Garden Route, Western Cape

The Tsitsikamma Mountain Trail journeys through lush forests and mountain fynbos. Ancient river gorges and abundant rivers and streams provide plentiful swimming opportunities.

Beginning in Nature’s Valley and ending 60-km further at either the Storms River Bridge or Village, this six day, unidirectional trail takes hikers through the heart of the Tsitsikamma Mountains. Shorter variations (2,3,4 or 5 days) are possible as each of the five overnight huts has its own unique access route with safe parking at the start.

Optional equipment porterage (slackpacking) now provides hikers with the chance of having all their equipment transported between overnight huts, allowing the luxury of carrying only daypacks on each day’s journey.This makes the trail accessible to a wider range of people and provides all with more time for swimming, photography, birding and other activities usually limited by time or weight constraints.

Field guides and binoculars are definitely recommended along this exciting and unpredictable journey. Many of the forest giants are labeled with their tree names and hikers can have much fun with guessing and identification games along the route.

The Tsitsikamma Trail was South Africa’s first officially accredited hiking trail and has recently been allocated the Green Flag Certificate for a trail under excellent management.


Day 1

Nature’s Valley – Kalander Hut

Hiking Time: 3,6 km +/- 1 hour 30 mins
The first day follows the eastern bank of the Groot River lagoon. Sounds from the plentiful birdlife and the Indian Ocean at Nature’s Valley accompany you through tall, dry indigenous coastal forest to the Kalander hut. The hut is nestled in the dune forest at the base of the spectacular Douwurmkop. The Ocean and lagoon are a mere stroll away.

Be On The Look-Out For:

  • Tall Outeniqua Yellowwood trees in dry coastal forest
  • Milkwoods, White Ironwood, Cape Ash, False Olive, Cape Plane, Cape Teak, Red Currant and Bastard Saffron.
  • Abundant Old Man’s Beard Lichen
  • Knysna louries, African finfoots, Crowned eagles, Emerald cuckoo, Terrestrial bulbul, Knysna and Olive woodpecker, Olive thrush and Chorister robin.
  • Leopard (seldom seen but present), bushpig, baboon, Spotted genet and Cape clawless otter
  • Whales and dolphins

Day’s Highlights:

  • Tall dry coastal forest
  • Nature’s Valley Beach and Groot River Mouth

Day 2

Kalander– Blaauwkrantz Hut

Hiking Time: 15 km +/- 7 hours
The day begins with a climb up the escarpment. Panoramic views and changing vegetation herald the arrival of the plateau and its wealth of fynbos. Most of the day’s hike however, will take you through indigenous afromontane forest as you venture inland towards the foothills of the Tsitsikamma Mountains. The Blaauwkrantz hut is situated on the verge of a cliff and offers incredible views of the river gorges below and Peak Formosa and the Tsitsikamma Mountains to the north. A couple of hundred metres beneath the balcony a coca-cola coloured waterfall tumbles away. Here private rock pools and falls provide an awesome swimming experience. A large-spotted genet pair and bushpig male are regular overnight visitors as well.

 Be On The Look-Out For:

  • Outeniqua & Real yellowwoods, ironwood, Common saffron, candlewood, Cape holly, Wild peach, Forest alder, Bladder-Nut, wild forest grape and an abundance of lianas in the medium-moist plateau forest.
  • Interesting and colourful fungi.
  • Wild forest iris, Black-Witch hazel & Forest tree ferns
  • Starred robins, Cuckoo hawk, African goshawk, Forest and Jackal buzzard, Green-backed bleating bush warbler, Narina trogan & Red-billed woodhoopoes.
  • Bushpig, baboon, Large-Spotted genet, bushbuck, honey badger and blue duiker.
  • Boomslang and puff-adder.

Day’s Highlights:

  • Viewpoints from Apiesrug.
  • Medium-Moist Plateau Forest.
  • Staircase Waterfall.
  • Views of the Bloukrans River Gorge.
  • Bloukrans Hut and Tolbos River Rock Pools.

