Day One | 3 hour walk | 6.5 kilometres | Steynsbos to Fynbos Retreat
The trail starts at the Growing the Future project at Steynsbos on Grootbos Nature Reserve. We would suggest that you start the trail no later than 2pm so that you will have time to relax and enjoy the beauty of Fynbos Retreat. You will start at the Growing the Future sustainable agriculture and life skills training college on Grootbos Nature Reserve. Growing the Future is all about food production, and women are trained at this project each year in the growing of vegetables and fruit, beekeeping and the principles of successful animal husbandry. Much of the fresh produce for the trail is sourced from Growing the Future. The trail then leaves Growing the Future and after a short walk through some coastal strandveld winds into an ancient milkwood forest. The Steynsbos Milkwood forest is one of only eight milkwood forests of its type in the world – all of which are restricted to the Stanford-Gansbaai area. This complex of milkwood thickets includes the largest of the southwestern Cape’s lowland, dune thickets. The forest is about 20 hectares in size and contains trees that are many hundreds, if not thousands of years old. As a forest island surrounded by fynbos, Steynsbos is an important habitat and refuge for a number of animals and birds not commonly seen in the fynbos .Thirty four bird species including Rameron Pigeon, Cape Batis, African Paradise Flycatcher, Barn Owl, Bar-throated Apalis and Forest Buzzard have been recorded in the forest as well as a variety of mammals including porcupine, honey badger, bushbuck and mongoose. The forest was heavily impacted by woodcutters in the 1930’s, however some of the largest trees survived and you will see individual Milkwoods that are estimated to be over 800 years old. Leaving the Forest the trail winds up onto a fynbos-clad sandstone ridge covered in bright red pincushions in spring and a diversity of other flowers throughout the year. The trail then drops down to a dam fed with fresh spring water. Leaving the dam the trail heads up to Pinnacle where there are spectacular views over Walker Bay to the west and Dyer Island to the south. From Pinnacle the trail drops down the Witvoetskloof Valley criss-crossing through mountain and limestone fynbos before reaching another forest patch, just above the Fynbos Retreat overnight accommodation. Here the trail passes some ancient milkwood, stinkwood and wild olive trees as well as a crystal clear freshwater spring bubbling out of the base of the limestone cliff. Hikers receive a cool, fresh fynbos welcome drink on arrival at Fynbos Retreat and enjoy a scrumptious meal, desert and coffee/tea. Fynbos Retreat has a beautiful large swimming dam, short walks in forest and fynbos and is a great place to relax and soak up the wonderful natural environment.
Day Two | 6 hour walk | 12.5 kilometres | Fynbos Retreat to Witkrans (alternative accommodation is at Bodhi Khaya) (10.5km)
Breakfast at Fynbos Retreat includes fruit/ cereals, coffee/tea and hot cooked breakfast option. We suggest that you start hiking Day Two, which the longest section of the trail, by 8.30am. The day two trail takes hikers down through a beautiful valley characterised by an extraordinary mosaic of fynbos – slopes covered in proteas, pincushions, heather, buchus, reeds and so much more. The path crosses over the stream through wetland fynbos and then into the shady, lush green Witvoetskloof forest. The contrast from the surrounding fynbos is staggering as is the natural beauty of the ancient trees that line the river – magnificent milkwoods, white stinkwood, boegenhout, wild olive, assegai trees, rooiels and many others. After about fifteen minutes walk in the forest there is a lovely waterfall where we stop for morning tea which will be carried by the guides and a cool natural shower for those feeling brave. On leaving the forest there is a steep climb out of the valley up through limestone hills deposited millions of years ago when the sea level was much higher than today. The limestone fynbos of the Agulhas Plain region is very rare and we will encounter a few of the local rare and endemic limestone fynbos species as we head up out of the valley. The trail then winds up the northern slopes of Grootberg with beautiful views of the Lomond vineyards and dam. For those feeling energetic there is a short extra loop that takes hikers to the summit of Grootberg. At 409m this is the highest point of the Fynbos Trail and has spectacular 3600 views with the Uilkraals Valley and Dyer Island to the south, the Kleinriviersberge to the north and Walker Bay and Hermanus to the west. From the summit the trail winds down the western slopes of Grootberg into Flower Valley and then after a short climb into the Stinkhoutsbos Forest. This afromontane forest was heavily exploited using Italian prisoners during the second world war and then badly damaged by the huge 2006 fire that burnt some 60 000 hectares of veld on the western side of the Agulhas Plain. You will enjoy a light lunch which will be waiting for you at the picnic spot, under the shade of these magnificent indigenous trees where there is also the opportunity to take a dip in the cool waters of anatural dam. The afternoon walk takes approximately two hours and crosses Flower Valley where you may encounter trained harvesting teams collecting wild fynbos for making bouquets for the local and export market. The second overnight accommodation on the trail is at the picturesque Witkrans Farm with beautiful dams to swim in. A three course dinner at Witkrans will be served. Local Lomond Wine is available for purchase at this farm as well as their local Witkrans vintage. Bodhi Khaya is used as an alternative option for the 2nd overnight. Please be aware that there may be other groups at Bodhi Khaya involved in workshops or retreats and as such they request that noise levels be kept down. A vegetarian meal is served at Bodhi Khaya. There may also be extra charges involved if staying at Bodhi Khaya.
Day Three | 4 hour walk | 6.5 kilometres | Witkrans to Grootbos (8km)
Day three dawns with breakfast at the tranquil Witkrans Farm. The trail then winds along the lower slopes of Witkransberg and takes walkers up the Baviaans Fontein valley through more pockets of indigenous forests and dense fynbos-clad hills over onto Grootbos Nature Reserve. After a short section of jeep track on Grootbos the trail then enters the 24 hectare Grootbos milkwood forest. This is a beautiful section of trail that skirts ancient milkwood trees, sea guarrie and wild olive and ends at the impressive Grootbos Garden Lodge. Here you will be able to relax, reflect on the many experiences of the Fynbos Trail and enjoy a light lunch which is served from 13h00, and then transfer back to the vehicles at the starting point at Steynsbos.