Chokka Trail


Our motto: Hike more, worry less…

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About

Chokka Hiking Trail Now Offering a 5 Day Backpacking Option - Not to be Missed!

The beautiful Chokka Hiking Trail is situated in the Eastern Cape Province, Oyster Bay/St Francis, merely 2 hours from Port Elizabeth. Since the Chokka Hiking Trail was launched in October 2013, hundreds of hikers successfully complete this 4 day/3 night hiking holiday each year – what else do you expect from a trail that is fully catered for and each day finished off with a home cooked meal, hot shower, and comfortable bed?

The hike takes you through parts of the Coastal Cradle of Humankind, through a variety of fynbos, giving you a chance to see Southern Right whales, dolphins, otters, small game like duiker and bushbuck and over 250 species of birds.

Your luggage is transported between stops, while you carry your daypack – make sure you add enough water according to your own needs.

Trails

Chokka Hiking Trail 5 Days/4 Nights Backpacking (Up To 77km)

Plan your journey to reach Oyster Bay in time for an afternoon stroll on the 8km beach instead of staying over along the way. The earlier you get here, the further can you walk!

Check into the Oyster Kayas in Oyster Bay and enjoy a hike to Klippenpunt, the furthest point of the Oyster Bay beach. Up to 16km.

(The Oyster Kayas are self-catering units, but meals are available (by prior arrangement) at their Deli, especially if you have been driving all day.)

Day 2:

Hike the shoreline to Thysbaai, and return. Stay at the Oyster Kayas. Up to 18km.

Day 3:

Hike the Sand River, a dune bypass system into the Eskom Conservation Area. You will stay in a tented camp on the Dune Ridge Reserve (tents can be supplied). 16km.

Day 4:

Hike through a natural forest, dunefield, and coastal thicket to Mostertshoek. You will continue east along the shoreline past the Seal Point Lighthouse to the Cape St Francis Resort where you will stay in the backpackers. 15km.

Day 5:
Enjoy a 2 hour hike to Port St Francis and enjoy a calamari tasting. Hike back to the Resort through the Cape St Francis Nature Reserve and depart. 14km.

The Route (4 Days, 3 Nights)

Arrival Day – Up to 18km (Or Less!)

Drive to the Cape St Francis Resort to arrive no later than 11h00. Your vehicle will stay here for the duration of the hike. We will take you to Oyster Bay, a trip of around 45 minutes to check in at the Oyster Bay Beach Lodge, your accommodation for the first night.

The full walk is around 18km but you can do as much or as little as you like because it is an out-and-back trail along the coast to Thysbaai (if you have time and you can’t resist adding a beach walk, please note that the bay is 3km long). We suggest you walk out for no more than two and a half hours before turning back.

The trail follows the rugged coastline, through fynbos and low coastal thicket. It is peaceful and uninhabited, with only an occasional fisherman to be seen and the crashing waves and birdsong to be heard. At low tide, you can see ancient fish traps in a rock gulley, built over two thousand years ago by the Khoisan. This walk will soothe your spirit and ease your body into the trail mode – and add extra enjoyment to the sundowners and dinner being prepared for you.

Day 2 - 16km

After a hearty breakfast, you pick up your lunch pack, fill enough water bottles to last you at least 6 hours and set off down the road, leaving your luggage to be transported to your next overnight stop.

One of the locals will hike with you, mainly because it is impossible to mark the route, and the dunes are forever changing so a route description is also useless (we love the dunes so welcome any excuse to spend a day there!). You leave the road after about half a kilometer, turning through a security gate onto private property and entering another world. Peace and tranquillity take over as you walk through the bush, enjoying the birdsong in the coastal thicket on either side of you.

The track leads you to the dunes of the Oyster Bay Dune Bypass System, also referred to as the Sand River by the locals.

