South Africa's Garden Route is a popular hiking destination. Offering a number of exquisite hiking trails that lead one through magnificent mountainous scenery and along coastal cliffs, hiking along the Garden Route is an extraordinary experience.
For those that prefer exploring the ruggedness and beauty of natural on foot rather than by using a 4X4 or other means of transport, the Garden Route is a verifiable mecca. With panoramic views, massive indigenous forests, river trails, waterfalls and coastal cliff paths that look out across the ocean where Whales and Dolphins can be seen frolicking in the waves below, it is no wonder that avid hikers flock to the region year round to get their fix of nature and all its splendour.
The Dolphin Trail
Aside from world famous trails such as the Whale Trail and the Otter Trail, the Garden Route also offers trails such as the Dolphin Trail that offers more creature comforts to the Otter Trail including accommodation in Guest Houses that serve gourmet meals and offer hot showers for weary bodies.
Hikers embarking on the Dolphin Trail can look forward to 2 days of hiking through the magical Tsitsikamma coastline, following a similar, but easier route to the Otter Trail, but without having to carry a heavy backpack and with the added luxury of staying in the comfort and style of 3 different accommodation properties along the route.
The trail is a 17 kilometre (10.5 mile) route that starts at Storms River Mouth and winds its way eastwards, along the water's edge, and through the indigenous forest and fynbos. The trail traverses both the Tsitsikamma National Park and the magnificent Misty Mountains Reserve and ends at the Fernery at Forest Ferns.
During the hike, hikers will be accompanied by well-trained local guides and will have the opportunity of sighting Dolphins, Whales and occasionally Otters. The scenery is superb and the natural beauty is unrivalled anywhere else in the world. Bird-watchers will be in their element with sightings of KnysnaLoeries and many other beautiful species.
The Garden Route Trail
The Garden Route trail is a 5 day hiking route that passes through the Wilderness National Park and the Goukamma Nature Reserve through a number of protected wilderness areas. The hiker traverses through rain forests, along soft sandy beaches and past beautiful shimmering lakes fringed by lush green indigenous forests. It is along a trail like this one that one is able to feel truly immersed in nature, surrounded by such magnificent natural beauty, both in the landscape, in the wildlife and in the birds.
Aside from the wide variety of multi-day hiking trails available in the area, there are also a number of day or multiple hour long hikes for visitors to explore. Ranging from 1 hour to a full day, these hikes and day walks include the Half-collared Kingfisher Trail that starts in the Wilderness village and is a popular route for birdwatchers. Other routes include the Koumashoek Circuit that starts at the top of the Robinson Pass in Mossel Bay, or the day walks out to the Robberg Peninsula from Plettenberg Bay that finds one climbing up and over sand dunes and then sliding down towards a crisp blue ocean below.
Whether you are embarking on an organised, multiday hike or a shorter 5 - 10 kilometre (3 - 6.2 miles) day trail, hikers and walkers should always remember that you are heading out into nature where wild animals are found. Always walk in groups of 3 or more people. Carry extra water and always ensure that someone knows where you are heading and when you expect to return. Always wear good hiking boots and a hat and regularly apply sunscreen to protect yourself from the harsh rays of the sun.