Our South Africa itinerary started with the scenic Panorama Route came to an end .From Johannesburg we took the plane to Port Elizabeth to enjoy the Garden Route. Here we see a very different South Africa. The rugged coastline with its countless bays, beaches, cliffs, and caves connects one resort to another. The 227 km long coastline brings you to Cape Town.
South Africa itinerary: Garden Route
Our South africa itinerary starts near Storms River with "The Big Tree". There you’ll find a big tree that’s more than 800 years old. There is a wooden path through the woods so you can make a nice walk here. It seems that you have to pay nowadays to make the walk. It's only 36 rand (+/- 2 euro).
We stayed at The Quiet Secret, now renamed Tsitsikamma village Inn. An incredibly charming hotel consisting of a lawn surrounded by white houses with colored roofs. It's very quiet and you're staying in the middle of the forest. Take a walk or enjoy the tranquility of the terrace in front of your house.
Tsitsikamma national Park
A visit to this park is a must during your South African roadtrip. The park extends over a length of 80 km along the Indian Ocean. The rugged coastline is regularly interrupted by an idyllic beach. For divers it’s a paradise.
In the park are two popular walks, Tsitsikamma Trail and Otter Trail. We took the short walk to the Storms River Mouth Suspension Bridge. A 77-meter-long suspension bridge that goes over the Storms River.
Plettenberg and Knysna
After the park you pass Plettenberg Bay, the Miami of South Africa. Beautiful villas, fancy hotels, terraces. Nice for a quick stop or a fancy lunch.
Try to stop around noon in Knysna. The heads are two dramatic cliffs that seem to guard the entrance of the lagoon. The view is spectacular. If you love oysters, you have to go to one of the many restaurants and taste the delicious oysters. Are you in Knysna during the first two weeks of July, you have to go to the Oyster Festival.
One of the top things to do during your Garden Route itinerary is a boattrip on the lagoon. Knysna is said to be the most beautiful town along the Garden Route in South Africa. Make sure to make a tour on Thesen Island. If I had to move to South Africa I would come over here.
In the village of George you can make a trip on an old steam train with the delightful name of "Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe”. The route runs along the coast and gives you a completely different view of the surroundings. The train crossing the bridge ensures beautiful pictures.
Update August 2019: it seems the train it's not possible to take the train currently. The new owner is working hard to get the train back on track. Check the Outenique Choo Tjoe site before your trip.
Oudtshoorn, Ostrich Capital
Oudtshoorn is the capital of the Little Karoo and the ostrich capital of the world. From 1900 till 1915, the feather boa was very popular among the rich and famous. Ostrich farmers built huge houses that were often called feather palaces. In the region you can find a few examples. Certainly visit one of the many ostrich farms during your Garden Route itinerary. Safari Ostrich Farm is the largest, but the Cango Ostrich Farm on the road to the Cango Caves is also very nice. Daredevils (less than 80 kg) can even take a ride on an ostrich. If you're looking for a nice souvenir, I think a painted ostrich egg is a must. You have all the kitsch versions, but some eggs are true works of art.
The Cango Caves are located at the foot of the Swartberg Pass. It’s a magical underground world. They are by far the most beautiful caves I've ever seen so I think it's a must on your South Africa itineray.
Cango Wildlife Ranch is a cheetah and crocodile park that is part of the Cheetah Conservation Foundation, which was established in 1993 to protect the cheetah.
For those interested here a short lesson in biology:
- A cheetah is not the same as a leopard.
- The cheetah is smaller and more athletic while a leopard is much stronger.
- They also have different marks.
- Panther is yet another name for leopard and a black panther is not a cougar.
- A mountain lion has no spots and actually belongs more to the lions.
- A jaguar looks like a leopard but is much larger and has larger spots.
Again, stayed in the cutest hotel, The Rosenhof Country Lodge. It was one of the best hotels during our trip. During our next trip to South Africa we will stay here again! I wonder if it will meet our expectations. It still gets very good recommandations.
Note: in the meanwhile we returned to The Rosenhof Country Lodge and it met all expectations. it's still an amazing place. There even was a bottle of champagne and a nice note to welcome us again. My parents and kids also fell in love with the place. Our youngest son (9 at the time) was sitting on the porch with my husband and said 'dad, I am so happy to be yiour child, otherwise I wouldn't have been here'.
The next ride on our South Africa itinerary takes us to Cape Agulhaas , the southernmost tip of Africa. The environment here is quite rough and bare. The lighthouse serves as a museum.
In Mossel Bay you can post a card at the Post Office Tree. In the days of colonial rulers and when European navigators sailed the world's oceans, they often stopped here. In Mossel Bay a Portuguese admiral built a chapel. Sailors were able to fill their vessels with fresh water from the local source. They put their mail in the hollow trunk of the Milkwood Tree. A passing ship took the letters back home.
We stayed here at The Eight Bells Mountain inn. A really charming hotel. On our next visit to South Africa we will visit it again.
For wine lovers, this region is the highlight. Villages such as Swellendam and Franschhoek seem like open-air museums, and you see one winery after another. During another trip we took the opportunity to discover the best winteries of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.
Whale Watching in Hermanus
If you travel between July and November, then Hermanus is an absolute must. According to WWF, Hermanus is one of the 12 best places in the world to see whales. Even from the coast you have a nearly 100% chance of seeing whales. Book a trip with a boat, or even more adventurous, a kayak to see these giants up close. For me this was one of the highlights of the trip. I didn't manage to take a nice picture, so the picture below isn't mine. But the view of a giant whale jumping out of the ocean is forever on my mind.
Cape Town Area
You are now approaching the charismatic Cape Town at the foot of Table Mountain. The view would be fabulous from the top, but during our stay it was far too foggy. During every visit to Cape Town the Table Mountain was covered with clouds so during our last visit we decided to take a helicopterflight. That was a good idea as it was the highlight of our South Africa itinerary. It's amazing to see everything from above.
Cape Town is a vibrant city with many great restaurants. For our next trip we will definitely try to get a table at The Test Kitchen. Currently, it is at number 22 in the list of 'The World's Best Restaurants'. A good alternative is The Short Market Club by the same chef. Seemingly equally tasty, but a little more casual.
Spend the evening at Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. It is the most visited place in South Africa and is in the historic heart of Cape Town. In this harbor are restaurants, hotels and cafes, and from here the boats depart for Robben Island. Back then it was just open for visitors and we could not get a ticket. So I really look forward to visiting it soon (during our trip in 2017 we made it over there)
From Cape Town it is a short drive to the Cape of Good Hope. Here the Atlantic merges into the Indian Ocean. Many ships wrecked here when rounding the cape. In fact, there is little to see, but it's such a historic place that it is still worth a visit.
Another fun stop is Boulders Beach in Simon's Town. On this beach you will find the only colony of African penguins. They are protected and you are not allowed to disturb the animals, but for a small price you can walk on the beach. 20 years ago you could walk on the beach itself but nowadays you have to follow a wooden path. That's a good idea as it would be a shame if the pinguins left because of the many tourists.
After over 2 weeks our South Africa itinerary came to an end. Words fail to describe its beauty. My advice: go and see!
We took a short flight to Zimbabwe to visit one of the most favorite attractions of our bucket list.
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