Looking to take a walk on the wild side? Look no further than the Kranshoek Coastal Hiking Trail. Engaging all the senses, this challenging 9km route provides not only the ultimate workout but also the sweet serenity that comes from being in the great outdoors.
We recommend that you set aside a whole day for this trail, it is certainly not one to be rushed. You can take a dip along the way in untainted forest streams, or perhaps in one of the rock pools along the shoreline. There are so many spots en route which are ideal for picnicking - places to linger and digest the awesomeness of our region's diverse habitats.
The trail leads to the beach, where for some distance the crashing waves will be your guiding companion. But first, you will rove through an old coastal forest, and wind your way down from the plateau into a gorge through which a gentle river flows. You will walk among a variety of indigenous trees, which rise up in unison from the leaf-littered forest floor; you will walk past giant ferns and minute multi-coloured fungi; you will hop across tannin-tinted streams. The roar of the ocean can be heard while you are still deep in the forest, but eventually, from its cool shade, the trail opens up onto the pebble-strewn beach.
A little way down this beach is the turn off for the shorter 4km alternative route, which is recommended for those who are not quite as fit. It does nonetheless still require a good dose of stamina as there is a fair amount of climbing involved. Throughout the hike, you will come across interpretation boards covering various aspects of the ecology, such as the geological formations and the flora and fauna likely to be encountered here. It is interesting to learn just how these landscapes have formed over millions of years.
The trail weaves its way along the coastline, passing rocky outcrops that form buttresses to the invading sea. It is a kaleidoscope of colour around every corner: boulders draped with vivid orange and stark-white lichen; the emerald green of the forest and the sea’s shifting shades of blue. Make sure to look out for the rare Indo-Pacific humpback and inshore bottlenose dolphins. They often feed in the many rocky reefs close to the shore. Also from early winter and well into early summer one can see humpback and southern right whales skirting our Southern African coastline on their epic annual migration They can often be seen breaching from the shore - a totally mesmerizing sight.
The trail often veers off the beach, moving back into thickets of verdant forest. Parts of the hike are very strenuous as one has to clamber over boulders in the pathway and there are lots of ascents and descents throughout the route. Eventually, the trail makes a turn back into the forest for the final 200m ascent towards the plateau. When you finally reach the top, you will be afforded fantastic views of the coastline, this bird's eye view giving you an even greater appreciation for the trail you just walked. The vegetation along this part of the trail is very different, consisting of a variety of Fynbos species such as proteas and ericas. This final stretch of about 2km is fairly easy and flat and you will eventually find your way back to the Kranshoek picnic site from where you set off.
Entry is only R22 and is payable at the kiosk at the main gate.
For more information visit www.sanparks.co.za or call: (044) 302 5606