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The Tsitsikamma (meaning place of much water) area has a long history of Marine and Forest utilisation and most of the local communities relied mostly, in one form or another, on these two ecosystems for their survival. The previous resource utilisation was of obvious economic value gained from the region and now incorporated into the Park.
Today, the National Park contributes in a different way to the economic development of the region. Tsitsikamma National Park attracts tourists to the region, provides economic opportunities for local entrepreneurs, (local trail guides, adventure operators, transport services, infrastructure development & maintenance services, etc.) and as implementing agency for poverty relief program’s, creates employment and training opportunities for some of the regions poverty stricken communities. Currently, two of the nationally running, poverty relief programs, namely Working for Water (Invasive Plant Clearing) and Coasts Care (Coastal Conservation) are operated within the Park
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The Park incorporates 80 km of rocky coastline with spectacular sea and landscapes, a remote mountainous region with secluded valleys covered in mountain Fynbos and temperate high forests with deep river gorges leading down to the sea.
The Tsitsikamma’s spectacular scenery includes the Indian Ocean breakers, pounding rocky shores beneath 180 m high cliffs, evergreen forests and fynbos (proteas and heath) rolling down to the sea in a lush carpet where ancient rivers have carved their path to the ocean through rocky ravines.
All this conspires to attract large numbers of international and local tourist to the Park. Tsitsikamma National Park is the third most frequently visited out of the twenty national parks in South Africa.
This makes it one of the few National Parks where tourism revenue is adequately able to match the exhaustive expenses associated with conservation. Such an income source is imperative to help meet the immense financial challenges facing conservation in a developing country like South Africa, where national parks need to be able to have a tangible value both spiritually and economically to the communities around the parks.
Tsitsikamma National Park protects a wonderland of inter-tidal and marine life. This is one of the largest single unit ‘no take’ (including fishing) Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in the world, conserving 11 percent of South Africa’s Temperate South Coast rocky shoreline and provides a ‘laboratory’ for fisheries baseline research on endangered line fish species. In 1964 when it was proclaimed, it became the first Marine National Park to be proclaimed in Africa.
Tsitsikamma and Surrounding Areas Information
Approximately 30% of the park is covered in fynbos (Cape Floral Kingdom), scattered amongst the forest vegetation, boasting a wide variety of beautiful flowers, including proteas and heath. Many species of forest, fynbos and sea birds are present.
The Garden Route is without doubt one of South Africa’s most beautiful regions, and a major tourist destination. A slender region nearly 200 kilometres long, this lush, green, forested area hugs the coast roughly between Mossel Bay and Storms River Mouth.
There are only two airports along the Garden Route, and only one capable of handling jet aircraft. George Airport is a small, functional airport which is the primary gateway for tourists arriving by air. It is served by scheduled flights from Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. There is also a smaller airport at Plettenberg Bay. Although there is a scheduled flight from Johannesburg each weekend, the airport is mainly used by private charter aircraft.
Boutique shops and flea market stalls are the name of the game along the Garden Route. Knsyna’s main road has an eclectic array of shops selling everything from tie dyed kaftans to curios made from locally collected sea shells. A relaxed wander down the main road is a great way to spend a few hours on a hot summers afternoon. it can get very crowded in the peak season though. You can also pay a visit to the Woodmill Lane Shopping Centre or the Knysna Waterfront.
The shops in Plettenberg Bay reflect the fact that this is no ordinary seaside holiday town. With the so-Tsitsikamma and Surrounding Areas Information called “millionaire’s row” just up the hill, Plett is where to go if you’re looking for boutique beachwear. There are numerous craft and farm stalls all the way along the stretch of N2 freeway that runs through the Garden route, so take the time to stop off now and again and explore these smaller traders. Usually nestled up against the indigenous forest, a quick browse makes for an excellent break to your journey.
The Garden Route has a Mediterranean maritime climate with moderately warm summers and mild winters. The Garden Route is one of the richest rainfall regions in South Africa. The rain, brought by the humid sea-winds from the Indian Ocean, falls at the weather side of the mountain slopes. The western part of the Garden Route belongs to the winter rain zone of the Western Cape. The closer one gets to Port Elizabeth, the more the rainy season shifts towards the summer months. However, one can basically expect some rain throughout the year. The best time to travel is in the spring and summer months (from September to April). The rest of the year is rather cool and wet.
The Garden Route is a popular and scenic stretch of the southern coast of South Africa. It stretches from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to the Storms River which is crossed along the N2 coastal highway over the Paul Sauer Bridge in the extreme eastern reach of the Western Cape.
It includes towns such as Mossel Bay, George, Knysna, Oudtshoorn, Plettenberg Bay and Nature’s Valley. It has a maritime climate, with moderately hot summers, and mild to chilly winters. It is one of the nicest all-year-round rainfall areas in South Africa, most rain falling in the winter months, brought by the humid sea-winds from the Indian Ocean rising and releasing their precipitation along the high mountain ranges just inland of the coast. The Route is sandwiched between the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma mountains and the Indian Ocean.
The Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma indigenous forests are a unique mixture of Cape Fynbos and temperate forest and offer hiking trails and eco-tourism activities. Nearly 300 species of birdlife are to be found in a variety of habitats ranging from fynbos to forest to wetlands. Ten nature reserves embrace the varied ecosystems of the area as well as unique marine reserves, home to soft coral reefs, dolphins, seals and a host of other marine life.
Various bays along the Garden Route are nurseries to the endangered Southern Right Whale which come there to calve in the winter and spring (July to December). Although the most popular exploration of the Garden Route is by car, it is also the site of Africa’s last remaining passenger steam train, the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe.