The Garden Route in South Africa is on the eastern coast of the country, and runs from Heidelburg to the Tsitsikamma Forest. With beautiful lakes, bays, mountains and forests along the way, as well as the amazing South African coast, this is one of the most scenic drives you could ever do.
The flora here is amazing in many ways; it is classed as one of the most florally diverse areas in the world, and so it is not surprising that driving through the area can be a breathtaking experience. The Fynbos Biome in particular is incredibly unique, and is one of the six global floral kingdoms, making it the only one of these kingdoms that is endemic to one area only. With more than 9,000 species of the fynbos in the biome, the flowers carpet the mountains in areas, and are an incredible thing to see.
Mossel Bay is halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, and it is a small harbour which sits on the Indian Ocean. Historically it is known as the capital of the Garden Route, and it is an absolutely magnificent of well preserved colonial buildings. With pleasure boats, the location can be enjoyed on the surface, whilst those looking for some more adventure can go diving, snorkelling, shark-cage diving and power boating.
Of the towns in the Garden Route, one of the most fascinating along the way is Knysna, a small resort town on a lagoon with famous art galleries, woodcarvings and exquisite freshly caught oysters to try. A remainder of extensive forests that used to cover the entire area are in the mountains near the town, and as well as these another absolute must see are the rocks known as the Heads, which flank a deep and treacherous channel which the sea pours through to flood a lagoon at the mouth of the Knysna River.
Other fascinating and beautiful towns to look at along the way include Oudtshoorn, which has the Cango Caves, some truly inspiring limestone caves that have been sculpted over thousands of years, ostrich farms, a cheetah sanctuary, and some incredible spots for hiking, biking, and swimming or boating on rivers and near waterfalls.
Stellenbosch is located on the Garden Route, and is also part of the Cape Winelands. The biggest attractions here are the various wine cellars, as well as some of the more beautiful beaches on South Africa’s coast. Horse-riding and hot air balloon rides are also on offer here.
Surfers will want to try out Victoria Bay, which is a small and relatively unknown bay with a gentle sloping beach and picturesque cottages perched on the waterfront. Relaxing and tranquil, this is an idyllic place to spend a few nights.
Tsitsikamma National Park is home to some of the best preserved forests in the world, and with a name that means ‘place of water’, this is an incredible place to visit. Situated on the mouth of the Storms River, a natural harbour and marine reserve add to the beauty of the area, and it is the perfect place to start or end your tour of the Garden Route.
See also the Cape Winelands.
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