St Francis Coast Walk
St Francis Coast Walk is a walking holiday in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It is between three picturesque fishing villages along a rugged coastline, sand dunes as far as the eye can see, a tidal river, protected fynbos and wetlands.
Type Guided walk Location Cape St Francis, Eastern Cape, South Africa Group size Small groups 4-12 Duration 3 nights / 4 days Grading Easy Day Stages Average 15 km over 4 days Distance 62 km Terrain Beach and coastal trails Accommodation Guesthouses and resort Meals Included Cost Available on request Dates Whole year. Best time May- Sep
You will walk between Oyster Bay, St Francis Bay and Cape St Francis through parts of the Coastal Cradle of Humankind and a variety of fynbos. It is a chance to see 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 Seabird and African Penguin Rehabilitation Centre at the Seal Point Lighthouse, as well as a calamari tasting at Port St Francis.
Fishing villages Picturesque Oyster Bay, St Francis Bay and Cape St Francis Coastal Cradle of Mankind KhoiSan shell middens Marine and wildlife Whales, dolphins, otters, small game like duiker and bushbuck and over 250 species of birds Boat cruise Cruise on the famous St Francis canals SANCCOB Visit SANCCOB, the Seabird and African Penguin Rehabilitation Centre. It is internationally recognised as a leader in the field of seabird rehabilitation, treating in excess of 2 400 injured, sick and oiled seabirds annually.
The walks are slow, spending time to enyoy the beaches and to take a closer look at the unspoilt coast. You can stop and enjoy what is of interest to you or your group. The walk starts in Cape St Francis. You will be transferred to Oyster Bay and walk to St Francis Bay and Cape St Francis For route directions you will be accompanied by locals on some of the sections of the trail.
Day 1– Up to 18 km
Drive to the Cape St Francis Resort to arrive no later than 11h00. Your vehicle will stay there for the duration of the walk. You will be transferred to the Oyster Bay Beach Lodge, your accommodation for the first night. Lunch packs will be provided and you can set off on your warm-up walk. The walk is around 18 km but you can do as much as you like, because it is an out-and-back trail along the coast to Thysbaai. We suggest you walk 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 arrive early you can also enjoy a walk on the 8 km Oyster Bay beach to Klippenpunt and back.
Day 2 – 16 km
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 walk with you, mainly because the dunes are forever changing and makes route description impossible. You leave the road after about half a kilometre, turning through a security gate onto private property and entering another world. Peace and tranquility 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 dunefield is mobilised by wind and water. The prevailing westerly wind shapes the dunes. They slope gradually up in front of you and then drop steeply. Look across the countryside to the beautiful Baviaanskloof mountain range in the north. Also look for evidence of ancient cultures. A feature of the dunefield is the KhoiSan shell middens. When you see the sea in the distance, you will be at the ten kilometre mark for the day. 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.
Day 3 – 15 km
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. After a few steep dunes you will cross into 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 walkr to make sure you don’t miss the second largest blowhole in Southern Africa, the remains of the Osprey (a shipwreck), an unmarked grave and more middens. After about 12 km 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 SANCCOB, a seabird conservation organisation. They provide a rescue service for sick and injured seabirds and abandoned chicks. They will be expecting you. 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. Proceed through the Resort to reception and they will take you to your room. Supper and breakfast is at the Joe Fish Restaurant.
Day 4 – 13 km
You will continue your walk 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 (calamari) 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 walk 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 vehicle from the Resort.
Rates & Tour info
Available on request Rates depend on availability of guesthouses at time of booking.
Included3 nights in 3/4 star accommodationBreakfast, lunch pack and dinnerA calamari tastingVisit to the SANCCOB seabird rehabilitation facility.Canal cruiseTransfer of luggage from one lodge to the nextFor route directions you will be accompanied by locals on 2 days (Fully guided available at additional cost)
Not includedItems not mentioned above, eg :Transport to and from Cape St FrancisSnacks and alcoholic drinksTravel Insurance.
Overall rating: “Easy“. You do not need to be ultra-fit but if you choose to do the walks you should be able to walk between 10 and 20 km per day. The route takes you along the coast and on paths. See Walking grades for more details about “Easy” rating.
When to do the St Francis Coast Walk
Bookings can be made throughout the year.
The average rainfall for the Cape St Francis area is about 531 mm per annum. It occurs throughout the year. The lowest rainfall is in January (26 mm) and the highest in August (63 mm). The average midday temperatures for Cape St Francis range from 18.5°C in July to 24°C in January. The region is the coldest during July when the temperature drops to 8.3°C on average during the night.
Getting to Cape St FrancisFor international visitors:Fly to Port Elizabeth Airport. By car via N2- 120 km to Cape St FrancisBy car:Route from Johannesburg: 1 150 km with N1 and N6 via BloemfonteinRoute from Cape Town: 700 km via the N2 along the coastRoute from Durban: 1 050 km with N2
What to take
Comfortable, well ventilated clothes as well as a thick windbreaker/jacket, raincoat, swimming costume, comfortable walking shoes and hiking sandals For your daily needs, you are advised to have a day-bag, a plastic bag to waterproof your day-pack as well as ziploc bags for protection for electronic equipment, sun-hat, sunglasses, sun block, a water bottle/camelback, personal first-aid kit, camera, batteries, binoculars, torch and headlamp, and mosquito repellent.
We recommend that you arrange appropriate holiday insurance giving you cover against illness, injury, and loss or damage to luggage. This insurance should also cover the possibility of your having to cancel your holiday for any reason.
Availability and booking
To reserve a date, forward: Availability request
To book- Go to How to book, or
Tel.: +27 (0) 21 852 5937, Fax.: +27 (0) 86 618 3448
Pictures can be viewed in St Francis Coast Gallery
For details, go to Reviews
More about the area
St Francis Coast Walk is fully catered walking holiday between three picturesque fishing villages along the rugged Eastern Cape coastline of South Africa. For more information about the area, go to Read more
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