Tsitsikamma Waterfall Hiking Trail
3 – 4 hours
Out & Back
The Tsitsikamma Waterfall Hiking Trail, which makes up the first 3 kilometers of the famous Otter trail, offers a little something for all tastes – forest, coast line, caves, and rock climbing.
The trail begins at the Storms River Mouth Rest Camp, which is the Tsitsikamma Section of the Garden Route National Park (found between Plettenberg Bay and Jeffrey’s Bay). Since the trail is within a National Park you will need to purchase a permit before the hike. A day permit will set you back R40 per person. If you are staying at a SanParks Rest Camp the permit will be covered in your accommodation costs.
Getting started on The Tsitsikamma Waterfall Hike
You can expect the hike to take around 3 hours, excluding the amount of time you opt to spend at the waterfall. The trail starts out with an easy stroll through mixed terrain – some of it through shady indigenous forest, and some of it on a footpath along the dramatic coast line of the Indian Ocean. Before too long the rock hopping begins – quite a shock to the system if you’re not expecting it. For about two kilometers you will be navigating your way over boulders and across rock faces. Look out for the painted footprints along the path showing you the best way to go. It is suggested that you hike during low tide as this section can get tricky once the tide starts coming in.
You’re pretty exposed to the elements once you leave the forest and begin the rock hopping. Thankfully though there is a cave along the way that offers a great place to find some shade, have a rest, and snap a few photographs.
When you’re ready to go again you will find a staircase with a sign informing you that you have only 500 meters left until you reach the waterfall. These 500 meters will seem like a breeze after the previous two and a bit kilometers, but you may find yourself wondering at this point if you will ever get to the end. Don’t worry -you will, and it will be absolutely worth it.
The unique view of a waterfall on one side and the ocean on the other is the perfect end spot to a beautifully challenging hike. You can opt to swim (warning – it’s cold!) or simply dip your feet into the pool while snacking on some lunch. You’re likely to come across a few hikers passing through on their Otter Trail adventures. Encourage them – they’ve got a long way to go!