Want to experience Easter with a wild twist? You don’t have to be a hard-core hiker to have tons of fun at this year’s HI-TEC Garden Route Walking Festival. With hikes for kids and dogs, it’s the perfect way to grab some quality family time.

From 30 March to 2 April 2018, old and young can see different sides of the gorgeous Garden Route on foot. Now in its third year, the HI-TEC Garden Route Walking Festival is the only walking festival in South Africa. For the duration of the Easter Weekend, guides will be taking walkers on the area’s iconic trails and opening up new experiences. How do you fancy a moonlight meander or a walk with poetry, sketching or meditation?

Easter is time for the family, or for the family you’ve chosen for yourself. And the walking festival is a fun new way to hang out, get your body moving and experience the Garden Route’s magical forests, beaches, rivers and mountains afresh. For those who quickly shy away from the prospect of hiking, fear not. The festival has plenty on offer for those that have never hiked before.

With more than 50 walks on the menu, these five short and sweet hikes are ideal for the whole family:

The Heads heritage walk

Garden Route Walking Festival

A landmark of the Garden Route, the Knysna Heads stand sentinel at the mouth of the lagoon. The channel that runs between these dramatic cliffs can turn treacherous – a German merchant ship sank here in 1903. The flat pathways that run along the Eastern Head offer panoramic views towards the town and the ocean.

When: 30 March, 31 March, 1 April & 2 April at 16:00
Where: Knysna
What to pack: sturdy shoes, binoculars
Cost: R150 per person
Contact: +27 (0)82 893 1361

We all have a favourite memory of walking with friends or family in the big outdoors, and this festival is all about making memories.
– Galeo Saintz, festival founder

Coastal clean-up walks

HI-TEC Garden Route Walking Festival (2)-min

If you’re new to the world of hiking, what better way to fall in love with this leisurely activity than for the sake of conservation? This year and as a first for the walking festival, three coastal clean-up walks will remove litter from sections of the Garden Route coast. Not only is this your chance to give back to nature, but it’s also an excellent opportunity to teach children about the impact of pollution.

When: 30 and 31 March at 09:30
Where: Mossel Bay, Knysna and Nature’s Valley
What to pack: Gardening gloves, something to eat and drink, sun hat, backpack
Cost: Free
Contact: +27 (0)82 888 1818

Knysna indigenous forest walk

HI-TEC Garden Route Walking Festival (7)-min

A trip to the Garden Route is incomplete without spending some time in Knysna’s indigenous forest. It’s a captivating wonderland of giant Outeniqua yellowwood trees, various species of ferns and fungi, and, of course, the beautiful Knysna turaco. Whether you opt for the three- or nine-kilometre hike, one thing’s certain: this mystical milieu will awaken your senses. And don’t forget to take pictures if you spot evidence of those elusive Knysna elephants.

When: 30 and 31 March at 09:00
Where: SANParks Hut at Rheenendal
What to pack: sturdy shoes, binoculars
Cost: R400 per person (SANParks daily conservation fee not included)
Contact: +27 (0)82 893 1361

Great Brak Island dog walk

HI-TEC Garden Route Walking Festival (5)-min

How many people can say they’ve embarked on a picturesque hike with their best furry friend? Great Brak River Mouth, one of Great Brak’s most popular landmarks, is a gorgeous stretch of streams and sandy islands where the river flows into the Indian Ocean. Here canines of all shapes and sizes can frolic in the cool waters while dog owners can breathe in fresh ocean air. Make sure your pooch is on a leash!

When: 31 March at 07:00
Where: Before the crossing of Narrow Bridge leading to Brak River Island
Cost: Donation of R50 to CAWS 4 PAWS
Contact: +27 (0)44 620 2826

Tidal pool meander

HI-TEC Garden Route Walking Festival (1)-min

Fascinated with the ocean’s weird and wonderful creatures, but struggling to give a name to what you see? Discover various intertidal zones with a professional guide that will offer fascinating insights about the sea’s tidal pool inhabitants. The 3.4km-hike kicks off at Swartvlei Beach with stop-and-learn spots all the way to Gericke’s Point. After this you will definitely have a newfound appreciation for the smaller creatures along our shores.

When: 2 April at 11:00
Where: Swartvlei Beach, Sedgefield
What to pack: Water-friendly shoes
Cost: R120 per person
Contact: +27 (0)72 390 6667


Don’t miss out, Wild travellers. Book your walks online or send an email to [email protected] for more information.

Good to know

Half of the walks on offer are free to attend. Even better – you can win your share of festival prizes worth R28,000.

Pictures courtesy of HI-TEC Garden Route Walking Festival