The Knysna forest is a magical place. A deep wooded area filled with indigenous Outeniqua yellowwood, stinkwood, and Assegai trees. It is home to the elusive Knysna Loerie and rumour has it there are still a pair of wild Knysna elephants silently roaming the forest. The Knysna Forest whispers of an old world and when you enter it you can’t help but be impacted by it.
There are many beautiful hikes within the Knysna Forest ranging from the short 1km Garden of Eden circuit just off the N2 to 13km trails in the Diepwalle section of the forest. But the best way to experience the Knysna Forest is to stay within it. SANParks has created the most idyllic forest camping spot within the Diepwalle section of the Knysna Forest. Diepwalle means deep walls in Afrikaans and this name aptly describes this section of the forest where you really experience wall to wall forest and trees. You need to drive along a long bumpy gravel road to get here, leaving you feeling as though you have entered another world when you arrive. If you’re looking for the perfect forest camping escape, look no further than camping in Diepwalle. It is affordable and a truly magical place.
The Diepwalle section of the Knysna Forest is located just outside of Knysna along the Garden Route. From Cape Town it is a 6 hour drive along the N2 before you turn off the main road onto a gravel road up into the mountains. This gravel road is filled with potholes! We did it in a VW polo and managed alright but a higher car may mean a less stressful drive! The Diepwalle campsite is located at the Forestry station so just follow all the signs pointing there. Upon arrival you will need to check in with the park rangers and they will guide you to your campsite.
Camping in Diepwalle – Accommodation
One of the things that makes camping at Diepwalle so special is that there are only 10 sites available and they are so nicely spaced out in their own little corner of the forest. It really makes it feel like a peaceful getaway where you can reconnect with yourself and nature.
There are two camping options available: an empty deck with power points – for you to put up your own tent, and an already set up deck tent with power points. Prices below. All sites have a lovely under cover kitchen area (no equipment, but space for you to store your food and kitchen crate- NB- keep everything tightly sealed from the monkeys!)
The camping decks are spacious and could easily fit two smaller sized tents or one larger tent on them. We brought along our hammocks and tied hung them across the deck. This was such an amazing spot to sway beneath the forest canopy.
If camping is not your scene then there is a treetop chalet available which sleeps 4. This is not actually located in Diepwalle but a different section of the Knysna Forest close to the Garden of Eden. I have not stayed here but have heard good things about it.
|Accommodation Type||Rate reflected valid for||Base Rate||Base Rate (no. people)||Max (no. beds/people)||Additional Adult||Additional Child|
|Camping Diepwalle Power (CK4P)||2023-01-17 – 2023-10-31||R260.00||2||4||R104.00||R52.00|
|Deck Tent (DT2)||2023-01-17 – 2023-10-31||R670.00||2||2||R104.00||R52.00|
|Tree Top Chalet (GC4)||2023-01-17 – 2023-10-31||R2730.00||4||4||R540.00||R270.00|
You can book your accommodation on the SANParks website. their booking system is easy to use and efficient.
Tariffs – Daily Conservation Fees
The Diepwalle Forest is part of the Knysna Section of SANParks. Thus, there is a daily conservation fee which will be payable in addition to your accommodation fees. These can be booked and paid for with your reservation online or you can pay onsite. Wild Card holders are exempt from the conservation fees.
|Daily Conservation fees for 1 November 2022 to 31 October 2023|
|South African Citizens and Residents (with ID):||R44 per adult, per day
R22 per child, per day
|SADC Nationals (with passport):||R88 per adult, per day
R44 per child, per day
|Standard Conservation Fee (International Visitors):||R176 per adult, per day
R88 per child, per day
What to do in Diepwalle Forest
Rest & Relax
Our primary objective during our stay at Diepwalle campsite was to enjoy the peace and quiet of the forest. We brought our books, hung out in our hammocks, relaxed and ate delicious food. At night the fireflies came out of the forest and we watched them flit around while enjoying the warmth of the campfire.
Hike one of the Elephant Trails
The other must-do activity while staying at Diepwalle is hike. There are plenty of amazing hiking trails for every fitness level in the forest.
There are three trails, of varying difficulty, available for you to choose from. All three start and end at the Diepwalle Forestry Station/campsite:
- Black Route: 9km; circular (Easy: 3-4 hours)
- White Route: 8km; circular (Moderate: 3-4 hours)
- Red Route: 7km; circular (Moderate – Difficult: 3-4 hours)
We did the black route and absolutely loved it! We saw plenty of ferns and yellowwoods. The paths are demarcated by different coloured elephant signs which you can follow. We got a tiny bit lost towards the end so just make sure you have a map and know where you’re going. The rangers at the Forestry station will be more than happy to assist.
Visit the King Edward VII/ Diepwalle Big Tree
We ended up passing this on the way back from our hike but you can easily drive there and take a short stroll to the big tree. It is truly magnificent. It is estimated to be 650 years old and about 39m tall.
We absolutely loved our forest camping experience and would definitely recommend this experience to anyone looking for some serenity and solitude in Mother Nature.
Is your camping trip part of a bigger Garden Route holiday? Read my complete guide to Knysna here and if you are looking for another Garden Route hiking check out my Robberg Nature Reserve Hiking Guide.