The beauty of South Africa has to be seen to be believed. Having recently returned from a 10 day whirlwind trip from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, our Africa Product Manager, Naomi explains why she has now created a trip of South Africa’s Garden Route that you can discover.
Our trip started in Cape Town, where modern glass office blocks meet smaller colonial houses, all hemmed in by cloud-topped mountains. There are plenty of places to enjoy food, drink and take in the city vibe; the Victoria and Albert Waterfront has a great atmosphere. The Kloof Street area, my personal favourite, offers a more relaxed vibe but it’s frequented by locals and tourists alike. Cape Town is full of worthwhile experiences whether you hike or ride the cable car to enjoy Table Top Mountain’s fantastic views with a picnic, or enjoy a Robben Island excursion where you can learn about Nelson Mandela’s political imprisonment.
The Western Cape, famous for its vineyards, produces world-famous wines as well as smaller, independent labels. Stellenbosch is picture perfect, with many well-manicured wine estates and plenty of opportunity to sample the local produce! It’s well worth visiting some of the local vineyards, in many wineries the tastings are even accompanied by delicious cheeses and meats.
Moving eastwards we made our way along a bumpy, sand track, where we found our unusual Swellendam lodging, Round the Bend; so-called for its location on the Breede River. With optional activities, welcoming local staff, and a home-cooked meal around the fire pit under a starry sky. Each cabin has its own shower room and mosquito nets included. The river view at sunrise shows how close to nature this accommodation is; I thoroughly enjoyed my morning coffee just watching the river in the changing colours of the morning light.
South Africa’s Garden Route offers ever-changing landscapes and views; it’s incredible how much variety there is. From the lush, green region of the Breede area, to dry and dusty Little Karoo on the way to Oudtshoorn, home to the limestone Cango Caves. In this desert terrain, orange and brown hues glow in the heat and you can enjoy watching ostriches. Travelling on towards Knysna the views change again from sandy and barren land to the rugged beaches, blue sea and lagoons. There are also a few mountain passes en route just to highlight the differences.
Entering into the Eastern Cape Province, Tsitsikamma National Park was my next stop along the Garden Route and what a show-stopper. Staying in chalets dotted around the forest where the trees meet the sea, Storms River mouth is a gorgeous spot to enjoy the Indian Ocean; with walks of varying grades and a spectacular spot to watch the sunset. There are many optional activities to try including a canopy tour in Tsitsikamma’s giant Yellowwood trees and even kayaking.
The final leg of the journey goes to Addo Elephant National Park. With over 600 elephants, they can often be spotted by the waterholes, bathing in the mud and shallow waters. Despite the name, there are many other wildlife species within the park - we spotted zebras, warthogs, kudu and vervet monkeys but the park is also home to lion, buffalo, spotted hyenas and the very elusive leopard. Experiences such as these will make you love South Africa all the more.
Our new South Africa’s Garden Route trip is now available to book with departures in 2019. Alternatively, if you’re looking to travel to South Africa sooner then consider our Cape Escape adventure.
If you are looking for something a little more active, our Cycle the Cape trip is a great option to see this beautiful country by bike.