The Tsitsikamma Hiking Trail was South Africa’s first officially accredited hiking trail and has recently been allocated the Green Flag Certificate for a trail under excellent management.
The Tsitsikamma Hiking Trail is truly a southern Cape hiking paradise, journeying through extensive indigenous afromontane forest and mountain fynbos. Ancient river gorges and abundant rivers and streams continually remind us of the creative power of water and the origins of the word Tsitsikamma. Tsitsikamma is an old Khoisan word which means ‘place of many waters.’
The trail passes numerous rivers and streams and offers spectacular mountain and river gorge scenery.
This is an enchanted world where echoes of past giants such as elephant and buffalo can still be felt. Some of the finest specimens of South Africa’s national tree, the Outeniqua yellowwood, keep sentinel over the forest canopy while hikers clamber over their enormous roots beneath.
Beginning in Nature’s Valley and ending 60 km further at either the Storms River Bridge or Village, this six day, unidirectional trail takes hikers through the heart of the Tsitsikamma Mountains. Shorter variations (2, 3, 4 or 5 days) are possible as each overnight hut has its own unique access route with safe parking at the start.
Along the route little contact is made with the outside world, except for the odd forestry activity here and there. Baboon, vervet monkey, large-spotted genet, bushpig and bushbuck are often encountered along the route and at overnight huts. Leopard, serval, caracal, honey badger and blue duiker also occur, but are seldom seen. The forests provide ideal habitat for lesser seen bird species, such as rameron pigeon, narina trogon, sombre bulbul, forest buzzard, and colourful sunbirds and flycatchers. The fynbos harbours elusive endemics such as Victorin’s warbler, protea canary and the Cape siskin.
Optional equipment porterage (slackpacking) now provides hikers with the chance of having all their equipment transported between overnight huts, allowing you the luxury of carrying only daypacks on each day’s journey. This makes the trail accessible to a wider range of people and provides all with more time for swimming, photography, birding and other activities usually limited by time or weight constraints.
Please note that porterage is not possible to Kalander Hut at present due to flood damage to the Hut’s access road. All groups making use of equipment porterage must meet the MTO Ecotourism crew at Lottering Forestry Station (not Nature’s Valley), unless another location is pre-arranged.
The trail’s starting point is in the De Vasselot Restcamp of Tsitsikamma National Park which is situated in Nature’s Valley. This can be easily found by traveling along the R102, follow the clearly marked signposts to Nature’s Valley from the N2. If approaching from the west (Plettenberg Bay side), the Nature’s Valley turn-off will be to your right a short distance after the Kurland Estate entrance in the Crags area. If approaching from the east (Storms River Village), the Nature’s valley turn-off will be to the left immediately after going through the N2 toll-gate. The De Vasselot Restcamp is situated adjacent to the R102 and is clearly marked with large green and yellow signage.
Directions to any of the other four trail starting points can be easily obtained through contacting the MTO Ecotourism office in Tsitsikamma.
The Tsitsikamma Trail porterage team will meet your group at any of these starting points, and a brief talk with regard to safety, river-crossings, porterage procedures and so forth will then take place.
We recommend that you pack the following items in your backpack:
Torches & headlamps
Gas stoves with fuel
Crockery & cutlery
First Aid kit (1 per group)