South Africa’s most frequently hiked trail is so popular that bookings need to be made at least a year in advance – but don’t let that stop you.
The dramatic setting of luxuriant Tsitsikamma forest meeting the rugged Indian Ocean coastline in the Garden Route National Park contributes greatly to this unforgettable five-day hiking experience. Along with the incredibly diverse natural beauty, the area is paradise to numerous birds, wildlife, plants and trees.
Starting at Storms River Mouth, the first day is an easy warm up of 4.8 km, passing an interesting cave and gorgeous waterfall. The following three days are fairly tough and a reasonable level of fitness is required. The last leg of the 42 km route is a relatively easy 6 km amble to Nature's Valley.
Footpaths mostly follow the shoreline along cliff tops with stunning ocean views – dolphins and whales are often spotted. The trail returns to sea level for river crossings. Be aware of the dates and times of high and low tides as it is highly inadvisable to attempt river crossings during high tide.
The best time to hike the trail is between September and March. Overnight stops are situated at stunning locations. Rustic wooden huts offer bunks and mattresses, fireplaces, firewood, drinking water and toilets.
Spectacular coastlines, lush forests, deep river gorges, majestic mountains and open savannah – the Garden Route National Park has it all.
This section of the South Coast of South Africa owns one of the loveliest stretches of coastline on the planet. Home to a variety of ecosystems, the park combines the world renowned Wilderness and Tsitsikamma sections, the Knysna Lake section, various mountains, and indigenous forest and Fynbos regions.
Resembling a mosaic of landscapes and seascapes from ocean to mountain areas, the Garden Route National Park is celebrated for its diverse ecological and cultural heritage. Not only that, the Park is a playground for adventurers and nature lovers.
Managed by SAN Parks, it offers numerous accommodation choices, events, activities, places of interest and scenic attractions.
Things to do near
*Distances are shown as the crow flies and not necessarily the actual travelling
Joubertina (18.7 km from Stormsriver)
Lying inland and north of Nature's Valley is the relatively undiscovered Formosa Nature Reserve.
Most travellers to the Garden Route cling to the lovely coastline and miss the beautiful wildness of the Tsitsikamma Mountain range. But if you’re after the solitude of a pristine reserve that is seldom disturbed, look no further.
You can spend days exploring this long stretch of wilderness that lies between the Tsitsikamma National Park, Nature's Valley, and the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area. There are no formal hiking trails in the 5 0000-hectare reserve – just lots of lovely footpaths to discover the stunning mountain forest and wet fynbos.
Abundant bird life draws twitchers from far beyond the limits of Kareedouw and Misgund, the Klein Karoo villages on either side of the park.
Don’t miss one of the reserve’s major attractions – trek up the famous Formosa Peak to summit the highest pinnacle in the Tsitsikamma Mountains.
Tsitsikamma (21.2 km from Stormsriver)
Five… four… three… Experience the extreme thrill of the highest commercial bungy jump bridge in the world.
So you’re brave enough? After being secured in a full body harness, you walk along a 200-metre catwalk suspended beneath the road surface. This gets you to the place where it all happens – the top of the arch – 216 metres above the Bloukrans River!
Not into plunging headfirst? Try the exhilarating zip across the gorge on a 200-metre Flying Fox cable slide (foofie slide in South Africa speak). This takes you to the top of the arch where you can watch all the action.
For the less fearless you can walk along the catwalk to the top of the arch from where you look out over the gorge to the mountains and the sea in the distance.
Natures Valley (29.9 km from Stormsriver)
The trail starts opposite the De Vasselot campsite and follows the Kalanderkloof Trail. At the top of Kalanderkloof, turn left and continue towards the tarred road.
The route continues over the tarred road and past a gate. Roughly 450 m from the gate, the road forks, follow the Keurpad sign and continue over the Salt River until the route forks again 2 km from the river.
Continue left along the Rugpad, which leads all the way down to the Salt River Mouth and back along the coast to Nature’s Valley.
Natures Valley (30 km from Stormsriver)
The Groot River Lagoon is an awesome place for swimming and is a favourite angling spot. Grab a canoe or kayak and go for a gentle paddle – it's revitalizing.
