Ancient trees that reach high into the sky, flowing tannin-filled rivers that quench the thirsts of the forests, lake systems that are vital homes to countless waterbirds and bizarre looking aquatic invertebrates, estuaries that provide refuge for vital life stages of marine fish and Africa’s oldest marine protected area - all of these are just a fraction of the stunningly beautiful Garden Route that is situated along South Africa’s southern coastline. Cape clawless otters frolic and feed in amongst the crashing waves that are surfed by pods of bottlenose dolphins, African black oystercatchers prize mussels and reef worms from the intertidal rocks, Knysna seahorses shelter in the shallows of select estuaries, blue duiker move cautiously amongst the dappled shadows of the forest and high above them the crimson wings of Knysna turacos flash as the birds fly between the treetops. This is a place where exploration can be endless and still all the secrets will not be revealed. The Garden Route is indeed a place of breath-taking beauty and diversity!
1 of 15: The jagged rocky shoreline of the Tsitsikamma marine protected area at dawn
2 of 15: A light mist hangs over the Groot Estuary at Natures Valley at dawn
3 of 15: Salt water mixes with fresh water at the mouth of the Groot Estuary at Natures Valley
4 of 15: The suns rays, which bounce off low clouds, cast a purplish glow over the tranquil waters of the Groot River at Natures Valley
5 of 15: Shafts of sunlight penetrate into the steep sided Storms River Gorge as it nears the sea within the Tsitsikamma marine protected area.
6 of 15: Sea mist drifts in over the coastal forest of the Tsitsikamma marine protected area, carrying with it nutrients and moisture that feed the forests growth
7 of 15: Giant and ancient Outeniqua yellowwood trees tower over the forests of the Garden Route National Park
8 of 15: Moss covered logs on the forest floor of coastal forest within the Garden Route National Park
9 of 15: An Outeniqua yellowwood tree stands reflected in the Groot River. The rivers and water systems of the Garden Route are critical for the healthy functioning of the forest.
10 of 15: A juvenile Red-Knobbed Coot pauses from feeding at a quite backwater pond deep within the Garden Route National Park
11 of 15: A Knysna Turaco feeds high in the canopy of the forest. Birdlife is rich in the healthy forest patches of the Garden Route National Park
12 of 15: A male Southern Double-Collared Sunbird displays and calls from the top of an aloe flower
13 of 15: A Large-Spotted Genet, which is seldom seen during the hours of daylight, wanders across an opening in the forest at dawn
14 of 15: A Rock Hyrax suns itself in the early morning rays of the sun along the rugged rocky coastline of the Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area
15 of 15: A Cape Clawless Otter emerges from the sea after feeding on shellfish in the rough surf zone of the Tsitsikamma marine protected area