An unexplored coastline between the Tsitsikamma and Kouga, known only to a select few local farmers and hardy fishermen, is the setting of a new hiking trail, the Huisklip Hike.
As some sections of this coastline is impossible to hike, and the only access with 4x4 over private land, only a few can say that they have put foot where the first humans have lived thousands of years ago.
Fisherman’s footpaths, animal tracks and beaches are depicting the route, and the unpredictable weather of the Eastern Cape will depict the difficult rating – however, not for the unexperienced or novice hiker. You need to be moderately fit.
Day 1 – 10km
Hikers will meet at the Cape St Francis Resort (100km west of Port Elizabeth) and be dropped off in the Tsitsikamma, close to the Klasies River. Walk up the Klasies River to an amazing waterfall, and on your way back you will see the Kouga’s only Hole in the Wall. You will pass the Klasies River Caves where proof of life of 1.2 million years ago had been found – in fact, this area is known as the Coastal Cradle of Mankind.
The first 10km must be done during low tide to allow for a crossing into the Huisklip Nature Reserve, and your first night’s accommodation is in huts at the Kershoutlaagte Nature Reserve.
Day 2 – 18km
This, at 18km, is the longest day – following the coastline where prolific birdlife, seasonal flowers, and the wreck of a fishing trawler forms the background to southern right whales (in season) and dolphin.
Your overnight stop is one of a few holiday houses you will see, with an unimpeded view over the Indian Ocean.
Day 3 – 10km
Take your time before you tackle the 8km beach into Oyster Bay, where you will stay. It is recommended that this hike again coincides with low tide.
On the 4th morning hikers will be collected in Oyster Bay and taken back to the Cape St Francis Resort – but not before you have explored some 7km of coastline to Thysfontein, a circular route.
As optional extras, you can do the 16km Oyster Bay Dune Bypass System (or Sand River) or the 12km coastline from Mostertshoek back to the Resort for a fourth day.
Group size: 6
Duration: 3 days, 3 nights
Where: Closest town is St Francis Bay (100km from Port Elizabeth)
When: Any time of the year, but closed in December
What to take: Clothes for all seasons, food, drinks, sleeping bag
Accommodation: You can add an additional night before the hike at the Cape St Francis Resort and explore the Irma Booysen Nature Reserve – that will give you enough time to reach the drop off point on day 1.
How to get there: You can fly to Port Elizabeth and request a transfer to Cape St Francis. Alternatively take a road trip and explore the rest of our country!
It is every bit as beautiful (if not more!) as the Otter or Dolphin Trails which is some 30 km to the west. The only other trail in the area is the Chokka Trail between Oyster Bay and Cape St Francis.