Three picturesque fishing villages, a rugged coastline, sand dunes as far as the eye can see, a tidal river, protected fynbos, wetlands and a visit to South Africa’s only privately owned working harbour. These are some of the ingredients that make up the Chokka Trail, a 62km slackpack hiking holiday between Oyster Bay, St Francis Bay and Cape St Francis.
The best possible way to see and experience just how beautiful the greater St Francis is on foot, at your own pace and with overnight accommodation at guest houses and a Resort. The trail is situated in the Kouga Region, Eastern Province, a mere hour’s drive to the west of Port Elizabeth.
Since the Chokka 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?
When you plan your trip, keep in mind that we are less than 90km away from the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area and Gamtoos Valley, the Tsitsikamma, as well as Addo and the Sunshine Coast.
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.
You will enjoy a cruise on the famous St Francis canals, visit the SANCCOB Seabird and African Penguin Rehabilitation Centre at the Seal Point Lighthouse, as well as Port St Francis where you will enjoy a calamari tasting (which is of course chokka!).
This, plus all your meals (a full breakfast, a packed lunch, and dinner at the various accommodation establishments for the duration of the hike) are include in the rates.
You only pay for your own drinks. Luggage is transported between stops, while you carry your day pack – make sure you add enough water according to your own needs.
The Chokka Trail has a fresh surprise round every corner. And beauty at every step of the trail’s 62km.
Contact us for assistance with additional accommodation before or after the hike at special Chokka Trail rates, as well as airport transfers.
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 to 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 coast line, 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.
Should you be lucky to arrive early (or have spend an additional night in Oyster Bay), you can also enjoy a walk on the 8km Oyster Bay beach to Klippenpunt and back.
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.
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 dunefield 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 dunefield 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.
The day’s hiking starts with a trail through an indigenous coastal forest, where old man’s beard and mushrooms’s worst enemy is bush pigs and small buck.
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 trail heads for the beautiful sweep of sandy beach of Cape St Francis where a blue drum marks the Cape St Francis Resort – your overnight stop. Procees through the Resort to reception and they will take you to your room. Supper and breakfast is in the Joe Fish Restaurant – enjoy!
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.
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 sea front 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 Quaysyde 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.
The minimum group size is 4 and maximum 12, however single rooms are limited with large groups. The rates include accommodation in 3 and 4 star accommodation establishments, breakfast, lunch packs, dinner, a farewell lunch on the last day, a calamari tasting, visit to the seabird rehabilitation facility, canal cruise as well as luggage portage. You will only have to pay for your drinks and what you order extra.
4 days / 3 nights
4 days / 4 night
Rates from 1 January 2018: 4 days / 3 nights
4 days / 4 night
Rates are subject to change and will be revised each year in October.
For the ultimate experience, we recommended a fully guided hike for our overseas visitors at an additional cost (which depends on the group size).
Please note that the trail is closed from 16 December to 7 January each year.
For day walk rates, call Esti Stewart on 073 825 0835.