Did you know?
Tsitsikamma, which means ‘the place of much water’, is a Khoi word. The Khoi people were this area's first inhabitants.
You’re on the bustling N2 between Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape and Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route and suddenly there’s a turn-off sign to the town of Storms River: the transformation from your busy motorway experience to instantly being in a world of wood is astounding.
You drive the few kilometres into the Tsitsikamma Forest and arrive at this tiny settlement tucked away in the trees.
You’ll also notice, on a walkabout of Storms River, that there’s a lot of adventure activity on the go. They swing from the trees on canopy tours; they ride deep into the forest in specially designed vehicles with a guide who takes them on a woodcutter’s journey; they also embark on fascinating forest walks with trained locals who know the wood from the trees.
In the late 1700s, teams of men moved into the Tsitsikamma Forest and began to cut down the old growth, among them massive yellowwoods, stinkwoods and ironwoods, to supply timber to the Dutch East India Company.
They stayed in the forest, lived on coffee and small game, distilled their own brand of liquor and generally became a rather boisterous law unto themselves.
A century later, genius builder Thomas Bain was commissioned to construct a road through the Tsitsikamma in a bid to connect Port Elizabeth with Cape Town.
It was said at that time that the Tsitsikamma Forest was occupied only by elephants, buffaloes, woodcutters, hunters and bandits.
If you walk into the bar of the Tsitsikamma Village Inn situated in the centre of Storms River, you will hear how this very spot was the drinking hole of aforesaid rough diamonds.
Today, it’s altogether more serene in Storms River, except for the occasional yelp of glee from someone on a canopy tour or the strains of Love Me Tender wafting through from the annual Elvis Festival staged by the inn.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tsitsikamma National Park
Tel: +27 (0)44 302 5600
Tel: +27 (0)42 281 1836
Tsitsikamma information centre
Tel: +27 (0)42 280 3561
Storms River village information centre
Tel: +27 (0)42 281 1098
Active Garden Route
Tel:+27 (0)79 775 9284
Tsitsikamma Village Inn
+27 (0)42 281 1711
How to get here
Storms River is about 100km west of Jeffreys Bay off the N2 highway. It also lies less than 60km east of Plettenberg Bay.
Best time to visit
With its relatively moderate coastal climate, Storms River is an all-year destination.
Around the area
You’re in the heart of prime South African touring country: the top of the Garden Route and the foot of the Eastern Cape. The Garden Route Active website will point you to dozens of places you can go and activities you can engage in.
If you're the daring sort, you should try the the Bloukrans Bungee, located about 20km from the Storms River Valley at the Bloukrans Bridge. At 216m high, it is the largest commercial bungee jump in the world.
Tours to do
The woodcutter’s tour out of Storms River will acquaint you with the flora and fauna of the Tsitsikamma Forest.
There are a number of Garden Route bus tours available from centres like Cape Town, but the most popular way to get around is still by driving yourself.
What will it cost
See the rates for the various activities and accommodation on the Stormsriver Adventures, Tsitsikamma Village Inn and Active Garden Route websites.
Length of stay
Storms River is worth a two-day stay.
What to pack
Pack for walking in the woods; perhaps some rain gear; and definitely something warm for the colder nights.
Where to stay
The Tsitsikamma Forest Inn or various backpackers like the Tube ‘n Axe – see the Tsitsikamma Forest Inn and Stormsriver Adventures websites.
What to eat
Good pub grub at the Village Inn bar.
If you’re an Elvis fan, you must come to Storms River in September for the Elvis Presley Festival.
Stanley Grootboom’s art at the Khoisan Village near the Bloukrantz Bridge bungee jump.