The beautiful Panorama Route came to an end (read more about in part 1). From Johannesburg we take 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.
Near Storms River is "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. 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. 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 chose the last one. Here you have the Storms River Mouth Suspension Bridge. A 77-meter-long suspension bridge that goes over the Storms River.
After the park you pass Plettenberg Bay, the Miami of South Africa. Beautiful villas, fancy hotels, terraces. Nice for a quick stop.
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 the Knysna Oyster Company and taste the delicious oysters.
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.
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. 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.
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.
‘U is nou op die mees suidelijke punt van die vasteland van Afrika’
The next ride 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 get a ticket to the home stations 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. In April we will spend a few days in the region, and then I'll certainly be able to tell you much more about this beautifull part of the Cape.
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. Fortunately, we will soon be able to try again.
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.
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 to watch them closely.
After over 2 weeks our journey through South Africa 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. You can read more about this in Part 3.