While we were in South Africa, there were so many hikes along the Garden Route we had the option of doing, it was overwhelming in the best way! We had planned on doing three: The Waterfall Trail in Tsitsikamma National Park, the Robberg Nature Reserve, and the Wilderness Heritage Trail. We ended up only doing Robberg and if you only have time for one, this is the one. It was stunning!
Before setting out I was quite nervous, as I had read it was fairly difficult and maybe not for beginners. Technically, it was pretty easy. There were two steeper bits where a rope is provided for balance, and one point where you’re climbing up a bit vertically, but if I can do it (me, who is terrified of heights) anyone with a reasonable level of fitness certainly can.
There are three options, 1, 2, and 3. 3 is the longest, taking you completely around the point, which is around 9.2 km. The first half is much easier than the first, as it’s mostly a well-defined grass/dirt trail. The views are stunning and there are so many families of seals along the way. They smelled terrible but were incredible to see just playing in the surf. The other two are shorter and easier – option 2 brings you around the The Witsand sand dune and gives the option to circle The Island (only accessible during low tide) and is around 5.5 km. Option 1 brings you to The Gap and is only 2.1 km, but still quite beautiful.The second half was for sure more difficult. There’s a long stretch where you’re moving up and down through big rocks, and we had to slow down quite a bit. That said there were a few locals who were running, so I guess how fast you go is just down to confidence!
It was also one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. The colors of the rocks, the sea, and the land were like a painting. Or like I was living inside an Instagram filter!
About 75% of the way through, we came to a little beach where we had one of the most refreshing swims ever! There weren’t many people around and it felt like we had discovered a hidden treasure. It’s also where I’m the sunburn to end all sunburns happened. Tip: if you are on Malarone, never expose any skin to sun, regardless of the amount of SPF 50 you slather on.
If you’re on the Garden Route and looking for a hike, I highly, highly recommend this one. While there are tons and if we ever go back there are so many more I want to explore, I really do think this was the pinnacle. If you’re up for an adventure, we passed a little cottage about midway through with an INCREDIBLE view that can be rented for around 55 GBP a night. It’s about a two hour walk to and from, and there’s no electricity, but would be a fairly epic night! You can find more info about that here. (Book way in advance!)
hikes along the Garden Route
There are loads of other amazing hikes along the Garden Route as well. Find a breakdown of the ones I was most interested in below.
Half-collared Kingfisher Trail (7.2km, +/- 3hrs)
This one follows Touw River into the forest, where you take a pontoon across to the eastern bank of the river, where you walk down a 2km boardwalk that leads to a waterfall. We were really sad to miss this one — if you go let me know how it was!
Brown-hooded Kingfisher Trail (5km, 2-3 hrs)
This trail is opposite the eastern bank of Island Lake. You follow along the Duiwe River to a waterfall where there is a natural pool where you can take a dip!
Harkerville Forest – Perdekop Trail (9.5km, circular, 3-4 hrs)
This hike is another one we were really sad to miss! You pass by a waterfall with another natural swimming pool beneath it, and it’s said to be relatively easy.
Harkerville Forest – Kranshoek Coastal Day Trail (9km, 4-5 hrs)
This hike starts at the top of a tall waterfall and the trail winds down to the bottom gorge, and then goes back up, ending at the Kranshoek view point. This is a moderate hike with over 200m ascent and descent.
Diepwalle Forest – Elephant Trails (all circular, 3-4 hours)
There are three routes here of varying difficulty, all along old woodcutter paths and by old yellowwood trees. The Black Trail is the easiest (9km) and passes through the King Edward VII picnic site. The White Trail is moderate (8km) and has a rock pool. The Red Trail (7km) is the most difficult and crosses a small stream about midway through that is ideal for a rest stop.
Storms River Mouth Trail (1km, 1 hr)
This easy trail takes you to the suspension bridges, one of Storms River’s claims to fame. They are stunning and you won’t want to miss checking these out!
Lourie Trail (1km, 1hr)
This is an easy trail that will allow you to see the indigenous forest without too much time or effort. After a quick but steep climb up, you’ll emerge at the Agulhas lookout, and then through some gorgeous fynbos and the coastal forest.
Waterfall Trail (6km, 3-4 hours)
For half this trail you’ll be following along the incredibly famous and beautiful Otter Trail (if you have time/interest in multi-day hikes, check out the Otter Trail!).It follows the gorgeous coastline and ends at a stunning (in the rainy season) waterfall.
We obviously didn’t have time to do all the hikes along the Garden Route, and there were quite a few we were sad to miss. Just another reason to go back! If you end up doing any, please let me know how they were so I can live vicariously through you! You can check out our ascent of Table Mountain in Cape Town here (coming soon) and other fantastic hikes we’ve done here.