Nature's Valley Snapshot
Stretching for 68km between Keurboomstrand, Nature's Valley and the Storm's River Mouth, the Tsitsikamma National Park (560km from Cape Town) is the Garden Route's most dramatic stretch of coast. Established in 1964, it’s a dense collage of indigenous forest, tangled vines, deep gorges cut by black rivers, angry waves and weatherbeaten cliffs. Nature's Valley is the only village in the park and probably the most laid-back destination on the Garden Route. It also has the best beach and the widest choice of accommodation in the Park. Most of these options are private holiday homes that are occupied by their owners over Christmas. Out of this period though, there is plenty available. In contrast to the soothing karma of Nature's Valley, Storms River Mouth is nature in its primal rawness, where the dark river surges into the ocean and the forests cling for dear life to the surrounding cliffs. With a large number of timber cabins and camping and caravanning right on the water's edge, the Storms River Mouth Rest Camp is your main self-catering option. Several miles upstream, close to the N2, and not to be confused with Storms River Mouth itself, the Storms River Village has a general dealer and a few places to stay.
Things To Do
- Walking is the main activity at Storms River Mouth. There are various options, from gentle coastal strolls to slogging up the encircling mountains – your sterling efforts will be rewarded with ancient yellowwood trees and views across the world. For maximum reward at minimum input, there's little to beat the 3km walk that leaves the rest camp and traces the start of the Otter Trail to a 50m waterfall and a wonderful pool.
- The only other safe swimming at Storms River Mouth is at a picturesque sandy cove below the restaurant – bloody freezing if the easterly winds are blowing.
- Tsitsikamma is the start of SA's most famous hike, the five-day Otter Trail. Landing a booking is a bigger challenge than the trail itself – reserving at least a year ahead is the general rule. However, all is not lost: because bookings are made so far in advance there's often a chance that someone will cancel or not pitch.
- Stretching 5km out to sea, Tsitsikamma is South Africa's first marine reserve. While you probably won't have the desire or expertise to explore its full extent, beginners and pros alike can don the goggles, adjust the snorkel and navigate Tsitsikamma's novel and sheltered underwater trail. No need to bring your own water – there's plenty on route.
- Way up the adrenaline scale, the world's highest bungy jump (216m!) is awaiting you at the Bloukrans River Bridge, 2km from Storms River Village. For about R500 (and counting) you get seven seconds of unadulterated fear and a video of the nightmare – the perfect Christmas gift to a loved one. Simply arrive at the bridge to arrange your date with Fate.
- Monkeyland is a primate sanctuary where apes from around the globe enjoy a free existence under the forest canopy. Lemurs from Madagascar and squirrel monkeys from South America are among the swinging residents. You'll find the reserve near the Nature's Valley turn-off along the N2. Open daily from 8am-6pm and tours are by guide only.
- Stormsriver Adventures is based at Storms River Village and offers a lucky packet of adventure activities, from abseiling and mountain bike trails, to fly-fishing and snorkelling. The company is best known for blackwater tubing, aptly described as the 'ultimate kloofing experience'. After signing an indemnity form and donning a wetsuit and helmet, you'll be lowered into the Storms River. From here it's a leisurely paddle on an inflatable tube down a narrow canyon of spectacular cliffs and wild vegetation; if all goes to plan you’ll pop out like a cork several hours later at Storms River Mouth.
- The Rest Camp restaurant is the only place to eat at Storms River Mouth. The views compensate for the so-so food.
Where You'll Also Find Us
Arniston (Waenhuiskrans) • Aurora • Barberton • Barrydale • Baviaanskloof • Bergville & Northern Drakensberg • Betty's Bay • Bonnievale • Bredasdorp • Caledon • Calitzdorp • Calvinia • Cape Agulhas & Struisbaai • Cape Peninsula & Surrounds • Cape St Francis & St Francis Bay • Ceres • Citrusdal • Clanwilliam & Cederberg • Clarens • Colesberg • Darling • De Rust • Dullstroom • East London • Elands Bay • Franschhoek • Gansbaai • George • Grabouw & Elgin Valley • Grahamstown • Greyton • Hermanus • Hogsback • Jeffreys Bay • Knysna • Ladismith • Laingsburg • Langebaan • Magaliesberg • Malgas • Matjiesfontein • McGregor • Montagu • Mossel Bay • Napier • Nature's Valley • Nelspruit • Nieu-Bethesda • Oudtshoorn • Paarl • Paternoster • Piketberg • Plettenberg Bay • Port Alfred • Port Elizabeth • Porterville • Prince Albert • Pringle Bay, Betty's Bay and Kleinmond • Riebeek West & Riebeek-Kasteel • Riversdale • Robertson • Sedgefield • St Helena Bay • Stanford • Stellenbosch • Stilbaai • Storms River Mouth & Tsitsikamma • Sutherland • Swellendam • Tulbagh • Uniondale • Van Wyksdorp • Velddrif • Vermaaklikheid • Wakkerstroom • Wellington • Wild Coast • Wilderness • Winterton & Central Drakensberg • Witsand • Worcester & Hex Valley • Yzerfontein •