Natures Valley (30.1 km from Stormsriver)
This ‘must do’ for any serious hiker leads through alternating indigenous afromontane forest and mountain fynbos landscapes. Self-guided and self-catering, hikers need to be well prepared for six days in the wilderness.
Tsitsikamma Hiking Trail leads into a hiking paradise of deep ravines, valleys with crystal clear mountain streams and exquisite swimming pools contrast with the backdrop of endless mountains fading into the distance.
The 60 km trail starts at Nature’s Valley and finishes at the Storms River Bridge, mostly passing through the heart of the Tsitsikamma Mountains. Two, three, four or five day options are possible by means of vehicle access to all five overnight huts. A ‘slack-packing’ option allows hikers to walk comfortably with only their day packs.
Many fine old Outeniqua yellowwood trees tower up into the sky. Wildlife that is frequently seen on the trail includes bushbuck, baboon, vervet monkey, genet and bushpig. If you’re lucky you may spot elusive leopard, honey badger serval, caracal, and the rare blue duiker. Look out for unusual forest and fynbos birds such as Narina trogon, sombre bulbul, rameron pigeon, sunbirds, forest buzzards, and flycatchers.
Natures Valley (30.2 km from Stormsriver)
The 4.8 km Kalanderkloof Hiking Trail starts directly opposite the entrance of the De Vasselot camping site. This route progresses up the Kalanderkloof to the lookout point. From the lookout point the route winds all the way back to the campsite.
Mountain Biking Trails
Natures Valley (30.5 km from Stormsriver)
See some of the best views ever on your mountain bike! The trails are unmarked and lead where your mountain bike goes. There are hills, single track, jeep track, rocks, sand and forest – whatever you wish for, Nature’s Valley has got it.
Natures Valley (30.6 km from Stormsriver)
The 9 km Salt River Hiking Trail starts across the road from the village shop. Head towards the beach and follow the route to the right on the beach. After 400 m, the route turns right into the scrub forest.
Follow the trail past a lookout point until it joins up with a jeep track. Turn left towards the Salt River mouth and follow the trail back along the coast.
Need to know? The trail is not passable during high tide.
Natures Valley (30.7 km from Stormsriver)
If you are looking to surf, sunbathe, swim, paddle or even stargaze, this beach is for you! Best known as the end of the multi-day Otter Trail, the secluded Nature's Valley Beach stretches from the mouth of the Groot River to the mouth of the Salt River. Anglers have the option of rock and surf fishing, and even fly fishing in the lagoon. Don't miss getting there before sunset armed with a picnic, a bottle of wine and a blanket.
The Crags (38.6 km from Stormsriver)
Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre offers guests the opportunity for a close, safe, inter-active encounter with indigenous cats of South Africa.
Guests will meet leopard, cheetahs, caracal, Serval, African wild cats and black-footed cats. The Tenikwa encounter is a great follow-on to a game reserve or safari experience to study these beautiful creatures at close quarters.
Tenikwa also has a Meerkat Meander where visitors can see meerkats and tortoises and there is also a variety of indigenous waterfowl, Blue Cranes and Marabou Storks to delight bird watchers.
Programs include one hour guided tours and cheetah walks. Entrance fees fund Tenikwa’s NPO Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release Programme.
Open 09:00 – 17:00 daily 365 days a year, including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Amenities include a tea garden for light meals, parking, wheelchair friendly, Mothers Corner and liquor licence.
+27 (0) 44 534 8170
+27 (0) 82 486 1515
The Crags (39.3 km from Stormsriver)
One of the most popular and heartwarming places to visit along the Garden Route is Monkeyland. This unique sanctuary endeavors to rehabilitate and free previously caged primates into a harmonious forest environment.
Entry is free – this entitles you to spend time on the forest deck, which also doubles as a restaurant named The Blue Monkey Cafe. Primates moving about the forest are always seen and heard from the deck. An amazing thing to do is go on a monkey safari with one of the rangers (for which there is a fee).
These walking safaris take visitors into the forest where the primates are free roaming. The rangers will track the primates and impart interesting information about them, the forest and anything else you come across. Part of the safari route takes you across the 128 m canopy walk which rises above the forest canopy for a birds’ eye view of this primate paradise.
