The Red Elephant Hiking Route in Diepwalle is a well-signed loop through the Knysna Forest. There are some beautiful large trees and it’s cool and shady in the forest, however, there aren’t any views and it can get slightly monotonous.
This walk starts from the Diepwalle Forest Section of Garden Route National Park. To get there, it’s a 20 km (30-minute) drive north of Knysna along the R339. The last 10 km are on a good gravel road, suitable for all vehicles. Follow the signs to the rest camp and tea garden, which leaves the main road on a more minor road uphill to the right.
Map of Diepwalle Red Elephant Route
Tips for Diepwalle Hiking
- This hike is in the Knysna Section of Garden Route National Park
- It’s free to drive along the road but to walk in the park it’s R42/21 or R168/84 per adult/child per day for South Africans/International. It’s free with a WildCard.
- Red elephant signboards clearly show the trail route.
- For navigation on this hike you can use the map provided by the park in combination with the offline maps app Maps.me.
- Another, slightly longer hike in the area is the Black Elephant Route.
- For more hikes in South Africa, see our South Africa Hiking Guide.
First, visit the information centre to get a map and pay your park fees. You also need to check in here if you’re camping here on the forest decks.
The Red Elephant Route starts around to the right of the information building. Follow along the gravel track and see large signs for the Red and White Elephant routes. Continue a short distance and you’ll see a small square sign with a red elephant on a yellow background. These little signs will guide you all around this walk.
Follow the small path downhill as indicated. Cross straight over the main gravel road and continue into the forest. The path wiggles around and after a while it meets a larger track. You cross over a stream and shortly afterwards turn right uphill. We were lucky enough to see a cool chameleon here.
Soon the path bends right again and leads downwards before reaching a stream crossing. Carefully hop across the roads in the stream, using the guiding rope if needed. The path then starts heading back up again. Shortly before you reach the main road again you’ll meet a Big Tree.
Big Trees in the Forest
The Big Tree is a Common Yellowood, also known as an Outeniqua Yellowood. It’s almost 50 metres tall and over 600 years old. In a few hundred metres you’ll see a picnic area with toilets surrounding the path, before you come out in a large grassy area by the road.
On the right-hand edge of the picnic area the trail continues on the other side of the road, back into the forest. In a bit less than 1 km you’ll reach another Big Tree. Shortly afterwards, the path meets a track that heads back up to the information centre and the end of the Diepwalle Red Elephant Route.