Garden Route

Aug 5, 2011   //   by Sam Wingate   //   Safaris  //  Comments Off on Garden Route

The combination of fine dining, sundowners in scenic seaside settings, excellent guesthouses and hotels, spectacular scenery and a diversity of things to see and do make the Garden Route one of South Africa’s most popular travel experiences.
The Garden Route includes the coastal area between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth as well as the Little Karroo along the R62 between Oudtshoorn and Cape Town. It is so called because of its unique flora known as fynbos, its great scenic value and also includes South Africa’s largest indigenous forested area from Knysna stretching eastwards. Apart from the wondrous landscapes and spectacular coastline, there is so much to see and do in and around the quaint and arty little towns including adventure and leisure activities, restaurants, bars, shopping, art galleries and craft markets.
Hermanus is the whale capital of South Africa and a very attractive coastal town on the Garden Route with beautiful cliffs and and beaches. There are many good shops and restaurants, great walks along the cliffs to see whales and activities that include whale watching cruises and other marine and aquatic sports. The whale season is between May and December.
Knysna is one of the popular coastal towns along the Garden Route. Visit the Heads and Knysna Lagoon at sunset for remarkable views and the Waterfront for dining and shopping. There are nearby beaches and activities like hiking and cycling trails in the forests and along the coastal areas.
Plettenberg Bay is a very popular seaside holiday destination with great beaches and close to Robberg Peninsula and Nature Reserve, a unique coastal attraction that should be included on every Garden Route itinerary.
Tsitsikamma National Park is a marine reserve with a stunning coastline and indigenous forested slopes. It is located 200 kms southwest of Port Elizabeth. South Africa’s most popular 5 day hiking trail, the Otter Trail, is located in this reserve and the first 3 kms from the main visitor area along this Trail will lead you to a waterfall that plunges into the sea. There is a swing bridge over the Storms River and a hike up to a lookout point to stretch your muscles and see dolphins and whales in season. Close by is the Bloukrans Bridge which offers the highest bungee jump in the world at 216 metres.
Oudtshoorn is located in the Little Karoo and attracts many visitors fascinated by its Ostrich Farms, the spectacular dripstone formations in the Cango Caves and the relaxed atmosphere and architecture of this lovely farming town. Oudtshoorn offers a different flavour and experience to most other Garden Route attractions.
Other Garden Route attractions include the coastal areas between Cape Town and Mossel Bay such as Pringle Bay, Betty’s Bay, Arniston, De Hoop Nature Reserve and Witsand, Wilderness lake district between Knysna and George, Jeffrey’s Bay, Cape St. Francis and St. Francis Bay near Port Elizabeth, and the beautiful mountains, quaint hamlets and fruity wine farms along the R62 between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn.
The Cape Floral Region is a World Heritage Site that covers 5,530 sq. kms stretching from the Cape Peninsula to the Eastern Cape and comprises eight protected areas in the Western Cape province of which Cape Town is the capital. It is one of the richest vegetation areas in the world, containing 20% of Africa’s flora on less than 0.5% of its surface area. The vegetation, known as Fynbos, is unique to this region and its diversity, density and endemism are among the highest in the world. The Fynbos flora is of outstanding scientific value for its adaptations to fire and radiation, reproductive strategies, patterns of seed dipersal by insects and its rate of endemism and was declared a World Heritage Site for its natural importance.
Few people leave the Garden Route feeling disappointed with their choice of holiday.

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