Things to do during the holidays

Liezl Retief
24 November 2017

As the festive season is fast approaching many of us are winding down and starting to daydream about our summer holiday and for us nature lovers, this picture often includes immersing ourselves in spectacular natural surroundings. So, whether you are interested in a serene walk, some adventure or in learning more about the environment or wildlife in the area, please read on as we have compiled a list of fun activities catering for the needs of different ages, interests and budgets.

1. Africanyon

Whether you are looking to navigate your way through remarkable river gorges and waterfalls or wanting to abseil down a 50-metre rock-face, Africanyon caters for the adventurer at heart. Join them on guided tours as they take you on a spirited adventure through the hidden valleys near the Crags area and teach you more about this little-known part of the garden route. Africanyon offers two unique adventure types. Their canyoning adventure allows you to navigate through fresh-water rivers, abseil waterfalls, slide down natural waterslides and swim through rock pools while their Abseil adventure takes you down to the banks of an ancient river whilst exploring the magnificent views of the rock-face around. No previous experience is required and all equipment is provided. Adventurers must be 8 years + for the canyoning adventure and 10 years + for the abseil adventure.

Cost: Varies depending on activity, check online for costs and availability.

Opening times: open7days a week, book online

Website: www.africanyon.com

 Africanyon

2. Lawnwood Snake Sanctuary

Interested in learning more about snakes and other reptile species (such as monitor lizards and crocodiles)?

Why not spend a day gaining some knowledge about both South African and exotic snake species as you join trained staff on an hour-long guided tour? 

Remember your comfortable walking shoes as you will be wandering through the facility, exploring an indigenous snake pit and get a chance to go through a dome housing lots of different snake species. Other activities also include taking a leisurely forest walk, partaking in a tranquil picnic and interacting with other animals. There is also a tea room and a curio shop.

Cost: R160 (18 yrs +); R120 (13 – 17 yrs); R60 (2 – 12 yrs)

Opening times: Open daily 9 am – 5 pm

Website: www.lawnwoodsnakesanctuary.co.za

 lawnwood

3. Radical Raptors

Radical Raptors is a rehabilitation centre focussed on the rescue of birds of prey. They also do a great deal to promote community and general public awareness of these magnificent birds. Support them in their efforts by going to one of their flying displays where you can witness a range of trained birds take flight in their natural environments. These birds are free flown around you so, in addition to learning more about these spectacular creatures, you will be able to snap up some great photos.  

Radical Raptors is also home to the Owl Shop, where visitors have the opportunity to purchase beautiful treasures, such as hand-crafted Dream Catchers, uniquely ornamented with feathers which have naturally been dropped by the birds at the centre. All proceeds from the Owl Shop go towards keeping the rehabilitation centre up and running.

Cost: Price on request.

Opening times: Show times are at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm (weather permitting). The centre is closed on Mondays, except on public and school holidays.

Website:www.radicalraptors.co.za

 Radical raptors

4. Offshore adventures

Offering a range of exciting activities which include viewing adventures (where the likes of Cape Fur Seals, Cape Cormorants, Oystercatchers, dassies and the occasional cape clawless otter can be seen), swimming with spirited Cape Fur Seals, diving with inquisitive Blue and Marko sharks and even going on a seven-night trip to witness the Sardine run (seasonal), Offshore Adventures definitely caters for everyone interested in learning more about marine animals.

Dedicated to the environment and the animals they work with, Offshore Adventures has WESSA blue flag status and has partnered with NVT on our environmental education programme.

All equipment is provided and little to no experience in diving is required, making this a fun and educational excursion to enjoy with the whole family.

Cost: Varies depending on activity, check online for costs and availability.

Opening times: open7days a week, book online

Website: www.offshoreadventures.co.za

 Seal Swim

5. Hiking Robberg

Interested in experiencing some scenic views? Why not make your way to the Robberg Hiking Trail situated at Robberg Nature reserve? This area is not only a nature reserve and a Marine Protected Area, but is also a World Heritage Site, with rocks dating back from the break-up of Gondwanaland and having evidence of Stone Age inhabitation. Spectacular views are promised, and there is a choice of three different routes which can be taken, ranging from easy to moderate. For a quick 30 minute walk, opt for the Gap circuit, which will take you onto a mudstone cleft and is around 2.1km in distance. For a moderate walk choose the Witsand circuit, this route takes around 2 hours to complete and is 5.5km in distance. This circular route takes you through the climbing-falling dune and meanders above the resident seal colony, which you will be able to hear long before you are able to catch a glimpse of them. It ends near the breeding colony of Kelp Gulls on The Island.  

