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Published: July 20th 2012
When thinking of the National Parks in South Africa thoughts such as herds of elephants grazing the open plains, lions sneaking up on prey are and hippos grunting in the rivers are all common. But it is not only the wildlife packed parks that attract all the attention as there are three that are stretched along the Garden Route in the south offer something that you would dare to do in the others, a hike.
Wilderness, Knysna and Tsitsikamma are all within close proximity of each other along the coast with the former attracting the most tourists and for good reason. Tsitsikamma NP has several first class hiking trails and it is here that the five day otter train begins that will take you 41km along some amazing coastline. But for the less energetic and for the main reason people come here is to go to the suspension bridge lookout which hangs over storms river mouth. It is perhaps the most photographed bridge in South Africa, well that and the bridge where the world’s highest bungy is further up the river. A fully wood boarded path will take you up and around into the forest passing a jungle
like atmosphere that seems should be in the Amazon until you come to the rocky edge where Rock Dassies will be doing their best effort to make live porn.
These little guys are everywhere when you arrive to the bridge and it is easy to understand how. They are not afraid of people (or shy for that matter) and will happily pose in all sorts of positions for the camera. For a more rewarding view, even better than the Roack Dassies, head up the hill on the other side for a great view looking back over Tsitsikamma NP and looking out onto the Indian Ocean. It is a great spot for the chance to see feeding dolphin’s way below.
The other hike that we done here is the 5km return trip to the waterfall which follows the beginning other the long otter trail. For us this was great as no real path is leading you the way and that means not so many other people. It is here that was also found a massive dead whale floating only 50odd meters of the coast and a pack of hungry sharks were having a lovely time
filling up on the whale blubber. The smell also attracted a pack of fifty odd dolphins who once noticed the sharks had more fun playing in the waves than to be interested in tackling one of the sharks.
The whole of the Garden Route is a great place to explore and the driving around the area will produce some stunning scenery. We were unable to do the full loop though due to that a rock slide had closed a section of the more scenic part, devastated, but it gives us an excuse to go back one day to check it out.
The other two parks where we did some hiking were also pretty good but just didn’t seem to be as good as Tsitikamma NP. But for hiking you do not just need to go to these parks, in this part of South Africa the beaches themselves go on for miles which makes a great afternoon walk. You will be nearly guaranteed to find yourself completely alone and depending on the time of the year the ocean out in front becomes a highway for migrating whales.
It is easy to see
why this area is one of the most visited parts of South Africa, fairly close to Cape Town with wonderful nature, coastline and wildlife it has everything you will hope to experience on a short trip to this wonderful country.
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