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YYou’re on the bustling N2 between Jeffreys Bay in Eastern Cape and Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route, and suddenly there’s a turn-off to the town of Storms River. If you take it, the instant transformation from busy motorway to a world of sylvan serenity is astounding.
Drive a few kilometres into the Tsitsikamma Forest, and you’ll arrive at this tiny settlement tucked away among the trees. From its early days as a hunting box from which local adventurers shot elephant and buffalo, to its current status as one of South Africa’s prime adventure centres, Storms River has always managed to exude a deceptively tranquil atmosphere deep in the forest. And yet the local pub has seen it all...
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 and 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 at the Tsitsikamma Village Inn in the centre of Storms River, you will hear how this very spot was the watering 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 zip-slide canopy tour. You can’t but notice, on a walkabout of the town, how much adventure activity is 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 embark on fascinating forest walks with trained locals who know the wood from the trees.
Then there’s the bungy jumping just up the road, and in the Storms River Gorge, the fascinating tours by kayak, lilo or Anvil boat – a cunning high-tech inflatable kickboard that lets you paddle up the river taking in the scenery with ease. Down on the coast, you might want to try snorkelling over the reefs off the Storms River mouth.
Offering thrills and serenity in equal measure, Storms River village makes a great base from which to embark on your Eastern Cape and Garden Route adventures.
TTravel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tsitsikamma National Park
Tel: +27 (0)42 281 1607
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
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. Night time temperatures seldom drop below 10⁰C, except from June to September, and the rainiest months are August, September and October. June is the driest month, although also one of the coolest, with temperatures averaging around 17⁰C at midday and 7⁰C at night.
Things to do in the area
You’re in the heart of prime South African touring country: the end of the Garden Route and the start of Eastern Cape province. Check the websites listed below to find dozens of places you can go and activities you can engage in.
If you're the daring sort, you should try the Bloukrans Bungee, located about 20km from the Storms River Valley at the Bloukrans Bridge. At 216m, it is the highest commercial bungee jump in the world – and for an added thrill, you can now reach the bridge via a zip slide before you take the bungy plunge!
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 several 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 and Tsitsikamma Village Inn websites.
Length of stay
Storms River is worth a 2-day stay at least.
What to pack
Pack for walking in the woods; perhaps some rain gear and definitely something warm for the cooler nights between April and November.
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.
Stanley Grootboom’s art at the Khoisan Village near the Bloukrans Bridge bungee jump.
- Storms River Adventures
- Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Agency
- South African National Parks (SANParks)
- Tsitsikamma Village Inn