The Garden Route National Park is a South African national park located in the Garden Route area of the Western and Eastern Cape provinces. It is a coastal reserve famous for its indigenous woods, spectacular shoreline, and Otter Trail. On March 6, 2009, it was formed by combining the existing Tsitsikamma and Wilderness National Parks, the Knysna National Lake Area, and several other sections of state-owned property.
The park encompasses around 1,210 km2 of terrain, of which approximately 685 km2 was previously part of the preceding national parks. The park encompasses a continuous network of indigenous woodland covering roughly 605 km2.
The Garden Route National Park (Tsitsikamma, Knysna, and Wilderness Sections) has a pleasant, moderate temperature; it is unique in Africa in that it receives rainfall all year.
Sections of Garden Route National Park that visitors can explore.
The Tsitsikamma part of the park spans an 80-kilometer stretch of coastline, including Nature's Valley at the park's western end. The Otter Trail, as well as the indigenous woods and spectacular shoreline, are highlights of this area. The major lodging is located near Storms River Mouth. The Bloukrans Bridge, at 216 meters, is located near the park and is the world's tallest bridge bungee jump.
The Wilderness sector is situated around the beach town of Wilderness in the Western Cape, between the bigger towns of George, Sedgefield, and Knysna. It runs from the mouth of the Touw River to the Swartvlei estuary and beyond, where it connects with the Goukamma Nature Reserve, protecting five lakes and the Serpentine, a meandering strip of water that connects Island Lake to the Touw River at the Ebb and Flow Rest Camp. This portion of the park preserves three major indigenous forest zones, four species of fynbos (wild plants), as well as several lakes and twisting streams. A number of archaeologically noteworthy sites can also be found.
Knysna Lakes Section
The Knysna Estuary is the most notable landscape feature in this region. Several studies have emphasized the estuary's high conservation importance, with it ranking third among South Africa's estuaries in terms of botanical importance, eighth in terms of importance for conserving fish, nineteenth in terms of water bird conservation, and first in terms of overall conservation importance, which includes criteria such as size, diversity of habitat, zonal rarity, and biodiversity.
San hunter-gatherers, whose ancestors had lived in southern Africa for tens of thousands of years, were joined by Khoekhoe herders some 2000 years ago (pronounced koi-koi). The term 'Khoisan' refers to both the San and the Khokhoe, whose clans were known as Namaqua and Outeniqua.
Except for maybe lighting fires to drive out game animals, their impact on ecological systems was probably little. Artifacts indicate that they lived in caves near the shore. They appeared to spend the winter on the seaside and the summer inland. They fished, foraged for wild plant roots and bulbs, and hunted small animals in the surrounding woodland. After the Europeans arrived, the clans gradually dissolved, and its members found work as farmers.
The logging of nearby forests has had a large role in recent history. Indigenous woodlands have played a critical part in the evolution of the nation from prehistory. Wood from these woodlands was a major source of early settlers' normal timber needs. A lot of wood from the surrounding forests was used to build houses and carts when the Dutch East India Company established the first colony in Cape Town in 1652. Other uses included producing furniture, tools and other household items, establishing defensive fences, and constructing ships and quays.
These woods were quickly depleted, and the settlers were forced to move eastward in search of other timber sources, including the forests of George, Knysna, and Tsitsikamma.
It was reported to the Cape Colonial government in 1711 that there were huge areas of woodland in 'Outeniqualand'. The Knysna area's natural woods have been exploited since 1763, a period spanning over two centuries. An outpost of woodcutter's arrived at the present-day town of George in 1776, from whence timber was carried to Cape Town by foot or horseback.
Today, the Garden Route National Park (GRNP), which spans the coastal strip between the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma Mountains and the sea, may be defined as a collection of protected areas administered by SANParks as a unified entity.