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Hiking Trails: Slack Packing

New 4 Day Slack Packing Trail!

Oyster Bay - Eastern Cape
Enjoy 4 days of stunning coast line, sand dunes, tidal river, nature reserves and wetlands. 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 the ingredients that make up the Chokka Trail, a slack packing trail through St Francis Bay, Port St Francis, Cape St Francis and Oyster Bay. This is the best possible opportunity to see and experience just how beautiful the area is on foot, at your own pace and with overnight accommodation at guesthouses.

Day 1: (14 km) Hikers meet for the four day/three night route at St Francis Links, where you can leave your vehicle in a secure parking area for the duration of the hike. You will then be transported to Oyster Bay, a holiday village about 20km to the west, and start your Chokka Trail experience with a warm-up walk to Thysbaai, an out-and-back of up to 14km or whatever distance takes your fancy. Oyster Bay is a hidden treasure, with one of the most unspoilt beaches in South Africa. It is hard to find a more relaxing view than the one from your overnight stop, Oyster Bay Beach Lodge.

Day 2: (18 km) is when the trail starts in earnest, walking the length of the Sand River to St Francis Bay. The Sand River is a dune bypass system, a highway of non-stop rolling sand dunes. There is very little chance of interaction with people other than those in your group for the duration of the hike, while you enjoy a wonderful outlook to the Baviaanskloof Mountains away to the north. At almost 18km, this is the longest section of the trail. The extent of the challenge will depend on weather conditions on the day, but it remains a privilege to enjoy the white washed dunes, leaving only your footprints behind. You will be picked up at the famous Sand River bridge (the one which made headlines when it washed away!) and taken to your overnight stop for the second night, the Cape St Francis Resort.

Day 3: (16 km) starts at Mostertshoek, on the Wild Side east of Cape St Francis. The hike takes you through parts of the Coastal Cradle of Humankind, along the shoreline of Cape St Francis and St Francis Bay, through a variety of fynbos and giving you a chance to see Southern Right whales, dolphins, otters and small game like duiker and bushbuck. A visit to the SANCCOB African Penguin Rehabilitation Centre at the Seal Point Lighthouse is a must, as they will be expecting you for an informative talk. The highlight of the day is a calamari tasting (chokka) at Port St Francis, the only privately owned working harbour in South Africa, where you can also visit a working chokka boat. From here the Two Harbours Walk brings you to the end of the 16km of day three at the Granny's Pool, from where you will be transported to Brisan on the Canals. Weather permitting, you will enjoy a cruise on the famous St Francis Bay canals. And if you have any energy left, you can have a swim or paddle a canoe on the water before your well-earned sundowners and dinner.

Day 4: (11 km) finishes the trail with an 11km walk from The Cove via the Kromme River and Sand River to the side gate of St Francis Links, a world class Jack Nicklaus golf estate. A network of secret trails awaits you in the coastal thicket at the Links, alive with birds and animals. Caracal and bushbuck, bush pig and porcupine, mongoose and genet abound will you be lucky enough to see them? The pathways wind through the forest and the wetlands, and eventually bring you to the road and the fairways, and back to the clubhouse for your farewell lunch.

The Chokka Trail:
- is fully catered and includes bed and breakfast, packed lunches, dinner at the various accommodation establishments as well as
- The canal cruise and
- Calamari tasting. You only pay for your own drinks.
- Luggage is transported between stops, while you carry only a day pack make sure you add enough water according to your own needs.
- Visit a working chokka boat
- Visit a penquin rehabilitation centre

You have the opportunity to see blue duiker and otters, exquisite tiny indigenous flowers, Oyster Bay's ancient fish traps, shell middens and hidden pools between the dunes. There is a fresh surprise round every corner. And beauty at every step of the trail's 59km.

The minimum group size is 4, however, we can try to pair people up.
The rates include accommodation in 3 and 4 star registered accommodation establishments, breakfast, lunch packs, dinner (you will receive an allowance for the restaurant at the Resort), a farewell Santa Burger at the St Francis Links, a calamari tasting, visit to the penguin 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:
Four people: R4000 per person sharing (single supplement R200 per night extra if available)
Six people: R3900 per person sharing
Eight people: R3800 per person sharing
Ten to Twelve people: R3700 per person sharing (no single supplement)

4 Days / 4 Nights:
Four people: R5000 per person sharing (single supplement R200 per night extra if available)
Six people: R4900 per person sharing
Eight people: R4800 per person sharing
Ten to Twelve people: R4700 per person sharing (no single supplement)

Shuttle Service available from Port Elizabeth Airport to Oyster Bay / Cape St Francis. R300 per person one way, dependant on group size.

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