On a very misty rainy day I convinced myself that doing a trail was a good idea. I set out to hike the naked trail in the Tsitsikamma.
The Tsitsikamma is a national park on the Garden Route in South Africa. Tsitsikamma means dark water or very wet in the Khoisan language spelled Tzitzikama. It has been the inspiration for great writers like Dalene Matthee. The river and the hike is on protected state land and in a conservation area meaning that you can only remove fresh air and memories. This is Tsitsikamma magic at its best. The water is the colour of tea due to discoloration caused by tannin and organic matter in the forest and fynbos floor. It is absolutely pure, clean and lovely to drink. You won’t encounter any African river diseases in these waters. It is also safe to swim in considering that nothing in these pools will pinch, bite, sting or want to catch you – except perhaps your partner or other hikers 😉
You will start your hike at the lodge and make your way through to the pebble pool, from there it is onto the Honeymoon pool. You will pass Cataract and fallen rock to get to the Halfway pool. From here you will head over to the Topless pool, the G-string pool and the Bottomless pool. You end off with the Boobs pool, Fantasy pool and Kaalgat pool.
I found myself slightly lost in the literal sense. Although the trail is relatively well marked with blue spots, crosses and arrows I am convinced that these markings were designed to confuse you. I ended up just follow everything and anything blue. I encountered thousands of cobwebs across the trail. This problem would have been easily solved if I had a partner that could walk in front of me. Since I was running solo I ended up holding a stick in front of my face.
In retrospect I think this should have been an expedition undertaken with greater care. I lost my phone, clothes and inhibitions. The rocks can be slippery, especially if you decide to go hiking in the rain. I fell a few times. The one time I fell I literally just lay in the pool and cried for a while, then realised no one was coming to save me. For this reason I will advise to let someone know that you are attempting a naked hike before walking the mile. It is also advisable to walk at the back so that you can see what happens to the person in front of you. I feel that laughter is allowed if the person is not too seriously injured.
After heavy rains (like the one I walked in) the trail is not safe as you might be washed out to sea, like I almost was. The river levels rose as I zig-zagged across the river and I could just wave as my phone was washed away.
It is very important to ring the warning bell as you approach the Kaalgat pool (translated from Afrikaans means naked pool). You want to let people know that you are approaching. I was the only one on this trail so it didn’t really matter that much, but I can imagine that it will safe you and others some embarrassment. After the Kaalgat pool there are no further markings as this is Dragon Country, and those ventured further, have never returned!
This trail was a unique experience. Take your time and take it all in. Take some nuts and goodies to enjoy along the road, but don’t leave anything behind. Become one with nature. Watch the birds, talk to the trees or simply laze the day away while breathing in the beauty of the Tsitsikamma.