Forests are secret places. They just beckon exploration. It has something to do with one never having vast open views, rather a feeling of being cocooned in dappled light and shifting glimpses of moss on partially revealed tree trunks. Paths disappear around leafy corners and tempt further investigation. We have that growing sense of anticipation as we travel through Karkloof Nature Reserve. The 4x4 rounds a bend in the road and jiggles its way into a clearing. In the centre of a grassy glade, Rockwood Forest Lodge is a delightful surprise.
Guests can only access Rockwood Forest Lodge’s remote location using an off-road vehicle. Rockwood’s hosts happily provide a transfer ride from reception. However, once the staff has left, you have the lodge all to yourselves. With its secluded setting, the hosts have thoughtfully provided extras. There is a welcoming bottle of wine on the dining table, braai briquettes, spices on the kitchen shelves and sugar in a bowl, just in case you forgot. A woven basket with towels, ready for swimming, is placed alongside double glass doors leading out to the large deck.
The rich indigenous environment is home to many endemic or near endemic species. Shy duiker and samango monkeys conceal themselves in the dense foliage. Birders have an opportunity to see the Cape Parrot, Crested Guinea Fowl and the Crowned Eagle. As we ventured along the trail leading off the lodge’s lawn, we were lucky enough to see an elusive Narina Trogon.
Guests of Rockwood have full and exclusive access to the reserve to explore marked trails and discover the reserve’s several waterfalls. We found forest walks were a total immersion in tranquility with each step revealing yet another fascinating moss. The greater Karkloof area is also excellent mountain biking country. Those into fishing can backtrack along the road to the Godwini Dam and indulge in catching trout and bass. If your passion is trees then Rockwood Forest Lodge is ideal. A wide range of trees surrounding the lodge is marked in case your identification skills are rusty. Outeniqua yellowwood (Afrocarpus falcatus) and real yellowwood (Podocarpus latifolius) grow right outside the lodge’s kitchen door. They are a reminder of how important Karkloof Nature Reserve is in preserving our indigenous natural heritage.