The Garden Route
To many who have visited it, the Garden Route has a mysterious allure. A most unusual part of Africa, it is also the sunny corner of the Cape where evergreen forests, verdant fields, tranquil inland lakes, sparkling bays and pristine beaches languish in a sultry Mediterranean climate.
Stretching along the southern Cape coast from Heidelberg in the west to the Tsitsikamma Forest and Storms River in the east, the region’s entrance to the interior is barred by towering mountains breached by breathtaking passes and gorges.
The silence evoked by its ever-changing landscape carries on its still, fragrant, sea-scented air a sense of the spiritual
With so much of the Garden Route’s beauty unspoilt, visitors may feel they have been set free to play in God’s backyard. A well-developed tourist infrastructure has strung the region’s towns along its coast like a string of pearls.
In all of them, artists, writers, naturalists and nature lovers co-exist with those devoting their time and energies to catering to the whims and special fancies of the area’s year-round visitors.
And where the whales come to calve and mate in the many unspoiled bays. Importantly, it’s an area boasting two national parks – Tsitsikamma and Wilderness – as well as numerous other provincial and private nature reserves. A treasure trove of history, culture, food, sport and entertainment awaits you between Heidelberg and Plettenberg Bay. Indeed, the Garden Route is a veritable playground, offering every sport imaginable – from golf to scuba-diving, abseiling to mountain biking.
Beyond this, there are those unforgettable wild and lonely reaches that will touch your soul and revive your spirit
Oudtshoorn is the tourist capital of the Little Karoo and ostrich capital of South Africa with thousands of the beady-eyed birds all over the place. Big bodies but small brains, these long legged monsters eat pebbles to aid digestion and are particularly attracted to the odd earring or glinting necklace from unsuspecting tourists. At the turn of the century ostrich feathers were in such demand that the fashion conscious paid a premium and feathered the nests of the barons who built magnificent mansions known as ‘Feather Palaces’. This fine architecture can still be seen around the sedate and pleasant town.
There are some spectacular mountain passes with the Swartberg Pass the most sensational in South Africa. The wonderful twisted sedimentary layers of rock sport colours that look as if a painter were splashing about with his palate. The 24 km road has some awesome sheer drops and hair pin bends leading down to great echoing canyons.
Knysna is one of the Southern Cape coast’s best known holiday destinations, situated between lush forests and the shores of the peaceful lagoon – it offers many activities and attractions of a wide variety. The most well known attraction being the heads – two great sandstone cliffs guarding the mouth of the lagoon which connects the estuary with the sea. A lookout has been erected on the Eastern Head, commanding spectacular views of the lagoon, Leisure Isle and Knysna. The Western Head is a privately owned nature Reserve – Featherbed Bay. The Knysna Lagoon is one of the few places along the coast and in the world that supports a oyster hatchery. And the Knysna oysters are reputedly among the tastiest in the world
Originally christened “Bahia Formosa” (beautiful bay) by early Portuguese explorers, Plettenberg Bay can now be accessed by first class national roads, by sea or by scheduled air flights.
The great forests lying at the feet of the fabled Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma mountains are the gateway to the incredible indigenous African wealth of Plettenberg Bay, which lies on South Africa’s spectacular south coast 210 kms from Port Elizabeth and +/- 600 km from Cape Town. The Outeniqua-Tsitsikamma indigenous forests are a unique mixture of Cape Fynbos and temperate forest and offer the nature lover world-renowned hiking trails and an exciting opportunity to see the last remaining forest elephants of South Africa. The entire area teems with birdlife. Nearly 300 species are to be found in the great variety of habitats ranging from fynbos to forest to wetlands.
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