Tsitsikamma National Park (South Africa)

Tsitsikamma National Park is on the Garden Route of South Africa, which was the main focus of my recent trip there, and was the first place on the coast we went to after our day on safari.

The park is right on the coast. As in, some of the accommodation, especially the tents, are a few scant metres from the ocean. Even the cabins where most of us were staying weren’t very far either. We had 2 nights there, and both nights we fell asleep to the sound of the ocean crashing onto the nearby rocks. It was a truly beautiful place to spend a couple of days.

The day we arrived, the sun was shining, the ocean was a glorious shade of blue – it was a magnificent start to our stay. We had a couple of free hours before dinner, so I went for a wander up and down the park. The views were spectacular!

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After my walk, I got chatting to one of the couples on the trip, and sat on the balcony of their cabin which overlooked the ocean, and as we chatted and drank wine we admired the view, and then watched the sunset.

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The next day sadly wasn’t as warm and sunny, but as it was our free day, and we all had plans to do some walking, this was probably a good thing.

One of the main attractions in Tsitsikamma is the suspension bridge across the river mouth at one end of the park. To get there, you walk along some boardwalks around the coast, and then there it is. There are other walks you can do, but this one did seem to be the most popular, especially with the numerous day visitors.

This was the walk I did, along with a couple from the group, Ruth and John. It was a mostly easy walk, as the boardwalks go all the way there. There were some steps here and there which got a bit steep at times, but overall it was fairly easy. It was mostly in the trees, but every so often there was a gap in the foliage, and the views opened up for us.

When we got to it, the suspension bridge was an actual suspension bridge, hanging from the supports – almost a rope bridge, but made of steel, which rocked when people walked on it. The best view was from the middle, looking down the gorge formed by the river, with the cliffs rising from the water.

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Sadly, there didn’t seem to be a path along the gorge, the only way in appeared to be by canoe.

After we’d admired the views of the gorge and bridge we set off to the lookout point, high up in the cliff top. Our tour leader had indicated that it was a fairly easy climb up to it. She was wrong. Very wrong! It was quite high up, and at times we were scrambling up over rocks, struggling to find our footing. There were some steps, but not enough. It was a hot and sweaty climb, even on the gloomy day. It took us at least an hour to get to the top. The view, fortunately was impressive. We could see for miles along the coast, and out to sea.

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The walk down was much quicker, barely 10 minutes. At the bottom we sat on the small beach, resting and taking in the views.

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Then, after crossing 2 more smaller suspension bridges, we headed back to the campsite, along the same way we’d come in the morning.

There are other walks you can do, some of them head up into the mountains before you get to the suspension bridge, and others go in the opposite direction, or head out further beyond the lookout point. Other activities include the canoeing which we saw, biking, and relaxing on the small beach.

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