& Accommodation Guide to South Africa
a trip down the Garden Route, visit the Klein Karoo & Eastern Cape,
Travel and Accommodation Guide
Garden Route, South Africa - Travel Guide
Dramatic river cut gorges, beautiful
beaches, rocky headlands and deep tangled forests are the quintessential
Route images. Stretching from anywhere between Stilbaai and
Bay in the west, to Stormsriver or Port Elizabeth (PE) in the east,
it's a gorgeous stretch of coastal paradise strung out along the N2. Purists
will squash it up between Mossel
Bay and Stormsriver but, as the popularity of the Garden Route
grew and small towns at its edge realised the marketing potential, it just
seemed to spread.
The towns generally accepted
to be part of the Garden Route are Mossel
Bay and Stormsriver.
Stilbaai and Albertinia
have snuck in on the West and Humansdorp and even Port
Elizabeth are muscling in from the east.
the Little Karoo and Route 62, which
have no pretensions to being the Garden Route, are often treated as the
same destination, as it's pretty easy zigzag between them by driving the
many scenic passes over the Outeniqua Mountains. Initially the Garden Route
was seen as very much a beach and/or family holiday destination, which
it is, but there is also so much to do. There's great hiking, with rambles
ranging from an hour to a few days covering rocky coasts, deep forests,
pretty fynbos and long sandy beaches. The diving is good, as is the surfing,
and there are some fun sea kayaking and flat water paddling trips. Some
of the country's best mountain bike trails snake through the forests, and
there are horse trails for every taste and level of ability. Tandem skydiving,
paragliding, and a range of scenic flights all offer different birds eye
Garden Route offers some of the best boat based whale watching in the world,
flower lovers and birders will also have a field day traipsing off through
the forest or the fynbos, and there are numerous national parks and nature
reserves. For the more culturally inclined, there are township tours, museums,
lovely old buildings, funky craft shops, markets, art galleries and loads
of live music venues. And, of course, a flotilla of great restaurants -
many of which specialise in seafood - in each town.
The Garden Route is a golfer's
dream destination - you could play a different course every day for a week
and still have a few left over. There are more international standard polo
fields in Plett
alone than there are in the rest of the country put together. You could
spend anything from a weekend to a month at a tailor-made polo clinic.
But what the Garden Route
is most suitable for is relaxation - and even that's been somewhat institutionalised
with almost every second hotel housing a wellness centre or spa. Not that
that's a problem, mind. After a hard day on the beach you'll probably need
a chocolate mud bath, colour therapy or hot stone massage.
Bay Featured Accommodation:
Bay Game Reserve, Accommodation & Safaries, PLETTENBERG BAY
beautiful Plett Accommodation is a historic and charming colonial-style
Safari Lodge that was built in the early 1800s by Baron Joachim von Plettenberg,
an early South African pioneer and conservationist.
River Lodge, PLETTENBERG BAY
River Lodge offers stunning accommodation situated right on the Bitou River,
just 5 km from Plettenberg Bay, one of the top holiday destinations on
the beautiful Garden Route of South Africa's Western Cape.
The stunning Garden Route runs
from South Africa’s most popular tourist destination, Cape Town, for 800
km along the scenic coastline between this city and Port Elizabeth. The
area enjoys a Mediterranean maritime climate and the trip is regarded as
one of the world’s truly classic coastal drives.
Drives - The Garden Route, South Africa by Rod Ritchie
As you drive along the well-forested
coastal plain, you’ll find freshwater lakes, lovely lagoons filled with
water birds, indigenous forests of giant yellowwood trees and fields covered
in colourful wildflowers. It’s easy to see why visitors are drawn to this
beautiful region year-round.
of the highlights of a drive along the Garden Route is a stop at the sleepy
coastal town of
Hermanus near the southern-most tip of Africa. The
town is situated next to a 12-km path that runs along the cliff top, right
next to the ocean. From May to December, pods of Southern Right Whales
swim to within 20 metres of the cliff as they travel along the coast.
The more adventurous traveller
can try some heart-stopping shark cage diving, sea kayaking, abseiling,
scuba diving, sand boarding, and paragliding. Those looking for something
more relaxing to do can visit the vineyards in a nearby valley and do the
short drive to the southernmost tip of Africa, where the Atlantic Ocean
meets the Indian Ocean.
You will have to drive inland
to visit Oudtshoorn, which was built in the early 1800s, in the
centre of the Klein Karoo, a semi-desert area wedged between the
coastal mountains to the south and the spectacular Swartberg mountain range
to the north. The town was the world capital of the Ostrich feather industry
during Victorian times, and many grand houses from that era are still standing
today. There’s plenty to do in Oudtshoorn – you can try riding an ostrich
at an ostrich farm, take a tour through the magnificent Cango Caves that
stretch for kilometres throughout the mountains, visit the vineyards, and
even stroke a Cheetah at Cheetahland.
Back on coast, the Garden
Route takes you to George, located on a 10-km plateau that runs
from the majestic Outeniqua Mountain to the Indian Ocean. Besides enjoying
whale watching, surfing, swimming, scuba diving and paragliding, you’ll
find three of South Africa’s top golf courses are also located here. The
Fancourt Golf Estate is especially popular, with an 18-hole course designed
by Gary Player, a golf academy, exclusive hotel and conference centre,
restaurants, and numerous sporting facilities.