Day 3

Blaauwkrantz – Keurbos Hut

Hiking Time: 13,4km +/- 6 hours
Day three takes one deep into the Tsitsikamma Mountains and forest. This is a wetter and more remote world where a true sense of isolation begins to take hold. Buffelsbos is where the last buffalo of the Tsitsikamma was shot and killed in 1886. In this eerie and enchanted patch of indigenous forest the trail begins its eastward course through the mountains. The crossing of the Blaauwkrantz River at Waterwitelsgat is always exciting and provides a wonderful swimming and resting place. The rest of the day follows predominantly flat terrain through flower-rich fynbos and relic forest. Shortly before reaching Keurbos hut there are rock pools resembling natural jacuzzis at the twin tubs. The hut is situated in the wetter Keurbos forest. Here both red and white alder are plentiful and the narina trogon plaintiff’s call is sometimes heard.

Be On The Look-Out For:

  • White alder, Red alder, Wild pomegranate, Black stinkwood, Rock alder, Ironwood, mountain cedar, Cape beech, Tree fuchsia and White pear.
  • Strawberry everlastings and Seven-Week ferns.
  • Cape rock thrush.
  • Rameron pigeon, Victorin’s warbler, Cape siskin, Grey-Backed cisticola and Cape batis.

Day’s Highlights:

  • The Twin Tubs.
  • Keurbos Forest.

Day 4

Keurbos – Heuningbos Hut

Hiking Time: 13,4 km +/- 6 hours
Day four passes through very diverse habitat types and has a number of exciting river crossings. After an approximate 1,5km gradual descent from Keurbos hut through very tall fynbos the Lottering River is reached. Hikers should proceed slowly up Rushes Pass, pausing regularly to appreciate the majestic views. Once over the saddle, large pockets of untouched indigenous forest become visible in remote mountain regions. The path then descends for a similar distance to follow the western bank of the Elandsbos River for almost a kilometre before reaching the Elandsbos River crossing point. Heuningbos indigenous forest has many hidden secrets awaiting hikers further ahead. After the final descent towards Heuningbos Hut, hikers will cross the Kleinbos River twice before reaching the hut. A very pleasant swimming pool lies within rolling distance away. (Please be sure to read all warning/ logistical information with regard to river crossings during/ after heavy rainfall).

 Be On The Look-Out For:

  • Silky bark, Blossom tree, spoonwood, assegaai, kamassi and Water white els.
  • Varied protea and Erica species
  • Fountain bush (Psoralea) and Pelargonium species.
  • Cyclopia species (Heuningbos)
  • Rock kestrel, Black eagle, Grey cuckoo-shrike, Swee waxbill, Half-collared kingfisher and Malachite sunbird.
  • Leopard (seldom seen but present), baboon, grysbok and Grey rhebuck.
  • Berg adder.

Day’s Highlights:

  • Lottering River.
  • Views from Rushes Pass.
  • Elandsbos River.
  • Heuningbos Forest.
  • Kleinbos River – very close to Heuningbos Hut.

Day 5

Heuningbos – Sleepkloof Hut

Hiking Time: 13,9 km +/- 7 hours
The longest day of the trail will see hikers negotiate two saddles on route to Sleepkloof hut. Most of the day passes through pristine mountain fynbos where many interesting species occur. Splendid Pass is such an example, named after a beautiful Mimetes Protea which grows towards the higher reaches of the pass. The wet indigenous forest at Mostertsbos is a stark contrast from the open mountain slopes. The crossing of the Witteklip River marks the day’s half-way point and the second saddles ascent begins shortly thereafter. The view from the top of Nademaalsnek is a just reward. The spectacular Storms River gorge, Sleepkloof hut and the final two-kilometre indigenous forest stretch are both visible from that point. Sleepkloof hut nestles on the slopes of a densely forested gorge where wood was dragged out during the woodcutter era. The hut has magnificent views of the Tsitsikamma Mountains lurking in the distance.

