Tsitsikamma, an ancient Khoi word for ‘place of abundant or sparkling water’, perfectly describes the lush and lovely region surrounding of this tiny, eponymous village. It is a place of craggy peaks, secret beaches and temperate rain forest, where giant podocarpus yellowwoods tower high above deep gorges and tranquil black-water pools.
On your bike
The existing Storms River MTB route follows the main road through the tiny Storms River Village from the Tsitsikamma Village Inn. At the national parks gate you have to fill in a permit (in the box next to the gate), before banging down the steep and winding 5km descent winding to the Storms River below. The low-water bridge is a great place for a swim but watch out for strong currents if the river is high. On the descent down the pass beware of water humps across the road; they’re not high but are steep enough to buck you off.
The climb from the river and onto the coastal bluff is a hard 2km crank, but then the gradient levels out onto the plateau. Take a sharp right and traverse the pine plantations following the MTB route markers for a few kilometres of flat riding. Don’t miss the viewpoint over the Storms River Mouth and Tsitsikamma National Park. The return trail cuts through a mature plantation and eventually rejoins the original route for the arduous 5km climb back to the trailhead.
For anyone looking for more riding that’s also accessible to the whole family or beefed up for more time in the saddle, I’d head to the Misty Mountain Reserve, literally a stone’s throw away from Storms River Village. The best news is that three of their trails actually link up with the route described above, so you’ll get the best of both worlds!
Misty Mountain Reserve not only offer a range of activities and superb accommodation – they also have four well marked and colour coded MTB trails. The trails range from an easy 8.7km Forest Meander to a daunting 65km Classic.
The whole family can set off on the 8.7km yellow Forest Meander; there’s no technical riding and no hills, just joy as you meander past the dam and through the plantations. If you don’t want to miss out on that breath-taking view over the Storms River Mouth, then you should opt for the 15km orange Look Out Adventure trail. This trail is still very accessible to fit beginner riders as there is no technical sections and just some rolling hills.
The 31km blue Family Epic rates as moderate and will take you all the way to the Storms River Village where you can relax and have lunch, a coffee or a taste of the local brew before heading back. The route combines undulating hills, the stunning view over Storms River Mouth and a few loose rock sections.
Finally, for the big boys and girls, there is the 65km black MTB Classic. This trail combines all of the above plus an extra 35km including steep ravines, rocky sections and some technical cranking. Please do note that the Black MTB Classic trail may be closed due to logging activity, so do contact Misty Mountain Reserve before setting your heart on this one!
Off the bike
Misty Mountain Reserve is the perfect spot to kick back and enjoy the many splendours and adventures this part of our coastline has to offer. Go hiking or fishing or try your hand, or should I say foot, at Wedge and Foot Golf! Be warned though… the accommodation and ocean views are fantastic, so you might just sit and stare…
Storms River Village is a charming hamlet surrounded by temperate, indigenous forest and pine plantations, offering a host of adventures from tree-top canopy tours and day hikes to black-water tubing. A short drive takes you to the Garden Route National Park, amazing Storms River Mouth and start of the legendary Otter Trail. Face Adrenaline also offers the world’s highest bungee jump at Bloukrans Bridge.
Best Time of Year:
A mild climate all year round allows you to make the most of these trails throughout the year. Keep in mind that the high rainfall means you’ll get wet and muddy.
How to Get There:
Start and finish at the Misty Mountain Reserve: From Cape Town, cross the Storms Rive Bridge on the N2 and look out for the Blue Lillies Bush turnoff to your right. (On your left and just before you reach the Storms River Bridge if you are coming from Port Elizabeth.) Drive for 1.7km and turn right towards Blue Lillies Bush at the T-junction. Follow this road for 2.2km before turning left at the Misty Mountain Reserve sign. Your destination is another 2.6km down the road.
Start and finish in Storms River Village (not to be confused with Storms River Mouth): From the N2, turn off to Storms River Village (154km from PE and 75km from Plettenberg Bay). Follow this road into the village.
More info: www.stormsriver.com
Tel: +27 (0)42 281 1836
GPS: Misty Mountain Reserve: 34° 01′ 25.71″ S / 23° 56′ 56.30″ E
Storms River Village: 33° 58′ 25.73″ S / 23° 53′ 20.33″ E