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Steve and Emma's Travel Tales

A 6 Week Road Trip through South Africa Part 6: Tsitsikamma National Park

SOUTH AFRICA | Friday, 25 July 2014 | Views [230]

These lovely creatures were all over the rocks, well they are rock hyrax after all.

These lovely creatures were all over the rocks, well they are rock hyrax after all.

We headed along the famous ‘Garden Route’ which is a scenic drive along the coast towards Cape Town with Tsitsikamma being our destination. The weather didn’t look too promising and we encountered a downpour on route but we were not be deterred. It turned out to be a day when we were very happy we had splashed out on the ‘wild card’.

We arrived at the park and the entrance was free due to the pass and we went to the information centre to ask about the trails.  It turns out there are loads of different hiking trails in the park both long and short but you really do need the elements to be in your favour. We had a lucky morning of shower dodging but this meant that we didn’t take in as many trails as we would have liked.

The most popular area of the park is to drive down to the stupendously placed camping/chalet area perched on the dramatic shoreline. From here a trail wends its way up through the native forest and over a couple of headlands to the mouth of Storms River. This body of water has carved a narrow gap through a vertically sided stone gorge to meet the Indian Ocean. You cross the river via a suspension bridge that ends at a small pebbly cove. From there the trail ascends steeply to the top of the cliffs for spectacular views. We were now out of the wind and we managed to warm up due to the steep incline and the sun was on our backs now to our surprise. We had timed our walk perfectly and had the top to ourselves even though the park had by far the most visitors and tourists than we had seen in the previous fortnight. It didn’t take us long to realise that not all the spray action in the sea was merely tidal or storm induced. We could definitely see spray from mammal blowholes and plenty of them. At first we were excited that it might be whales or orcas but we think it was most likely common dolphins.

As exciting as this aquatic mammal sighting was, the highlight for me was rock hyraxes. Plenty of them and all pottering around the rocks and picnic area near the campsite. I’d been hoping to see one of these little cutties and they didn’t let me down. By the time we got back to the car the skies were very leaden again and thunder was rumbling. The strong winds meant that we opted for picnic in the car and indeed, not two bites in, the rain started again. We munched away while listening to the rain splattering down and watching the rollers crashing in. The 6km walk we had hoped to do was now out of the question so we set off to have a look at Storms River Village. I’m sure back in the day it was a lovely little place but it looked a bit contrived to us and basically only consisted of tourist orientated buildings.

We were a tad disappointed not to get a full day out of the park due to the weather, but at least due to the wild card we hadn’t forked out for our shortened stay.


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