Be On The Look-Out For:

  • Mock silky bark, Wild gardenia, Cape blackwood, Wild mulberry, Cape beech, Red alder, Black stinkwood, White els and False ironwood.
  • Varied Leucadendron Species and The King Protea.
  • Mimetes pauciflorus.
  • Klipspringer, baboon, leopard, caracal, Spotted genet and bushpig.
  • Black-Headed oriole, Cinnamon dove, African wood owl, Sombre bulbul and Black-backed puffback.

Day’s Highlights:

  • Views from Splendid Pass and Mostertshoogte.
  • Witteklip River.
  • Views from Nademaalsnek.
  • Indigenous Forest close to Sleepkloof Hut.

Day 6

Sleepkloof Hut – Paul Sauer Bridge

Hiking Time: 3,2 km +/- 1 hour

 Sleepkloof Hut – Storms River Village

Hiking Time: 5,5 km +/- 2 hours
The final day provides hikers with the option of either finishing at Paul Sauer Bridge or Storms River Village.  Both routes share the first kilometres walk through dense forest pioneer vegetation. The shorter route to Paul Sauer Bridge is a very easy two kilometre descent through forest pioneer species and fynbos. The slightly longer walk to Storms River Village takes one through tall indigenous forest. This second option forms part of the Plaatbos Forest and joins up with other existing day walks in the area.

Be On The Look-Out For:

  • Hard pear, Cape ash, coalwood, Outeniqua and Real yellowwood, assegai, Forest alder, Cape blackwood and Large hard pear specimens.
  • Caracal, baboon, Vervet monkey, bushpig, bushbuck, Blue duiker and honey badger.
  • Knysna loerie, Narina trogon, Scaly Throated and Lesser honeyguide, Paradise and Blue-Mantled flycatcher, Olive bush shrike and Forest canary.

Day’s Highlights:

  • Plaatbos Indigenous Forest.
  • Storms River Village or Storms River Bridge (Petroport).

The trail’s overnight accommodation facilities have been upgraded to an excellent standard and you can truly enjoy magnificent views and relax in comfort at each of the five overnight huts. Each hut is supplied with bunk beds and mattresses accommodating a maximum of 24 hikers per night. Spacious balconies with undercover wooden table and chair combinations provide for a congenial patio setting.

The ablution facilities at each hut have two flush toilets, two showers and a wash basin. A novel hot water shower-bucket is available at all five overnight huts. Clean, fresh water is readily available from the rain-tank taps and at basins.

Kalander Hut Features:
The Kalander hut comprises of one large room with four separate inter-leading bedrooms. There are bunk beds with basic mattresses that can accommodate up to 24 hikers at Kalander Hut.

  • In close proximity to Nature’s Valley beach as well as Groot River lagoon & river mouth.
  • We do not supply firewood to Kalander as we cannot drive to the hut. Please bring along a small pack of wood or charcoal if you would like to make a fire for cooking purposes or warm water for a hot shower.
  • Two flush toilets and two showers (one with hot water shower bucket) at the ablutions adjacent to the hut.
  • Has an outdoor fire-making area as well as undercover lapa area (with indoor braai) for preparing food and washing up.
  • Please do not make use of any of the surrounding vegetation; wood or stumps for your fire.
  • Please make sure that you replace the hut’s key in the “secret place” for the group which follows your hiker party.

Blaauwkrantz Hut Features:
The Bloukrans consists of two separate rooms leading out onto a communal patio/stoep with wonderful viewing deck.

