Going off the beaten track
down South Africa's Garden Route
When traveling down the splendiforous
Garden Route from the Western to the Eastern Cape of South Africa, there
are many magnificent sights and scenes to be experienced. Officially
starting at lovely Mossel Bay, some feel that the route actually begins
at the city of Cape Town.
Along the N2 highway, we visit
lovely coastal towns like Mossel Bay itself, Knysna, Wilderness and Plettenberg
Escapes offers some great holiday options in the area including so
many charming locations, where sandy beaches, rocky outcrops, forests and
floral displays make for a wondrous journey down the Garden Route.
However, you may have done
it all before, and if its a case of "been there, done that, got the T-shirt"
for you, why not try something a little different, by heading off the beaten
track? Below are a couple of options:
Whale Nursery of South Africa
|When driving down from Cape
Town, after around 300 kilometres take a little detour and visit the tiny
village of Witsand. Witsand is perfect for a quieter beach holiday,
with some southern right whales thrown in for good measure!
In fact, while Hermanus in
the Overberg is possibly better known for land-based whale watching, Witsand
is considered to be the Whale Nursery of South Africa and they come back
every year to breed.
Located on San Sebastian
Bay, where the mighty Breede River meets the ocean, Witsand is perfect
for both land- and sea-based whale watching. A record number of these
magnificent animals migrate to San Sebastian Bay annually between June
and November and can be seen from the beach, out on the water or even from
your balcony at a local guesthouse.
Photo courtesy Whale
Southern Right Whale
|Not only whales are on offer,
however, as many activities are available in this lovely place. Land
and sea fishing, all the best watersports, dune surfing, a myriad of birds
for the birding enthusiast and so much more is available in Witsand.
For the latter, blue cranes, flamingoes, black oyster catchers and Cape
sugar birds are just a few of the birds on offer for those precious Kodak
For a historic experience,
head down to the Malgas Pont, close to the village, where you can experience
the last remaining hand-operated pontoon in the country at Malgas crossing
to the De Hoop Nature Reserve, and which is still in operation today.
The nature reserve is also
well worth visiting for its glorious "fynbos" or natural vegetation, including
the country's national flower, the Protea. You will also see plenty
of game running around.
|Klein Karoo/Route 62:
Another off-shoot from the
main drag, so to speak, is Route 62 and the Klein, or Little Karoo.
A scenic off-shoot from the N2 highway, this area has plenty to offer the
holidaymaker. including the fascinating town of Oudtshoorn.
If you have always had a
yen to ride an ostrich, here's your chance, as many of the ostrich farms
in the area offer this option to tourists.
Oudtshoorn is a major centre
for ostrich breeding in South Africa and this dates back from the old days
where ladies used to enjoy wearing those fabulous feather boas or a large
feather in their fancy hats.
Nowadays you can enjoy a
tasty ostrich steak or buy a decoratively painted ostrich egg to take home
Ostrich farm in Oudtshoorn
- photo CC-by-SA Reinderd Visser
Cango Caves - Photo
||Another fascinating stop
while in Oudtshoon and on Route 62 is, of course, the Cango Caves.
Nestled in the Precambrian limestones in the foothills of the Swartberg
range of mountains, they are an interesting visit indeed.
The main cave is one of the
finest to be seen in South Africa and attracts many overseas visitors,
but regrettably only about one quarter of the four kilometres of extensive
system of chambers and tunnels in the caves is open to the public.
However Cango Caves does
offer two different types of tours. The Standard Tour apparently
takes an hour, but if you are more of a daredevil, try the Adventure Tour,
where you crawl through narrow passages and then climb up steep rock formations,
lighting the way with only tiny helmet lights. This is probably not
for the claustrophic!
While on Route 62, do a little
wine tasting around the towns of Barrydale, Montagu, Ashton and Robertson,
where you can sample some of South Africa's best wines or, while in the
Ashton/Robertson area, see some beautiful thoroughbred horses on the horse
farms in the area.
Suffice to say there is so
much to do, both on the Garden Route
itself and close by on Route 62.
Set aside some time during your Cape Town holiday to visit.