The dune field is mobilised by wind and water. The prevailing westerly shapes the dunes, which slope gradually up in front of you and then drop steeply. Your challenge is whether to slide down or traverse! Remember to look across the countryside to the mountains in the north, the beautiful Baviaanskloof mountain range, and look around you for evidence of ancient cultures – a feature of the dune field is the Khoisan

The day’s hiking finishes at the Dune Ridge Country House, situated on a private nature reserve. You will enjoy a well-deserved drink around the swimming pool before you find your room for the night.

Day 3 - 15km

The day’s hiking starts with a trail through an indigenous coastal forest, where old man’s beard and mushrooms’ worst enemy is bush pigs and small buck.

After a few steep dunes (sorry!) you will cross into the coastal thicket before you reach the Mostertshoek road. The trail meanders through a small group of holiday cottages at Mostertshoek and along the Wild Side, so named for the untamed sea that crashes onto the rocks in spectacular fashion the length of the trail. Look for otters in the rock pools and keep your eyes open for Oystercatchers, Kelp Gulls, Terns, and Turnstones.

Again you will be accompanied by a local hiker to make sure you don’t miss the second largest blow hole in Southern Africa, the remains of the Osprey (a shipwreck), an unmarked grave and more middens. After about 12km you will arrive at the village of Cape St Francis, passing Sunset Rock on your right. Sunset Rock is a favourite whale watching lookout point as well as a photographer’s dream for sunset seascapes. As you near the lighthouse you will see a giant penguin: this marks the SANCCOB African Penguin Rehabilitation Centre where the team is doing invaluable work to assist injured, sick or oiled birds – they will be expecting you for a visit.

From the lighthouse the trailheads for the beautiful sweep of sandy beach of Cape St Francis where a blue drum marks the Cape St Francis Resort – your overnight stop. Proceed through the Resort to reception and they will take you to your room. Supper and breakfast are in the Joe Fish Restaurant – enjoy!

Day 4 - 13km

You will continue your hike on the Cape St Francis beach towards Shark Point, where you often see tracks of the Cape Clawless Otter early in the morning.

Around the point, you will see Port St Francis, the working harbour for the Chokka fleet, hake and pilchard vessels as well as for sea-going yachts and leisure craft of all shapes and sizes. The local NSRI is also based here, doing sterling work off this very unpredictable coast. You will enjoy a tasting of calamari, hear more about the Chokka industry and see a Chokka cleaning demo at the Balobi Seafood Market.

The hike continues on the Two Harbours Walk towards Granny’s Pool, where you cross to the St Francis main beach. If it is low tide, you will stay on the beach, or find your way through the seafront homes towards the spit that protects the St Francis canals from the ocean.

Here a barge will wait to take you on a canal cruise before they drop you off at Quayside for your farewell lunch.

It is advised to add a fourth night’s accommodation at Brisan B&B, just around the corner from Quaysyde. You will be transported there and arrangements will be made to bring your vehicles from the Resort.

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Other Routes

Chokka Trail (Unguided & Self-Supported)

If you still want to carry your own pack and rough it a bit, and you can read a map, the following options are for you:

Chokka Trail (3 Days, 2 Nights)

Day 1:

Check into the Oyster Kayas in Oyster Bay and set off on a hike to Klippenpunt, the furthest point of the Oyster Bay beach.

The Oyster Kayas are self-catering units, but meals are available (by prior arrangement) at their Deli.

Day 2:

Hike the Sand River, a 16km dune bypass system into the Eskom Conservation Area. You will be transported to the Cape St Francis Resort where you will book into the backpackers. There is a restaurant on the premises.

Day 3:

Enjoy a 2-hour hike to Port St Francis where you will enjoy a calamari tasting. Hike back to the Resort through the Cape St Francis Nature Reserve and depart.

Chokka Trail (4 Days, 3 Nights)

Day 1:

Check into the Oyster Kayas in Oyster Bay and set off on a hike to Klippenpunt, the furthest point of the Oyster Bay beach.

