There is something very special about walking through the Garden Route’s Fynbos and knowing that there is no other place like it in the world. The Garden Route (or more specifically, the coastal belt from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth) is the only place in the world where the plants of the Cape Floristic Kingdom thrive; all 9000 species of them, 6000 of which are found nowhere else in the world. Our 200km stretch of coastline is perfectly unique and Plettenberg Bay lies right at the heart of this region.
This is why,s in 2017, UNESCO declared the region a biosphere reserve, recognising the importance of the biodiversity found in this small stretch of South Africa as the Cape Floristic Kingdom is the smallest (geographically) and most diverse of all the plant kingdoms on earth. According to UNESCO, biosphere reserves are learning places for sustainable development whose aim is to reconcile biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources. The Garden Route Biosphere Reserve is the ninth recognised in South Africa and it is rich in marine, terrestrial and coastal ecosystems. The reserve includes Tsitsikamma, home to Africa’s oldest Marine Protected Area and the enormous Garden Route National Park, which includes the Tsitsikamma, Knysna and Wilderness national parks.
Our coastal Fynbos is best enjoyed on a hike, which offers up not only a dizzying array of endemic plants, but birdwatching (sunbirds are a favourite), photography and gorgeous coastal views. We recommend the following as a marvellous way to immerse yourself in the lovely Fynbos; we suggest that you pack a cold drink, or a picnic, and charge your camera for a morning or afternoon of hiking through the Garden Route:
- Robberg Nature Reserve (three circular hikes, choose your distance and possibly see whales, sharks, dolphins and seals)
- Salt River and The Crags (a truly beautiful hike through Fynbos and forest to one of Plett’s best kept secrets)
- Harkerville Coastal Trail (another opportunity for forest and Fynbos and the most striking coastal cliffs and rock formations)
- Tsitsikamma National Park (with the added bonus of visiting the MPA and experiencing the lovely rain forest)
The king of all Fynbos is the protea which, according to local legend, represents hope and change. 92% of protea species are found only in the Cape and you’ll find these sought-after flowers growing along the side of the road through many regions of the Garden Route. The most striking of all is the King Protea, South Africa’s national flower, which is almost as gorgeous dried as it is when in full bloom.
In very exciting news, a new species of Fynbos was discovered along the Plett coastline, Psoralea vanberkelea. This prompted a few visionary landowners made the application, and it was approved, to declare their properties (along the Robberg Coastal Corridor) a Protected Environment. This helped tremendously in the application for the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve.
If you’re interested in learning more about Fynbos before you visit, head over to www.livingfynbos.com to brush up on your plant identification.