During the long summer days in the Garden Route it is easy to take the beautiful weather for granted yet, once the cooler nights of autumn starts to creep in, nature reminds us that she needs her rest too. While the golden summer days still linger, don’t miss out on the opportunity to take a canoe and paddle up the Keurbooms River Canoe Trail.
The Keurbooms River Nature Reserve is a small but pristine and exquisite nature reserve situated just outside of Plettenberg Bay. Coming from the Langkloof north of the main Tsitsikamma mountain range, the Keurbooms river carries an abundance of water through a spectacular unspoiled and unpolluted gorge, to enter the ocean through the beautiful Keurbooms River Estuary.
The reserve is named after the Western Keurboom tree and the indigenous forest forms a sanctuary for animals such as vervet monkey, blue duiker, grysbok, mongoose and even leopard while the rich bird life includes the Knysna turaco, giant kingfisher, Knysna woodpecker, sunbirds, yellow-billed ducks and more.
Also known as the Whiskey Creek Canoe Trail, the 7 km canoe trail is suitable for almost anyone. You don’t have to be particularly fit or a water baby as the river is flat, the gorge sheltered from the wind, and the flat bottomed canoes very stable.
Canoes can be rented from Cape Nature at the cabin just inland of the bridge over the Keurbooms River (right across the Keurbooms Lagoon Caravan Park) and, as there are quite a few, you can just show up most of the year but, if your party is quite big or during peak season, it is best to call and reserve canoes beforehand.
The first part of the trail is shared with the occasional speed boat but a little ways up the river a barrier prevents these boats from continueing and allow canoeists for an amazing escape to nature on Plettenberg Bay’s doorstep.
You can paddle the entire 7 km or only part of it. There are several picnic sites along the route and, with even more idyllic riverside beaches, you can stop anywhere along the route to cool down in the river, enjoy a picnic or relax with a book and a bottle of wine before making your way back to the bridge.
Being a tidal river, it is important that you allow for a little more time if you return to the bridge against the incoming tide.
The trail is also host to the unparalleled Whiskey Creek Cottage. This fully equipped bunk-style house sleeps 10 people and is situated on a bend of the river which is completely off limits to anyone else. It offers a 180° view of the Tsitsikamma Mountains to the north and the Keurbooms River gorge to the south and is very popular right through the year making booking essential.
Keurbooms River Nature Reserve lies 8km from Plettenberg Bay toward Nature’s Valley on the N2. Turn at the “ferry” signboard immediately after crossing the white bridge, and then follow the signs to the reserve.
Office hours: 08:00–17:00
You can contact them on 044 533 2125
Bookings for the Whiskey Creek Cabin must be made through Cape Nature’s central reservations office at 0861 227 362 8873.
Find Cape Nature on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CapeNature1/
Or visit their website at http://www.capenature.co.za/