Looking for somewhere that you can – you’ll need a big breath for this one – dive, hike, snorkel, kayak, swim, climb, abseil, mountain bike, sail and bungee jump? Well firstly, what a list of wants and needs, you must be quite the tricky customer. But not to worry, because we’ve found the place for you. Yes, Tsitsikamma National Park really does have it all.
Combining rugged coastal scenery with a lush forest and mile-upon-mile of unruly, fynbos carpeted land, Tsitsikamma is any nature-lovers dream. But you don’t have to be an outdoors-y type to enjoy its myriad highlights – the tranquility of this park is enough to seduce anyone. This is the garden of the Garden Route after all.
And, with the boundary of this incredible national park stretching 3 miles out into the ocean, it has more than just its onland delights to offer. In fact, water plays a big part in the fun that can be had in this national park. From spotting whales breaching in the distance to kayaking down one of its fast-flowing rivers, the thrills are plentiful. And, beneath the all-encompassing blue of the ocean’s surface, a wonderland of reef and marine life is protected within the park’s borders, highlighting once more just how keen South Africa is on conservation – always a plus in our eyes.
Possibly the most iconic symbol of Tsitsikamma National Park is the much-photographed Storms River suspension bridge – its name may have been derived from engineering technicalities, but there’s certainly a whole lot of suspense when crossing this bridge. It’s probably not one for the acrophobics, but it definitely makes for a dramatic picture.
Tsitsikamma means “place of abundant sparkling water”, so you can expect tumbling waterfalls, choppy rivers and trickling streams – as well as the vast ocean – to be some of the highlights of a trip here. These key water features punctuate the otherwise verdant, sweeping landscapes that make up the 80 km stretch of coastline that comes under the protection of this dramatic national park.
The easy-going climate here means that this is very much a year-round destination, whatever your sport of choice.
For serious hikers, the Otter Trail is the only way to go. Named after the otters that can be found hunting crabs along the coastline, this route traces the Garden Route’s exquisite coastline and is argued to be amongst the most beautiful natural walking trails in the whole country. Running from Storms River Mouth to Nature’s Valley, hiking the full trial would take five days but you can pick it up wherever you want, taking in the majestic beauty of this coastline as you go – think dense fairytale forests, undulating mountains and sumptuous white-sand beaches.
And the wonders don’t stop there. Peel your eyes away from the abundance of beauty onland and you’ll be able to spot whales and dolphins frolicking in the ocean. It really is dreamy.
It’s likely that you’ve come to South Africa for the natural beauty and there’s no better way to showcase what this country has to offer than with a visit to Tsitsikamma National Park.
Makes up an 80 km stretch of coastline within the Garden Route National Park, just a short drive from Plettenberg Bay.
Due to its mild climate, you can enjoy the myriad delights of Tsitsikamma all year long (yay).
Walking boots, a picnic and a good camera.
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