Between Mossel Bay and Storms River in South Africa, the Garden Route runs parallel to a coastline which features lakes, mountains, golden beaches, cliffs and dense indigenous forests.The Garden Route has a well-developed tourist infrastructure, making the region popular all year round. The pont at Malgas is the only remaining pont in the country, ferrying vehicles and livestock across the Breede River. Whale watching attracts tourists at Witsand and Port Beaufort from June to November. The area also has a few free-range ostrich farms.
The Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve outside Heidelberg comprises the popular Bushbuck Trail, a wilderness trail and two mountain-bike trails. Riversdale is one of South Africa’s most important fynbos export areas. Other attractions include the Julius Gordon Africana Museum.
At the historical Strandveld Architectural Heritage Site at Still Bay, visitors can watch tame eels being fed. Ancient fish-traps can be seen at Morris Point and the harbor. At the aloe factories at Albertinia, aloe juices are extracted for medicine and high-quality skin-care products.
Nearby, bungee jumping on the Gourits River Gorge, hiking, mountain-biking and angling are popular pastimes. At Mossel Bay, the Point, a well-liked area for surfers, also features a natural pool formed by rock a popular swimming place at low tide. The St Blaize trail starts here and it is the ideal spot to watch the whales and dolphins at play in season. There is plenty to do in Mossel Bay, such as sun tanning on the 24-km beach, shark ping and hiking.
The harbour at Mossel Bay is one of the most modern commercial and recreational harbours on the southern Cape coastline. The Information Canter at PetroSA (formerly Mossgas) informs visitors about the project and the production of synthetic fuels from Mossel Bay’s offshore gas fields. Other attractions include the Attequas Kloof Pass, Anglo-BoerSouth African War blockhouses and the Bartholomew Diaz complex. Great Brak River offers a historic village with many opportunities for whale and dolphin watching along the extensive coast. Game farms hosting four of the Big Five enrich the wild and bird life.
George is at the heart of the Garden Route and the mecca of golf in the southern Cape, as it is home to the renowned Fancourt Country Club and Golf Estate and various other acclaimed golf courses.
Board the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe on its daily trip along the coastline between George and Knysna (except Sundays) at the Outeniqua Transport Museum, where one can enjoy a variety of enterprises. Visitors can also board the Power Van here, and enjoy a glimpse of the Garden Route Botanical Garden.
The George Museum with its timber history as theme offers ongoing exhibitions. The Montagu and Voortrekker Passes are national monuments, providing spectacular views of the Outeniqua Nature Reserve, which offers several hiking trails. The George Airport, the Outeniqua Pass, the railway line and the N2 offer excellent access and make George the ideal hub from which to explore the Garden Route and Little Karoo.
Victoria Bay and Wilderness are popular for their safe bathing and unspoilt nature. Wilderness is the western gateway to the southern Cape lakes area. It’s a nature lover’s paradise, best known for its beaches, lakes, placid lagoon and lush indigenous forests. Bird watchers flock to the Langvlei and Rondevlei Bird Sanctuaries in the Wilderness National Park, which host over 230 different bird species. Other activities include biking, abseiling, horse-riding, paragliding, scenic drives, canoeing, scuba ping and fishing.
Sedgefield borders Swartvlei Lagoon, the largest natural inland saltwater lake in South Africa. Activities include beach horse-riding, hiking, angling and bird-watching. Knysna has officially become South Africa’s favorite destination. What makes it unique is the fact that the town nestles on the banks of an estuary, guarded by The Heads (two huge sandstone cliffs) surrounded by indigenous forests, tranquil lakes and golden beaches.
This natural wonderland is home to the largest and smallest of creatures, from the Knysna seahorse to the Knysna elephants, rare delicate butterflies and the endemic Knysna Loerie, a colourful forest bird. Over 200 species can be found in the abundant fynbos and forest settings. Knysna is also famous for its delectable homegrown oysters, enjoyed with locally brewed beer in quaint pubs and restaurants. An eclectic mix of art galleries showcases the diversity of talent in the area. The area also offers lagoon cruises, forest hikes, golf and adventure sports. A visit to the Knysna Quays is a must.
Plettenberg Bay is adventure country, offering boat-based whale watching, black water tubing, hiking, and forest and cycling trails. Look-Out Beach is one of the Blue Flag beaches in South Africa.
The Keurbooms River Nature Reserve at Plettenberg Bay offers a canoeing trail, and the Robberg Nature Reserve is a treasure trove of land, marine, geological and archaeological wealth.
The Tsitsikamma National Park offers many scenic walks and trails, including the world-famous Otter Trail. It also boasts the only underwater trail in Africa. The Park is South Africa’s first proclaimed marine reserve. There are several bungee-jumping spots in the area, including the highest bungee jump in the world at the Bloukrans River Bridge. Other popular activities include boat cruises, trout-fishing, whale watching, ping, sea-kayaking, gliding, golfing, abseiling and canoeing.
Klein Karoo Kannaland:
The Klein Karoo Kannaland is a semi-desert area broken by unexpected lush river valleys. Excellent wines and port are produced in the Calitzdorp and De Rust areas.
Oudtshoorn, the world’s ostrich-feather capital, is the region’s main town. The Swartberg Nature Reserve and Pass are also worth a visit. The Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees is held in the town annually. Some 29 km from Oudtshoorn lie the remarkable Cango Caves, a series of spectacular subterranean limestone caverns. Bearing evidence of early San habitation, the 30-cave wonderland boasts magnificent dripstone formations. Between 200 000 and 250 000 people visit the Caves annually.
Amalienstein and Zoar are historic mission stations midway between Ladismith and Calitzdorp. Visitors can go on donkey-cart and hiking trails through orchards and vineyards, while the Seweweekspoort is ideal for mountain-biking, hiking, and protea and fynbos admirers.
Calitzdorp boasts four wine estates, three of which are open to the public. The spring water of the Calitzdorp Spa is rich in minerals and is reputed to have medicinal properties. The Gamka Mountain Reserve is home to the rare and endangered Cape mountain zebra.
De Rust lies at the southern entrance to Meiringspoort. The Meiringspoort Gorge extends 20 km through the Swartberg Mountain Range. Halfway through, a beautiful 69 m-high waterfall can be seen. Wine farms in the area are open to the public.
Ladysmith is home to the Towerkop Cheese Factory. There are various hiking trails, mountain-biking trails and 4×4 trails in the area. The Anysberg, Klein Karoo and Towerkop Nature Reserves can also be visited.
Uniondale, on the main route between George and Graaff-Reinet, features the largest water-wheel in the country, the Old Watermill. Uniondale Poort is a scenic drive linking Uniondale with Avontuur in the Langkloof Valley.
At Vanwyksdorp, visitors can see how fynbos is dried and packed for the export market. Donkey-cart rides take visitors to Anglo-BoerSouth African War grave sites.
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