09 March, 2020
The Garden Route, which runs along the East Coast of South Africa, must be one of the most breathtakingly beautiful stretches in South Africa if not the world! Starting roughly four hours outside of the Mother City, Cape Town, at Witsand, the route winds its way for some 200km via George, Wilderness, Sedgefield and Knysna before concluding in the shade of the Tstisikamma Forest, a haven for massive trees, Jurassic Park style ferns and Lord of the Rings like mountain peaks. The Garden Route remains one of South Africa’s most popular holiday destinations, and rightfully so! Here are our favourite Garden Route towns.
Otherwise known as the gateway to the Garden Route, George, situates itself on a beautifully lush fertile crescent beneath the overarching Outeniqua Mountains. The main city lies slightly inland from the Indian Ocean the opposite side of the N2, but a short drive ocean ward will reveal winding roads which descend onto white sand beaches surrounded by cliffs on either side.
Located halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, George is the second largest town in the Western Cape. The town was established because of the growing demand for timber and wood used in transport, furniture and building and thus in 1776, the Dutch East India Company established an outpost for the provision of timber.
Attractions/Things to do!
• Pick Strawberries at Redberry Farm
Situated just outside George on the road to Blanco, the farm lies under the watchful eye of the Outeniqua Mountains. At a small fee, the Redberry farm allows you to walk along the cultivations and pick the most juiciest most delicious berries of your choosing. You can pic strawberries, eat them and drink them all day long!
• Outeniqua Hiking Trial
One of the most popular and oldest hikes! The Outeniqua Hiking Trial is seven days from start to finish. Starting at Beervlei Hut, an old forest station and finishes at Harkerville hut. The hike winds its way through indigenous forests, breathtaking mountain passes and beautiful tree ferns.
Roughly five hours from Cape Town and just off the famous N2 highway you will find the stunning coastal town of Mossel Bay. Best known as the first place European settlers landed on South African soil, it is recorded that Bartolomeu Did and his crew arrived at Mossel Bay on February 3rd 1488. It was here that Bartolomeu found a spring from which to replenish his water supplies. Today Mossel Bay is an important tourism and farming region of the Western Cape and the town is beautifully located; perched atop hill, overlooking the crystal clear blue waters of the bay.
Attractions/Things to do!
• Shark Cage Diving
If there’s one thing Mossel Bay doesn’t lack, it’s an abundance of sea life. From seals to dolphins to whales and then of course, there’s the ominous Great White Shark. A colony of seals which locate themselves off shark Island which can be clearly seen from land at Mossel Bay is what keeps these toothy beasts interested! And that’s what makes Mossel Bay the perfect place to see one of these magnificent beasts for the first time!
• Visit The Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex
Named after the first European to set foot on South African soil, the Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex is a multi-disciplinary government institution which is mandated to preserve and conserve the local cultural and natural heritage resources of the area. Spend a couple of hours exploring the three parts of the museum which includes a Granary, Maritime Museum and a Shell and Aquarium.
Nestled between the Knysna Lagoon, the Knysna Forests and flawless white sand beaches sporting untameable rolling whitewater waves, you find the very charming town of Knysna. The indigenous forests in Knysna make up the largest complex of closed-canopy forest in Southern Africa, while the richness of the Fynbos vegetation contributes over 8000 plant species to the Cape floral kingdom.
Knysna acquired it’s name from the Koisan word meaning ‘place of leaves’ and was established in 1760. Local farmer, Stephanus Terblans, the first European farmer to settle in the area was given a permit to farm there in 1970. Now the town is one of the most popular tourist destinations for both local and international travellers.
Attractions/Things to do!
• Knysna Oyster Festival
Knysna hosts a variety of annual events which draw local and international visitors. One such popular event is the Knysna Oyster Festival. Held in late June/early July, it remains the town’s biggest event. The duration of the festival is ten days and roughly 200,000 oysters are consumed over the 10-day period. Many sporting activities take place during this period including the Knysna Forest Marathon and Half Marathon, as well as the Rotary Cycle Tour.
• Ferry Trip Across the Lagoon
Take a scenic trip across the Knysna Lagoon in the famous John Benn or River Cat Ferries. Departing from the Cruise Cafe restaurant or the waterfront, this is an amazing way to enjoy Knysna and it gives you a completely unique view of the stunning Knysna Heads.