GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - Over the next few days, Plettenberg Bay and Knysna among other Garden Route towns will offer visitors and residents an opportunity to get active as part of the annual Garden Route Walking Festival.
The fifth edition of the festival, which starts on 19 April and concludes on 22 April, will include more than 50 different events across the Garden Route, from Mossel Bay to Nature's Valley.
Organisers said participants can choose events from easy family-friendly walks to extreme mountain peaks for the more adventurous.
"The Garden Route is one of the world's great walking destinations. Its pristine beaches, rocky coastlines, amazing forests, mountain peaks and engaging communities, make it the ideal location for an Easter Weekend adventure," organisers said.
Founder Galeo Saintz said the festival has grown organically since its inception and includes a dynamic mix of events from township walks to the highest peaks in the area to even underwater walks.
Varying difficulty levels
There are varying difficulty levels. Saintz said one of the easiest walks is likely the Coffee Club walk in Plettenberg Bay, which takes place on 20 April, for which walkers will gather at Double Shot along Main Road and from there stroll over to Le Fournil, include a stop at Clare's Cakes, and then on to Hola before heading back to the start.
The most difficult is set to be the one just outside George where hikers will take on the highest peak along the Outeniqua mountain range. It is the first time this event is on the programme.
Get naked in nature
Plett also has other interesting walks on the programme including the Naked in Nature walk on 19 April, when hikers have the opportunity to get really close to nature as they walk barefoot and clothes-free through a forest and along a river on private land.
Another highlight on the Plettenberg Bay programme is the Kids Coastal Pirate Walk which will include fun activities, including the antics of a couple of "pirates", on 21 April.
In Knysna there are also several events, including the Secret Elephants Forest Experience with Gareth Patterson.
Most of the walks are free. "We wanted to make it accessible to everybody. There are so many barriers keeping so many from participating in events," Saintz said.
There are, however, costs involved with some of the professionally guided walks.
To register is free, but participants are encouraged to make a donation to one of the Garden Route's nonprofit nature charities that work to conserve the local natural beauty of the region.
Hikers can make a difference over and above the donations as there are several events that have a dual purpose, including a tree-planting walk and several coastal cleanup walks.
There will also be R20 000 worth of prizes up for grabs from event sponsor Hi-Tec prizes.
Find out more
For a full programme and to book a spot on one of the events visit www.walkingfestival.co.za.
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