Port Elizabeth is the Gateway to our beautiful Garden Route and Elizabeth and I are happy to share our knowledge of an area we spend so much time visiting and of which we never tire of. After reading this if you have any questions please feel free to contact us and we will assist you as much as we can to make your holiday the best you have ever had.
Upon leaving Treetops Guesthouse you will make your way onto the N2 and heading south you will follow the signs saying Cape Town.
If interested your first possible stop will be the famous surfing town of Jeffery’s Bay with its world acclaimed surfing area Super Tubes and golden beaches.
If you love surf wear clothing you can pick up some great bargains here as all the major brands Billabong, Quicksilver, Rip Curl all have factory shops and prices are reasonable. If you love seafood then we can certainly recommend you have lunch or supper at the Walskipper for more information and menus you can book online at www.walskipper.co.za, the restaurant is situated right on the beach adjacent Marina Martinique and offers fresh sea food cooked on coals. We have eaten there many times and recommend their seafood platter, enjoy.
Continuing along the N2 and approximately an hour and a half after leaving Treetops you will come to Storms River Bridge, if you need a pit stop then this is a good place to use the rest rooms and refuel. The bridge itself was built in 1955 and is 394 feet / 120 metres high. Approximately a kilometre after leaving the Bridge you will see signs on your left leading to the beautiful Tsitsikamma National Park. It has the most beautiful rugged coastal scenery and one can take some lovely hikes in the park. There is excellent self-catering accommodation available to book online at www.sanparks.co.za
There is a good restaurant if you prefer not to do self-catering. In the village of Tsitsikamma there are other activities one can do such as Canopy Tours where you go along a zip line high up in a forest, further information available at www.stormsriver.com. Those of you that are adventure junkies then go to www.tsitsikammaadventure.co.za and you will see all the activities available to do in the area. For the more sedate then take the Woodcutters Journey which takes you through forests untouched in over 100 years. After the Park go back up onto the N2 and continue along it towards Plettenberg Bay which is approximately 45 minutes away. You will cross the Bloukrans Bridge where the adventurous can do the world’s highest Bungy Jump. The height of the drop is 216 metres. To read more about the Bungy Jump visit www.faceadrenalin.com.
Further along the N2 prior to Plettenberg Bay you will come to an area called the Crags and there are many things to do here. The following that I mention we have all visited and enjoyed them.
Here you can see a range of wild cats of Africa all of whom have been rescued and otherwise would have died, you can see Leopards and the highlight for us was going into an enclosure with a pair of Cheetahs.Visit Website
Many of these primates have been rescued from medical trials. What is so enjoyable is that these primates roam free in large forested area, you can take a 1 hour guided tour and one learns so much about the animals, for instance there is only one type of monkey in Africa that can swim and that is the Vervet Monkey.Visit Website
Adjacent to Monkeyland is Birds of Eden, this is the world’s largest free flight aviary in the world and you walk through forest with waterfalls and elevated walkways and so many different species of birds, a really enjoyable experience.Visit Website
This was our personal favourite, if you have seen elephants in one of our many National Parks then this is an opportunity to get really close to an Elephant. You can take them for a walk or ride on them. What is enjoyable about this is that you are accompanied by a Guide and they are so knowledgeable about the Elephants and you really learn so much about these beautiful animals.
Unfortunately you will have to choose what you would like to visit in this area otherwise you will need a couple of days as there are many other things to do in this area.Visit Website
Further along the N2 you will come across, on the left hand side, Bramon Wine Estate. They have a great restaurant where they serve tapas food and you can sip on the local wines produced in this estates, what is great is that you can sit outside amongst the vines. A great place for a leisurely lunch.Visit Website
Carry on a little further and you come to Plettenberg Bay, South Africa’s playground for millionaires. Plett has lovely beaches and is very scenic. Further along the wide open beaches you will see Robberg headland where there are lovely walks, it is a Nature Reserve and well worth visiting for those who like long nature walks.
Should you wish to stay in Plett we recommend Beacon Lodge where old friends of ours run an efficient and intimate Guesthouse. If you are not stopping over but need a meal or a drink then we suggest you stop off Lookout Deck & Restaurant, perched overlooking the sea offering superb sea views and a most relaxing place to stop, www.lookout.co.za.
A short drive further along the N2 you will come to Knysna, this is the most popular area to stop along the Garden Route, a most beautiful small town with an abundance of accommodation and restaurants. The local Tourism Office can be found in the Main Street on your right hand side when driving through from PE. Knysna is situated on a very large lagoon with a sea entrance at the Head’s. Lovely drive down to the Head’s with a couple of nice swimming spots at the Head’s. If wanting to have lunch or tea then recommend East Head Café, Trip Advisor’s No 1 restaurant in Knysna with a superb view of the Head’s. Whilst there take a drive around Leisure Isle. There are also some lovely drive’s inland through forests and the old gold mining village of Millwood where the first gold was mined in South Africa.
