Cape Town - The Knysna Forest is arguable the most magical place in the country.
Here, despite dense human populations and agriculture, elusive creatures of the bush still dominate the woods.
Only a few months ago, in March this year, one of five elusive elephants believed to be living in the Knysna Forest, was captured on camera.
The five elephants believed to live in the forest today are but an echo of the elephant herds that used to roam the forest. In 1876, there were an estimated 400 elephants walking the Knysna forest, the Garden Route National Park says.
Looking at the dense overgrowth in the Knysna forest, it's strange to imagine that there were once so many elephants living here. And if the Knysna forest can hide 400 elephants, what other secrets can those trees tell?
Now, you can find out for yourself.
The GRNP team, along with the Knysna Historical Society and other stakeholders have launched a historical route in one of SA’s largest individual forests.
By using this self-drive route, visitors to the Garden Route can drive to 10 marked historically significant locations in the Knysna forest. The route comes with a map of the 10 areas dubbed "rooted in time".
The Knysna Historical Society’s Phillip Caveney, introduced various key players and events in recorded colonial history, including King Edward VII Tree, the building of the Stone Cottage at Deep Walls, as well as paying tribute to the likes of Thomas Baine.
There are explicit signs at all 10 places detailing historical accounts at each stop, where visitors can educate themselves. This is the first leg of a bigger route to be launched in the GRNP to run from Wilderness to Knysna to Tsitsikamma.
Area Manager for Knysna, Johan de Klerk says this is the first of many products to be launched in Knysna.
The GRNP team is planning to facilitate a workshop with various stakeholders, tertiary institutions and individual researchers to include African history in existing recorded work.
The Knysna forests are managed by the South African National Parks as part of its Garden Route National Park (GRNP). The forests make up around 42 000 hectares of land across the coastal stretch from George to Tsitsikamma in the East.
Previously, the Farleigh, Diepwalle and Tsitsikamma forests were managed by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. The forests were exploited prior to 1939 when the Government decided to close them to the woodcutters’ system. Between 1940 and 1964 the Government focused largely on plantations in the area but the focus has thankfully shifted to being mindful of conservation since.
These areas are now managed under the GRNP for conservation.
The entire Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park is undergoing extensive upgrades, amounting to more than R17 million. Improvements from the project include a new entrance gate and administration building of the Tsitsikamma section, new office block, development around the Big Tree and upgrades to the restaurant area.
READ MORE HERE: +R17 million Tsitsikamma upgrades finally kick off