South Africa I ; The Garden Route
Hi dear travel lover,
It has been a while, but it is one of the most beautiful journeys I have made so far. That's why I like to take you to South Africa. In August 2017 my boyfriend left to this beautiful country for six months. Visiting him and a tour through South Africa could not have been delayed. After months of planning, looking for routes, searching for the best stays and looking forward to this trip it was finally time to leave in December. Off to the airport with a (of course) way too heavy suitcase, a healthy dose of excitement and the prospect of a month traveling through this huge country. The trip was anything but relaxed. The first flight was delayed which made my already very tight transfer in Nairobi even tighter. I had exactly 10 minutes to run from the plane to the other side of the airport and there I crammed sweaty and panting between two sturdy men to continue the rest of the trip. After that there was a problem with the plane and we left two hours later. My sticky shirt and sour legs were not needed, great! After a 15 houres flights it was finally there. From the plane I could already see Cape Town. As soon as I had my suitcase I was rushing outside to finally fly my boyfriend around his neck again. After that our drive to Blouberg started, where my friend had his apartment. What an impressions on that first part through Cape Town. One moment you drive past a kilometer-long slum, 5 minutes later you see the most beautiful bays and the most luxurious villas and a little later you drive in the center between Western-looking buildings where the difference between rich and poor can be seen every 20 meters is. It was completely different than I had imagined.
We stayed in Cape Town for the first few days to discover this incredibly beautiful city. Climbing the Lions Head, a walk on Table Mountain and a ride along the most beautiful beaches could not be missed. An absolute must to eat is Moyo. This restaurant has several locations including Blouberg, Kirstenbosch and Durban. The food was incredibly good. In addition, your head is traditionally painted and there is good music. For a good smoothie or lunch you have to be at Kauai. We kept coming back for the most delicious things. After a few days in Cape Town it was time for our tour. Starting with the Garden Route.
Garden Route, from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth
On our way to Oudtshoorn
From Cape Town we drive early in the morning to the Cape of Good Hope, a nature reserve at the bottom of South Africa. Here you will find the most south-westerly point of Africa and beautiful nature with several walking routes. You can walk to Cape Point in 40 minutes. From here you have a magnificent view of the cliffs and the endless-looking sea. You also have a lighthouse here, where you can walk up via steep paths. If you don't feel like walking, there is also a train that will take you up in a few minutes. By the way, you can also drive by car to the parking lot of Cape Point, which saves you a 40-minute walk, but also takes away a number of very beautiful viewpoints and spotting animals. The animal spotting is also really an attraction at the Cape of Good Hope. Walk a bit and you have a good chance of encountering baboons. Watch your things carefully because they are cheeky! In addition, you will also find ostriches, bontebok, eland antelope and hartebeest.
From the Cape of Good Hope we drived to Boulders Beach to spot penguins. A real tourist attraction but oh so nice. It is a very beautiful beach where you can just swim and sunbathe among the penguins. The photos of this place are like postcards.
After enjoying the penguins and a delicious ice cream, we drive on to Hermanus. Whales can be spotted from this cute village. Unfortunately the season has just ended in December and we have not seen one. However, it is a very nice village to walk through and we had a wonderful lunch at Burgundy restaurant, highly recommended!
After lunch we drove to Oudtshoorn to stay 2 nights here. Oudtshoorn is known for its ostrich farms and the Cango Caves. At one of the many ostrich farms you can watch the animals, feed them, stand on an egg (and yes, they are really that big and strong) or take a ride on an ostrich (which I personally am not a fan of and therefore also skipped it). The Cango Caves are incredibly beautiful caves where you can go for a walk under the guidance of a guide. I found this one of the nicer caves that I have viewed so far. Put on some warm clothes, it's cold inside!
We spent the night in Oudtshoorn at Karoo Soul Backpackers and Cottages. If I ever go back to South Africa I would definitely go here again. Nice people, very nice rooms and a beautiful location. In terms of dining options, apart from fast food, there was not really anything that was open. A quick pizza it is!
Spend a day with elephants in Knysna
From Oudtshoorn we drove on to George and Wilderness to see beaches before we went to our final destination Knysna. Here we slept at The Riverdeck Lodge & Backpackers. A very nice place on the water where you can eat, relax in the spa and where you can rent a canoe or pedal boat to cross the river. Spending the night is very primitive with small log cabins that just fit a double bed, without electricity and with shared showers made of corrugated iron (and ice cold water). If you like luxury this is not the place for you, but for the adventurers among us with a small budget it is very nice.
We went to the Knysna Elephant Park in Knysna. A small-scale park where you can feed elephants and take a walk through the beautiful nature area where the elephants and zebras walk. As a true animal lover, I was curious about the welfare of the animals here and I have to say that I was happy with it. The caretakers know each elephant well, take good care of them and the animals walk in a large area.
National park Tsitsikamma
The next day we drove to Plettenberg Bay which is known for the beautiful beaches and nature. We spent the morning here but to be honest it was a bit disappointing. After lunch we drove on to our stay near Tsitsikamma, Fynbos golf & country estate. It was a nice place but very remote. The closest eating place was half an hour away and the restaurant that was there was expensive and we found it absolutely not worth it. After a good night of sleep we went to the Tsitsikamma national park. A very nice park where every nature lover can indulge. In addition to the beautiful routes you can walk here, you will also find the highest bungee jump in the world, the highest and longest bridge in Africa, and very beautiful beaches and cliffs. In addition, activities such as canoeing, quad biking, horse riding and boat trips can be booked. At the Tsitsikamma restaurant we had a delicious meal while enjoying a beautiful view.
Relax in Jeffreys Bay, THE surf spot of South Africa
550/5000 Jeffreys Bay is a 1.5-hour drive from Tsitsikamma park. Here we definitely had the nicest accommodation of our entire trip, The Ocean Bay Guesthouse. A really beautiful villa with a few apartments, a view over Jeffreys Bay, a very nice swimming pool and a very good breakfast. We paid a bit more here, but it was definitely worth it. Jeffreys Bay is THE surf spot of South Africa. Furthermore, there is not much to do except for beach walks, sunbathing and a few parties. We enjoyed the peace here after all the busy days.
A hot Christmas in Port Elizabeth
We celebrated Christmas in Port Elizabeth, one of the largest cities in South Africa. There was not much to do in this town and we enjoyed our time with a day at the beach and watching the Christmas traditions of locals. This was very nice to see. Many locals gathered on large lawns by the beach, turned on the BBQ and played music from the car while the whole family sat on rugs on the floor, eating and playing games. A heart-warming scene and a whole lot different from the Christmas dinners I know at family's house. We spent the night in Urban Gardens, a small apartment adjacent to the house of the owners. We were fine here and prepared our own Christmas dinner. Port Elizabeth was the end of the Garden Route. Personally I would skip Port Elizabeth next time and fly straight to Durban, where we continued our journey. I will be happy to tell you more about the continuation of our journey in the next blog.
P. S. As I write this, all memories come back. I hope that my enthusiasm for this beautiful country will also make you enthusiastic to go there and experience it for yourself. Who knows, I'll see you there!