Further along the coast toward
Elizabeth is the town of Knysna, also a very popular tourist
destination. This laid-back town is situated between a lush indigenous
forest, home to the last of the forest-dwelling elephants in Africa, and
a beautiful lagoon teeming with birds and other wildlife. The oysters grown
in this unpolluted lagoon are among the tastiest in the world. The closest
beach is in nearby Buffalo Bay, a favourite spot for fishing, surfing and
swimming, as well as whale and dolphin watching. The entire area surrounding
Knysna, with its incredible biological richness and beauty, is a paradise
for the eco-traveller, with plenty of places to camp, hike, canoe, kayak,
and observe the unique wildlife.
At Plettenberg Bay, there
are ten important nature reserves as well as marine reserves. The endangered
Southern Right Whale calves in the bay from July to December, and seals
and dolphins live here all year round. In the bay you can snorkel and scuba
dive on unique soft coral reefs, and on the beach you’ll find a wide range
of water sports on offer, including fishing, surfing, swimming and sailing.
Nearby, there are superb hiking and mountain biking trails, horse riding,
kayaking and canoeing in scenic Nature’s Valley and Stormsriver.
Your drive along the Garden
Route ends in Port Elizabeth, on the shores of beautiful Algoa Bay.
Strewn along the South East
Coast of Africa lie hidden a shoreline of secret coves and enchanting forests
that envelope the magical Garden Route. Starting in trendy Cape Town the
Garden Route takes you on a scenic journey through picture perfect beaches
and unspoilt wilderness and ending off in the miniature coastal city, Port
Elizabeth. Visitors from across the globe flock to our shores all year
round to experience this road trip of a lifetime.
Of The Garden Route by Kim Mobey
The Sights and Scents
The Garden Route is a ten
day vacation ride on a guided tour safari, stopping at lazy beaches, seaside
resorts and tiny seaside villages encircled with wild flowers in all the
colours of the rainbow.
Whether you're a tree-hugger,
bird fanatic or just looking for a peaceful time away from city buzz, the
Garden Route has got to be priority on your holiday to-do list. The constant
Mediterranean climate of the Garden Route allows it to be a perfect getaway
destination in both summer and winter. In summer the forests are fresh
and green and most of the wild flowers have already started blooming. Though
much more visitors are expected in the warmer seasons, the mild winters
are just as beautiful with the sweet sounds of the birds and the scent
of unpolished soil just dampened from the drizzle, an ideal place to meditate.
The coastline which escorts
the Garden Route lies parallel to a series of enigmatic lakes, majestic
mountains and amber coloured rivers that stream close to the mountain like
minuscule pathways. Three of the countries most infamous hiking trails
are founded here: The Tsitsikamma, The Dolphin Trail and The Otter Trail.
The twisty hiking trails mysterious appearance leaves room for plenty adventure.
The guided tour safari also
takes you on a land cruise to the world's best whale watching destination,
Hermanus, which boasts some of the most scenic roads in the country. You'll
stop to enjoy some fine food and wine at the Cape Winelands and then pass
the ostrich capital of the world, Oudtshoorn, before you eat your way through
as much oysters as you can in Knysna, and witness the unbelievable sights
at the Tsitiskamma National Park.
If you don't want to be restricted
to a planned pleasure trip you may also opt for a Self Drive Safari where
you have the freedom to explore the Garden Route at your own pace. There
is no disadvantage to self drive safari's as South Africa has well constructed
roads and excellent mobile phone network coverage, on the contrary self
drive safari's have become even more popular than guided tours as visitors
that travel the Garden Route want to be free from a planned itinerary since
there are still so much sights and scents that remain uncovered.
The distance from Cape Town
to Port Elizabeth is an estimated 769km but that doesn't mean that you're
going to complete the trip within 12 hours. There are plenty of stops you
can grab a quick bite to eat or even sit down and dine, and if you're keen
on staying the night (or two) there is an endless list of cosy little guest
The Top Four Attractions
Pack your travel bag with
your camera to capture all the memorable sights the Garden Route has to
offer. There are four main attractions that are essential for all Garden
The Cango Caves exceeds man's
expectation of a natural beauty. This fortress of corridors and dripstone
formations is the result of a geological flaw in the Swartberg Mountains,
formed by the merging of hundreds of thousands of years of time, water
and natural chemistry. Many of the hallways and caves still stand exactly
as it was when created and they all carry dreamy descriptive labels such
as the Organ Pipes, which is the mirror image of an actual organ.
Next stop: A hearty meal
in the bubbly forest of Monkeyland. Its is an innovative primate sanctuary
set up in an untouched natural forest that homes chimpanzees and ape species
from all over the world. It's unique in it being the only location in the
world where you are able to have your café latte while watching
the primates playing. Visitors leave this thrilling venture always coming
back for more.
The Elephant Park
There is a sad history about
the Knysna Elephants, but one you will only learn on your Elephant Safari.
Situated in the heart of the Garden Route, the Elephant Park is home to
the world's southernmost elephants as well as South Africa's resident elephants,
and with the help of your tour guide you will be well informed about the
differences between these two species. Get a panoramic view of the lush
native and exotic forests as you roam on elephant back. Guided nature walks
alongside these humble mammals are also available for those afraid of heights.
Be Part Of The Experience
The best part of the Garden
Route is that there are accommodation spots in almost every tourist attraction
location. Apart from Knysna, the heart of the Garden Route, Montagu is
at the top of our list of stunning places to stay. It is rich in rock formations
and is best known for its hot mineral springs. Other top resorts include
Swellendam, a rural Cape Dutch town, Hermanus, the little town on the coast
where whales flock to each year, and Plettenberg Bay, known to the locals
as the best beach in the Western Cape.
So whether it's a family
break you're planning, a romantic getaway or honeymoon, connect with a
travel operator that knows the area and make sure to experience the South
African Garden Route. It's a treasure...