Here are some excerpts from the Lonely Planet – South Africa & Lesotho & Swaziland chapter on the Western Cape about the Garden Route:
“High on the must-see list of most visitors to South Africa is the Garden Route, and with good reason: you can’t help but be seduced by the glorious natural beauty of the scenery. It’s less than 300km from Mossel Bay in the west to just beyond Plettenberg Bay in the east, yet the range of topography, vegetation, wildlife and outdoor activity in this short space is breathtaking.
There are excellent beaches providing plenty of activities from boating to good surfing and fishing. Inland are picturesque lagoons and lakes, rolling hills and eventually the mountains of the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma ranges that divide the Garden Route from the arid Little Karoo.
The ancient indigenous forests that line the coast from Wilderness to Knysna offer adventure trails and hiking, birding, canoeing the rivers, sliding through the tree canopy or simply taking an easy walk through the forest to gasp at the size of a yellowwood tree over six hundred years old. Wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy spotting the brilliant green and red Knysna lourie in the forest or maybe even catching sight of one of the few remaining Knysna elephants.
With such a diverse range of things to do in this internationally renowned region, it’s not surprising that the scope of the accommodation comes up trumps. Backpackers are catered for with plenty of hostels, there are charming midrange guest houses and some excellent top-end options. In fact, strong competition in the tourist industry has led to high standards in everything from activities to restaurants.
The downside of this is the high volume of people in the most popular towns of Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. While they make good bases for exploring the area, they are very crowded, especially during December and January. Prices rise significantly then and traffic, particularly in Knysna, becomes almost unbearable. This makes it important to book ahead if you’re travelling at these times, or head for less crowded Wilderness.
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
Right from the time we first thought of travelling to South Africa, we planned to spend time in Cape Town and then hire a car and drive around the Western Cape exploring the famous Garden Route. Pinch me! We’re doing it and the weather is near perfect!