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Tsitsikamma National Park, Eastern Cape

Tsitsikamma National Park Overview

Tsitsikamma National Park in South Africa incorporates 80 km's of coastline on the Garden Route, fringed by a mountainous region covered in indigenous forest and fynbos with deep river gorges. Tsitsikamma is Khoisan for Place of Water. Gliding along steel cables from tree to tree through the forest canopy is one way to know what it feels like to be Tarzan. And the guides make the right sound effects to make the experience even more conducive to a Tarzan experience. Strapped in three times over I never once felt at danger, even though at times we were well over 30 meters above the forest floor. But taking that first step off the platform, and gliding over tree tops towards the next platform on a single steel cable definitely takes some courage. The platforms have been cabled to the trees so that no nails were used. Although sometimes fun to glide at a speed which could result in a severe break before connecting with the next platform, it is also a good idea to take some of the routes more slowly. You can then enjoy a birds eye view of the forest, looking down on the shorter tree tops and into the hearts of the beautiful tree ferns that cover the forest floor. Many of the platforms are attached to the stately Outeniqua Yellow-Wood. Further into the National Park one can view South Africa's Big Tree, a majestic Yellow-Wood that is estimated to be over 600 years old. Birds look at us out of their nests, looking slightly confused to see helmeted and gloved people in their space. And yet this intrusion has not had a negative impact on the forest life. We spotted the shy and illusive Knysna Lourie in the trees above us, hopping from branch to branch almost like a squirrel, the scarlet of its wings catching the light. A Knysna Woodpecker kept up his nest making skills as we glided by, and a nest full of hungry African Crowned Eagle chicks peered at us over the side of their prickly home whilst waiting for breakfast. We ended the tour feeling that we knew the forest better than if we had only walked through it. Not only had we participated in an adventure, but had been given a chance to take an intimate look at life in an indigenous forest.

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