Activities on the Estate:

Forest Hall Estate offers a number of educational and leisure opportunities for both children and adults.

For the little ones: looking after our animals! A number of farm animals roam the Estate - from sheep, rabbits, horses, chickens, a pig, to four rare and indigenous Nguni cattle...and a peacock! Endless entertainment for children which is also educational.
For both adults and children: Learning in our laboratory about the re-aforestation and alien clearing program which has been run by Landmark Foundation scientist Albert Ackhurst for some years. An indigenous nursery on the Estate is a wonderful opportunity for guests to get involved in or just appreciate the local flora and the efforts currently underway in the Garden Route to clear alien vegetation and re-establish the unique Afro-montane ecosystem that is found nowhere else in the world apart from the Amatole/Hogsback region in Kwazulu-Natal - where it was the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien's famous book The Lord of The Rings.
Walks into the pristine Tsitsikamma forest right on the property to learn about this ancient and unique African ecosystem - the home of the prized Yellow-wood. The Tsitsikamma is true 'fairy forest' and the name is an ancient khoi word meaning 'place of many waters' due to the abundance of waterfalls to be found in the greater Tsitsikamma area.
Barbecue (or 'braai')! There are several perfect spots - each equipped with deck, table and barbecue, near the beach, in the shade of the trees, where the children can play safely, bathe and wait for the grill to be ready.
Sleep-over at the grotto. A night in the very large natural grotto overlooking the sea is a unique experience, and a great outdoors experience to share with your family.

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Forest Hall is situated right on the Western edge of the beautiful forest of the Tsitsikamma National Park - near the finishing point of the world-renowned Otter Trail - 42 kms of pristine beaches, cliffs and coastal forest from Storms River Mouth to Natures Valley. Although it is necessary to book a place on the Otter Trail well in advance (the trail takes 4 days to complete), a number of shorter trails and hikes are available in the area. Within the property boundaries of Forest Hall itself, exceptional hiking trails take you through spectacular indigenous forest down to the private beaches at the foot of the cliffs. From the house you can hike east through the forest to Salt River and from there either through more forest or along the rocky shore-line for a short distance to the popular Nature's Valley beach and lagoon, or west along the coastline all the way to Keurbooms. For the brave at heart there is the Forest Hall Coastal Cave walk, which involves swimming through a cave - only possible at low tide. Please note that these hikes are challenging! Since most routes involve steep gradients, dense forest and rugged coastal sections, all hikes are supervised by the manager of the property. However, gentler, more family oriented forest and coastal walks are only a short distance away at Natures Valley, or through forests on other parts of the Estate.

Supervised horse-riding is available, either around the gardens and grounds, or trekking through the forest. Three riding horses and a Shetland pony are kept on the Estate. They are kept in a large fenced paddock at night, and are usually free to wonder the Estate during the day - although guest's preferences will be accommodated in this regard. They are all gentle, friendly horses and the Shetland is an ideal companion for children. In addition to horse-riding on the Estate, there are a number of places that offer horse-riding and trekking in the surrounding area. For Polo enthusiasts, lessons can be arranged at neighbouring Kurland.

Forest Hall has its own private beaches, with rock pools that are ideal for children to swim in and play safely. The beaches can be reached via several paths down though the forest - these are very steep and challenging, and then there is the climb back up! For those with small children or who are feeling less like a true adventure through the ancient lichen-covered and moss-hung trees, the beaches can be reached on a 4x4 drive from the front garden area of the Manor house. The difficult paths through the forest and the inaccessibility of the beaches from anyhwere but Forest Hall Estate itself means privacy...and unspoiled coastline.

The 25 metre 'Infinity Pool' near the Manor House is heated with solar panels, and is kept sparkling with an environmentally friendly salt-water cleaning system that does not require the use of chlorine. A Jacuzzi adjacent to the pool can accommodate up to 16 people.

Forest Hall Estate lends itself to mountain-biking - with 220 ha of open ground and forest, there is no shortage of trails and paths. Trails range from easy to highly challenging. For those who wish to venture farther afield, trails can be found in the Tsitsikamma, Harkerville and Knysna Forests. The surrounding Crags area and the road and forests of Natures Valley are also a cyclist's paradise.

Forest Hall offers amazing opportunities for bird-watching! The Tsitsikamma forest, which ends right in the front garden, is home to the spectacular Knysna Loerie and the rare endemic Narina Trogon, among many others. Click on the following local link and let your cursor rest on the pictures of the birds for information on the four primary species that can be seen flitting through the forest canopy - and through the trees around you as you enjoy the afternoon on the deck or relaxing in the swing chair:

BIRDS OF THE TSITSIKAMMA

The cliffs and beaches of Forest Hall Estate offer incredible whale-watching opportunities. Southern Right whales (so named because they were once the 'right' whales to hunt) move through the area off the Estate's coastline during the winter months, from late April to early October. They come to the Bay to breed and calve, and can be seen singly or in groups of several individuals close to shore. Walk down the cliff with a pair of binoculars and you may get to enjoy the experience of watching a whale calve. Brydes whales are present throughout the year, and Humpbacks move through in considerable numbers during the summer months - close in shore. Humpbacks are of course famous for their 'breaching' behaviour - throwing their enormous bulk out of the water in apparent exuberance. It is an incredible sight to see, and Forest Hall offers one of the finest vantage points along the Garden Route coast. Sightings of these majestic creatures are virtually a daily occurence.
For a truly close encounters, two permitted boat-based whale-watching companies operate from Main Beach at Plettenberg Bay. Year round trips promise dolphin sightings, winter trips offer close encounters with Southern Rights, and summer trips the very real chance of getting splashed by a breaching Humpback!

Forest Hall's own beach is known as a great spot for line fishing. With the right tide and weather you can settle in for the day to catch your own supper in a spectacular and private setting - nothing and no-one around you but soaring cliffs, lush coastal forest and the open ocean. Your only companions might be dolphins, or Humpbacks and Southern Right whales at certain times of the year.

There are many opportunities to get close to animals in the Crags, and one of the most rewarding and thrilling of these encounters is offered at the nearby Tenikwa Awareness Centre. Tenikwa offers visitors the chance to go along with the handlers when they take the Centre's cheetahs for their daily walks. This is something that we at Forest Hall can personally recommend, having been priviledged to have experienced ourselves with our 4 year old son. It was incredibly moving and something we will never forget. The cheetahs are used to people and prefectly safe to be around, but this does not detract from the experience; if anything it makes it even more incredible - to be so close and accepted by this beautiful wild African cat.
For more on Tenikwa: WALK WITH CHEETAHS

 


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