The Tsitsikamma is one of the most beautiful coastal regions in the world. (And the surrounding Garden Route needs your support after devastating wildfires in June this year.) Get to the gate as soon as it opens at 7 am and follow the tar road down to the sea. Watch out for small antelope in the road. Drive past the various campsites and the log cabins to the parking area next to a huge marquee tent that is the temporary home of the Cattle Baron restaurant. (The restaurant building higher up the hill was damaged by a fire -unrelated to those earlier in the year – and is busy being renovated.)
Start your day right with a bacon-and-egg breakfast served with coffee in a tin mug. If the weather allows, one side of the tent will be folded up and you can watch the waves pummel the rocks only 50 m away. If you need cooldrinks or snacks, you can stock up at the shop opposite the restaurant. Then it’s time to hit the trails. The longest two are the Keurpad Trail (15 km) and the Waterfall Trail (6 km), which follows the first section of the Otter Trail.
Not keen to work up that much of a sweat? After breakfast, follow the kilometre-long boardwalk to the suspension bridge over the Storms River. There are lots of benches to rest on along the way – even toddlers can manage. In the afternoon, walk the Loerie Trail (also an easy kilometre) through dense indigenous forest. Sit on one of the benches and lookup at the canopy-you might see the red flash of a Knysnaturaco’s wing. In summer you can have all kinds of fun in the water. Kayaking, snorkelling and scuba-diving are on offer at Untouched – their office is next to the beach. When the sun disappears behind the high hills inland, light a braai at the day visitor’s area. Take your time if you like your chops well done-the gate might close at 6 pm, but day visitors are allowed to stay until 9.30 pm.
How to get there? The gate into the Tsitsikamma section is off the N2 about 195 km west of Port Elizabeth and 68 km east of Plett.
Gate times: 7 am to 6 pm.