The word tsitsikamma is a Khoisan phrase meaning place of abundant water.
The Tsitsikamma mountains are a mountain range located in the Garden Route region of the southern South African coast in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces. Stretching just over 80 km from the Keurbooms River in the west just north of Plettenberg Bay, to Kareedouw Pass in the east near the town of Kareedouw.
The range consists almost exclusively of Table Mountain sandstone which is extremely erosion-resistant. Peak Formosa is the highest point in the range at 1675 m.
Climate & Flora
The climate of the range is extremely mild, with temperature variations only between 10 °C and 25 °C generally and rainfall exceeding 1000 mm per annum, thus the region supports verdant fynbos and Afromontane temperate gallery forest habitats. Snow sometimes occurs on the highest peaks in winter.
The topography of the mountains is interesting, in that the range rises abruptly from the south at a very defined line that runs almost due east-west at the 34° south latitude. This is due to the very regular nature of the rise of the Table Mountain Sandstone in a anticline fold structure above the grade of the surrounding Tsitsikamma coastal plateau.
The Tsitsikamma National Park lies just to the south of the range on the Indian Ocean. The region between the range and the ocean also bears the name Tsitsikamma and is characterised by some cattle farms, sparse settlements and dense Afromontane (Temperate) gallery forest. This region sits on a 200m high plateau between the mountains and steep cliffs which drop into the Indian Ocean. Bloukrans Bridge forms the boundary between the Eastern and Western Cape provinces, and sports the highest bungee jump in the world (216 m).
TSITSIKAMMA NATIONAL PARK
The Tsitsikamma National Park is a coastal reserve on the Garden Route in South Africa. It is well known for indigenous forests, dramatic coastline, and the Otter Trail.
On 6 March 2009 it was amalgamated with the Wilderness National Park and various other areas of land to form the Garden Route National Park.
The park covers an 80 km long stretch of coastline. Nature's Valley is at the western end of the park, and the main accommodation is at Storms River Mouth.
1. The Otter Trail starts at the Storms River camp and the South African National Parks has laid out several short trails for day visitors. Set in the Garden Route, the trails lead through coastal and forest scenes, as well as various waterfalls, streams and rivers.
2. The Suspension Bridge and Lookout Trail is an easy stroll that leads along the western side of the river mouth, past the Strandloper Cave to the suspension bridge across the mouth. On the other side of the bridge there is a short but very steep climb to a lookout point from which there are fine views of the mouth and the camp.
3. The Waterfall Trail is an undemanding hike which follows the first 2,65 km of the Otter Trail; hikers may not walk beyond the waterfall unless hiking the Otter Trail.
4. The Blue Duiker Trail starts just west of the information centre and leads through scrub forest tip to the Agulhas lookout from where whales and dolphins can often be spotted in winter. After crossing a short section of fynbos, the trail takes hikers into the dry forest with some fine Sickle-leaved Yellowwoods evident. A short-cut, the Lourie Trail, branches to the left here.
The Blue Duiker Trail continues through the forest, crossing a stream below a delightful waterfall. Several more streams and a cavernous tree bole mark the route. After crossing the road to the camp, the path drops to the coast just west of the start of the Waterfall/Otter trails and returns past the camp site and chalets. Birdlife unique to the forest is found west of the road, which makes this trail a favourite with birdwatchers.