Escape into nature: Firefly Falls and the Garden Route
Are you looking for a weekend away, an escape into nature? There is nothing better than getting away from it all, switching off your phone and really appreciating a new place. A couple of weeks ago we decided to take a trip to explore the Garden Route, and it was a wonderful place to enjoy a long weekend.
South Africa is a travellers paradise; a country with huge variety and full of hidden gems. The Garden route definitely isn't a secret, it's possibly the most popular place for tourists to visit after Cape Town, but that's because it has so much to offer! It is a beautiful area of South Africa. Every time we have travelled through this region we have enjoyed its mix of luscious forests, dramatic mountains and wild coastline. And this time was no different.
Here are my tips from our trip away- where we stayed, my favourite places to visit and must do activities.
Early morning campsite views (our tent tucked away in the left hand corner).
We stayed at Firefly Falls, in The Crags, and we loved our stay here! It was the perfect base for our mini getaway from Cape Town. A pretty little campsite tucked away in the forest bellow the striking Tsitsikamma mountains. It was secluded and peaceful with wonderful views to wake up to every morning.
We stayed in one of the glamping tents (perfect when you’re 30 weeks pregnant and need that little bit of extra comfort). It was cosy and comfortable. At the end of the day it always felt like a treat to tuck into bed! It was fun to sleep in nature with just the hum of the forest, and the occasional cow. In the morning we could undo the tent zip and look straight out into the forest. The little porch outside was our favourite place to enjoy our coffee and breakfast.
Our glamping set up- peaceful and cosy.
The campsite had everything to make our stay comfortable. We enjoyed their Friday Braai when we arrived. It was a lovely way to spend an evening; chatting to a few locals about what we should do in the area, hearing about peoples multiway hiking trips and most importantly eating way to much steak! On other nights we also took advantage of their well-equipped communal kitchen.
There are three different bathroom areas around the campsite with a fun mixture of outside showers and forest baths. My favourite was the outside shower- there is something much more fun about showering in the fresh air!
We found Firefly Falls to be perfectly located for a variety of fun day trips. We only stayed for three nighst, but could have easily stayed for much longer with all the great things to explore and see nearby.
You can even enjoy a short forest walk from the campsite.
What to do and see?
As usual, we tried to make the most of our time away (we're not very good at just sitting still)!
Here are the places that we visited during our trip.
If you are staying in The Crags you definitely can't miss out on a trip to Natures Valley. It's just a 10 minute drive down the road.
It's only a small village, but it has lots to offer. Whether you are looking for a relaxing picnic on a long, white sandy beach or a hike on one of the many trails winding along the coast and through the forest, there is something for everyone.
This time around we didn't manage to fit in any of the hikes, but we did spend an evening on the beach enjoying a pretty sunset.
Natures Valley beach at sunset.
Tsitsikamma National Park
This really is a must visit spot if you are close by. It was only 50 minutes from Firefly Falls and the drive was fun in itself. We stopped and walked over the Bloukrans bridge. A few years ago we both did the bungee jump and I really recommend it if you're a bit of an adrenaline junkie! We didn't do it again this time, but I did appreciated the views more without the added nerves of knowing I would imminently be jumping off a bridge!
Tsitsikamma National Park is a destination with dramatic coastal scenery, reefs, rivers, lush forest and delicate Fynbos. Hiking is the perfect way to see all it has to offer. We did two of the trails and they both offered something different.
Hike 1- Blue Duiker Trail
A 6km loop through the forest and back along the coast. Take in pretty waterfalls, the impressive Oteniqua Yellowwoods and playful seals.
Between our two hikes we stopped for lunch at Cattle Baron. I recommend the calamari!
Hike 2- The River Mouth Trail.
Short and sweet, but the views won’t disappoint. This trail takes you 1km, along boardwalks, through the forest to the suspension bridges over Stormsriver mouth. A relatively flat and easy walk for everyone to enjoy- just a few steep steps at the end to get down to the bridges. We were lucky that we basically had the bridges to ourselves, but I have heard that it can get very busy, so chose your times wisely.
The suspension bridge over Stormsriver
This might have been my favourite activity of the trip and again it was so close by, just 15 minutes from Firefly Falls.
We had such a fun morning kayaking down the Keurbooms river. It was such a peaceful way to explore the area. We paddled about 12km in total with plenty of stops along the way to enjoy the the little beaches along the riverside.
We were lucky with the weather. Calm waters and sunny skies made the paddle easy and relaxing. The views were stunning and it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere.
Robberg Nature Reserve
Everyone has heard of Plettenberg, but Robberg Nature Reserve is often forgotten about. We love Plettenberg. It is wonderful for a beach day and offers a great choice of places to eat and drink. But this time we wanted to see somewhere new. I had heard great things about Robberg from friends and it didn't disappoint.
It offers three hiking routes: Gap circuit (2km), Witsand circuit (5.5km), Point circuit (9km). We did the 5km one which was a beautiful clifftop loop, dropping down to the beach in the middle. We saw lots of playful seals along the way.
Knysna Heads was our first stop. This is proxy the most popular thing to do in Knysna- they are two hills that act as the gate entrance from the ocean into Knysna Lagoon. The high up vantage point provides you with great views over the lagoon, the whole town and the Indian Ocean. There is no entrance fee so you can enjoy these spectacular views for free.
Once we had taken in the views of Knysna from above we needed a dip in the sea to cool off. I had heard about a fun little snorkelling spot to visit so we thought we'd try it out. We parked at the East Head cafe and walked down to a little beach from there. We found it quite easily and had a lovely snorkel around the old ship wreck. There is a useful information sign which tells you where it is and how to swim to it.
Don't be fooled into thinking that the Indian Ocean sounds warm, we were surprised that it actually didn't feel any warmer than Cape Town the day we were there!
We also had a wander through Steenbok Nature Reserve which I would recommend. We went at sunset and it was very pretty watching the sun go down over the water.
At the bottom of Knysna Heads, looking out into the Indian Ocean.
So that sums up our 4 day, 3 night, Garden Route trip. It felt like we saw and did a lot in our three days and I think we chose a fun variety of activities. However, there is so much more that we could do if we were to go back again! At the top of my list is the Waterfall hike in Tsitsikamma National Park and exploring some of the diving spots around the coast.
I hope this has filled you with a bit of inspiration to book a trip away and explore somewhere new.
Let me know if you have any questions. Enjoy your travels around South Africa!