We didn’t count them, but a friendly Storms River Mouth kayak tour guide at the bottom of the steps assures us he has. We take his word for it as we are too captivated by our picturesque surroundings to bother to count.
Where is Storms River Mouth?
You’ll find this small slice of Eden in the Tsitsikamma section of South Africa’s Garden Route National Park. Here lush carpets of evergreen indigenous forests and delicate fynbos roll down to the edge of rocky cliffs that tumble into the Indian Ocean.
And the Suspension Bridge?
You’ll find the suspension bridge in 3 parts at the end of the Storms River Mouth Trail.
The journey to the bridge and back is an easy two kilometres along a winding boardwalk. Indeed, there are many steps along the way, but there are plenty of spots to stop and admire the view.
According to the Sanparks website, the hike should take about 40 minutes. That is, if you don’t stop to smell the pelargoniums and soak in the views as we did, then expect it to take you at least three hours.
Hiking the Storms River Mouth Trail
A couple of thin clouds streak across the blue dome of the sky. Its brilliant blue mirrored on a calm ocean. It’s a perfect day for the short Storms River Mouth hike, not too hot and not too cold.
After a couple of false starts, we find the right trail. The beginning of the Mouth Trail isn’t well marked, so if you do the hike, keep to your left until you find a staircase leading up the side of a rock.
We pass a small trickling waterfall and enter the indigenous forest. Dappled light streams through the canopy highlighting tiny white and yellow flowers littering the forest floor on one side of the boardwalk steps. And on the other, tree-framed window views of the Indian Ocean below become more breathtakingly beautiful the higher we climb.
And when we’re genuinely breathless, there are frequent landings with benches to rest upon and admire the views.
But it is the view from the top that stops us in our tracks.
We sit on a step for a while and savour the natural beauty surrounded by the lemony, spicy fragrance of flowering pink and white pelargoniums on each side of the boardwalk. Birds call to each other in the forest, underscored by the gentle whisper of the ocean far below us. And in the ocean swells below us, a pod of dolphins surfs past.
Eventually, we rouse ourselves and descend a steep stairway to the main 77-meter-long suspension bridge—a seemingly delicate and insubstantial gossamer thread across the dark reddish-brown tea-coloured waters of the Storms River.
Hang on a Second! Does that Mean the Rivers are Polluted?
At first, I thought the dark reddish-brown tea colour meant that all rivers in the Tsitsikamma area were polluted, but I later found out this tea-stained colour is caused by the high tannin content of the surrounding vegetation.
Storms River Suspension Bridge
It turns out that the bridge isn’t as flimsy as it looks from a distance, but still, I take a deep breath and cross my fingers as I step out onto it.
We pause in the middle of the bridge, only seven meters above the rushing water, to watch a flotilla of kayakers negotiate their way into the Storms River Mouth and upriver into a sheer-sided ravine. We want to linger, but the bridge can only hold 25 people, so we cross over to allow the next group of people across.
But there’s more…
The trail continues to a lookout point on the other side of the bridge. But one look at this almost vertical climb and lazy me declines.
Instead, we relax on the rocks next to a small pebble beach. We bask in the sun’s warmth and savour the magnificent beauty of the green cliffs towering above us.
While the alternating whoosh and rumble of pebbles rolling in the waves transports us into a state of wordless bliss!
Until my stomach rumbles, and I regret not packing a picnic basket for our hike. It’s time to leave paradise and retrace our route across the bridge and down the 1014 steps to the parking lot.
Well, it is mostly down except for a big up when you leave the suspension bridge. And most definitely worth the effort despite the large number of stairs. We’ll be back!
Have you walked the Storms River Mouth Trail? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below. And if by any chance you counted the steps, was the Kayak Guide right? Are there really 1014 steps to the Storms River Suspension Bridge?
And If you’re looking for more hikes in the pristine coastal wilderness of Storms River Mouth, click this link to read about our misery and elation on the Storms River Waterfall Trail.
Storms River Mouth Trail Know Before You Go
Nature’s Beauty Isn’t Free!
There is a daily conservation fee payable at the Storms River Park entrance. Until the end of October 2023, the daily rate is:
- R70.00 for South African Citizens and Residents
- R 140.00 for SADC Nationals
- R280.00 for International Visitors.
But if you have a Wildcard, you don’t have to pay conservation fees.
And don’t forget to take identification with you.
The park gates open at 8 am and close at 5 pm for day visitors, so make sure to allow enough time to do the hike.
There will be Weather.
Be prepared for significant changes in the weather no matter what time of year you visit. There is a reason this area is known as the Cape of Storms.
Despite setting out on a glorious sunny day, by the time we got back to our cottage in the rest camp, our perfect day had vanished, and a bitterly cold wind was whipping up a storm out at sea.
So, I recommend you wear layers you can easily peel off and tie around your body.
Treat Yourself. Book into the Storms River Rest Camp
You won’t regret it.
Let the sound of the ocean on the doorstep lull you to sleep at night. From your cottage, you can watch dolphins surf the waves and sip a sundowner while the sun sets over the ocean.
The walk to the suspension bridge is very popular and can get pretty crowded from mid-morning until late afternoon. So beat the crowds and get an early start from your cottage.
We booked into a forest cabin for a couple of nights. The forest was behind our cabin, and our patio looked out over the ocean. It was a sublime couple of days. And if you would like to know more, why not read our 5 reasons to escape to Storms River Mouth Rest Camp?
And Don’t Forget …
The sun along this coastline has a fierce bite, so make sure to wear plenty of sunscreen.
Wear good walking shoes and layer your clothing.
Take along a full water bottle – this hike is thirsty work.
Pack a small, lightweight picnic basket if you plan to take it slow as we did.
And a swimming costume. There is a lovely sandy beach at the end of the hike but be warned that the water temperature is bracing.
Book your stay online at Sanparks, and take advantage of their 5% discount for online bookings.
DISCLOSURE: I have no commercial relationship with Sanparks or any of their affiliates. All photographs, experiences and opinions expressed in this blog post are my own.