Western Cape Tourist AttractionsThe Platbos Indigenous Forest
Just off the coast of Gansbaai you will find Africa's southernmost forest. Platbos is an ancient, indigenous forest that lies on the slopes of the Baviaanspoort Hills on the Grootbos Road just outside Stanford, the largest remaining fragment of the orginal Swartkransberg Forests - lowland forests of the fynbos biome.
Where? Between Stanford and Gansbaai, Western Cape
When? By appointment only
How? See the Web page
How much? Price on request
Platbos, as its name suggests, is the name for a flat forest or bush, which perfectly describes the approach to the forest along the road, where it appears to be simply bush. That it is actually a forest is something of a surprise, and to find that it is a forest made up predominantly of wild olive, white pear and white stinkwood trees is nothing short of incredible.
What makes Platbos Indigenous Forest unique is that one wouldn't expect to find it where it is. Most forests retreat into moister mountain ravines and riverbanks. Platbos Forest, by comparison, is found in deep, sandy, alkaline soil on north-facing terrain – where the rainfall is generally not deemed sufficient to support a forest. Despite this, the trees flourish, so much so that some of them are over 1000 years old.
Its species too are unique – it doesn't easily fit into any existing forest category. Whilst there are attributes of the Afromontane forest, you won't find yellowoods, black stinkwoods, rooiels and other thirstier trees. Instead all the coastal thicket species are visible, and it has been compared to Tongaland-Pondoland forests of KwaZulu-Natal.
Visit Platbos Forest by appointment to enjoy the gentle walks that take an hour or two to complete. In the heart of the forest you'll find a 1000 year old milkwood, and a labyrinth made of mother-of-pearl sea shells, often in disarray as the baboons like to re-arrange the design. Platbos also has a tree planting programme to which you can contribute.