Forest bathing, a Japanese concept, is the broad reference to taking in the full spectrum of the forest through your five senses. Extending beyond the simple activity of walking through a forest, it is the process of absorbing the entire experience of the forest through your sight, touch and smell.
Preparing for Forest Bathing
- Switch digital devices off
- Slow down and observe nature
- Breathe in an extended cyclical pattern
- Pause and smell your surroundings.
In the Garden Route, we are fortunate to be surrounded by medium to mature climax Afro-montane forests which extend from George to Storms River in the east. Flanking the southern slopes of the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma mountain ranges, the forest offers a cool, quiet environment for forest bathing.
Forest Bathing is about cultivating a primeval reconnection, an awakening of your senses for an integrated experience in nature.
Forest Bathing on the Woodcutter Trail
While there are many trails suitable for Forest Bathing in the Garden Route, the Woodcutter Trail is a perfect trail to begin. Offering the choice of a 3km or 9km loop, you can plan how long you would like to spend in the forest.
Recently, while relaxing in a stream below a small rapid, a stick drifted past will a Knysna Dwarf Chameleon clinging to it. An endemic species to the region, it was fortuitous to see it on the stick. Once the stick was lifted out of the water, the chameleon transitioned from a dark black brown colour to a light tan shade, an indication of it destressing.
Alternative Trails for Forest Bathing in the Garden Route
Fortunately the Garden Route has numerous established forest trails between Storms River and George ranging from 2.5km up to 18km, each trail with it’s own special offering and experience.
To start off, here are some of the more well known hikes to consider : Top 5 Forest Trails in the Garden Route