South Africa has plenty of wild places. We’ve got desert areas with hardy plants that grow for centuries but hardly reach knee height. We’ve got bush areas where you’ll experience the Big 5 and much more on the most incredible safaris of your life. We’ve got amazing mountain ranges that boast unique fauna and biodiverse floral kingdoms that are the envy of conservationists the world over. And, we also have a very special coastal forest belt with giant trees, beautiful estuaries and breath-taking beaches. That last one is where you’ll find the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park.
Let us explain a little about why we love this place so much:
Braaiing on the porch at the chalets
Sure, it’s just cooking meat over an open fire. American would call it a BBQ, Ozzies would call it a barnie, Argentines and asado, but when you’re in South Africa it’s called a braai and there are few places more special than the Storms River Mouth chalets inside the Tsitsikamma National Park to have one. There’s the constant crashing of the waves, the scent of the sea intermingled with the forest behind you and your wood smoke. It’s one of those places where you can sit back, G&T in hand, take a deep breath and realize that while the world, has its stresses and problems, it also has its simple pleasures. This is an incredible one.
Ziplining through the forest
There’s a lot to be said for simply meandering along the myriad well-marked footpath and keep track routes of the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park. There’s wonderful bird life, huge trees, ferns, mushrooms and many other wonderful things to see. If you like a little adrenalin in your life, you can do it from on high with the Cape Canopy Tours ziplining offering which will see you flying between 700-year-old yellowwood trees and getting a brilliant view of the forest from the perspective of monkeys and birds. On that note keep an eye out for Knysna Loeries and the elusive Narina Trogon.
Kayak or Lilo the Storms River mouth
More adrenalin? Grab kayak and go deep into the Storms River gorge, working your way upstream from the suspension bridge. At a certain point you swop your kayak for a lilo (inflatable boat/cushion thing) and push even further upstream before doing a U-turn and letting the current take you all the way back through ancient forest and slow, deep pools.
The Otter Trail
One of South Africa’s most celebrated multi-day trails, the Otter trail (named after the Cape Clawless Otter) follows the coast from the Storms River Mouth, ending 45km later at Nature’s Valley. You’re within the National Park all the way, but fear not, as South Africa’s national parks go, this is one without scores of dangerous animals. What you will find is fantastic paths meandering from forested hilltops to valleys, across estuaries and beaches. Four nights and five days long, each evening is spent at an overnight hut with an open fire, where you cook your own food (that you carry the whole way). If you ever felt the need to unplug and reconnect with the natural world, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better way to do it than this hike.