The Tsitsikamma Waterfall Trail is a beautiful 6km roundtrip hiking route within the Storms River Mouth (Tsitsikamma) section of the Garden Route National Park. Storms River is a popular destination along South Africa‘s famous Garden Route, well-known for the iconic Suspension bridge. But there’s more to explore than just the bridge. In fact, there is a total of four hiking (day) trails you can do, with the Waterfall Trail being one of them. The trail follows the rocky coastline to a gorgeous waterfall, and then comes back the same way. Don’t forget your swimsuit because the waterfall is also an awesome place for a swim, and believe me, you’ll want it on a summer hike.
Important things to know before visiting the Waterfall Trail
Where to begin: The trail begins at the Storms River Mouth Rest Camp.
Distance and time: The six-kilometre Tsitsikamma Waterfall Trail follows the coastline over rocks and boulders. It’s tricky, but if you are relatively fit, you should be able to complete it in 3-4 hours, including time for a drip in the waterfall.
What to bring: Be sure to pack an ample supply of sunscreen and water since there is no shade available along the trail.
Fees: Because the Waterfall trail is part of Storms River Mouth (located inside 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.
Opening and Closing Times: The park gates open at 8 am and close at 5 pm for day visitors, so make sure to allow enough time to complete and enjoy the trail.
Detailed information about the Waterfall Trail
After filling in the gate registration and indemnity form, as well as paying the park fee, you will receive a map of the hiking trails in Storms River Mouth. There are four main hiking routes, including the Waterfall Trail.
The start of the Waterfall Trail
After entering at the main gate, continue driving and take the first right turn at the Otter Trail Caravan site entrance. Here, you can park your car safely all day in the parking lot. Head over to the distant cliff (see photo below).
Once you get there, keep an eye out for a little sign marking the beginning of the Waterfall Trail.
At the beginning of the trail, for about 40 to 50 minutes, you’ll be walking among lots of big rocks. I’m not going to lie, the rocks are a little tricky to navigate. However, the scenery is totally worth it.
Keep an eye out for the yellow markers on the rocks; they’ll show you the way to the waterfall. Even though you won’t really get lost since you’re following the coastline, the yellow arrows point out the easier route.
Just before you get to a staircase, there’s a cave with bats. Although I didn’t spot any, people say bats are sometimes seen around here.
Looking back, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the stunning coastline of this place. The brown rocks create a beautiful contrast with the blue colors of the ocean.
The middle of the trail
After climbing the staircase, the trail becomes a smooth path winding through the forest. Eventually, it leads you (with the help of yellow arrows!) back down to the rocky shoreline.
There are some challenging sections of the rocks, yet again. I can picture it getting pretty slippery if they’re wet from rain or waves. But, after spending about 40 to 60 minutes navigating this part, you’re almost there!
The waterfall at the end of the trail
Finally, you’ll arrive at the beautiful waterfall, signaling the trail’s end. You’ll notice a faint orange tint in the water pool, which comes from tannins in the nearby pine forest and oak trees. It’s not harmful, but if you decide to take a sip, the taste might be a little odd. We saw plenty of people having a great time swimming in the small pool beneath the waterfall. Although it was a chilly day and we weren’t ready for a dip, other hikers appeared to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.
The views from the waterfall area are absolutely breathtaking, just as you’d expect! I could have easily spent the whole day sitting there and soaking in the scenery. Sadly, time was ticking, and we had to head back before the gates closed.
Returning back to the start of the trail
The Tsitsikamma Waterfall Trail is a loop trail, so you’ll be retracing your steps and returning the same way you came.
After your hike, you can walk to the Suspension Bridge. It’s another cool spot and only takes a 40-minute walk from where the Waterfall Trail starts.
Tips for Visiting the Waterfall Trail
- If you’re a day visitor and have already paid the entrance fee, consider making the most of your day by exploring additional trails. You can check out trails like the Mouth (Suspension Bridge) and Blue Duiker Trail. You need to have a relatively good level of fitness to accomplish this all in one day! (We managed, but it was a bit rushed).
- Choosing to stay in the park at the Storms River Mouth Rest Camp is an excellent decision. Whether you prefer leisurely hikes or want to explore other activities like kayaking and snorkeling, it offers a great base for your adventures.
- If you visit the Big Tree (located outside of the park) on the same day, your park conservation fee includes entrance to the Big Tree.
DISCLOSURE: I have no commercial relationship with Sanparks or any of their affiliates. All photographs, experiences and opinions expressed in this blog post are my own.