The Tsitsikamma Hiking Trail

End of last year we hiked the Tsitsikamma Hiking Trail in South Africa.  What an unforgettable experience and given the extraordinary times we live in now an outrageous thought that we were actually travelling for leisure so recently.

Tsitsikamma Hiking trail
The scenery is just amazing.

This hiking trail, which is situated in the southern Cape, is absolutely magnificent.  You can choose if you want to hike a few days or hike the full trail of six days, a total of 64km, which we did.  This might not sound that far, but I promise you there are a few mountains between the start and finish, so not for the faint-hearted.  This hiking trail was South Africa’s first officially accredited hiking trail.

Things to know before you start this hike:
  • Clean huts with beds and thin sponge mattresses are available at each stop.
  • There is a kitchen area where you can cook your food and enjoy the stillness after a long day of hiking.
  • Clean showers and toilets are available at every stop.  The water is cold but you can heat it (at said kitchen) for a warm shower.
  • Water is available, but take water purification tablets or drops.
Let me take you through the days:

Day 1 : De Vasselot to Kalander hut (3,4 km)

We were a group of eleven people hiking.  Each had a backpack carrying between 12 and 17kg.  We were lucky that we had young, fit and eager co-hikers who carried some extra food and drink, especially for our first evening.  The first day was indeed a short hike.  

Tsitsikamma hike first day
Lookout from where you can see the ocean and lagoon.

Because we hiked the full six days, we parked at De Vasselot Camping site at Nature’s Valley and started our hike from there. It follows the eastern bank of the Groot River lagoon with the Kalander hut situated in the forest. The ocean and lagoon are just a short walk away for a quick swim.

Day 2 : Kalander Hut to Bloukrans hut (14.7 km)

The longest day of the hike, but the end is spectacular, so it is all worthwhile! 

You immediately have a strenuous uphill hike to the top of the plateau.  Here, there is a magnificent view of the ocean and then there is more uphill.  A tough old climb, but luckily it was still early days, so we still had fresh legs (and food).  The route then veers inland and winds towards the base of the Tsitsikamma mountains to the Bloukrans Hut. 

Tsitsikamma Hiking Trail Bloukrans hut
Bloukrans Hut

The Bloukrans hut is situated in such a prime spot, the scenery is just glorious. You could actually easily stay here for a week or so. Mountain ranges as far as the eye can see.  There is a waterfall situated just underneath the hut where some of our party went for a refreshing swim.

Day 3 : Bloukrans Hut to Keurbos Hut (13.4km)

Tsitsikamma hiking trail water pool on the way
One of the refreshing pools.

Not such a strenuous climb, but the day was warm, so it wasn’t an easy walk.  There are vast open fynbos sections and you cross many streams which helps to cool down a bit.  Tsitsikamma is an old Khoisan word which means ‘place of many waters’. So, the abundance of rivers, streams and pools as well as river gorges makes the meaning of Tsitsikamma ring true.

When booking the hike, you have the option to have food transported to some of the huts.  You also have the option of doing slackpacking, where your equipment is transported between overnight huts.  In honour of doing a ‘proper’ hike we didn’t want to do the full slackpacking, but we did have meat and drinks delivered to Keurbos Hut on day 3.  This was a wonderful treat and made the hike to that hut a bit easier knowing an ice-cold beer or that Savannah dry cider was waiting.

Tsitsikamma Hiking Trail
Resting in nature.

The beautiful fynbos, ferns and magnificent forest giants like the Outeniqua yellowwood, the stinkwood, the red and white alder and more, were all out to be admired while we were hiking.

Tsitsikamma hiking trail and the forest
Beautiful scenery on the hiking trail.

Day 4 : Keurbos Hut to Heuningbos Hut (13.4 km)

This day was again a bit harder with more strenuous up- and down hills and rougher terrain.  It helped that we started a little bit earlier and there were a few pools on the way to cool down.

Day 5 : Heuningbos Hut to Sleepkloof Hut (14.2 km)

According to the brochure this is the most strenuous of all the days.  This has to do with the climbing of two saddles with each one gaining an altitude of at least 400 metres. Indeed it was a tough hiking day!

Tsitsikamma hiking trail
Beautiful watsonias.

We were extremely lucky in that it was an overcast day, so we didn’t have to struggle with intense heat as well.  Also the evidence of wildfires that raged in this area in 2018, was still very visible and walking through some parts was almost eerie and spooky.  But incredible beautiful and all these magnificent watsonias showing their beauty.

shoes at the last hut for the Tsitsikamma Hiking trail.

Day 6 : Sleepkloof Hut to Paul Sauer Bridge (3.2 km)

This day had just started when it was suddenly all over.  We were back in civilisation. 

And a sober thought was that Covid-19 by then had already started in some countries….

Here is a YouTube video made by my daughter, Marieke Oggel, about our hike. Enjoy!

my name, Ieteke, signed under the blog post withyourcoffee
3 replies
  1. Gail Perry Johnston
    Gail Perry Johnston says:

    Hi Ieteke!
    I’m a designer and author, presently working on the 2025 Walks of the World Page-A-Day Calendar which will feature 24 mulitday treks, one of them being the Tsitsikamma Trail. Thanks to your video, I feel like I have a grasp of the experience, even though I haven’t walked it myself! But since I haven’t walked it, I need to find photos from someone else. For each trek, I want to feature just one hiker’s photographs so I can give that hiker/photographer proper credit at the start of the trek’s section. I wonder if I could use your photography for this trek? I need 8 or 9 good resolution photos. If you’re interested (I hope you are!), please email me so I can send you a comp of the calendar and how you’d be credited if we use your photography for this trail. I’ll ping you through Instagram too. @gailperrytreks
    All the best,

    • Ieteke
      Ieteke says:

      Hi Gail. Thank you for stopping by and glad you enjoyed the virtual walk! Yes, I’m interested and will email you. Regards Ieteke.


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  1. […] huts depends on the length of the trail. We hiked the Tsitsikamma Hiking trail last year, see my blog about this, which included five huts. South Africa has many of these types of hiking […]

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