Garden Route – Day 6 (Knysna Forest)

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Today was one of those slow and easy days where we just lazed about and took our time. I felt a bit guilty about it actually, I somehow feel like if I am not doing something exciting at all times during the day, I am not making the most of every moment. Today we had planned to spend the day exploring the Knysna forest and we had marked off a couple of hikes we were hoping to do. We left the chalet by 9:00 am in order to get out before it became too hot and stuffy. We had a look at the different hikes and decided that we would tackle the 9km circuit of the Woodcutter’s Trail. There was an option to do only 3km of this loop but after our amazing success hiking in Robberg we decided we would do the whole trek. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that great… To start, I found the entire hike to be, flat and lacking in any variation. The forest just seemed so uniform and there were no distinct plants or animals that helped to break up our hike. Even when it came to change in elevation it was somewhat lacking (the only change we saw was the last 2km where it was a difficult uphill slog along a dirt path). Thus, our photo taking was very limited…

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I had read that there were beautiful waterfalls in the area, but once more this was about as good as it gets:

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Realistically, the problem wasn’t the forest or any failure on the part of the descriptions of the area. The problem is that I have some unreal expectations which are further compounded by the fact that I come from a country that has such a multitude of breathtaking landscapes which have left me with some preconceived notions of what a hike is, this is a prime example:

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Grassi Lakes Trail, Canmore, AB

I also assumed that since (in my mind), South Africa was the tropical paradise, there would be all of this foreign, lush vegetation and strange and unusual creatures, unknown to man. Obviously I realize now how crazy that sounds, but it was an expectation nonetheless. Incidentally we did see some cool wildlife, but mostly of the micro variety. One neat creature was a cockroach looking insect that was vibrant red:

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An interesting (and embarrassing) fact about me is that I suffer from a debilitating fear of spiders. If you read about our stay in Keurboomstrand, you would recall such a fact. Now, normally, I don’t encounter spiders that much and so it isn’t a big deal…usually. This hike, was one of those occasions that brought me in very close contact with my spider friends, in fact, too close. We realized early on that there were threads of webbing stretched along our path (it had been a while since someone had done this hike) and so we just kept an eye out, and Jessi and I volunteered Dan to lead the way. Pretty soon it wasn’t just loose strands, but entire orb webs that hung in our path and many with the chief resident clinging on.

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So then we definitely hung back as Dan braved the onslaught. We did our best to avoid the webs and in doing so it looked like we were all passing through one of those cliche-action scenes where the burglars are manoeuvring around laser beams, it was ridiculous. Somehow, even though we were moving through at what felt like a snail’s pace, we made it around the 9km in under 2.5 hours! We were pretty happy to be done, and we decided that it wasn’t worth it to try any more hikes. There was one point where we may have spotted a Knysna Loerie (aka Knysna Turaco) which we believe looked like this (this shot was from when we were at Birds of Eden)

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After our hike it was still quite early in the day, so we headed back to our chalet and had a relaxing lunch. We then headed back down to the beach where we found a man attempting to take off with a parachute. At first it didn’t really seem all that odd, then all of a sudden we heard this deafening hum, and realized he had a giant fan on his back (FanMan from Simpson’s anyone?) and it was pretty hilarious…

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We stuck around for about four failed attempts before continuing down to the beach. Finally after around a half hour he seemed to have made it into the air, hopefully he was able to get down safely, be didn’t seem all that experienced and the water in this area can be strong so with a giant fan and parachute on your back, it could prove fatal if he accidentally landed in the waves. We splashed around and lounged for a good two hours before returning to our chalet.

A quiet day overall, but sometimes it’s nice to just appreciate those moments when you don’t have any obligations or time constraints.

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