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Like a scene out of an Agatha Christie novel, the charming Storms River village lies deep in a wooded area. It’s a pity the village is such a short distance from the main N2 highway otherwise one would half expect Miss Marple to appear at a house window. Storms River is at the eastern end of the famed Garden Route, one of South Africa’s premier tourist destinations.
Looks can be deceiving because the peaceful Storms River village is a haven for adventure sports. The area experiences plenty of rain and reliably so, ensuring that the river flows perennially and the lush green forests remain evergreen year round. The river passes through a gorge for adventurous tubing and has a turbulent mouth, perfect for rip roaring sea kayaking, while the 216m-high Bloukrans Bridge nearby hangs over a mighty valley, a challenge for any bungee jumper.
The amazing story of this village is that it mostly operates independently of government aid and the streets and gardens are beautifully maintained by residents.
Top 6 reasons to visit Storms River
1. On a rainy day, stop in at the Tsitsikamma Microbrewery tap room to sample their naturally brewed craft beers. The historic Hunter’s Pub is on the same premises where a fire roars on wet, chilly days and where locals can give you the skinny on Storms River happenings.
2. Drive down to the Tsitsikamma National Park to take in the dramatic coastline, a protected marine sanctuary. Cross the swing bridge over the Storms River mouth and take a walk up to the Big Tree which is close to 1000 years old. Check out the sea life in the rock pools that may include a well-camouflaged octopus.
3. Operators in Storms River offer various forms of adventure sports that include bungee jumping, zip lining, tubing, abseiling (rappelling), snorkelling and hiking. Folks at the Tsitsikamma Village Inn will assist with bookings.
4. Visit the Bitou Art Gallery to view the artworks on display by 4 resident artists. Art courses are offered as are holiday packages that include accommodation, meals and an art course surrounded by the beauty of the village and the imposing Tsitsikamma Mountains.
5. Hikers are able to attempt the first section of the world-renowned Otter Trail to get a taste of this magnificent 4-day hike. A small conservation fee is payable for day hikers. Take along plenty of water.
6. Storms River alternates as the start and end point of the Otter African Trail Run, a 42km run that could only be described as gruelling. The run happens every October.
The nearest major airports are George Airport at 160km west and Port Elizabeth International Airport, 180km east of Storms River or charter a flight to Plettenberg Bay Airport, only 60km away. Car rental agencies are located in Plettenberg Bay and at the airports, otherwise order a rental online. There are no taxi services in the village, however, there are shuttle services available to and from the airports and the village. Storms River is on the InterCity bus route that travels daily between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
Did you know?
The 130m-high Paul Sauer Bridge that crosses the Storms River gorge was designed by Italian civil engineer Riccardo Morandi and constructed in 2 halves. The halves were lowered on either end of the gorge and joined perfectly. The bridge is 190m in length.
The route into Storms River gorge and the village itself was planned by the great road builder Thomas Bain in 1884. Convict labour was used and some of their graves are to be found outside the village. Bain made use of old elephant trails to cut his way through the thick forests.