There is a really big tree in the Tsitsikamma forest about two hours from Port Elizabeth. I remember stopping there on the way back from one of our caravanning holidays with my family. All six of us held hands and we could only just make it around the tree. For years I have wanted to go back and see if this tree is really as big as I remember. So, Ben, Mom, Genevieve and I packed up and went off on a little overnight trip to explore the Tsitsikamma Area and Storms River Mouth. We booked a little cottage called the March Hare Cottage in Storms River Village. The cottage was an experience in itself. The owner, an elderly Irish gentleman, greeted us and gave us a lengthy personal bio and some information about the area (some of it useful). The location of the cottage was great – in the evening we took flashlights and strolled across to the village where there was a stone-fired pizzeria and a Craft Beer Brewery – both were great (first time I have had boerewors on a pizza). It was also quite sweet to be able to have a fire lit in the fireplace inside the cottage, this made up for the abundance of insects and creepy night noises.
The Big Tree was as big as I remember and I did feel like a hobbit. Just like the Storms River Bridge hike, the pathway was a wooden walkway for most of the way. Unfortunately, this ruled out us trying the whole hand holding thing again.
The absolute highlight of the trip was the hike to the Storms River Suspension Bridge at the river mouth. The suspension bridge is 77 metres long and there is about a kilometer hike through the Tsitsikamma forest to get there. The hike had the most magnificent views – mountains, beaches, forests, and cliffs. Storms River is really dark in color, it is also a rather narrow gorge until just before the river mouth. The bridge is just after where it broadens and meets the Indian ocean.
I was so impressed with our little team as my 5-year-old and 82-year-old fellow hikers made it through some steep terrain in order to get to the bridge. G walked across quite fearlessly. The park at the river mouth is beautifully kept and would be a great place for a mini-break – next time we will stay in the chalets. Am bummed we missed having a dip in the freshwater pool (would have been a tad chilly).
There seems to be so much to do in the area. I have heard there is a really good cheese farm run by a Dutch couple nearby – the Fynbos Cheese Farm. Apparently, their lunches are quite an experience with fresh farm fruit and vegetables served with homemade cheese and bread. Unfortunately, the farm was not open while we were there. There are also quite exciting looking canopy tours, but we might have to wait until the short person in our group is a little older.