Day 2:

Hike along the shoreline to Thysbaai, and return. Stay at the Oyster Kayas.

The Oyster Kayas are self-catering units, but meals are available (by prior arrangement) at their Deli.

Day 3:

Hike the Sand River, a 16km dune bypass system into the Eskom Conservation Area. You will be transported to the Cape St Francis Resort where you will book into the backpackers. There is a restaurant on the premises.

Day 4:

Enjoy a 2-hour hike to Port St Francis where you will enjoy a calamari tasting. Hike back to the Resort through the Cape St Francis Nature Reserve and depart.

Chokka Trail (5 Days, 4 Nights)

Day 1:

Check into the Oyster Kayas in Oyster Bay and set off on a hike to Klippenpunt, the furthest point of the Oyster Bay beach.

Day 2:

Hike along the shoreline to Thysbaai, and return. Stay at the Oyster Kayas.

The Oyster Kayas are self-catering units, but meals are available (by prior arrangement) at their Deli.

Day 3:

Hike the Sand River, a 16km dune bypass system into the Eskom Conservation Area. You will be transported to the Cape St Francis Resort where you will book into the backpackers. There is a restaurant on the premises.

Day 4:

You will be transported back to the Eskom Conservations Area to hike through a natural forest, dunefield, and coastal thicket to Mostertshoek. From there you continue along the shoreline past the Seal Point Lighthouse to the Cape St Francis Resort.

Day 5:

Enjoy a 2-hour hike to Port St Francis where you will enjoy a calamari tasting. Hike back to the Resort through the Cape St Francis Nature Reserve and depart.

137 km Over 10 Days (8 Days Hiking) - Combine Two Popular Hiking Trails (The Baviaans Camino and the Chokka Hiking Trail)

Would you like to hike from the Baviaanskloof Mountains to the south eastern most tip of Africa in Cape St Francis? Combine two popular hiking trails, the Baviaans Camino and the Chokka Trail, and you have an amazing hiking holiday of 137km over 10 days (arrival and departure dates included).

The Baviaans Camino starts in the Steytlerville District, and once over the Baviaanskloof Mountains you just follow the road over many more hills until you get to Kareedouw in the Tsitsikamma. The Chokka Trail starts a mere 60km to the south in Oyster Bay and finishes in St Francis Bay.

We have set dates between April and September, and group sizes are limited to 12 people, of which 6 can be on horseback for the Baviaans Camino leg.

What you need:

Hikers and riders must bring their own hiking/riding gear, day backpack, hiking pole, a headlamp, towels and sleeping bags with a small pillow. Be prepared for extreme heat or severe cold. Make sure what you bring will fit into the supplied 55litre crate – clothes, drinks (for the evenings) and extra snacks (things you feel you cannot hike without) plus energy drinks (preferably powder/mixes). You also will receive a small bag with your own cutlery and crockery (read between the lines, you will have to do your own dishes!).

Tents, matrasses, and chairs will be supplied. 99% of the route has no cell phone reception. The organisers will have a satellite phone for emergencies and two-way radios between the groups. Two support vehicles will accompany all groups to ensure safety at all times.

Breakfasts and dinners are cooked, and you will receive a hearty lunch pack for each day.

The accommodation for the Chokka Trail is in guest houses and a resort, so pack a separate bag for the 4 days of the Chokka Trail – you will only need a day pack and hiking pole.

Day 1:

Groups must be in Steytlerville by 14h (transport not included in the rate and can be organised from Port Elizabeth airport or Kareedouw). Riders will be taken to Nakop to meet the horses to get an introduction into grooming and feeding. It will be expected of all riders to take full responsibility of their horse which means feeding twice a day, giving water late at night, grooming and tacking up. We all will have dinner together at our accommodation in Steylerville.

