Exploring Tsitsikamma National Park on the Garden Route

Posted on Mon June 24, 2024.

Welcome to our detailed guide on Tsitsikamma National Park, a captivating destination along South Africa’s Garden Route. Dive into the park’s rich history, stunning natural beauty, and plethora of activities. Whether you're planning a hike, seeking adventure sports, or looking for tranquil moments amidst nature, Tsitsikamma offers an experience like no other. Discover the best routes from Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, and why opting for a guided tour can enhance your visit. From lush forests and dramatic coastlines to thrilling bungee jumps and serene kayaking, this blog covers everything you need to know for an unforgettable journey.

Exploring Tsitsikamma National Park on the Garden Route

Overview and History

Tsitsikamma National Park, part of the larger Garden Route National Park, is a coastal gem in South Africa that stretches over 80 km along the southern coastline. Established in 1964, its name, "Tsitsikamma," is derived from the Khoekhoe language and means "clear water" or "place of much water," reflecting the area's abundant rivers and pristine ocean waters.

Highlights and Activities

1. Hiking and Trails:
- Otter Trail: One of South Africa's most famous hiking routes, spanning 45 km and typically taking 5 days. It offers stunning views, lush forests, and rugged coastline.
- Waterfall Trail: A shorter 3 km trail leading to a beautiful waterfall where you can take a refreshing dip.
- Suspension Bridges: The 77 m long suspension bridge at Storms River Mouth provides breathtaking views of the river as it meets the sea.

2. Adventure Sports:
- Segway Tours: Glide through the Tsitsikamma forests on a guided Segway tour, suitable for all ages.
- Ziplining: Soar above the forest canopy and over rivers on thrilling zipline adventures.
- Tree Canopy Tours: Navigate the forest from a bird’s-eye view on a series of platforms and ziplines.
- Lilo and Kayaking: Explore the Storms River Gorge by paddling and liloing through its serene waters.
- Bloukrans Bungee Jump: Home to the world's highest commercial bungee jump at 216 m, this is a must-do for adrenaline seekers.

3. Wildlife and Vegetation:
- The park is a haven for a diverse range of wildlife. Look out for dolphins, seals, and the occasional Southern Right Whale along the coast. On land, you might spot vervet monkeys, dassies, and a variety of birds including the rare Knysna lourie.
- The flora is equally impressive, with ancient forests filled with towering Yellowwood trees and fynbos unique to the region.

4. Accommodation and Dining:
- Storms River Village Inn: A charming historical inn offering a variety of accommodation options and a cozy pub.
- Rest Camps and Lodges: Tsitsikamma has several rest camps and eco-friendly lodges that provide comfortable stays amidst nature.
- Camping: For a more rustic experience, campsites are available with facilities and stunning views.

5. Storms River Bridge:
- A stunning architectural marvel, the Storms River Bridge, also known as the Paul Sauer Bridge, is a scenic stopover offering panoramic views of the gorge below.

 Routes and Travel Information

- From Port Elizabeth:
- Distance: Tsitsikamma National Park is approximately 190 km west of Port Elizabeth.
- Travel Time: Around 2.5 to 3 hours by car via the N2 highway.
- Guided Tours:  Opting for a guided tour from Port Elizabeth is convenient, offering seamless travel, expert insights, and organized activities without the hassle of planning.

- From Cape Town:
- Distance: About 615 km east of Cape Town.
- Travel Time: Roughly a 6 to 7-hour drive via the N2 highway.
- Stopovers: You can break the journey with overnight stops in picturesque towns like Knysna or Plettenberg Bay.

Weather and Best Time to Visit

Tsitsikamma enjoys a mild maritime climate with rainfall throughout the year. Summers (November to February) are warm with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 25°C, making it ideal for outdoor activities. Winters (June to August) are cooler, but still pleasant, with temperatures between 10°C and 18°C. The park’s beauty is year-round, but spring (September to November) is particularly vibrant with blooming flora.

Why a Guided Tour from Port Elizabeth?

A guided tour from Port Elizabeth offers:
- Convenience: No need to navigate or drive; just relax and enjoy the journey.
- Expert Knowledge: Guides provide valuable insights into the park’s history, flora, and fauna.
- Organized Itinerary: Access to well-planned activities and attractions without the hassle of booking.
- Safety: Experienced guides ensure safe exploration of adventurous activities and trails.


Whether you're a thrill-seeker or a nature enthusiast, Tsitsikamma National Park has something for everyone. From scenic hikes and daring bungee jumps to serene kayaking and luxurious accommodations, it's a perfect destination to explore the natural beauty of South Africa's Garden Route.

For more details on planning your visit and booking activities, see our Tsitsikamma Day tour from Port Elizabeth  or contact our travel experts!