One of the most magical places of the Eastern Cape is the Tsitsikamma Forest at the eastern end of the Garden Route. This lush forest seems to be almost out of place on a continent that most people associate with semi-arid savannah and bone-dry deserts. The area receives regular and ample rainfall keeping it verdant and lush throughout the year and deserving of its Khoi name that means ‘place of abundant waters’.
The Tsitsikamma Forest lies between the Indian Ocean and the Tsitsikamma Mountains to the north and stretches from the Bloukrans River in the west to Clarkson in the east. The area is rich in fauna and flora. Ancient trees rise majestically over fynbos shrubs fed by countless streams that have cut gorges in the plateau as water makes its way to the sea. Such a verdant forest attracts scores of animals and birds. Amongst the creatures that call the forest their home are small antelope, bush pigs, honey badgers and even the odd leopard.
This ‘garden of Eden’ was declared a national park in 1964 to conserve the indigenous trees and animals. The reserve includes nearly 80 kilometres of coastline as part of a marine reserve where dolphins play in the waves and whales can mate in relative peace and safety.
|The Tsitsikamma Forest remains green throughout the year
For visitors, Tsitsikamma Forest offers an experience unlike any other in Africa. The mild climate is perfect for a number of outdoor activities no matter what the time of year. The park offers a variety of exciting and interesting activities for visitors who want to get up close and personal with the forest and its inhabitants. They are treated to the magnificent, unspoiled scenery, long nature walks and small remote beaches away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds.
One of the most interesting attractions of the Tsitsikamma Forest is canopy tours. Why walk along the ground when you can glide through the canopy on suspended cables? Safe in a harness, 30 metres or more above the ground, this tour offers a unique approach to get up close to the many bird species that call the forest their home.
If you prefer to keep your feet firmly on the ground, however, Tsitsikamma Forest offers incredible hiking and cycling trails that are sure to challenge the most experienced adventure seekers, but also give the casual visitor a relaxing journey through one of the most beautiful spots on the earth. THe horse riding tours are also rather popular.
With accommodation provided in nearby Storms River, the Tsitsikamma Forest is just a few minutes away. Come and see why so many have called the forest Africa’s Garden of Eden.
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