The Garden Route
The world famous Garden Route extends along a scenic stretch of coastline from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. The Garden Route is an Eden of tranquil lakes, lush valleys, rugged mountains, ancient forests, quiet coves and long sandy beaches. A series of pretty towns link the many natural wonders, and offer a wide range of watersports and adventure activities.
Highlights of the Garden Route include:
Built along the shores of Walker Bay near the southernmost tip of Africa, Hermanus is reputed to offer the best land-based whale watching in the world. From July to November each year Southern Right Whales return to calve and mate in the quiet waters of the bay, attracting nature lovers from far and wide.
Founded in 1745 on the foothills of the beautiful Langeberg Mountains, Swellendam is South Africa's third oldest settlement. Conveniently situated halfway between Cape Town and George, this attractive Cape Dutch town with its many lovely guesthouses and restaurants, is an appealing stopover as you meander along the Garden Route.
Wilderness National Park
The breathtaking 2,500ha national park encompasses and protects five rivers, five lakes, two estuaries and 18km of Southern Cape coastline. This rare and sensitive eco-system is home to a wealth of water birds, as well as whales and dolphins. Nature trails wind through densely wooded forest and along riverbanks; hiking, canoeing, cycling, abseiling, kloofing, paragliding and hang gliding, boating and fishing are all available.
Situated between lush forests and the shores of the peaceful lagoon, Knysna is one of the Garden Route's most popular destinations. Guarding the mouth of the lagoon are the "Knysna Heads" - two impressive sandstone cliffs, commanding spectacular views of the lagoon, the town and the Indian Ocean. The lagoon supports an oyster hatchery, and Knysna oysters are reputedly amongst the tastiest in the world.
Christened "Bahia Formosa" (beautiful bay) by early Portuguese explorers, Plett is one of the most beautiful stops along the Garden Route. It is renowned for its spectacular sandy beaches, three lush river valleys, a tranquil lagoon and nature reserve. Superb accommodations, restaurants and boutique shopping combined with a wide variety of activities, including hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, canoeing, whale watching, deep sea fishing, diving and bungee jumping, make this a popular holiday resort for locals and visitors alike.
Tsitsikamma National Park
Located near the eastern end of the Garden Route is the spectacular Tsitsikamma National Park, where ancient rivers carve their paths through rocky ravines; where huge waves pound relentlessly onto the rocky shore; and an unspoilt verdant carpet of forest and fynbos meets the Indian Ocean.
Oudtshoorn and The Klein Karoo
Take a journey inland, through a unique landscape of arid plains ("Karoo" is Khoikhoi for "land of thirst"). This is a place abounding with wild flowers, leopards and strange, highly coloured rock formations and sheer gorges - where every horizon is filled with towering mountains, and where little rain falls. Oudtshoorn, at the heart of the Klein Karoo, is renowned as the "ostrich capital of the world". Visit the grandiose old feather palaces, ostrich farms and the ancient limestone caverns and chambers of the Cango Caves.