While spectacular in their own right, neither the Gap circuit nor the Witsand circuit gives you the same incredible views as that of the Point circuit. This route is for the more adventurous and it is a good idea to set an entire day aside as the route is 11km long and takes around 4 hours to complete. Not recommended for small children, this hike takes you all the way up to the north ridge of the Point. At the Point you can expect to see an array of bird species waiting for you, gannets, terns and cormorants flock to this area in their hundreds. Look out onto the vast ocean and, if you are lucky, you may even be able to spot some whales or dolphins from this spectacular vantage point. Make your way past the ruins of the washed away Point Shack and onto arguably the most beautiful part of the journey as you move past large boulders adorned with orange lichens. Either take the narrow ledge on the rock face or opt for the less formidable high route as you move past Fountains Shack and onto the beach where you have access to The Island which has a boardwalk going around it.      

Cost: R40 (adult); R20 (child) conservation fee

Opening times: office hours from 08:00–17:00

Website: www.capenature.co.za/reserves/robberg-nature-reserve

6. Hiking Salt River

On cooler days, hiking to Salt River is a perfect way to spend time with the family in Nature’s Valley. Salt River can either be accessed through the forest path, starting opposite the shop near Beach entrance one or, with a little planning and perseverance, start on the footpath located near Blue Rocks Beach. If starting on the forest footpath, you will soon be in for magnificent views – climbing all the way to Lookout Point where you can have an aerial view of the Valley. From there, the path winds down to the Salt River mouth, where a tranquil secluded beach awaits you. Look across to the opposite side of the Salt River mouth and glimpse at the Aloe ferox plants growing on the cliff. A bounty of wildlife may await you here, look if you can’t spot the elusive Cape Clawless Otter, or see leopard footprints in the wet sand. The African Fish Eagle may also make an appearance at this serene sight. If the tide allows, walk on to pebble beach and marvel at all the beautiful rocks which have accumulated here.

If you fancy a coastal walk back, disregard the sign warning that the footpath running along the coast has been closed, as it is possible to cross here once more. Alternatively, you can walk back the way you came on the forest path. The coastal walk promises spectacular views of the ocean, with large waves crashing below you. If you look carefully, it even has a small cave hidden away in one of the cliffs where we might imagine people of the past may have found protection from the elements. This path is not for the faint-hearted though as it requires you to scale the rocks and to check the tides carefully to ensure a safe passage over the rocks before the crashing waves make crossing the rocks impossible.

Saltriver3

 7. Hiking Storms River

Storms River Mouth Rest camp of theTsitsikamma National Park has various hiking trails varying in length. The Storms River Mouth Trail takes you on suspension bridges along Storms River mouth. It will take you about an hour to complete this relaxing 1km walk which peacefully meanders through the natural Tsitsikamma forest. The trail leads you to the Storms River Mouth Cave, which is a Khoisan Heritage Site and, the more spirited walkers can continue all the way to a lookout point where you can enjoy the views from the plateau.

If you are looking for a leisurely walk in different vegetation types, why not opt for the 1km long Lourie Trail? After a brief uphill climb, this trail takes you through a short section of fynbos before winding down to the beautiful indigenous forest and takes around an hour to complete. If, however, you are feeling more energetic, try the Blue Duiker Trail. This longer version of the Lourie trail takes you on a journey to see the old Outeniqua Yellowwoods. Marvel at these forest giants on this 3.7km walk. This trail ends at the beginning of the Otter Trail and should take around 2 hours to complete.

If you are keen for a swim and a more vigorous walk, pick the 6km Waterfall Trail. This is the start of the famous Otter Trail and day visitors are allowed to make their way to the beautiful waterfall that plummets into a pool before entering the sea. High tides need to be taken into consideration, but this trail promises spectacular views as you make your way along the rugged coastline.

Cost:R54 (adult), R27 (child) conservation fee for South African citizens.

storms 

8. Canoeing on the Groot River estuary

Enjoy the beautiful views of the Tsitsikamma Mountain range and the surrounding indigenous forest while canoeing on Nature’s Valley’s estuary. To escape the warm sun go out early morning or later in the afternoon and enjoy the serene scene around you while paddling in the (mostly) calm waters. The estuary is rich in bird life and, if you are lucky, you may even encounter the African Fish Eagle. Also, be on the lookout for fish occasionally jumping out of the water. The estuary stretches all the way up to the bridge near the De Vasselot campsite and winds down right to the mouth of the estuary. Canoes can be hired at the De Vasselot campsite and canoeing on this estuary is definitely on the list of “must do” activities whilst residing in the Valley.

Cost: Enquire about canoe hire at the De Vasselot campsite.

GrootRiver

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