  • Magnificent mountain views towards Peak Formosa from the Bloukrans Hut and surrounding area.
  • The hut is situated in close proximity to the very deep Bloukrans river gorge and thus has possibly the best view of all overnight hiking huts in South Africa.
  • The Tolbos River directly beneath the hut provides very enticing coca-cola coloured rock pools for swimming.
  • Please make sure that you have read all safety instructions regarding heavy rainfall.
  • The Bloukrans Hut has two separate bedrooms with comfortable mattresses. An outdoor deck provides seating and the view is simply unforgettable. The lapa area has an indoor fire-making place and is well-equipped with kettles and cast iron pots and pans. There is also an outdoor fire-making area. We do supply firewood to Bloukrans Hut.
  • Bloukrans Hut has two flush toilets and two showers (one with hot water shower bucket) at the ablutions behind the hut.

Keurbos Hut Features:
The Keurbos hut consists of two separate rooms leading out onto a communal patio/ stoep with wonderful viewing deck.

  • The twin tubs provide a cooling plunge into what resembles a natural jacuzzi. You may have to share the tubs with the resident frogs.
  • The Lottering River crossing is situated 1.5 km to the east on route to Heuningbos Hut. This is a great place for a refreshing swim if you have the energy and time to walk an additional 3km from Keurbos Hut.
  • Please make sure that you have read all safety instructions regarding heavy rainfall.
  • Situated in a remote relic patch of indigenous forest. The hut has two separate bedrooms with basic mattresses and an outdoor deck area.
  • The well-equipped lapa area has an indoor fire-making place as well as adjacent outdoor braai area.
  • The lapa area is supplied with kettles and cast iron pots and pans.
  • We do supply firewood at Keurbos Hut.
  • There is a separate ablution area which has two flush toilets and two showers (one with hot water shower bucket).

Heuningbos Hut Features:
The Heuningbos hut consists of two separate rooms leading out onto a communal patio/ stoep with wonderful viewing deck.

  • The well-equipped lapa area has an indoor firemaking place as well as adjacent outdoor braai area.
  • The lapa area is supplied with kettles and cast iron pots and pans.
  • We do supply firewood at Heuningbos Hut.
  • There is a separate ablution area which has two flush toilets and two showers (one with hot water shower bucket).
  • The best feature of Heuningbos Hut is the awesome swimming provided by the Kleinbos River rock pools which are situated in close proximity.
  • Please make sure that you have read all safety instructions regarding heavy rainfall.

Sleepkloof Hut Features:
The Sleepkloof Hut consists of four separate bedrooms and a balcony overlooking the forested river gorge and surrounding mountains.

  • The well-equipped lapa area has an indoor fire-making place as well as adjacent outdoor braai area.
  • The lapa area is supplied with kettles and cast iron pots and pans.
  • We do supply firewood at Sleepkloof Hut.
  • There is a separate ablution area which has two flush toilets and two showers (one with hot water shower bucket).
Please note rates are subject to change for 2019
  • R55.00 admin fee once off per reservation
  • R155.00 per person per night at any of the five huts.

Optional equipment portage is paid per group per trip and breaks down as follows:

  • R800.00 per hut for the first 5 people
  • R150.00 per additional person thereafter (up to a maximum of 12 persons)

*The maximum number of hikers that can make use of portage per hut per day is 12.

Please NOTE that this needs to be reserved beforehand and is subject to availability. Read through all trail documentation at length.

Deposit & Cancellation Rules

A hiker deposit of 50% of the total cost of the reservation must be made one month from the initial reservation date.

Reservations made on short notice (2 months or less from trail starting date) will also require a 50% deposit within two weeks of the initial reservation date.

Failure to comply with the above deposit rules will result in a lapse/ cancellation of the booking on our reservation system.

Reservations cancelled less than 21 days prior to arrival (trail starting date) will incur a cancellation fee of 100 % of payments made. Reservations cancelled 21 days or longer before trail starting date will be refunded 70% of the booking fees. There will be no refunds applicable for reservations not cancelled timeously, and for non-arrival of persons. A 30% postponement fee is applicable to confirmed bookings changed within 21 days before arrival (trail starting date).