South Africa's Stunning Garden Route
A lush sub-tropical paradise is perhaps the best way of describing the Garden Route, which remains one of the most popular destinations for travellers to South Africa. Forget any ideas of neatly trimmed gardens and greenhouses stuffed with prize specimens, the Garden Route entails 200km of the Western Cape coastline characterised by old growth forests, indigenous ‘fynbos’ vegetation and miles and miles of unspoiled beaches. Described by botanists as the most bio diverse of the so-called floral kingdoms, the Garden Route contains over 9,000 species of plants, many of which only grow here. It is, in short, a biologist and photographer’s dream.
And so much more. The Garden Route is also the adventure playground of South Africa and offers everything from canoeing down rivers, scuba diving and cave exploration, to mountain biking, paragliding and hot air ballooning. Those who like to ride the waves flock to coastline’s beaches where giant waves roll in off the Indian Ocean making towns such as Buffalo Bay, Victoria Bay and Plettenberg Beach surfing hot spots. And if surfing is too tame you can get up close and personal with great white sharks by taking a dip in a shark cage.
But perhaps the best way to enjoy the Garden Route is to put on a pair of walking books and hit the trails. The forests and beaches along the route are criss-crossed with countless trails offering a more sedate way to get to know the mosaic of ecosystems at your own pace. A good place to start out might be Tsitsikamma National Park which has plentiful accommodation options and a 42km otter trail as well as canopy tours. Along the route adrenaline junkies can try out the highest bridge bungee jump in the world.
Self driving is a popular way to see the Garden Route but for something a little different and perhaps more romantic a cycle ride along the tracks of the now-defunct steam train the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe is a must. The route follows the coast line, providing bikers with spectacular views along the way. Gastronomes will not be disappointed as there are many high quality dining options and fresh seafood is always on the menu, with oysters and red wine being firm favourites.
Whether you choose to experience a no holds barred adrenaline adventure or prefer instead to immerse yourself in the stunning natural beauty of this unique region, a tour along the Garden Route is a highlight of any trip to South Africa and should not be missed.