Your exclusive peek into a gorgeous world
Brackenburn Private Nature Reserve is one of the most beautiful places along the whole of the Garden Route. What makes the walking trails on this property so special is that they are totally exclusive and unique. I am privileged to be the only one entitled to guide here and I don’t treat this honor lightly. I have made these trails myself, opening up old logging trails and using natural gullies to get down to the river and back out again. I refer to the trails here as ‘off the beaten track’. Having walked many trails between Knysna and Nature’s Valley already, I can safely say I have encountered nothing else quite like them. This one is called River Pools, and you can find out more information regarding distance, times, etc. here: exclusive walks. I also have a short history of the reserve which you can read here: about Brackenburn.
The rest of this blog is all about the beauty and wonder of River Pools; get ready to be immersed in a wonderland…
The route down
One thing about the walking trails in this area of the Garden Route is that you are virtually guaranteed of steep inclines. There are some deep valleys around here, and they are absolutely worth exploring!
The route down follows a natural gully and as long as you take your time, you are pretty safe. Don’t worry, the whole idea behind these exclusive trails is to take your time as there is so much to see.
The birding on this reserve is wonderful, but like most things in the forest, they are not easy to see. Being with a guide means you get to identify most of the calls around you and, with some patience and luck, hopefully see a few special ones too. On my way down I was listening to Narina Trogon’s (a very special forest species), Green Woodhoopoe’s cackling away in their family, and Paradise Flycatcher’s with their lovely whistling.
There is always an amazing array of fungi to be seen and, if you know where to look, lots of undergrowth creatures such as spiders, millipedes, scorpions, and much, much more.
It’s called the Buffels River, but for most of the year it looks more like a stream; thankfully. We cross on many occasions using the rocks as steps, and they are often loose, slippery, or both. When the river is high it is much harder to cross, and sometimes impossible if there has been heavy rains. I don’t want you to get wet feet, but there is always a chance of a foot slipping off a rock as we go.
Still, the beauty takes over and the immersion begins as soon as we hit the bottom of the valley. You don’t want to be the one walking in the front on this reserve, trust me; I get a lot of spider webs in my face. Don’t worry, they are all harmless and I am always keen to prove this to you as I love handling all the little undergrowth creatures we encounter. I have been doing this half my life and handling has proven an invaluable way of teaching folk about these creatures; breaking down all the misconceptions as a result.
An eclectic mix of creatures to see
I always speak about walks along the Buffels River as an immersion in nature, and it really is, every time. No matter the time of year, or weather, there are always things to see. Frogs, toads, spiders, scorpions, millipedes, centipedes, snakes, birds, mammals, dragonflies, damselflies, whirligigs, backswimmers, water scorpions; the list is endless!
There is a mix of various frog species, including some River, Stream and Caco species. I am not even going to pretend I know them as this is very hard to do and you need to be a bit of an expert to get it right; but here are a few pics in any case. There are literally thousands of frogs to be seen along the river and, if you sit down long enough, you will slowly start to notice how many googly eyes are in fact checking you out!
And the rest of the creatures...
These photos can only give you a peek at everything around us on these exclusive trails. If you have walked some of the Garden Route trails available to the public, then you definitely need to consider doing one of the exclusive trails with me; you will not be disappointed.
I hope to see you on the trail soon!