back through the forest to the Trail Café.

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