The Tsitsikamma National Park is located in the center of the picturesque tourist region known as the Garden Route in South Africa's Southern Cape. The park encompasses 80 kilometers of rocky coastline with magnificent sea and landscapes, an isolated mountainous region with secluded valleys covered in mountain fynbos and temperate high forests, and deep river gorges leading to the sea. Due to the region's excessive rainfall, Tsitsikamma is a Khoisan word that means "place of much water" This sustains the luxuriant natural vegetation, which serves as the natural habitat for a variety of animals and birds. The original Khoi San people traversed the coast in harmony with nature, taking only what they required for survival from their surroundings. Tsitsikamma is a Khoi word that translates to "place of many waters" or "abundance of water" due to the excessive rainfall in this region. This maintains the luxuriant natural vegetation, which serves as the natural habitat for a diversity of animal and bird species. The original Khoi San people traversed the coast in harmony with nature, taking only what they required for survival from their surroundings.
European settlement began as early as the 1400s, when Portuguese merchants in search of a spice route to Asia encountered the original inhabitants. Jan van Riebeek arrived at the Cape in 1652, establishing the first permanent settlement. Indian Ocean breakers, pounding rocky coastlines beneath 180-meter-high cliffs, evergreen forests, and fynbos (proteas and heath) rolling down to the sea on a verdant carpet where ancient rivers carved a path to the ocean through rocky ravines comprise the breathtaking scenery of the Tsitsikamma. All of these factors combine to bring a large number of international and domestic visitors to the park. The intertidal and marine ecosystems of Tsitsikamma National Park are protected by the park. This is one of the world's largest single-unit 'no take' (including fishing) Marine Protected Areas, preserving 11% of South Africa's temperate south coast rocky shoreline and functioning as a 'laboratory' for fisheries baseline research on endangered fish species. It was the first marine national park to be declared in Africa in 1964, when it was proclaimed. Approximately thirty percent of the park is comprised of fynbos, which is dispersed throughout the forest vegetation and is home to an abundance of stunning flowers, including proteas and heath. There are numerous species of forest, fynbos, and seabirds. The Tsitsikamma region has a lengthy history of marine and forest exploitation, and the majority of local communities have in some way relied on these two ecosystems for survival. In abundance along the littoral are cormorants, kelp gulls, and African black oystercatchers. Both the Pied Kingfisher and the Giant Kingfisher can be observed fishing in tidal pools and rivers that discharge into the Indian Ocean. The half-collared kingfisher and the African finfoot are both less conspicuous inhabitants of these rivers. The Knysna Lourie inhabits the Tsitsikamma Forest. The Emerald Cuckoo, the Narina Trogon, the Knysna and Olive Woodpeckers, the Chorister Robin, and the Grey Cuckoo Shrike are additional species to observe or listen for in the forest.
The marine section of Tsitsikamma is home to a mystical world of intertidal life and reefs, but the terrestrial section of the park is also renowned for its dense forest, delicate fynbos, and sheer cliffs. The Outeniqua yellowwood, Podocarpus falcata, is one of the most recognizable trees.
As a result of the completion of the road, more development occurred and minor communities were established, eventually leading to the current village of Storms River. Thankfully, the forests are currently protected by SANPARKS, which collaborates with the local community and other tourism businesses to safeguard and preserve this valuable natural resource.
Article Courtesy Of www.sahistory.org.za/place/tsitsikamma-national-park-eastern-cape