About the Garden Route
The Garden Route is a very popular stretch of the south-eastern coast of South Africa. It stretches from Heidelberg in the Western Cape to the Storms River which is crossed along the N2 highway over the Paul Sauer Bridge in the extreme western reach of the Eastern Cape. The name comes from the verdant and ecologically diverse vegetation encountered here as well as the numerous lagoons and lakes dotted along the coast. This beautiful route includes towns such as Mossel Bay, Knysna, Oudtshoorn, Plettenberg Bay and Nature’s Valley, with George as the Garden Route’s largest city and main administrative. The Route is sandwiched between the aforementioned mountains and the Indian Ocean and the most popular exploration of the Garden Route is by car.
The Addo Elephant Park:
The Addo Elephant Park is currently the third largest national park in South Africa and conserve a wide diversity of biodiversity, landscapes, fauna & flora. The park covers an area of 180 000 hectares (444 700 acres) and was originally proclaimed in 1931, when only 16 elephants remained in the area. Today this finely tuned ecosystem is sanctuary to over 550 elephants, lions, buffalo, black rhino, spotted hyena, leopard, a variety of antelope and zebra species. It is also home to the unique Addo flightless dung beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo.
The vision of this magnificent park is to be fully integrated into the regional landscape, conserves and enhances the characteristic terrestrial and marine biodiversity, ecological processed and cultural, historical and scenic resources representative of the Eastern Cape region for the appreciation and benefit of present and future generations.
There are numerous activities with in the park to keep one busy for days! Some of these activities includes game drives, horse trails, hiking trails, 4×4 trails and bird watching. For more information on these activities as well as rates, please contact the park on: +27 (0)42 233 8657. You can e-mail them on: firstname.lastname@example.org
To view Africa’s Big 5, be sure not to miss this amazing experience!
The Congo Caves are located at the foothills of the Swartberg range near the town of Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape of South Africa. The principal caves is one of the country’s finest, best known and most popular tourist caves and attracts many visitors from overseas. Only groups have access to the caves which is supervised by a guide. On most days tours are conducted at regular intervals. Choose between Standard Tour which takes an hour, or the Adventure Tours, which takes an hour and a half. The tours consists of crawling through narrow passages and climbing up steep rock formations guided by small lights. The caves contain spectacular halls and grand limestone formations – on both tours. The Adventure Tour has some rather small passages. The smallest passage that tourists will have to pass through is just under 30cm high at the exit.
Don’t mis THIS magnidicent sight! Should you want more information on rates and more, please visit: http://www.cango-caves.co.za/index.php
Go Scuba Diving
Have a little bit of adventure running in your veins? Do you love water? Then this is for you! Scuba Diving along the Garden Route and especially South Africa, has become more popular over the years. With such a rich sea life, why not take a course and discover the world down under. Courses can be arranged on various levels. Courses needs to be booked in advance and run over a period of 3 – 4 days. SEa live that can be spotted, includes Sharks, Dolphins, Sea Turtles, Nudibranch, Tropical Fish, Whales, Plant life, Seals and much, much more.
Should you want to make a booking or just want more information, please visit: http://www.gardenrouteadventures.com/scuba.htm
For those of you that love to hike, THIS is a must! The Garden Route is home to the Cape Clawless Otter, which is where the trail derives its name from. It stretches from Storms River Mouth in the east to Natures’ Valley in the west. The trail is widely regarded as one of the finest in the world. It is 26km long as the crow flies and 41km as the hiker walks. The trail takes 5 days and the 4 nights are spend in comfortable huts with superb views. The route is located entirely within the Tsitsikamma National Park and protects an 80km long strip of coastal mountains, forests and beaches.
The trail traverses an extremely scenic landscape. Never straying far from the shoreline, often climbing steeply and then descending to the beach or a river crossing. Vegetation along the ways is either fynbos, dense gallery forest or open, rocky sections near the sea with an abundance of wildflowers.
For more information on this beautiful trail, please visit: http://www.footprint.co.za/otter.htm
Treetop Canopy Tours
Now this is something to experience. Whether you are an adrenaline junkie or not, whether you are young or old. This is a definite MUST!!
The Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour is an eco-wilderness adventure that takes place in the beautiful Tstisikamma indigenous rainforest. The canopy tour involves traversing from one platform to another along a steel cable suspended up to 30 meters above the forest floor. Outeniqua Yellowwood trees is home to most of the platforms and the scenery and bird life is spectacular from here. Professional guides provide interesting facts about the forest ecology during your 2 and a half to 3 hour tour.
