Our African Adventure – Tsitsikamma National Park

I took a few days away from blogging to compete in the New Jersey Audubon’s World Series of Birding.  My team finished a respectable 25th in a field of almost 60 birding teams and, most importantly, had a great time.    Now, though, I would like to return you to our African Adventure. 

Our next stop was Tsitsikamma National Park, a stunning coastal park found on South Africa’s Garden Route .  We arrived in the early afternoon and, lottery style, picked our room keys out of a brown paper bag.  This was the view we enjoyed from our cabin!

The coast at Tsitsikamma was very rugged and consisted primarilyof large rock outcrops.  This created some spectacular waves, as the Indian Ocean battered against the coast.  If you look closely, you can see two people exploring on the rocks – gives you a sense of how large the waves are that came crashing against the shore.

This was the view as we relaxed and enjoyed a few drinks at an outdoor bar.  We hoped to take a boat ride up the river, but rides were canceled due to troubles with the boat’s engine.  So, we sat and enjoyed the view.

The next morning we were surprised to find baboons walking around our cabin.  They were exploring garbage cans, trying to break into cars, and generally making a nuisance of themselves.  A group of rangers came along in a truck and attempted to run the baboon back into the woods, with only limited success.  This young fellow watched the fun from a safe perch.

Later than morning we took a hike to the river’s mouth.  We had heard that there were suspension bridges that gave amazing views of the river and ocean.  This was our first view as the trail emerged from the bush.

There were three bridges all together, suspended across the river and along the rocky shore.  We spent an hour or so exploring and hiking along the shore before heading back to our cabin.

We encountered this fellow on our way back through the bush.  This is a Rock Hydrax, a close cousin to the elephant.  These little fellows were usually found in large packs, appeared to be very social with each other, and would stare (unblinking) at us as we walked by.

After our morning hike, a group of us headed out for some lunch and shopping.  We picked a small outdoor cafe and enjoyed our first taste of ginger beer.  This homemade drink was cold and refreshing – really hit the spot.  We wandered from shop to shop and eventually ended up back at our cabin, tired and happy from our wonderful day at Tsitsikamma.

103 thoughts on “Our African Adventure – Tsitsikamma National Park”

  1. Congratulations on being in the top 60% of birding groups, the fun was what mattered. These shore and inlet shots are great, Love the HYRAX, I find them fascinating too!

    1. Ron..they would stare at us as we walked by – just like this photo – I swear they never blinked – not once! Thanks for the kind words – our birding group did set any records, but we had an amazing day just the same – always good to be outdoors with friends!

    1. Congratulations on being freshly pressed, which brought you to my attention. I checked you out because I’m currently blogging about an African Safari to Kenya and Tanzania that I took four years ago. It was fantastic. I’m also an avid birder and my African trip earned me 182 lifers.Keep blogging.

    1. Hi PTL,
      I Live in SA and feel really blessed to have “the world in one country”… Greg, thanks for sharing your stunning pix of the Tsitsikama, which is one of my favourite parts of the country. I don’t know if you visited Natures Valley, but that is where we as a family went almost every year at Christmas time when I was growing up!

    1. Thanks! It’s good to be back – the World Series of Birding is fun, but really sucks all the time out of my calendar – it is great to be back blogging again and getting caught up.

  2. I visited this park in 2008 and thought it was great. Haha, and I had the same trouble conveying the size of those waves to people. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    1. Yeah..it is so hard to tell people just how large the waves were – and crashing right against the rocks – I listened to them all night – one dull “THUD” after another.

  3. I spent a fabulous week there towards the latter part of last year. It’s really the most beautiful part of the country I’ve been to. On my next visit I’m going to attempt the complete 5-day hike on the Otter Trail.

    Thanks for appreciating the natural beauty of my country.

    1. SA is a beautiful place – I didn’t know what to expect, but was constantly delighted by what we found…

    1. Okay..sounds like your encounter with nature was a little more intense than mine. Nothing like an annoyed hippo! Great blog you have, BTW. I am enjoying the posts.

  4. I am a Saffer now living in Beijing – your post made me so homesick! Tsitsikama is a wondrous place, but there are so many other fantastic areas in what I think of as God’s Own Country – go and explore!
    BTW the Rock Hydrax is known in SA as a ‘Dassie’ and you are absolutely correct – they are one of the closest relatives of the Elephant – weird or what? Ain’t nature wonderful?

  5. hi this was such a great surprise to see my country on freshly pressed! i am eagerly going to read your blog now 😉

    tsitsikama is beautiful. a sad tragedy took place there however, a few years ago.

    i aboslutely LOVE the forests in nearby knysna (with the last few knysna elephants left).

    you have inspired me to do a few posts about why people should come to south africa.

    yay, thanks again!

  6. Thanks for the post! I grew up about five minutes away from the Tsitsikamma National Park, and visited again a few months ago with my Italian boyfriend, who loved it.
    My mom tells the story of going on weekly walks to the suspension bridge with a friend of hers, Karen, when I was about four or five years old. Apparently every week I would ask to be taken along, and promise to walk the whole thing, and every week Karen would end up carrying me! She attributes her strong arms to those days.
    Beautiful place. Glad you enjoyed our little paradise.

  7. Greg, I lived in South Africa for a year and drove this route about 8 times and found it more stunning each time! What a blessing, eh? I am glad to see you enjoyed it!

  8. Can I just say that a “Rock Hydrax” sounds like it belongs in a Pokemon game. But with that said, I’m glad those cute little devils really do exist, I’m fascinated by the things and I’ve only just now found out that they exist at all!

    1. They were interesting little animals – the stare was funny – the could stare, it seemed, for hours without blinking

  9. This is wow. I have been living in South Africa all my life and like to share the beautiful places with people. Yet I have never been to this magnificent spot.

    Wow …

  10. I am a Saffer now living in Beijing – your post made me so homesick! Tsitsikama is a wondrous place, but there are so many other fantastic areas in what I think of as God’s Own Country – go and explore!
    BTW the Rock Hydrax is known in SA as a ‘Dassie’ and you are absolutely correct – they are one of the closest relatives of the Elephant – weird or what? Ain’t nature wonderful?

    1. I went back through my notes and found that the guides did tell us they were called dassies – but didn’t tell us why. Any ideas?

  11. Ah… a few of my favorite things- dassies and ginger beer. I have crossed that suspension bridge many times, often with a fishing rod and in the dark. Congrats on being pressed!

    1. Thanks. It is a really beautiful place..and we enjoyed this part of our stay – even though we were only there for a day.

  12. I believe you’ve been Freshly Pressed! 😉 Congratulations and well deserved. Your African posts have been such a delight. My favorite of this bunch is the 6th one down – the color and texture of the rock formations is amazing. Ginger beer is something I never encountered until I moved to Canada. It is available in some supermarkets, both imported and Canadian made. It is a delicious hot weather treat.

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