The Dolphin Trail
Pics Janine Smith
People walk through nature for various reasons. Some for the therapy of walking through naturally scented paths- the aroma of the indigenous forests and coastal fynbos areas is charming. Others walk for a passion, to lose weight, to unwind…
Walking in Tsitsikamma is an adventure. Hikers get to walk the Dolphin trail in luxury. ‘They can traverse the Tsitsikamma with well- trained local guides’ according to the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park’s Area Manager, Bulelwa Msengi.
First to be accredited with Green Flag status, the luxury Dolphin Trail hike is co-owned by SANParks, Misty Mountain Reserve and the Fernery Lodges & Chalets. During the day, hikers will be spoilt with the picturesque views of the rocky coastline, coastal forests and fynbos areas. The formation of the area is captivating. SANParks scientists claim the geological formation of the Tsitsikamma is of ‘the quartzitic sandstone of the Goudini (Tchando) and Peninsula Formations of the TableMountain Group which underlie the terrestrial areas of the Tsitsikamma area (Toerien 1976; Chief Director of Surveys and Mapping 1991, Director-General of Surveys 1979).’
The rocky coastal and excited water birds are part of the scenic package. The hike starts in the Storms River Rest Camp (Tsitsikamma) section of the Garden Route National Park.
Its green flag status system officiated by the Hiking Organisation of Southern Africa (HOSA) ensures the trail meets standards in terms of ‘trail outlay, accommodation, facilities and service, as well as the conservation of natural resources.’ In turn, hikers are guaranteed that their expectations will be met and that they also receive value for money.
Two of the private co-partners of the Dolphin Trail have 4-star accommodation. The second day of the hike is to the Misty Mountain Reserve where hikers meet at the Khoisan Lounge for pre-dinner sundowners, with a world class sunset as a backdrop spanning a 180 degrees view of the Indian Ocean, before sitting down to a delectable 3- course menu skillfully paired with award winning estate wines served in the restaurant. Director of Misty Mountain Reserve, Tracey Scott says the Dolphin trail is becoming popular for its array of experiences it offers to hikers. ‘The Dolphin trail is for those who wish to experience a luxury hiking trail with all the challenges of varying degree of difficulty. The views will not disappoint! It is guided by passionate professional and knowledgeable guides. All three establishments offer unique and unforgettable experiences along the spectacular Tsitsikamma Coastline.’
The hike ends at the exquisite Fernery Lodge & Chalets. Owner of the Lodge, Frans Gerber says the hike was recently nominated for a Provincial tourism award (the Lilizela Awards) because truly ‘it is a hike along the magical Tsitsikamma coast in luxury! Imagine a shorter version of the famous Otter Trail; with luxury overnight accommodation and without the heavy backpacks!” The Fernery Lodge & Chalets won the best accommodation in Tsitsikamma at the same Awards for their enchanting views and experience to visitors. They are situated on the Sandrift River Gorge above a 30m waterfall.
Other Provincial winners of the Eastern Cape Provincial Lilizela Awards who operate in the Garden Route National Park include Untouched Adventures for providing the best action and adventure experiences. They guide water related activities majorly snorkelling, kayaking, lilo and others in the Tsitsikamma waters.
The Tsitsikamma Segway tours and the Storms River Adventures also guide forest-related excursions to visitors.
Fully inclusive package for hiking the Dolphin trail!
• All meals, from dinner on the day of arrival, to breakfast on the day of departure (excluding drinks).
• The attendance of well-trained local guides.
• A 4x4 drive through the old Storms River Pass.
• The transportation of all luggage by vehicle between overnight stops.
• All you need to carry is a light daypack and your camera!
• Additional activities for those who want to hike the trail and go back for more activities at each establishment).