1. St Blaise Trail
13km (5 hours) Mossel Bay
This well-built coastal path starting at St Blaise Point cave in Mossell Bay, begins in more of an urban setting than the other hikes we did on The Garden Route. We found the area around St Blaise Point cave under the lighthouse to be quite crowded but it thinned out and the path became quiet as we followed it West along the cliff towards of Dana Bay.
The path is well marked and follows a craggy coastline wrapping around impressive cliffs featuring sea caves. You can spot many of them while you walk but they are inaccessible from the path. Be sure to tread carefully on the windier days. I had to hold on tight when climbing the rocks for the best views. Just look at my hair!
The whole area was teeming with cute little rock dassies and sea birds. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins as they are often jumping close to the shore here. Whales can be spotted from June to November.
You can choose to return on the same path or finish after 13km at Dana Bay and get a taxi back to Mossel Bay.
An impressive show of zip lining was taking place between two tall cliffs over the ocean. You can try it yourself with Mossel Bay Zipline.
2. Salt River Mouth Hike and Swim in Natures Valley, Garden Route
Natures Valley takes you into the heart of the Tsitsikamma forest; a dense, wondrous forest only overshadowed by the play of mountain and beach – for there are kilometres of white sand, and mountains that form a dramatic backdrop.
This route will take you on a hike through Tsitsikamma forest to a secluded beach where the river meets the sea, surrounded by a dramatic mountainous landscape. This was one of my favourite things to do on the Garden Route. We loved this trail so much, we did it a second time on our return journey of the garden route.
The walk itself is relatively short at only 3.6km but I highly recommend that you take more time to swim at the river mouth and relax on the remote beach that can only be reached by foot.
The walk begins at the beach in Natures Valley where you can park your car on the roadside. Take the entrance to the beach, pass the shower block and follow the boardwalk to the sand. Turn right and head West across the beach to find the entrance to the trail.
Follow the uphill path to reach some stunning view points. From here, it is an easy downhill trail to the river’s edge. Turn left here and follow the river until you reach the stunning setting where the river meets the sea between the mountains.
This is a stunning place to take time to relax on the beach, take a swim or snorkel. We also hiked up the river to explore more of the forest.
You can choose to return on the same trail or take the more adventurous coastal route back to your car.
At the time of our visit, the coastal path had collapsed in parts due to erosion, so it took a bit of scrambling and cautious footsteps to follow the marked trail. After this, navigate some rocky ridges to follow the shoreline back to Nature Valley’s beach.
Other than this part of the trail, it is an easy hike with abundant views of striking scenery.
3. Otter Trail Water Fall Walk and Blue Duiker trail 10km 4-5 hours
I loved this 9.7km route which combes forest and coastal trails. The blue duiker trail 3.7km and the waterfall otter trail 6km.
The Blue Duiker Trail begins with an uphill hike through thick forest of native trees. The track was lightly trafficked and we mostly had the forest track to ourselves for the 3.7km walk. The trail passes through giant, old trees, the biggest being the Outeniqua Yellowwood.
This track joins up with the beginning of the famous 43km otter trail and the setting changes from forest to coastal. The fresh sea air is a welcome change from the warm forest. This coastal path can feel more difficult than the forest trail as it crosses boulders and rocks.
After 3km, the coastal trail ends with a spectacular waterfall plunging into a deep pool that runs into the sea. Swimming here after the sweaty hike was nothing short of glorious. It was the perfect place to sit and eat lunch with incredible views and sounds of the waterfall flowing into the sea.
You can then follow the waterfall coastal trail 3km back to the car park without going back into the forest.
Pack some insect repellent for the forest and a bathing suit for the water fall!
4. Half-collared Kingfisher Trail – Wilderness, Garden Route
This 7.2km return trail takes hikers deep into a lush forest to a beautiful waterfall. The journey takes about 3-4 hours and is treasured by locals and visitors alike who fall in love with the tranquil location.
You can buy a permit to enter the trail, which costs 44 Rand at the Ebb and Flow rest camp. If you decide to stay at this excellent campsite, the permit is included in the cost of the accommodation. In Wilderness, take the turn off for Ebb and Flow. The entrance to the Half Collared Kingfisher Trail is well sign posted beside the railway bridge over the Touw river at the Ebb and Flow North Rest camp.
I recommend taking the stunning Bosduif Loop path which loops off the Half Collared Kingfisher trail and is a steep climb to the top of the cliff. This requires a decent level of fitness but the climb is absolutely worth it for the breath taking view on top.
After following the winding path down the cliff, you can cross the Touw River on a pontoon. Hop on top and pull the rope which will bring you and the pontoon across the river.
I felt like an absolute queen waiting on my chariot here! Seriously though, look at my man <3
There can sometimes be a queue so you can take an alternative route by hiking a little further upstream and cross the river on the marked stepping stones.
The route from here will take you to the beautifully built and well maintained wooden board walk that winds through trees.
You will find serene resting and picnic areas with beautiful viewpoints of the river on the trail but make sure to follow the board walk all the way to the waterfall and gorgeous rock pools. This is the perfect place for a swim and a rest.
There is also an option of renting a kayak from Eden Adventures and paddling up stream. You can park your kayak on the riverbank just beyond the pontoon crossing and follow the boardwalk up to the waterfall.