By: Natasha Archary
Tsitsikamma, is a Khoi word, meaning the place of abundant water. It’s a fitting description for the National Park and generous stretch of the Garden Route on the South Coast. With SANParks extending a lavish invitation to host part two of #ConversationsWithJerryin the captivating venue, a weekend of adventure and hearty dialogue was all set.
Taking it all in
Arriving in George, one cannot help but appreciate the incredible beauty that our country has. Something we often take for granted. The drive to Knysna with breathtaking views of the ocean, dark rivers and vast green expanses is enough to leave you breathlessly giddy.
It wouldn’t be far-fetched to call Knysna, South Africa’s version of the Hamptons (U.S.A). Think mansions on the river beds that surround acres of temperate forests and an active yet exclusive community of ocean enthusiasts.
An unexpected storm on the Friday we arrived in Knysna did not dampen our mood. Instead, it made the commute to the heart of Tsitsikamma that much more thrilling. Stark gorges and rocky mountains make up the landscape of The Wildernesssection of the park.
With the ocean teasing us with sneak peaks from between deep pits on the right. It takes roughly an hour and a half to reach Tsitsikamma National Park from Knysna.
Rich in history and a major tourist attraction
Continuous stretches of fir trees line the route to the National Park. The dense forests were once at the mercy of woodcutters. In 1879 pass builder Thomas Bain, ventured the terrain and almost impenetrable forests. Navigating the area and blazing a trail which we can still see the remains of today.
Thankfully, the state stepped in to preserve the towering canopy of trees and the Storms River village that forms part of Tsitsikamma was declared a part of the National Park.
Ushering in a new era for local and international tourists to explore the ingenious area undisturbed. Which is fitting as the Tsitsikamma National Park forms part of the popular Garden Route National Park.
Adventure awaits you in Tsitsikamma
The Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park, encompasses a marine reserve of over 80km of coastline. One of the largest single unit ‘no take’ Marine Protected Areas in the world.
Tsitsikamma is a popular tourist hot-spot in the country for many reasons. One, it’s deep in the middle of nowhere and if you need to escape there’s no better place to lose yourself in. Two, it’s a breathtaking combination of land and water joining forces and the result is stunning. Three, it’s one of the few National Parks in the country that is home to both marine and land animals.
There are so many adrenaline heavy adventures awaiting the thrill-seeker, including hiking trails, boat cruises, bungee jumping and other water-based activities. The park offers a five-day hike on the Otter Trail. A route that starts at the Storms River rest camp and ends at the picturesque resort village of Nature’s Valley. For the daredevils, a kayak and lilo up the Storms River mouth awaits. If you’re daring enough, take a dive off the cliff edge into the river for a refreshing dip.
A national treasure
How does one describe Tsitsikamma National Park without sounding in the least bit clichéd? One can try. It’s as close to postcard perfect as you get. Lush green surrounds you, year-round. Deep, rocky expanses that go on for what must be forever encompasses the most stunning coastline our country has to offer.
To respect the beauty that awaits you when you venture to the Tsitsikamma National Park, take the lack of signal in some parts as a sign to switch off from the online world. Take in the scenic plateaus and incredible silence of a hidden world. With just the sound of the crashing waves and vicious howl of the wind, lose yourself in the haven of this SANParks gem.