Heavenly Coastlines and Picture Perfect Hikes in Tsitsikamma National Park

 

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{Glinda’s View}

Our road trip of South Africa’s Garden Route continued from Jeffreys Bay to Tsitsikamma National Park. I knew absolutely nothing of this area. I had some how skipped researching the area between Jeffereys Bay and Gansbaai. We were going to wing it through this area, but we were sure we had a full tank of gas!

As we drove the GR we stopped along the way to take in all the glorious views. Amazing green forests, mountains, cliffs, waterfalls, rivers and endless coastlines for miles. Parts reminded me of the California coastline and other parts a mix of the Washington/Oregon coastlines. The GR was better than I had expected. Apparently, Maynard had found this area in a magazine, but I think we decided on this area after passing the road advertisements for the Zip Lining and Bungee Jumping. However we came upon the decision to stay in the Tsitsikamma National Park didn’t matter because we did and it was awesome.

We stopped into Tsitsikamma Falls Adventure, a zip line oasis,  to grab a brochure about their waterfall zip lining costs and ask some questions. They were so helpful. Not only did we sign up for an afternoon of zip lining, but they also raved about the restcamp which made our confidence about this place shoot through the roof.

The restcamp has a few different accommodation options – camping area for tents, camping area for RVs, duplex type cabins and a few multiple living cabins. Almost all accommodations have direct ocean views and easy walking distance to all the trails. If you like to camp and/or are looking for an active outdoorsy holiday I can not recommend this place enough.

We stayed in a duplex cabin (oceanette) at the end of the coast, so we had views of the suspension bridge area and the ocean coastline. Parking is free with a rental. The cabin we stayed in was huge. It had a full kitchen, dining area, sitting room with TV, a separate bedroom, bathroom and an ocean facing deck.

Our first look at our cabin.

Our first look at our cabin.

The grounds house a small grocery store, tourist shop and restaurant. I recommend stocking up on food and water prior to entering the park because the food choices limited and prices a bit high. During your stay expect to see lots of birds and critters, especially chubby marmots everywhere. We read that it was possible to see dolphins, porpoises and whales off the coast, but we didn’t see any large ocean life.

Marmots, keep an eye out for them, they will popup anywhere.

Marmots, keep an eye out for them, they will popup anywhere.

The hiking trails within the park range from easy to difficult with the more difficult trails moving into the cliffs above and away from the coast. Definitely pack sturdy hiking shoes and carry water with you. We hiked the suspension bridge trail and a small portion of the Otter Trail. Both were excellent hikes. The suspension bridge hike was an easy hike. The Otter Trail is fairly easy from the camp sites to right before the 1st waterfall. There was some boulder climbing and steep areas before the waterfall. We were told that the Otter Trail does get more difficult in areas as you move further along the trail. Give it a try and go as far as you feel comfortable; it really is worth the effort. We plan on returning soon to hike the entire Otter Trail.

Looking down on the suspension bridge from the Mouth Trail.

Looking down on the suspension bridge from the Mouth Trail.

The World Famous Otter Trail of South Africa.

The World Famous Otter Trail of South Africa.

The section of the Otter Trail that can be effected by the tide.

The section of the Otter Trail that can be effected by the tide.

Best selfie ever!

Best selfie ever!

If you get tired of hiking, relaxing and watching the crashing waves, within a short drive of the park were great zip lining courses, the world’s tallest bridge bungee jump (we will be posting about these soon), restaurants, shops, scuba diving, snorkeling, canoeing, tubing and kayaking.

Our experience at the Storms River Mouth RestCamp was AHHmazing. Hands down one of our favorite adventures – EVER.  It was romantic, adventurous, relaxing and beautiful all wrapped up in one little area. My favorite part was sitting on the deck with a glass of wine watching and listening to the crashing waves.

Waves crashing into the shore at the rest camp.

Waves crashing into the shore at the rest camp.

Ocean view with the rest camp in the background.

