Mike Eloff

The Dolphin Trail

What if we told you that you can do a multi-day hike in the pristine wilderness of the Tsitsikamma coast without having to carry your own bags. And instead of tents and huts, your accommodation will be in the type of luxury establishments that posh people honeymoon at. The Dolphin trail heads off in the opposite direction to the famed Otter Trail, and you spend your days in very similar surroundings. Your nights, however, are spent on white linen.

With catered meals and picnics at every possible flat spot along the route, motivation to hike is easy as you need to earn all those puddings. The trail is very much along the forested sheer cliffs that fall into the ocean in this part of the world, so it’s more of a fun clamber of ups and downs than it is a stroll.  You’ll earn your cocktails by galivanting across streams to meadows beside waterfalls. All in a day’s work.

As someone who has been through my share of torn ligaments, high-top shoes are essential for me on hikes. Just a little bit of support makes all the difference. In the rainy Tsitsikamma, waterproof shoes are always a win, but you can do this hike in trainers if you so desire. Our guide simply put some checkers bags over his socks. Something like the Hi-Tec Geo Trail Pro shoes is an ideal mix of practical and light. I wore my pair of black Hi-Tec V-Lite shoes that are fast becoming my favourite hiking shoes for any terrain.

Rain in the Tsitsikamma is a part of the scenery, and to locals layering of clothes is second nature. While you don’t need to hike with your bags on this luxurious adventure, you will have to take some layers along. I love the lightweight Hi-Tec travel jacket as a wind protector layer.

This is the kind of experience that is for everyone. The magic of the outdoors combined with the comfort of luxury accommodation, pampering guides and three-course gourmet meals is about as top-drawer as experiences get. Even the hardiest of adventurers won’t miss their bedroll and sleeping bag. Kings do it this way because they can.

The hiking part is only two days long and requires a moderate level of fitness (you have to hike up those awesome Tsitsikamma cliffs once or twice a day to get to your picnic spots). The third day’s hiking, in true slackpacker fashion, is a 4×4 trip through the forest back to your starting point at the Stormsriver mouth. It’s a treat for all the senses. It’s not often you show up home from a hike and miss the luxury, wondering who will carry your bags from the car.

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