The hour-long safaris depart daily from reception each half hour. The tours are open-ended which means that you can go on more than one tour on the same day. Safari guides are multi-lingual. German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, French, Xhosa, Swedish and Finnish tours can be arranged by contacting Lara 082 979 5683 email@example.com
The Crags (39.5 km from Stormsriver)
Touch, feed and walk "trunk in hand" with Africa’s gentle giants.
The Elephant Sanctuary is situated outside Plettenberg Bay at The Crags, next to Monkeyland, Birds of Eden Sanctuary and around the corner from Tenikwa Wildcats Awareness Centre.
The Sanctuary provides a safe haven for six African elephants; operating as a halfway house until they are experienced enough to be released back into a wilderness area.
Visitors can get up close and personal, learning about their habits, behavior, anatomy and different personalities. During these interactive educational sessions, guests have the chance to touch, feed and walk trunk in hand with these magnificent animals.
+27 (0) 44 534 8145
The Crags (39.6 km from Stormsriver)
Birds of Eden is the Garden Route’s very own world class free flight bird sanctuary. Boasting the largest dome on the planet, the unique two hectare dome spans over a gorge of indigenous forest. The sanctuary has its own mysterious ruin, which incorporates a walk-behind waterfall. Another feature is its amphitheatre, which has the ability to seat over 200 visitors.Like Monkeyland, the popular primate sanctuary next-door, Birds of Eden features a canopy walk. Slightly shorter than the 128 meter bridge at Monkeyland, it is higher and hangs above the clouds. The decision to develop Birds of Eden stems from the need to create a safe environment in which to release a large collection of free-flight African birds and miniature monkeys. The sanctuary also enables bird owners to apply to release their pet birds into the sanctuary, after undergoing rehabilitation.Birds of Eden opened its doors to the public December 2005. Currently over 3500 birds live at the sanctuary.
The Crags (39.8 km from Stormsriver)
Bramon Wine Estate is a boutique vineyard named after the Thorpes’ children Bram and Manon. Being the first Wine Estate this far east in the Western Cape, Bramon has broken new ground by pioneering vineyards in the Plettenberg Bay area.Producing a superior Sauvignon Blanc ‘cap classique’ sparkling wine, the first and only to be produced in the country, Plettenberg Bay has subsequently been classified as a wine of origin region. A coup for the area!Other wine farms have subsequently started up and the Garden Route’s own ‘Sparkling Wine Route’ is now underway.Bramon Methode Cap Classique is a dry brut with the delicate characteristics of it’s cultivar. Green grass and asparagus with granny smith apple aromas and a zesty lingering lime finish. The addition of ‘The Crags,’ a beautiful still Sauvignon with a granadilla and passion fruit nose has added to the Bramon range. New cultivars planted are increasing the range and uniqueness Bramon has become synonymous with and will be vinified in the cellar currently being built. Vukani Empowerment wines are a hand selected collection of local cultivars. Vukani means ‘wake up’ in isiXhosa and supports developing farmers in the Plettenberg Bay area. A percentage of these sales go to The Vukani Trust which helps establish and train previously dis-advantaged farmers in the fields of viticulture and wine making where they have been awarded diplomas in their area of expertise.Land has now been secured around Kurland Village, the Crags’ Township, where they will establish vineyards under the mentorship of Bramon Wines for the Vukani Cellars. This will not only ensure an income for the community but also promote a sustainable, environmentally sound lifestyle for the area as a whole.Vukani and Bramon are committed to the upliftment, education and improvement of the community and further projects are in the pipeline.
Galleries and Museums
Plettenberg Bay (41.3 km from Stormsriver)
Friendship, good food, wine and brilliant entertainment. Plett's Barnyard Theatre is where it all comes together.
The Barnyard started as a homely, rustic farm theatre right in Plettenberg Bay where friends and family could be entertained and eat, drink and talk into the small hours of the morning. It proved to be such a winner that more Barnyard Theatres started popping up all over the country.
There are currently twelve Barnyard Theatres in South Africa. While each theatre is a product of its individual setting, they all retain the quaint rustic charm of the original farm theatre’s humble beginning.
Arrive well before curtain up, bring your own picnic basket supper and enjoy your meal around heavy wooden tables in the warm atmosphere of this unique barnyard theatre. Sip some wine, kick back and be entertained.
Teas, coffees and scrumptious cakes are available.
Booking Office: +27 (0) 44 533 5432
Cell: 082 973 1246 (enquiries)