Tsitsikamma National Park can be found in the heart of the Garden Route, between Port Elizabeth and Plettenberg Bay. It is about 160km from the former and about 70km from the latter. The Park is an 80km long coastal strip of beautiful untoucher landscape, nestled between Nature’s Valley and the mouth of the Storms River.
The Tsitsikamma National Park was proclaimed in 1964, and consists of an indigenous rainforest and a coastal section. The coastal section was the first marine reserve proclaimed in Africa, and it was done in response to an appeal by the first world conference on national parks held in Seattle in 1962.
Tsitsikamma, most appropriately, is the Khoe word for “place of many waters”. The area incorporates various places of cultural interest ranging from Khoe cultural heritage sites such ascaves, shell middens and rock art as well as recent cultural historic sites like ruins of small fishing settlements, the legacy of the past forestry industries and grave sites.
Arts and crafts can be viewed and bought in the area, and some of these include leather goods, curios and immaculate woodwork.
The Tsitsikamma National Park is recognized the world over for its forests which contain and conserve one of the few true monarchs of the world’s forests – the giant Outeniqua yellowwood. It has survived unchanged for millions of years and is one of the most successful species in existence. The park is home to Africa’s oldest and largest marine reserve, which protects inter-tidal and marine life. Some of the interesting wildlife that can be spotted in the area include dolphins and porpoises, the highly threatened African black oystercatcher, the Knysna lourie, the Cape clawless otter and the rare blue duiker. Tourists are enchanted by the rugged scenery and photos are taken here every day – and for good reason! At the Storms River Mouth visitors can cross the river using the elegant suspension bridge.
Tsitsikamma is an adventure sports enthusiast’s dream destination! One of the most fascinating activities is the Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour, a unique eco-wilderness adventure that takes place in the magnificent indigenous rainforest. A first on the African continent, tourists traverse from one platform to another, 30m above the forest floor, suspended by steel cables. From up in the treetops, the scenery and bird life are quite spectacular. Other more down-to-earth activities include guided quad bike and Segway tours in the Tsitsikamma Forest at Storms River Village and blackwater tubing and kloofing.
The forest and surrounds are internationally renowned for their spectacular hiking and walking trails. The famous 5-day Otter Trail starts at the Storms River Mouth and winds its way through some awesome terrain. The area is also very popular with mountain bikers and climbers.
Did you know? The coastal section of the park is one of the largest Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in the world and conserves 11% of South Africa’s temperate South Coast rocky shoreline.