Tokai Forest is a beautiful natural forest in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town. Tokai Forest is nestled in the foothills of the Constantiaberg Mountain Range – one of the many mountains that forms part of the range extending over the Cape Peninsula.
For more amazing hikes, visit our guide to enchanting trails around Cape Town
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Location and Direction
Tokai Forest can easily be reached from Cape Town by travelling along the M3 and taking Tokai exit 21. You will then have to turn right onto Tokai Road and continue following it until you reach the forest.
- Google Map Pin Here
The Tokai Manor House is the go-to contact for any and all information relating to Tokai Forest.
The Manor House can be reached on the following number, 021 712 0527.
Tokai Forest Market
The Tokai Forest Market used to be a bustling hub of activity over the weekends. The market boasted a variety of stalls such as:
- Organic food stalls
- Hot drinks and sweet treats
- Variety of book stalls
- Craft-orientated vendors
- Clothing traders
At the moment, the Tokai Forest Market was recently shut down due to an expiration of their lease.
The owners of the market are still currently searching for a new location and patrons are advised to watch their Facebook page
Picnic and Braai Area
Tokai Forest also boasts a braai and picnic area where you can indulge in one of South Africa’s favourite pastimes, braaing! The Tokai Forest braai area is set under towering pine trees at the edge of Tokai Forest. The tariff charged for usage of the braai and picnic area is as follows:
- R25 per adult per day (adult pricing applies to everyone 12 and older)
- 15 per child per day (these rates apply to persons aged 2 – 11 years old)
- R25 charge per vehicle
- The Tokai braai and picnic area is open from 8 am to 6 pm.
For more information regarding the braai area, click through below:
- Google Maps Pin Here
Tokai Forest is conveniently nestled at the base of the Constantiaberg Mountain, allowing for the existence of a number of hiking trails, two of which are very popular.
The first is the circular trail through the Tokai Arboretum and the other takes you up to the Elephant Eye Cave. An important thing to bear in mind is that hikers should approach the trails with caution and never hike alone for safety reasons.
We also visited the trails recently and were told that the hiking trails were closed as the forest was undergoing rehabilitation, so it is best to contact SANParks prior to making a trip out to Tokai Forest.
The easiest hike takes you on a circular walk through the magnificent Tokai Arboretum. The Arboretum makes up the main part of the non-plantation part of the Tokai Forest. It was planted in 1885 by Joseph Lister.
The Arboretum was intended to be a research project in determining which exotic plants would grow well in the Cape Colony. The Arboretum boasts a wide variety of species of trees from many different countries.
There are numerous variations of oak trees, pine trees, gum trees, cypresses and many others. Each tree is individually labelled for your educational pleasure. Many of the trees growing here are over 100 years old. The trees found throughout South Africa’s forestry plantations are a direct result of Lister’s research.
The walk is easy to follow as it is incredibly well-marked for a hiking trail and the information display at the entrance marks out the route. It begins in front of Lister’s tea-room, an incredibly quaint and lovely tea-garden, and is marked by oak-leaf signs throughout the walk hence why it is occasionally called the Oak Leaf Path. It takes roughly 30 minutes to complete.
Elephant Eye Cave Hike
You can get to the Elephant Eye Cave from the Silvermine Nature Reserve, but if you don’t want to pay an entrance fee you can also hike to the cave from Tokai Forest. This hike is more challenging than the hike from Silvermine.
The start of the hike is found in the Tokai Arboretum and is marked by signs bearing the image of an elephant. These signs will crop up occasionally just to remind you that you are on the right path and aren’t getting lost. It should take about two hours to reach the cave, and you should give yourself about an hour to explore it once there.
There are many things to look out for along this hike. The most notable being the incredible biodiversity. The flora of the hike transitions from shady forest to sparse fynbos as you ascend along the slopes. The forest also boasts a multitude of different species of bird and insects.
There are plenty of mammals within the forest, such as field mice and porcupines, and it is well-known that a troop of baboons often roam the forest. Other hikers have noted evidence of several nocturnal creatures including the elusive caracal.
- Google Maps Pin Here
Mountain Bike Trail
The Tokai mountain bike trails have always been popular with mountain bike enthusiasts within Cape Town. It boasts a good mixture of relatively easy trails, but it also features a few challenging trails that would leave even the most experienced cyclist feeling a bit tired. The trails are all marked with a grading system:
- Green Trails are the easiest trails suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
- The blue-graded trails are for more experienced cyclists and feature much steeper ascents and descents.
- The black-graded trails are for expert cyclists with bikes built for very rigorous trails.
All cyclists are advised to wear the appropriate protection gear and to not carry any valuables with them. The fires in March 2016 caused the mountain bike trails to be closed off to the public due to the safety risk of having charred remains of trees on the trails. It was also done so that contractors could remove the burnt remains of trees with interference from the public.
The trail was recently reopened on 10 December 2016. It is still only open on a trial basis over the weekends. Cyclists can only use the trails if they acquire an R75 day permit from the picnic sales hut. An annual permit which costs R500 can also be acquired via any Table Mountain National Park offices or from any Cape Town Tourism office.
- Google Maps Pin Here
Indigenous Plant Life & Vegetation
Tokai Forest has become a National Reserve and is now protected by the government but it was not always this way.
60 Years ago a lease to grow Pine Trees on the land was awarded and as of recent that lease has expired. The trees are being felled but that’s not bad news.
Alien vegetation often kills off the indigenous plant life and that in turn leaves the wild life with limited food sources. The removal of the alien Pine Trees gives way for a new fynbos forest to be naturally developed as it once was, in hopes that it will entice the return of wildlife.
Tokai Forest Guest House
The Tokai Guest House is set in a quiet, idyllic and picturesque location. It is found at the foothills of the Constantiaberg Mountains. The guest house is situated incredibly close to various activities within the region and is a short drive away from Cape Town.
The guest house boasts five regular suites, and a honeymoon suite – each of which comes with their own rates. The rates for the Tokai Guest House can be found on their website.
- Google Maps Pin Here
Weddings in Tokai Forest
There is a growing trend of people not using religious buildings for their wedding ceremonies and with that in mind, the "fairytale forest" setting has become quite popular amongst city dwellers.
Tokai Forest has become well-known as a modern wedding venue and several couples have independently hosted their wedding there. Some of the wedding packages offers the use of the quaint Tokai Stone Chapel as a venue, while others simply have the wedding held in the forest whilst offering a variety of services to make the wedding special.
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