Last Updated: February 2017
Contact Nadia Or Angelique
- Tsitsikamma National Park MPA, South Africa
- Longitude: 23.869412
- Latitude: -34.0109
Starting Days :
Hiking dates are determined by the availability of guides. Please contact reservations and they will do their best to accommodate you with your preferred dates.
Group size :
Guests hike in groups of between 2 and 12 people with either one or two guides. No exceptions can be made to the group size.
Trail Closure :
The trail is closed from mid December until early January.
Age limit :
Due to the nature of the trail we regret that we do not accept bookings for children under the age of 12 years. No upper age limit has been set as it is determined purely by the fitness of the individual.
About Dolphin Trail
This unique trail has been made possible by the formation of a partnership between South African National Parks, and two private sector partners, namely The Fernery and Misty Mountain Reserve. The result is a hiking experience that will both challenge and pamper you. The trail covers a distance of 17km starting in the unrivalled beauty of the Garden Route National Park (GRNP) - Tsitsikamma Section at Storms River Mouth, and winds its way eastwards through natural fynbos and pristine indigenous forest, over rugged rocks at the waters edge, to end on the banks of the Sandrift River at The Fernery.
The package is fully inclusive and features the following:
- all meals, from dinner on the day of arrival, to breakfast on the day of departure
- the attendance of well trained local guides
- a 4x4 drive through the old Storms River Pass
- the transportation of all luggage by vehicle between overnight stops so that guests need hike only with a light pack containing a few personal items
Hikers have stunning views of the rugged Tsitsikamma coastline, and the chances of spotting whales, dolphins and the occasional otter are good. On route, many birds including the gorgeous Knysna Loerie can be heard and spotted while hiking through the forest, and the endangered Oystercatcher is often to be seen on the shoreline. Swimming and snorkelling in the rock pools is possible at the discretion of the guides.
Day of Arrival
Check in is any time 2:00PM at the GRNP - Tsitsikamma Section Reception. Be sure to have your booking form available as this includes your entry to the Park. After moving into the quaint Dolphin Trail chalets you are free to enjoy what remains of the afternoon at your leisure. There are a number of bird and hiking trails, including the start of the Otter Trail, that are well worth walking, or you can take time to put your feet up and relax in one of the most beautiful spots on earth! Lunch is not included in the package but if you are hungry there is a lovely outside pub area that serves a variety of meals.
7pm - Please be at the Restaurant to meet your Dolphin Trail host who will answer any questions you may have, and will give you information regarding the trail. Enjoy your dinner to the sound of pounding waves with a myriad of stars shining above you.
Hiking Day 1
Early risers can enjoy the stunning view of their surroundings and are welcome to go bird watching or walking before breakfast which is served from 8am. Your luggage will be collected any time after 8:45am at your chalets, and you will meet your guides who will be with you for the two days of hiking.
When the group is ready and all drink bills settled, you depart along the boardwalk to Storms River Mouth. After crossing Storms River on the suspension bridge, you follow a steep and rocky path to the Lookout Point with a magnificent view of the coast towards Plettenberg Bay. Relax here and enjoy the endless view of the Indian Ocean while keeping your eyes peeled for whales and dolphins.
The hike continues level for a short distance before beginning a long descent through indigenous forest to sea level. This is the perfect place for your picnic lunch, either in the shade of trees at the stream's edge, or on the rocks in the sun. Hikers should take a good break here as the climb up Steilkop (Steep Hill) is quite taxing and follows immediately. Remember that there is no rush so walk slowly and admire the beautiful views as you go. Once you have conquered Steilkop it is a comfortable forest walk to Misty Mountain Reserve.
Arrival time at Misty Mountain depends on the speed of the hikers and the amount of time spent enjoying the magnificent environment. You will be given a warm welcome and can enjoy an ice cold drink or a hot cup of tea before being shown to your luxury chalet with a 180 degree view of the Indian Ocean. At this stage hikers can collapse and relax, making use of the lovely swimming pool or spa bath, or you can take advantage of the opportunity to go bass fishing in the dam. A variety of exotic and local water birds, as well as ostriches, can be seen at close range around the chalets.
6:30pm - Meet at the restaurant for pre-dinner drinks and watch the sun setting over the sea, before dinner is served at 7:00pm.
Hiking Day 2
8:30am - Enjoy a hearty breakfast in the dining room
9:30am - Hikers follow a steep path from their chalets straight down to the rock pools. Today's route is mainly at sea level and the morning walk along the coast is magnificent. Enjoy the beautiful plant life and rocky scenery, and keep your eyes open for the spoor of the Cape Clawless Otter in "Otter's Alley". Swimming and snorkelling are possible in a couple of rock pools en route so please take your swimming gear with you. The guides will carry 2 sterilized snorkelling sets for the use of the group, but if you prefer you can request to purchase a new set at the onset of the trail.
At times you are required to clamber over rocks that are often damp from the sea spray, so please take care.
After a stiff climb up the cliff on to level ground, when you are tired and hungry, you will reach a beautiful spot in the forest - and lunch. Enjoy it and soak up the peace and tranquillity of the magnificent forest before setting off on the last 3 km through indigenous fynbos to Forest Ferns.
Mid-afternoon - Hikers arrive at the Fernery to a well earned drink and are then shown to their beautiful chalets nestled in fynbos along the river. Several activities are available for those who are still feeling energetic, such as boating, cycling and bird watching. A swimming pool, jacuzzi and sauna are there for your use, and you are welcome to browse through the Fernery and nursery facilities if you wish.
6:30pm - Hikers will be told on arrival whether dinner is to be served in the Fernery restaurant or at the Lodge. Meet at whichever venue is applicable for pre dinner drinks followed by a delicious 4 course menu d’hôte.
Day of Departure
The weary can sleep in and enjoy the peace of their chalets, and early risers are welcome to go bird watching or visit the fern export operation.
8:30am - Breakfast is served in the Fernery after which the luggage is loaded and you set off on a scenic 4x4 trip through the old Storms River Pass. Before leaving please make sure that you have settled any outstanding bills for the trail.
Noon - Arrival at the GRNP - Tsitsikamma Section from where hikers go their separate ways. We hope that you have enjoyed your brief stay in our Tsitsikamma Paradise and look forward to welcoming you back soon ~ The Dolphin Trail partners and staff.
Map and Directions to Dolphin Trail
Check in for the Dolphin Trail is at the Garden Route National Park (GRNP) - Tsitsikamma Section rest camp, which is situated at the mouth of the Storms River. This is where you park your car for the duration of the hike and where you spend your first night.
(a) When travelling from Port Elizabeth & Jeffreys Bay on the N2, cross the Storms River bridge and after 4km pass the entrance to Storms River Village on your left. Continue for a further 4,5km and turn left onto the Storms River Mouth / GRNP - Tsitsikamma Section road.
(b) When travelling from George & Plettenberg Bay on the N2, pass through the Tsitsikamma toll gate and continue for 30km after which you will pass BOSKOR sawmill on your left. 1km beyond the sawmill turn right onto the Storms River Mouth / GRNP - Tsitsikamma Section road.
Continue on the Storms River Mouth / GRNP - Tsitsikamma Section road until you reach the security booms at the entrance to the Park. You will gain free entrance as a Dolphin Trail hiker, so please have your reservation papers available.
After passing security, turn left and check in at the National Park reception.