Outeniqua Hiking Trail
(Millwood to Harkerville- second part of the trail)
Day 4 (17 Kms) Millwood to Rondebosse
From Millwood the trail rises gradually along a forestry road. For some distance, looking back, one can see panoramic views of the valley and the picturesque hamlet of Millwood below. The trail eventually leaves the forestry road and dives of into the forest and start the descent to the Knysna River. The forest is old and eerie but very beautiful with its myriad of plants and fungi. Eventually, after approximately 9 Kms, the Knysna River is reached. This and the Homtini river are the two major river crossings on the Outeniqua trail and both have steel cables to help the hiker across. After heavy rains, however, the forestry department report that the crossings are dangerous and should not be attempted. After the crossing, the trail follows the river for some distance with the aid of some chains stapled into the rock and some ladders. Along this section there are some lovely pools of water to swim in. After a while the trail leaves the river and climbs steeply upwards for what seems like an eternity until eventually another forestry road is reached. From here it is a relatively easy walk to Rondebosse hut. At Rondebosse hut there are no shower facilities and it is well worth the effort to walk an additional kilometre to a natural swimming pool that is signposted along the road.
Day 5 (13 Kms) Rondebosse to Diepwalle
From Rondebosse hut the trail descends to cross the Rooi-els stream and then ascends steeply to the top of Jonkersberg. From the top of Jonkersberg beautiful views of the Knysna Heads can be seen. After the summit of Jonkersberg has been reached the trail descends into probably the most beautiful section of forest that can be seen along the whole trail. The Forest Tree Ferns (Cyathea capensis) abound through this section of the forest. Countless crystal clear forest streams cross the path and thick Moss covers stone and tree alike. Eventually the trail joins up with the Elephant day walk trails from Diepwalle and lead the hiker to Diepwalle. Diepwalle hut is a beautiful wooden hut with electricity and hot showers at the nearby ablution block. At Diepwalle there is a community Tea room that one can buy some excellent food.
Day 6 (16 Kms) Diepwalle to Fisantehoek
The route to Fisantehoek is a relatively easy one. It start of in the same way that the previous day finished, though the beautiful Tree Fern lined forest. There are some uphills and downhills to negotiate but nothing like the previous part of the trail. There are some lovely streams to cross along the way and the whole distance should not take more than 5 hours to complete. Close to the end of the day's trail one crosses a patch of fynbos surrounded by forest. There are several of these islands in the forests and scientists now believe that these are the remnants of much larger patches of fynbos that the forest has gradually encroached on. Fisantehoek hut is an old farmhouse overlooking the mountains with view down to the coast. An inside braai is available for those rainy and cold days.
Day 7 (12 Kms) Fisantehoek to Harkerville
The final day of the trail is by far the easiest of the whole trail. After 6,5 kms of indigenous forest the trail reaches the main road which it crosses close to the popular Garden of Eden tourist centre. A short walk through more forest eventually brings the hiker to the end of the Outeniqua trail at Harkerville forest station.
The Outeniqua trail is a long trail and should only be attempted by experienced hikers. For the novice, the trail can be done in sections of two days or more. The trail is well marked and is a credit to the forestry department. The accommodation is adequate and well maintained. Overall, the trail must rank as one of the top six long distance trails in Southern Africa and a must for the dedicated hiker and those that enjoy the African indigenous forests. For those hikers who wish to really indulge themselves, the Harkerville coastal trail provides an ideal two day extension to the Outeniqua trail. The trail is bookable though the offices of the
PO Box 3542 Knysna, 6570
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