Hanging bridges above the sea in the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park, South Africa.

© Nejah/Shutterstock

Garden Route National Park (Tsitsikamma Section)

Eastern Cape

Cut through by dark, coffee-coloured churning rivers, deep ravines and dense forests, the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park encompasses 650 sq km between Plettenberg Bay and Humansdorp, as well a Marine Protected Area covering 80km of coastline. Elusive Cape clawless otters, after which the Otter Trail (a multiday hike) is named, inhabit this park; there are also baboons, monkeys, small antelope and furry little dassies. Birdlife is plentiful, including endangered African black oystercatchers.

A 77m-long suspension bridge spans the Storms River Mouth near the rest camp of the same name (not to be confused with the village of Storms River), where several walking trails pass thickets of ferns, lilies, orchids, coastal and mountain fynbos (fine bush), and yellowwood and milkwood trees, some hundreds of years old. Millennia-old sandstone and quartz rock formations line the gorges and rocky shoreline, and southern right whale and dolphins are visible out in the ocean.

Tsitsikamma, a Khoe-San word meaning ‘many waters’, gets more than 1200mm of rainfall annually – the river waters’ dark colour is the result of tannin released from fynbos roots, the bitter taste of which discourages hungry, foraging animals.

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