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Garden Route

Driving along this famous route takes you to the beautiful landscapes along South Africa’s south coast through a number of very different destinations between the long stretched Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma mountains and the Indian Ocean. It has the reputation of being one of the world’s most beautiful stretches of coastline, while the climate is very mild, with winter temperatures seldom dropping below 10oC and summer temperatures rarely climbing over 28oC. Originally the name applied only to the stretch between the town of Mossel Bay and the mouth of the Storms River in Tsitsikamma National Park. 

In practise the name is now used for the whole tour of around 800 km from Cape Town in the west to Port Elizabeth in the east, as these two cities often act as the starting or finishing point of the route, whether it is undertaken as a guided tour in a bus, or a self-drive holiday. The name come from the beautiful wild flowers that can been seen here, especially during the spring from September to November. There is almost an endless number of beautiful places to visit, but some of the highlights starting from Cape Town in the west are:

   •      The harbour town of Mossel Bay, which is a popular holiday destination with an attractive, historic town center. Here you can find a fine museum which has a replica of Bartholomeu Diaz´s ship, which was the first to sail around the Cape of Good Hope on the way to the east. Diaz took his first steps on the south coast of Africa just here. It is also possible to take a short boat ride out to Seal Island, a small island which is home to over 2,500 Cape fur seals.

   •      The town of Oudtshoorn further inland, is the center of ostrich farming, an activity that brings both meat and ostrich feathers to the market. Near the town you can find the impressively beautiful limestone Cango Caves, which runs for over 4 km into the mountains. Only around one quarter of the cave system is open for guided tours.

   •      The town of  George near the sea is also a popular holiday destination, and has a popular shopping center. You can find a number of fantastic  golf courses near the town, which also has an attractive botanical garden featuring many of the local plant specialities.

  •                 The town of Wilderness is surrounded by long, white sandy beaches and inland lagoons. The local Wilderness National Park protects the district’s forests, rivers, lakes, lagoons and part of the coast, together with the rich avifauna found here. In is possible to enjoy some lovely bicycle-, canoe-, and walking tours in the park.

If you have the time it is certainly worth driving the route in both directions, varying it slightly, as there is more than enough to see, and plenty of lovely places to stay. You could make short detours to some of the fine, privately owned safari reserves along the way, such as Sanbona which is closest to Cape Town and Shamwari , Amakhala or Sibuya which are closer to Port Elizabeth. The lovely Addo Elephant National Park also lies close to the route, north of Port Elizabeth. If you have ever had the wish to see whales and/or dolphins you can make it come true in Hermanus or Kleinbaai east of Cape Town, while the wine district of Stellenbosch north east of Cape Town can delight your palate with its great wines and excellent meals served in charming small hotels. If you enjoy more action-packet activities you can find some of the world’s highest Bungee Jumps along the route and many good surfing beaches.


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