Ocean view with the rest camp in the background.

[Maynard’s View]

While sitting in the lobby of our hotel in Port Elizabeth I spotted a book on the Garden Route in South Africa. I began thumbing through the pictures and I spotted one that immediately caught my eye. It was an image of a dramatic coastline that was amplified by sharp rock formations and a suspension bridge leading over a river emptying into the ocean. I decided we had to see this place. I showed Glinda and announced  I wanted to go there as I stabbed at the photo with my finger indicating the importance of my decision. She returned a smile and said OK. Little did either of us know, but this would turn out to be one of the most beautiful places either of us had seen.

I don’t know how to pronounce it, but it was called Tsitsikamma National Park synonymous with awesome.  The N2 carves a path straight through the park and the Garden Route. The road to Storms River Mouth Rest Camp, where we stayed, branches off the N2 and cuts through a heavily wooded area towards the coast. Over the last mile or so of the drive you drop off a steep rim and find yourself in a fairly narrow strip of land boxed in by the ocean on one side and huge cliffs on the other. There were two main groupings of cabins and camping spots followed by an administrative building and a combination general store/ restaurant which also housed the lodging desk. We were able to secure one of the cabins directly off the ocean. I highly recommend you do the same for two reasons. 1) Falling a sleep listening to the ocean crashing into the rocks was very relaxing. 2) Opening the sliding glass door onto the ocean first thing in the morning and then getting back into bed with your partner was heavenly.

View of the ocean from in front of our cabin.

View of the ocean from in front of our cabin.

There are four options for hiking when staying at the rest camp: The Mouth Trail (2km), The Lourie Trail (1km), Blue Duiker Trail (3.7km) or The Waterfall Trail (6km) Additional Trail Info. The Waterfall Trail is a specific section of the much larger Otter Trail that leads from the rest camp roughly 3km’s in to view the Jerling River waterfall and then returns back to the starting point. We completed two of the four trails; both The Mouth Trail and The Waterfall Trail. The Mouth Trail takes you a suspension bridge over the mouth of Storms River and originates behind the rest camp restaurant. This was a pretty easy trail to hike due to the small amount of elevation change and the fact that it was a wooden walkway

Looking out onto the ocean where it meets the mouth of Storms River.

Looking out onto the ocean where it meets the mouth of Storms River.

 

Glinda conquering the suspension bridge.

Glinda conquering the suspension bridge.

The Waterfall Trail shadows the Otter Trail which connects to the eastern most parking lot of the facility. This trail requires you to scramble over rocks and pick your way along the coastline, but will reward you with a beautiful waterfall about 3 km’s in. The Otter Trail is a 42.5 kilometer trail that runs through the Garden Route taking you over various terrains and provides you with out of this world gorgeous views. If you want to complete the whole trail you must check with the park service here, as a permit is required. If you plan on hiking the Otter Trail do your research.

The Waterfall Trail hiking marker.

The Waterfall Trail hiking marker.

The Jerling River waterfall along the Otter Trail.

The Jerling River waterfall along the Otter Trail.

Glinda taking a few moments to take in the whole scene.

Glinda taking a few moments to take in the whole scene.

Looking back towards the rest camp and the terrain we hiked.

Looking back towards the rest camp and the terrain we hiked.

Money: South Africa uses the Rand (ZAR) and the best exchange rate is given at the ATM. You would be advised to carry a mixture of cash and cards. Cards will be acceptable almost everywhere, but if the occasion calls for cash ATM’s are not as readily available outside the major metropolitan centers. Keep foreign transaction and conversions fees in mind when making transactions. Using travel cards that have no foreign transactions fees are advised for all international travel.

Recommendable: Heck Yeah! Perfect for singles, families or couples. If you love cabin living or camping, nature, hiking and general outdoor adventure this place is a haven. Pack sturdy hiking shoes, water and your camera.

Have you been to Tsitsikamma National Park? Would you visit?

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