48 HOURS IN TSITSIKAMMA
Tuesday, 18th September 2018
48 Hours in Tsitsikamma
Tsitsikamma, home to the ancient Khoisan people, is known as the place of clear water and, against the backdrop of towering mountains, you’ll find indigenous forests, plenty of adventure, hideaway spots, waterfalls, Coca-Cola rivers, stormy seas and a touch of magic. As a weekend getaway, Tsitsikamma is a fabulous choice: it is less than 200 km from Port Elizabeth, offering activities for young and old - ocean, fynbos and forest. Accommodation options range from luxury to backpacking to camping and everything in between.
How to Road Trip Tsitsikamma
Get off the beaten path
Why travel on the straight and wide N2 when the curvy R102 offers something different? Take the R102 out of Port Elizabeth, meander through the passes, over small and older bridges, and just follow the road until it forces you to get back on the N2 (just after Elands River). It’s a scenic drive.
Stretch your legs at Oudebosch Farm Stall, the Eastern gateway to the Garden Route. Here you can get coffee, order meals, shop for wine, gifts, crafts and also enjoy roosterbrood, fresh from the fire. If you choose not to order a roosterbrood for breakfast, make sure to stock up on a few plain ones – especially if you are self-catering – and grab a lekker home-made apricot jam from the shelves. One of the biggest draw cards at Oudebosch is Ginger Cat, one of the most famous cats in Tsitiskamma, he’s almost always camera ready!
Head for the ocean
The hamlet of Eersterivier is often overlooked, but hidden gem aura only adds to its charm. Here you won’t find big hotels, restaurants or shops, but you will find tranquility, peace and quiet readily available. The beach is just waiting to be walked, sand stone formations just waiting to be admired and natural ocean swimming pools just waiting for you to take a dip. Eersterivier is an excellent spot to base yourself if you want to get away for a bit, fall asleep to the sound of waves and head out for the day to explore the forests of Tsitsikamma. For the golfers, there’s a 9-hole golf course at Fynbos Golf and Country Estate.
Get a taste of the Otter Trail
Ever thought of doing South Africa’s most popular multi-day hiking trail, the Otter? Get a taste of the Otter-adventure and walk the first 3 km of the trail which starts in Storms River Mouth Rest Camp (Tsitsikamma Section of Garden Route National Park) and enjoy the natural scenery of striking rocky outcrops, stormy seas and indigenous forests, see if you can spot an otter, explore the cave en route, and stop for a picnic and a swim under an impressive waterfall at the turn-around point.
Explore the rest of the National Park on land and on water.
There’s more than just the Otter Trail to the Tsitsikamma Section of the Garden Route National Park. Of course, you have to walk to (and over) the Suspension Bridge, one of the most photographed landmarks in the Eastern Cape, and there is also the Loerie Trail and Blue Duiker Trail for hikers to enjoy. And if you are looking for something a bit more thrilling how about a kayaking and lilo adventure into Storms River Gorge where rocks pools, cave and ancient forests await? This is Africa’s oldest Marine Protected Area, ensuring a near-pristine natural experience.
Choose another adventure
If you want to know why the Eastern Cape is known as the “adventure province”, you will quickly realise where that originated from if you look at all the adventure activities on offer in the Tsitsikamma region alone. You can explore the forest on Segway, or head for the tree tops and zip from tree to tree on a Tsitsikama Canopy Tour, the first of its kind in Africa. There are also numerous trails for mountain bikers and if you prefer to move by two more wheels, Tsitsikamma Adventure Land offers quad bike tours.
Travel back to the 60s
Marilyns 60s Diner in Storms River Village will take you back to yesteryear with their 50s and 60s memorabilia, posters of the iconic Marilyn Monroe, with Cadillacs and Chevys, neon rimmed signage, a jukebox, checkered floors and diner-style items on the menu from burgers to milkshakes. It’s “peachy-keen” Jelly Bean!
Stand in awe of The Big Tree
Stand tall with an Outeniqua Yellowood giant in the Tsitsikamma Forest which has been dubbed “The Big Tree”- and big it is! It towers almost 37 metres into the sky, the trunk has a circumference of nearly 9 metres and the canopy spreads its shady arms over an area of 33 metres.
Make cheese (and then say cheese)
What goes with cheese? More cheese of course! Fynboshoek offers artisanal cheese-making demonstrations by a multi award-winning cheesemaker and restaurateur. You can see how the cheesemaker transforms 220 litres of raw milk into cheese and then learn the ropes of making cheeses such as ricotta, haloumi and cottage cheese, as well as yoghurt (which will be served with your breakfast the following day). The restaurant is also open for lunches but by appointment only.
Strip (if you dare)
What would you do if no one is watching; would you dance or bare it all? The Striptease Hike is a 5 km (+ 4 hour) trail through indigenous forest along Kruis River, with a series of rock pools around every twist and turn. But here is where it gets interesting: the names of the pools serve as suggestions to the hikers as to what to do (wear) when cooling off in its refreshing waters – among others, there is the Bikini Pool, the Topless Pool, the Bottomless Pool, and of course a Kaalgat Pool. So… what would you do if no one is watching? Would you dance or bare it all or would you be too nervous that others hiker might bare it all too?
Wine and Dine
For a village as small as Storms River you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to wining and dining – whether you want to grab a quick and easy meal, or be treated to something more refined and special. Find out more about the [restaurants in Tsitsikamma]
Your screams may echo across the gorge into the Western Cape, but the Eastern Cape is home to the famous Bloukrans Bungy So why not end your weekend away off with hop, skip and one massive – 216 metres to be exact - jump? But if jumping is not for you there is also a bridge walk and if heights are not your favourite tjommie, grab a bite and a coffee, and watch the jumpers, from The Cliffhanger Restaurant.
A cold one
After all that adventure you deserve a cold one! Tsitsikamma Micro Brewery uses pure Tsitsikamma water combined with local and imported malt, hops and yeast to serve some of the best beer you’ll ever get to taste. Support local, drink local.