Flora and Fauna of the Garden Route

Wilderness, Garden Route
Wilderness, Garden Route

The Flora and Fauna of the Garden Route

The Garden Route is one of the most significant conservation areas in the country in terms of biodiversity and it attracts a large number of local and overseas tourists. Its range of ecosystems including mountain, lake, forest and fynbos, form a mosaic of landscapes and are renowned for their natural beauty.

The Garden Route is regarded as a critical focus area: its indigenous forests are the largest complex of natural, closed canopy forest in Southern Africa; and its fynbos falls within the Cape Floral Kingdom which is a global diversity hotspot. 

In the indigenous forest areas the animals are not easily seen but their tracks and droppings are often visible. Larger mammals include Bushpig, Bushbuck, Blue Duiker, Baboon and Vervet Monkeys as well as the predators, Leopard and Caracal. Bushpigs are omnivorous and are found in groups of six to twenty while Bushbuck are usually alone or in pairs.

Bird species include the Knysna Loerie, Narina Trogon, Olive Thrush, Chorister Robins, Cape Robins and Starred Robins. Owing to poor visibility in the dense forest vegetation, sound takes priority over sight as a means of communication and the birds have loud penetrating calls.

As you meander along the incredible hiking trails in the indigenous forests, you will encounter many species of trees including Ironwood, Yellowwood, White Pear, Stinkwood, Cherrywood and Cape Beech. Did you know that stinkwood trees grow to an average age of 1 000 years?

In the wetter parts you will come across enormous Tree Ferns, various climbers (e.g. wild grape), Egiphytes (such as old man’s beard and tree orchids), mosses, lichens and colourful fungi. The Cape Floral Kingdom occupies only 6% of South Africa’s land area and yet one third of all plant species are found here. It contains more plant species in a 10 km radius than tropical forests that generally contain the highest biodiversity anywhere in the world.

The wonderful diversity of species attributed to the fynbos biome is the result of its antiquity: the southern hemisphere did not experience the last ice age of 10,000 years ago that eradicated the vegetation of the northern hemisphere. The Fynbos Biome, boasts at least 45,000 different plants of which over 69% are endemic to the region and found nowhere else on earth.