Diepwalle Forest: Elephant Trails

Diepwalle Forest: Elephant Trails

Alan and I made our way to Diepwalle Forest in Knysna for a day trip. We love hiking, walking, running, or whatever other activity nature has to offer. Alan does however have a bit of a fear of heights, so we tend to avoid those hikes that are higher up. Or I just don’t mention the heights until he must face it. (Sneaky-sneaky!)

If you’re familiar with the Garden Route you’ll know that there is a multitude of day hikes, or multi-day hikes, to choose from. These hikes vary in length and difficulty. We wanted to do a beautiful, yet easy, walk so we decided on the Elephant Trails in Diepwalle.


Here’s all you need to know:

How to get there?

The Diepwalle Forestry Station is easy to get to by car. Driving from Wilderness, stay on the N2 driving past Sedgefield and continue straight through Knysna. 6km East of Knysna, turn-off left on the R339.

You will pass through a township for about 2km after which you will see beautiful plantations. Continue driving on this road for about 20km. This road will turn into a dirt road (suitable for all vehicles) where you will eventually lose cellphone signal, but there’s no need to worry. Keep driving straight until you get to the Forestry Station. 

Please note that these hikes are not for free (take cash, if possible. The card machine did not work when we were there). You will have to register at the office and pay a conservation fee. The below fees are all valid until 31 October 2023.

South African Citizen and Resident (with ID):

R44 per adult, per day

R22 per child, per day.

SADC Nationals (with passport):

R88 per adult, per day

R44 per child, per day.

Standard Conservation fee (International visitors):

R176 per adult, per day

R88 per child, per day.


After paying the conservation fee at the Forestry Station you can also visit the Big Tree and Garden of Eden free of charge, so remember to keep your receipt.

There are three Elephant trails to choose from all varying in length and difficulty. The routes are all marked well.

Black Elephant – 9km, circular (Easy, 3-4 hours)

White Elephant – 8km, circular (Easy, 3-4 hours)

Red Elephant – 7km, circular (Moderate, 3-4 hours)

We set off on the Red Elephant Route and it was an absolute delight. As soon as we started walking, we were surrounded by tall Yellowwood and Stinkwood trees and beautiful ferns. Listening to the many birds singing, it really felt as though we were in a fairy tale.

The trail is mostly covered in shade, so we found it to be a bit chilly. There was a stream or two that we had to cross and an easy river crossing where we had to take off our shoes. In the summer months it would be lovely to take a quick dip to cool off. 

We were amazed by the different kinds of fungi along the forest floor. The fungi varied from bright orange to slimy brown. Unfortunately, we did not see any animals on the trail, but Alan did hear something run that may have been a deer or perhaps a wild pig.

Even though we were told that the red route is the most difficult of all three, we did not really find the route to be difficult at all. This of course depends on your fitness level. The trail is not very steep but has a few ups and downs. We completed the whole route in 2.5 hours which excludes our lunch of about an hour.

The Knysna forest is truly a magical place and made for the perfect day trip.

For more information, contact the Diepwalle Forestry Station on 044 382 9763.

What to take:

There are no shops nearby, so do make sure that you pack your own breakfast or lunch and snacks. There is a Tea Garden with a simple menu, but do not rely on getting anything there, because the Tea Garden is not open every day and according to the Forestry Station only opens upon request.

Bring your own water. We do believe the river water is safe to drink if you happen to run out. 

Just in case, take a jacket along. It gets chilly in the shade, especially in the winter months.

(Above: The Tea Garden)

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1 comment

Thanks for the info. Hopefully we can do this trail soon!


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