A safety briefing followed by a “kitting up” session takes place before tours begin. For safety reasons, all equipment is checked. A short drive into the Tsitsikamma forest and it is time to “monkey around”!
From the start on the launch platform a new world unfolds as one gently glides from one platform to another. A “lead guide and follow guide” is used to escort groups through the forest canopy, as one slid from tree to tree. Views of the forest is amazing from the platforms and any fear of heights is soon forgotten! The whole tour consists of 10 platforms and 10 “fufi slides”. The longest of which is 100m.
For more information or to make your booking, please visit: http://stormsriver.com/canopy_tour_tree_top_tour_stormsriver_tsitsikamma_garden_route.html – be sure NOT to miss this experience of a life time!
Birds of Eden
This is a birds lover’s paradise!! This 2 hectare Eden spans over a gorge of indigenous forest. It is a sanctuary for over 3500 free flight birds, composing over 220 species of birds! The sanctuary has its own mysterious ruin, which incorporates a walk-behind waterfall.
No guide is required if you are a visitor to Birds of Eden. You can expect to see a large variety of birds, raging from the African Touraco to South American parrots.
So, if you are a bird lover, then do not let this opportunity slip through your fingers! For more information, please visit: http://www.birdsofeden.co.za/index.php
Do you love water sports and love the thrill of adventure? Then this is for YOU! Blackwater Tubing (Storms River Tubing) is the ultimate adventure experience! The river water is black due to tannin leaching out of plane matter (much like tea), which is where this experience is deriving its name from.
During Low Water Tubing, when the water is low, the experience is very similar to kloofing where one paddles the pools and walks the shallow sections. A real adventure! Hours filled with of splashing, swimming, rock jumping and hiking is to be expected.
During Medium – High Tubing, the experience is packed with action as rapids become runable. Grade 2 rapids and rock jumps are optional and trained APA swiftwater safety guides are always ready to assist the feint hearted negotiating the fast flowing sections.
Trips takes place on the Storms River between October and April.
For more information on this adventure, please visit: http://www.blackwatertubing.net/
This is a definite MUST . . . Bungee Jump the highest jump in the world from the Bloukrans bridge – this is THE ultimate thrill!! Secured in a full body harness and walking along the designed catwalk (216m long), you are about to have the experience of your life!
Situated along the Garden Route at the Tsitsikamma Forest Village Market. 40km east of Plettenberg Bay along the N2 highway.
Be sure NOT to miss this amazing experience! For more information, please call +27 (0)42 281 1458 – operating daily from 09:00 – 17:00.
Garden Route Scenic Helicopter Flights:
Experience the Garden Route from a different perspective by taking a helicopter flight over the Garden Route. In order to show you the best the Garden Route has to offer, flights are carefully selected to give you the ultimate experience. Sightings includes the coastal plateau, rivers, ocean and coastal resorts, all adding to the natural splendour of this region. You can choose between short helicopter flights to all day charters, tailor made tours and transfers with many options like viewing whales, great white sharks and frolicking dolphins as you witness the Garden Route’s beautiful coastline. I
Operating 7 days a week from 07:00 – 18:00 during the summer months and 08:00 – 17:00 during the winder months. For more information and rates, please visit: http://www.caprihelicopters.co.za/scenic-helicopter-flights.shtml
Come on, don’t let this opportunity pass you buy, inquire NOW!!
Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve
For those of you that like fauna and flora then this is for you! This 500 hectare floral wonderland reserve is located 35km from Port Elizabeth, bisected by the N2 Port Elizabeth to Cape Town highway. The terrain comprises southern wooded slopes, a large plateau and northern river banks, each with its own vegetation type.
The purpose of the reserve is to protect and propagate the unique indigenous flora. Visitors should enjoy the splendour of the natural Fynvos, succulents and other indigenous flora.
If you are into mountain biking, you are can explore the plateau section of the reserve as there are a number of flat gravel roads and jeep tracks, which are ideal for exploration on a mountain bike. Mountain Bikers as well as families on a cycling outing can expect a real riding terrain, with sights of indigenous flora.
The reserve is open daily from 08:00 – 17:00 and offers two walking trails, picnic sites as well as nursery selling indigenous flora.
For more information, please contact me and ill forward you the details.
This is my list of the “top 10 must do’s when visiting the Garden Route”. If you have visited any of these places, please share your story as I would love to get hear the feedback.
For accommodation along the Garden Route, please visit: http://www.travelground.com/accommodation-in/garden-route
Really hope you enjoyed this article, you can read up more articles as I explore and get you the first-hand report on this beautiful South African by Maros Travals