The Tsitsikamma marine protected area is a priceless national asset that has enjoyed total protection since 1964. It is the marine equivalent of the Kruger National Park and is a major tourist draw card. Its rugged coastline with massive pounding waves that literally shudder the rocks and send plumes of spray high into the air draw thousands of tourists from across the globe. At the very aptly named “skietklip” that lies close to the day visitor parking area, one can quickly become absorbed in waiting and watching for even bigger waves to crash into the shoreline as all around rock hyraxes scurry about grazing on the green lawns or laze languidly in the sun and Cape wagtails and red-winged starlings search for food at your feet.
For those that are a little more energetic, a quick stroll along the boardwalk that leads to the suspension bridge overhanging the dark tannin rich waters of the Storms River provides excellent views of the coastal forest and glimpses of the rugged cliffs further to the east of the camp. Perhaps though, the best soul refresher is to head down to the campsite where the swimming pool is and then sit quietly watching the coastline during late afternoon. Cape cormorants fly up and down the coastline in large v-shaped flocks and feeding swift and sandwich terns dive-bomb into the blue waters after small fish. Humpback whales that are migrating to and from their breeding grounds, display with tail-splashing, fin-slapping and even breaching. Both humpback and bottlenose dolphin pods regularly swim just behind the breaking waves and as dusk approaches shy Cape Clawless Otters sometimes emerge from the dense coastal undergrowth and swim out to hunt and feed in the rocky bay.
The world famous Otter Trail also runs all along the coastal stretch of the MPA, passing along high cliffs, numerous small estuaries and stunning waterfalls that have large cooling pools where one can swim and relax in. In front of the restaurant at Storms River mouth, South African National Parks have cleverly laid out an underwater snorkelling and scuba trail that showcases some of the underwater inhabitants of the MPA. Boat and kayak trips may also be taken across the picturesque bay and up into the steep-sided gorge of the Storms River.
Without a doubt, Tsitsikamma is one of the most stunning, wild and most diverse of South Africa’s marine protected areas and is well-deserving of its conservation status.
For more information please do visit Marine Protected Areas South Africa and also please help spread the news in support of our MPAs.