Tsitsikamma National Park is a protected area located on the southern coast of South Africa. It is part of the larger Garden Route National Park, which also includes the Wilderness National Park and Knysna National Lake Area. Tsitsikamma park covers an 80 kilometre (50 mile) long stretch of coastline, between Storms River Mouth and Natures Valley. Tsitsikamma’s combination of striking coastline, indigenous forests and winding rivers provide plenty opportunities for hiking, water sports, adrenaline-pumping activities, beach days and scenic views. In this blog post, I will explore the best things to do in and around Tsitsiakamma National Park.
- Storms River Mouth, the heart of Tsitsikamma National Park
- The Big Tree, Tsitsikamma Forest
- Adventure Activities in Tsitsikamma
- Storms River Village, a gateway to Tsitsikamma
- Natures Valley
- Marine Life and Birdwatching in Tsitsikamma
Storms River Mouth, the heart of Tsitsikamma National Park
The centerpiece of Tsitsikamma National Park is the Storms River Mouth, where the Storms river meets the powerful Indian Ocean. This region is primarily renowned for three key attractions: the Suspension Bridge, the hiking trails, and the Kayak & Lilo Adventure up the Storms River Gorge. This is where you will also find the Storms River Mouth Rest Camp, an ideal base for exploring the region’s attractions.
Because Storms River Mouth is part of the National Park, you will need to pay a daily conservation fee to enter the region. The fee is payable when entering the Tsitsikamma section of The Garden Route National Park. For current tariffs, visit SANPARK’S OFFICIAL PAGE. Once you have paid the entrance fee, there is no additional cost for any of the hiking trails.
The Suspension Bridge
Most travelers come to the region to visit the famous Storms River Suspension Bridge. Hanging 7 meters above the turbulent waters, this 77-meter-long bridge provides stunning views of the ocean and rugged cliffs. The bridge is accessible via the two-kilometer Storms River Mouth Trail, which begins near the river mouth.
Tsitsikamma Coastal Hiking Trails
One of the best ways to explore Tsitsikamma’s landscapes is through its coastal hiking trails. The Otter Trail is a famous 5 day trail that takes you through the forest and along the rocky shoreline of the Tsitsikamma area. Alternatively, you can opt for shorter day hikes from Storms River Mouth, such as the Waterfall Trail and the Blue Duiker Trail. Both these trails offer equally impressive scenery.
Kayak & Lilo Adventure
The Kayak & Lilo Adventure up the Storms River Gorge is another popular activity at Storms River Mouth. The exciting two-and-a-half-hour journey takes you deep into the Storms River Gorge, allowing you to explore areas you wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
Separate reservation and payment for the Kayak & Lilo must be made either online or via Card at the Untouched Adventures office. The office is located very near the storms river mouth, at the start of the Suspension Bridge trail.
The Big Tree, Tsitsikamma Forest
The Big Tree in Tsitsikamma refers to a famous and ancient Outeniqua Yellowwood tree located in the Tsitsikamma Forest. Estimated to be over 800 years old, the Giant Yellowwood stands at an impressive height of around 36 meters (118 feet) and a circumference of 9 meters (30 feet).
After entering the gates just off the N2 highway, it’s a short 500m (10 minute walk) along a wooden boardwalk to the Big Tree. To enter the Big Tree, a conservation fee is payable at the office as you enter the gates. To enquire about current rates, email email@example.com
A helpful Tip: Your conservation fee for the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park includes both the Storms River Mouth region and The Big Tree, provided you visit it on the same day.
Adventure Activities in Tsitsikamma
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, Tsitsikamma National Park won’t disappoint.
Bloukrans Bungy Jump
While not within the National Park boundaries itself, the nearby Bloukrans Bridge is famous for its bungee jumping opportunities. In fact, it holds a status of being the highest commercial bungee jumping location in the world. However, If you’re not quite brave enough to take the leap, the Skywalk Tour is a great alternative. The walk across the bridge allows you a front-row seat to watch the bungee jumpers in action.
For current prices, visit their official page.
Treetop Canopy Tours
Treetop canopy tours in Tsitsikamma offer an exciting and unique adventure that allows you to explore the forest from a completely different perspective. You will be harnessed to a series of zip lines and platforms high up in the trees, allowing you to glide through the tree canopy and enjoy a birds-eye view of the forest.
Where to find Treetop Canopy Tours: The Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour office is in Storms River Village.
For up to date tour itineraries and pricing, visit their official page.
Segway Tours through the Tsitsikamma forest
The guided Segway Tour starts by winding its way through Storms River Village and then follows different paths into the forest. The 1 or 2 hour tour also includes a training session, making this a fun activity even for complete beginners!
Cost: For reservations and pricing, visit their official page.
Storms River Village, a gateway to Tsitsikamma
Storms River Village is a small town in the heart of the Tsitsikamma region. It provides a gateway to the hiking trails in the National Park, as well as other nearby attractions. More than just a convenient location though, the village is a lovely place to wander and explore. There are a variety of accommodation options, including guesthouses, bed-and-breakfasts, self-catering cottages, and campgrounds. Plus, there are a number of restaurants and cafes, so you will have a few choices when it comes to eating. If you’re into adventure, you can enjoy activities like canopy tours, Segway rides, biking, fishing trips, and Black Water Tubing, all which start at Storms River Village.
Note: Many people confuse Storms River Village with Storms River Mouth because they’re very close to each other. However, Storms River (also called Stormsrivier) is a small village just off the N2 highway, near the Tsitsikamma National Park’s Storms River Mouth Camp and hiking trails.
About 40km’s up the coast from Storms River Mouth lies Nature’s Valley. It is a beautiful coastal village known for its pristine landscapes. In fact, it boasts what I consider to be one of South Africa’s most unspoiled and breathtaking beaches. What’s more, the region is home to some incredible hiking trails such as the Salt River Mouth Hiking Trail and Pigs Head Trail.
However, what truly sets Nature’s Valley apart is its untouched, tranquil atmosphere. Unlike some of the more touristy spots along the Garden Route, Nature’s Valley has remained relatively undeveloped, preserving its natural beauty.
Marine Life and Birdwatching in Tsitsikamma
The Tsitsikamma area is also home to a rich array of marine life. If you’re lucky, you might spot pods of dolphins frolicking in the waves or the occasional southern right whale during the whale-watching season. Birdwatchers will also find their slice of paradise here, as the park boasts an impressive list of bird species, such as the rare African black Oystercatcher or the Knysna Turaco.
Where to stay in Tsitsikamma
There are a variety of places to stay, catering to different preferences and budgets. Here are some places to consider staying within or near Tsitsikamma:
Storms River Mouth Rest Camp is the main rest camp inside the National Park and offers a range of accommodation options, including chalets, forest huts, and campsites. It’s situated near the Storms River Mouth, offering easy access to the coast and the park’s hiking trails.
Located a short 20 minute drive from the park entrance, Amperda Log Cabins are another fantastic option in the area. Equipped with a small kitchenette and bathroom, the rooms are clean and fully self-catering. The Cabins are surrounded by a lovely garden with beautiful mountain views nearby.
Located in the nearby town of Storms River, Beautiful Garden Cottage is a stunning farm cottage. There is a lovely indoor fireplace and a nice patio area. It’s tucked away in a quiet corner of the village, with excellent views of the mountains.
Nature’s Valley Rest Camp is situated on the banks of the Groot River, about 40km from Storms River Mouth. The rest camp offers both basic forest huts and camping facilities. There are also several self-catering holiday homes available for rent in Nature’s Valley, as well as smaller bed-and-breakfasts and guesthouses.