Tsitsikamma Waterfall trail not for the feint hearted

Yellow footsteps on rocks Waterfall trail Tsitsikamma National Park South Africa

Just follow the yellow footsteps over rock and trail, past flowers and birds, lichens and logs, and a cave, to discover the Tsitsikamma waterfall, and eventually we got there.

Tsitsikamma National Park South Africa

It’s on the other side of that far point, somewhere.

Tsitsikamma National Park South Africa

Waves crashing Tsitsikamma National Park South Africa

This is my fourth visit to Tsitsikamma National Park along the Garden Route of South Africa and I’ll never tire of the place.  I’ve hiked the Suspension Bridge trail twice and gazed at the crashing waves for endless hours but I’d never hiked the Waterfall trail, partly because I was traveling there alone and it’s considered a “difficult” trail.  But this time Joan and I tackled it together and although it is rather challenging in places the scramble over rocks was worth it when we got to the end for the magnificent waterfall.

Waterfall trail Tsitsikamma National Park South Africa

The trail starts out easy enough through some open land with dramatic coastal views of the Indian Ocean.

Stairs by cave Waterfall trail Tsitsikamma National Park South Africa

Forest along Waterfall trail Tsitsikamma National Park South Africa

Plus there’s a few stairs and trail through the indigenous forest.

Joan on the Waterfall trail Tsitsikamma National Park South Africa

Then suddenly the rocks appear.  At the first upward climb we had our doubts and talked to a woman who had decided to wait for her husband as she didn’t like heights and knew her limits.  But onward we went, climbing like monkeys.  We just kept following the yellow arrows and footsteps over the recommended best route and sometimes found our own chosen path.

Discoveries along the Waterfall trail Tsitsikamma National Park South Africa

The 4 mile (6.4 km) round trip trail comprises the first 1.86 miles (3 km) of the world-renowned Otter Trail which requires 5 days and 4 nights over 42.5 km.  The sign said to expect to take 3.5 hours round trip.  But us lollygags stopping to smell the flowers and explore the tide pools and such took 3 hours to get there and 2 hours back.

Cave along Waterfall trail Tsitsikamma National Park South Africa

Plus there’s a shallow cave to explore along the way.

Waterfall trail Tsitsikamma National Park South Africa

Now 2 miles (3.2km) isn’t all that far but the trail seemed to go forever and we were beginning to wonder if there really was a waterfall or had we missed it.

Dassies along Waterfall trail Tsitsikamma National Park South Africa

But the Dassies encouraged us to go on, go on.

Waterfall Tsitsikamma National Park South Africa

And finally we rounded another rocky point and saw it.

Waterfall Tsitsikamma National Park South Africa

This spectacular waterfall plunging into a deep pool then flowing into the sea.

Waterfall, pool & sea Tsitsikamma National Park South Africa

Maybe we should have brought our swim costumes.  But a cool breeze came up and the sky clouded over.

Yellow footprints on Waterfall trail Tsitsikamma National Park South Africa

So in order to protect the cameras from possible rain we headed back to camp at a little faster pace.  Next time, an earlier start plus pack a lunch and hang out for a while.

Trail map Tsitsikamma National Park South Africa

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  1. I was with you there! And I’ve added this to my bucket list! What a gorgeous reward at the end of a fascinating walk. Love the lollygagging – that’s the way I walk too. In fact was thinking about writing something like “Reasons to walk”! I practically can’t walk any longer with some friends, because I want to stop so often for one reason or another.

    • All of life is about the journey including a walk or hike. I’m rarely in a hurry to get anywhere. And as Joan said, we walk together well because we both stop frequently to look at the little things along the way. I too have friends I won’t walk with. This is definitely a place to put on your list. And if you travel to South Africa I highly recommend Joan as a guide.

  2. That is one beautiful place. But those jagged rocks are not for the faint-hearted, for sure. I can feel the gashes… And those cute little dassies are vaguely eerie. Add a few more just staring at you like that and it would be straight out of a Stephen King novel…
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  3. I know I’ve said it before, but I’ve never walked to the waterfall. I would love to but just haven’t had the chance. It does look like its not just something you decide to quickly do so will plan a couple of days in the area at some stage again. A stunning spot
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  8. This looks like a great trek. You got the wildlife, the ocean, rocks, a cave with the waterfall being the cherry on top. Great shots Gaelyn. I would be overwhelmed down there. I wouldn’t know which place to visit first. Well…maybe the penguins first and then go from there:)
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  9. Are you able to do this hike during high tide? Would it be too dangerous/hard for kids? We are considering going with our 2 boys (5yrs and 8yrs) when we are in South Africa at the end of the year. Both are quite used to walking (the 2.7km each way won’t be a problem) – and love rock scrambling…