Located on the beautiful Garden Route in the Western Cape, and spreading through to the Eastern Cape of South Africa, lies the protected region of Tsitsikamma National Park. In Khoisan, Tsitsikamma means ‘place of much water’ referring to the sparkling Tsitsikamma River. The Park is famous for its indigenous forests and rocky coastlines. It consists of stunning ocean and mountain landscapes and is a rather secluded mountainous area with remote valleys covered in Fynbos. The Park stretches over 80 kilometres of coastline with ancient rivers that have sculpted their routes to the sea through rocky gorges. In 2009, Tsitsikamma National Park merged with the Wilderness National Park, as well as numerous other plots of land, in order to create the Garden Route National Park. At the Western side of the area is Nature’s Valley, whilst the main accommodation is located at Storms River Mouth.
Tsitsikamma National Park is the oldest and biggest marine reserve in all of Africa. It plays a crucial role in the preservation and conservation of aquatic plants and animals, providing a laboratory for fisheries baseline research on endangered species. The Park is filled with different plant species, including an abundance of fynbos, proteas and heath. Along the coastline, Cormorants, Kelp Gulls and African Black Oystercatchers are common. Tidal pools and rivers that empty into the sea are also frequently visited by Pied and Giant Kingfishers hunting for fish.
The climate is steady throughout the year, allowing tourists to partake in a wide range of enthralling activities available in the reserve, while a high rainfall guarantees the verdure of plant life that the region is so famous for. Nearby to the Park is the renowned Bloukrans Bridge where you can bungee jump from a spectacular height of 216 metres above the Bloukrans River – the world’s highest commercial bungee jump. If you wish to keep the adrenaline pumping, you are encouraged to participate in the Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour which is a unique wilderness adventure through the lush, indigenous rainforest. This is the first of its kind in the continent of Africa, allowing tourists to travel from one platform to the next via a steel cable that is suspended approximately 30 metres above the forest floor.
Other options to keep you busy in this magnificent reserve include beautiful hikes along the suspension bridge or even tubing down the powerful Storms River. You could also pay a visit to Tsitsikamma Falls Adventure Park, located nearby Storms River. Here, you are offered a variety of thrilling Eco Adventure activities, including Waterfall Zipline Tours, Gravity Zone Abseiling and Quad Bike Tours. If you feel like taking part in something more relaxed, you can always opt for a Segway tour through Storms River Village and the dense forest, during which you will visit the Big Tree (the oldest yellowwood in the region, estimated to be between 600-800 years old). If you enjoy the ocean, then be sure to either hire some snorkelling gear or to partake in a guided scuba dive where you will witness plenty of the local sea life. You could also choose to kayak through the water channels of the Park, taking time out to relax on inflatable lilos as you make your way deeper into the ravines to explore the marvellous Storms River. Tsitsikamma National Park is not only an incredible ecological gem, but an area filled with exciting activities in which to take part in.
Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons