This blog post was a kind guest contribution by SEO Cape Town an SEO company based in Cape Town.
The Garden Route is a 200km stretch of beautiful southern coast in South Africa. The starting point of which is sometimes contested, but most commonly known as the route from Heidelberg, Western Cape to the Storms River. The route includes towns and locations such as Mossel Bay, Oustshoorn, Knysna and Plettenburg as is best explored by car. In Afrikaans The Garden Route is known as “Tuinroete” and has one of the mildest climates in the world, second only to Hawaii with annual temparatures ranging from around 10 degrees celcius in the winter to about 28 degrees in the summer. The route cuts right between the Indian Ocean and the mountain ranges of Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma and offers a vast range of hotels, accommodation, eco-tourism activities and adventure for its visitors.
The Extended Garden Route
Stretching 1300km from East London to Cape Town this extended route was covered in six days stopping over night in Kasouga, Plettenburg Bay, Oudtshoorn, Mossel Bay and Hermanus before arriving at the final destination of Camps Bay, Cape Town.
Locations (refer to map above)
There are a number of flights to South Africa from the UK, flying in from London Heathrow to Johannesburg and taking an internal flight from Johannesburg to East London:
A.) East London
Originally known as Port Rex, East London was promoted to city status in 1914. It is home to the country’s oldest marathon which covers 160km from Port Albert back to the city. East London has good transport links with the rest of South Africa. The N2 highway which connects Cape Town and Durban bypasses the city, and the N6 links East London with Bloemfontein. East London Airport, approximately 10km from the city, has daily flights to all major South African cities. Car hire from the airport with Avis allow rental from East London to Cape Town on a good selection of 4×4 vehicles, recommended for the drive as opposed to a standard car.
B.) Port Alfred / Kasouga
About 15km past Port Alfred is the tranquil coastal resort of Kasouga, the oldest beach resort in South Africa. Kasouga is a collection of about four hundred privately own homes and beach houses, many of which have been in the same familied for generations. The resorts beaches are vast and stretch for miles in either direction. Most of the time you will be the only person there. The climate is warm and windy and your can enjoy a range of activities. If you walk up the beach at low tide you can see the wreck of the Cape St. Bliaz or if you are feeling fearless try some sand-boarding down the steep dunes!
Not officially part of The Garden Route we would recommend a trip to the resort to relaxing surrounding and the infamous beaches. You can arrange to rent accommodation at Kasouga by visiting Kasouga.co.za or by contacting the Old Kasouga Guest House.
C.) Plettenburg Bay (“Plet” or “Plett”)
Plettenburg Bay, otherwise known locally as Plet or Plett, was originally called Baia Formosa (Beautiful Bay) for its sprawling flat and sandy bay. It lies in the heart of The Garden Route just of 200km from Port Elizabeth and approximately 600km Cape Town. By far the best hotel in Plettenburg Bay is Milkwood Manor, home of the Lemon Grass Seaside Restaurant with jaw dropping, panoramic views of The Garden Route. When Joachim van Plettenberg, Governor of the Cape, arrived in 1778, he was so taken by the natural beauty of the bay, he named it after himself. Today Plett is one of South Africa’s premier tourist destinations and has some of the best beaches in South Africa. Plettenberg Bay hosts one of the largest seagull breeding colonies along the South African coast and is home to an amazing seal colony just off Robberg Beach, where dolphins and whales are regularly seen.
Not too far from Plettenburg Bay (around 25km on the N2 highway) Knysna is home to 76,000 people and is named after the Knysna River. With a number of fine golf courses and famed for being popular with hippies, Knysna is probably best known for the fabled forest elephant. The main tourist attraction is the Knysna Elephant Park – www.knysnaelephantpark.co.za. The park offers a fantastic opportunity to get right up close to the elephants, who live in a controlled, free range environment in the heart of the Garden Route. Another infamous land mark in the town is the Knysna Oyster Company and is one of just many of the great places to eat in Knysna. Find more restaurants here.
Oudsthoorn is a particular favourite destination of the South-Africa.co.uk team being home to meerkats, the largest ostrich population in the world and awesome Cango Caves. The start of the Route 62 wine route, Oudtshoorn is situated north of the actual Garden Route, surrounded by the beautiful Swartberg Mountains. A recommended guest house is De Zeekoe Guest Farm where you can enjoy the gorgeous countryside of Oudtshoorn in the Klein Karoo and even book a Meerkat Adventure! Other great activities in Oudtshoorn include the Safari Show Farm, air ballooning, world-class rock climbing and a fine selection of restaurants to eat out at such as Jemima’s, The Colony at The Queens Hotel and Cafe Brule to name a few. Situated just 55k from George, Oudtshoorn is must visit!
F.) Mossel Bay
A fun and inviting location on The Garden Route, Mossel Bay is a tourist destination with a local feel that appeals to families with children and single back packers alike. With good beaches, lots of sunshine and the clean Indian Ocean this Western Cape town is home to 130,000 residents and is approximately 400km from Cape Town. Tourism remains one of the most important drivers of its economy and the mountains of Mossel Bay host an important repository of South Africa rock art, created by the San People over 25,000 years ago. One of the stages of the Trans Agulhas Boat Race – one of the toughest inflatable boat races in the world, Mossel Bay also has a great cultural history which can be seen in any of the towns Museums. A premier beach holiday resort in South Africa, Mossel Bay attracts a large amount of performing artists in the summer months. Our recommendation for a stay in Mossel Bay is The Point Hotel.
G.) Cape Agulhas, H.) Hermanus, I.) Camps Bay
After finishing the Garden Route a handful of further locations on the way make up the final leg of the South-Africa.co.uk “extended” Garden Route. Cape Agulhas and in particular Hermanus has the status of being one of the top land-based whale watching destinations in the world. Visiting Walker Bay from June through to December the whales can be viewed from the coast/shore, on a boat, or in an airplane. Hermanus is home to the world’s only Whale Crier who blows his kelp horn when whales are spotted along the central sea route. Camps Bay is one of the most affluent suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa. In the peak of summer it attracts a large number of local and international visitors looking for a luxury beach holiday. It is renowned for its white sandy beaches fringed by palm trees and has a trendy nightlife of restaurants, bars, hotels and clubs. Camps Bay Beach was awarded blue flag status in 2008 and is the largest white sand beach in Camps Bay.
In summary The Garden route is an experience that should be included in all South Africa holidays and there is something for every visitor to experience and enjoy whether you want a relaxing or exhilarating trip.