Tsitsikamma National Park

Travel Guide Africa South Africa Tsitsikamma National Park

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Introduction

Tsitsikamma National Park is a protected area on the Garden Route, Western Cape and Eastern Cape, South Africa. It is a coastal reserve well known for its indigenous forests, dramatic coastline, and the Otter Trail. On 6 March 2009 it was amalgamated with the Wilderness National Park and various other areas of land to form the Garden Route National Park.

The park covers an 80 kilometres long stretch of coastline. Nature's Valley is at the western end of the park, and the main accommodation is at Storms River Mouth. Near the park is the Bloukrans Bridge, the world's highest bridge bungee jump at 216 metres.

The word "Tsitsikamma" hails from the Khoekhoe language tse-tsesa, meaning "clear", and gami, meaning "water", probably referring to the clear water of the Tsitsikamma River. Other meanings are 'place of much water' and 'waters begin'.

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Geography

Although the forest is called a temperate rainforest, it manages to survive on very little rain. The rainfall is approximately 945 mm per annum. This is very low compared to other temperate rainforests, such as in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North America. The summer, especially January and December, is the rainy season. Rainy weather varies from persistent drizzle and misty days, to storms and cloudbreaks. The wettest months are May and October, and the driest are June and July. The temperature ranges between 23 °C/17 °C in January and 17 °C/10 °C in July. The fact that the Reserve is on the coast of the warm Indian ocean explains the balmy climate.

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Sights and Activities

The Otter Trail starts at the Storms River camp and the South African National Parks has laid out several short trails for day visitors. Set in the Garden Route, the trails lead through coastal and forest scenes, as well as various waterfalls, streams and rivers.

The Suspension Bridge and Lookout Trail is an easy stroll that leads along the western side of the river mouth, past the Strandloper Cave to the suspension bridge across the mouth. On the other side of the bridge there is a short but very steep climb to a lookout point from which there are fine views of the mouth and the camp.

The Waterfall Trail is a short but demanding hike which follows the first 2.65 kilometres of the Otter Trail; hikers may not walk beyond the waterfall unless hiking the Otter Trail.

The Blue Duiker Trail starts just west of the information centre and leads through scrub forest tip to the Agulhas lookout from where whales and dolphins can often be spotted in winter. After crossing a short section of fynbos, the trail takes hikers into the dry forest with some fine Sickle-leaved Yellowwoods evident.

The Blue Duiker Trail continues through the forest, crossing a stream below a delightful waterfall. Several more streams and a cavernous tree bole mark the route. After crossing the road to the camp, the path drops to the coast just west of the start of the Waterfall/Otter trails and returns past the camp site and chalets. Birdlife unique to the forest is found west of the road, which makes this trail a favorite with birdwatchers.

The Lourie Trail is a short-cut to the Blue Duiker Trail, marked with the yellow sign. This trail passes next to a waterfall and has gorgeous views over the marine reserve. During the whale period, and if the sea is calm, whales can often be seen from the top of the cliffs.

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Cost

  • South African citizens and residents (with ID): R49 per adult, R24 per child, per day.
  • SADC Nationals (with passport): R98 per adult, R49 per child, per day.
  • Foreign visitors: R196 per adult, R98 per child, per day.
  • Storms River Mouth Rest Camp. South African Citizens and Residents (with ID) pay R28 per person, per day. SADC Nationals (with passport) pay R50 per adult, per day (children R28). The Standard Conservation Fee for Foreign Visitors: R88 per adult and R44 per child, per day.
  • Nature's Valley's Restcamp. South African Citizens and Residents (with ID) and SADC Nationals (with passport) pay R22 per day. The Standard Conservation Fee for Foreign Visitors: R44 per adult and R22 per child, per day.

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Getting There

Simply follow the N2 and use the exit to Tsitsikamma National Park/ Stormsriver Mouth, 5 km west of Storms River. Located just off the N2, on the R102, the Reserve is easily accessible by car. It takes about 3 hours to drive there from Port Elizabeth, and around 6 hours from Cape Town. The closest airports are in Port Elizabeth (201 kilometres away) and George (130 kilometres away).

The main bus companies as well as the Baz bus stop at the Total Petroport on the N2 next to the Paul Sauer bridge over the Storms River. This is about 15 kilometres away from the Storms River Mouth entrance and 55 kilometres from Nature's Valley entrance, but it is generally easy to hitch a lift from there. There is a Tsitsikamma information centre, curio shop, restaurant and fast-food outlet at the Petroport, as well as spectacular views over the Storms River Gorge. Not the worst place to get stuck for a short while when trying to hitch a ride.

Getting around is on foot only.

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Eat/Drink

There is a restaurant and bar only at the Stormsriver Restcamp.

Get your drinks at the shop (closes at 6:00pm), or at the bar of the restaurant (closes after the last guest left, somewhere between 7:00pm and 10:00pm). Getting drinks after hours, you need to drive out of the park (gate is manned 24 hours). Either to Sugars Tavern in Stormriver West (township) or Dolfy's Tavern, next the N2 just 300 metres past the petrol station/Paul Sauer Bridge, on your right hand side, both are open till 10:00pm on weekdays and 2:00am in weekends (Friday and Saturday).

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Sleep

There are two camps in the park. Be sure to book accommodation before you arrive, especially during high-season. You can check in from noon, check out is till 9:00am.

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This is version 2. Last edited at 13:56 on Sep 13, 17 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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