Leaving Knysna you will experience beautiful countryside and lakes, you will go through the village of Sedgefield and if per chance it is a Saturday and it is early in the morning then stop off at the Wild Oats Farmers Market where local foods and crafts can be purchased. After Sedgefield you will go through Wilderness which is really beautiful and then onto George, driving out of Wilderness look for a stop off called Dolphin’s Leap, pull over and enjoy the magnificent views looking back to Wilderness and its beaches.
Upon reaching George you have a decision to make. In my opinion the Garden Route ends at George and if you continue along the N2 to Cape Town it is for me a boring drive as it is mostly agricultural landscape. Should you take this option it is 431 kms to Cape Town and it should take you between 4 to 4 ½ hours to arrive in Cape Town.
My preferable choice is in George to take the N12 and cross the Outeniqua Pass to Oudtshoorn which will take you around 45 minutes, the pass offers amazing views and you drive into a totally different biosphere.
Oudtshoorn is in the Karoo, which is semi-arid; it is the home of the Ostrich. One should visit an Ostrich farm as it is most interesting and educational, have a look at the farm Highgate at www.highgate.co.za. Cango Caves are worth a visit at www.cango-caves.co.za as is the Cango Wildlife Ranch at www.cango.co.za, although bear in mind that the animals there are in enclosures and are not free roaming, for children a visit is very educational. Another interesting place is Buffelsdrift Game Lodge just outside Oudtshoorn, great place to sleep in a luxury tent and to see game and we can also highly recommend their restaurant which sits adjacent to a lake which does have Hippo in it, food is excellent and we found it reasonable pricewise. What better feeling of being in Africa than listening to Hippo whilst you have your supper www.buffelsdrift.com.
If staying in Oudtshoorn for a couple of nights then I would recommend a day trip of taking the old wagon trail pass over the Swartberg Mountains into the lovely hamlet of Prince Alfred, it is a gravel road but completely safe for a normal sedan car, the views are breath-taking.
Once in Prince Alfred there are interesting shops and nice restaurants to enjoy a relaxing lunch. You can then take the tarred National road back into Oudtshoorn.
You will exit Oudtshoorn on the R62 and you are 438 kilometres from Cape Town. The first small town you will enter is Calitzdorp and this is the home of Port in South Africa so stop off for a tasting. Next town 50 kilometres further on is Ladismith but nothing to stop off for, thereafter look out for Ronnie’s Sex Shop near to Barrydale, not a sex shop but a cool stop off for refreshments and get to meet Ronnie who is a real character. Go into the Pub and have a look at all the ladies underwear clothing hanging from the ceiling www.ronniessexshop.co.za.
Shortly thereafter you will enter the arty town of Barrydale, many artists have found inspiration here and have made it their home.
Again you have a choice to make as you can either proceed on the R62 into Cape Town which is 264 kilometres away or about a 3 to 3 ½ hour drive, you will pass through some lovely scenic countryside and go through towns such as Montagu, Ashton, Robertson, Worcester, Paarl, you will see many wine estates. After Worcester you will come to the Huguenot tunnel, if you have the time and if the weather is good rather take the pass, once at the top you have the most amazing view looking down onto Paarl, Stellenbosch and Franschoek and in the distance on a clear day you will get your first glimpse of the iconic Table Mountain. The other option one can do is to go to Hermanus and thereafter take the amazing coastal drive into Cape Town, once in Barrydale you take the R324 to Swellendam, it is about 45 kilometres to Swellendam and you go over the Tredoux Pass which is very scenic. Swellendam is a very historical town with lots of old buildings, many of which are historical monuments, some people choose to stay over in Swellendam and there is a wide choice of accommodation. Swellendam to Hermanus is 142 kilometres and should take you around 2 hours to get there. Plenty to see and do in Hermanus and between June to December you will see pods of Southern Right whales. Again accommodation and restaurants are plentiful.
If you are looking for adventure then take a short drive over to Gansbaai the home of diving with Great White Sharks, my son has done it and said it was an amazing experience.
Should you choose to stay over in Hermanus then the next morning you will take a leisurely drive into Cape Town along the coastal road passing through small coastal villages such as Kleinmond, Betty’s Bay, Pringle Bay, Rooi Els and Gordon’s Bay? It is a most scenic drive and takes around 80 minutes.
Once in Cape Town and you would like to climb Table Mountain then I have to recommend our Daughter in Law’s business Mother City Hikers, Lauren is a qualified guide and well versed in the flora and fauna of Table Mountain and will only be too happy to guide you up Table Mountain and then to take the cable car back down.
All of the above which I have written about my wife and I have visited and my comments are based on our own experience and the photos have all been taken by myself so we hope this has been useful to you and that you have enjoyed your holiday in our most beautiful country South Africa.Visit Website