Day 2:

After an early breakfast, we will be transported to Nakop. The trail starts with a 1 200m climb over the first 4km, traversing the Baviaanskloof Mountains, followed by a 7km descent into the Kloof. Overnight accommodation is 3km further on the farm Doringkloof in an old farmhouse. A cooked dinner is enjoyed around the large dining table, a well-deserved treat after a challenging day!

Day 3:

The trail starts through some farmland before you tackle the first short uphill for the day. Soon civilization is forgotten and you start the traverse of the Kouga Mountain Range, with unimpeded views into the Klein Kommando and Tjandokloofs. You move from thorn trees to aloes, cycads, proteas, and spekboom, and 95 bird species have been counted here.

At 26km this is the longest day of the hike, the last few kilometers into a kloof to get to Modderhuisie at Entkraal, and we all sleep in tents. As this venue is extremely remote, we all will help with making fire and food.

Day 4:

We start off through the beautiful Kouenek Kortkloof, towards the Joubertskraal River, before you tackle the Kouenek to the highest point, a steep mountain with many false summits! Then a generous and slow reintroduction back to civilization follows, as you enter the remote farming community of the Nooitgedacht area. This is where you will pass the Nooitgedacht Primary School, the beneficiary of the Baviaans Camino.

Accommodation for a selected few is in a small farmhouse at Ragels River, while the rest will enjoy the beautiful scenery from their tents. Teacher Elmien will provide us with dinner, part of the fundraising efforts of the local school in Nooitgedacht.

Day 5:

We enjoy the early morning trail again through the kloofs around the Ragels River, before we tackle the Moordenaarskloof – by now nothing to fear! We continue through the Posberg Kloof to Nguniland Accommodation on the outskirts of Kareedouw.

Day 6:

After another hearty breakfast, we pack up and leave for Oyster Bay, a transfer and rest day. If you need to restock on anything, you can do so in Kareedouw. We will stop at the Oudebosch Farmstall for a light lunch before we book into the Oyster Bay Beach Lodge.

Day 7:

You will explore the coastline between Oyster Bay and Thysbaai, an out and back trail. At Thysfontein, a little beach with a holiday cottage, you might find spoor of the Cape clawless otter. The trail continues past a rock gully, where if it is low tide, you can see circular rock walls in the water – it is ancient Koi-San fish traps, more than 2 000 years old.

Day 8:

We will traverse the dunes of the Sand River – a mobile dune field mobilised by wind and water. It changes from week to week, and mapping, marking or even describing this route seems impossible. The first 3km of the dune field has some steep dunes until it opens up and we follow the contours. We will walk through some vegetation, our feet might get wet and it is a challenging day – but nothing beats the feeling of conquering the Sand River! The trail stops at the Dune Ridge Country House.

Day 9:

The hike starts through a beautiful section of coastal forest and coastal thicket until you reach the shoreline. Enjoy walking through this special landscape, filled with bird calls, and keep your eyes open for grey duiker, mongoose, porcupine quills, bushbuck or caracal (watch out for puffies!). Look for otters in the rock pools and keep your eyes open for Oystercatchers, Kelp Gulls, terns, and Turnstones.

You will pass Mostertshoek, and walk along the Wild Side – so named for the untamed sea that crashes onto the rocks in spectacular fashion the length of the trail. You will see the second largest blow hole in SA, an unknown grave, the remains of the HMS Osprey that ran onto the rocks in 1867, as well as the Cape Recife (1029). You will visit the SANCCOB Sea Bird Rehabilitation Centre before you book into the Cape St Francis Resort.

Day 10:

The hike starts at the Resort and follows the footpaths via Shark Point to Port St Francis, where your will enjoy a calamari tasting. You will hike past Bruce’s Beauties to the Granny’s Pool, where you will get to the end of your 137 km journey!

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Tags: Slackpacking Trails Eastern Cape
Price available on Request

Contact 082 663 6168 or 064 523 1807
info@ecotrail.co.za

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All information adapted with permission of owner