Garden Route – South Africa

The garden route is a 300 kilometre stretch of the South-western coast of South Africa. It is regarded as the most beautiful region in the country. We booked our 14-day trip through Intrepid travels. Though the actual garden route is between the Storms river in the east and Mossel Bay in the west, our journey started in Durban and ended in Cape Town. These are the two most accessible cities in South Africa therefore they are usually chosen as the starting or ending points. We visited in last week of April when the afternoons were warm and evenings were pleasant. The weather is not always predictable, though we encountered rain only one day in our 2 week stay in South Africa.

Day 1 : Durban

We spent our day at the Golden Mile beach. Here you will find many restaurants with different cuisines, vendors selling crafts and local food, surfers and the famous Ushaka Marine World. The nightlife is also good here, though it is not very safe to be alone at the beach at night. Bunny chow is a traditional South African dish famous at the Florida Road where you can head for a meal. The other attractions in Durban include the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Umgeni River Bird Park, Jumma Mosque and Durban Natural Science Museum.

Golden Mile Beach

Day 2-3 : Drakensberg

It is a 6 hour journey from Durban to Drakensberg. This is the largest mountain range in South Africa (3482 metres) and is part of the border between Lesotho and South Africa. The mountain spans 1000 kilometres from southwest to northeast. There are many hiking trails in the area and the scenery is breathtaking. If you are interested in the indigenous culture, you must visit the San Bushmen paintings with a local guide.

Giant’s Castle
Scenic view after sunrise
Scenic view at sunset
Clear blue skies
Bushmen Paintings

Day 4-5 : Lesotho Highlands

Travel Time from Drakensberg to Lesotho : 7 hours

Indians have to take a separate visa for entry  as this is a separate country from South Africa. Lesotho is known as the ‘Kingdom in the sky’ and has beautiful mountain ranges and hiking trails.

Picturesque hiking trails
Trekker’s paradise
Maletsunyane Falls
Typical house with thatched roof in Lesotho

Day 6-7 : Cintsa

Cintsa is small coastal town about 12 hours from Lesotho. The Xhosa tribal communities live here and are very friendly and known for their rich traditions and culture. The beaches are untouched and a day can be spent either canoeing in the Cintsa river or surfing at one of the stunning beaches.

View of Cintsa Beach
Sunset at Cintsa Beach
Clear waters at the beach

Day 8: Addo Elephant National Park

We left early from Cintsa and reached Addo Elephant National Park by afternoon. After a quick lunch we headed for the afternoon safari. This is the third largest conservation park in South Africa. The park was created to conserve elephants and today there are over 600 elephants and many other varieties of animals. The ‘Big five’ are seen here and the park also houses varied flora and fauna.

African elephant
Lush green forests at Addo Elephant Park

Day 9-10: Tsitsikamma National Park

Tsitsikamma National Park is not far from Addo Elephant National Park (4 hours) and covers around 80 kilometres along the coast. This park is known for its scenic hiking trails through lush green forests and waterfalls. Along the shoreline of the park is the pristine Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area, which provides protection to a wide variety of species. One can experience adventure attractions such as bungee jumping, kayaking and zip-lining in the area.

View from the Otter’s Trail
Rocky coastline at Tsitsikamma National Park

Day 11-12: Oudtshoorn

Travel time from Tsitsikamma National Park to Oudtshoorn : 4 hours

Oudtshoorn is known as the Ostrich capital of the world. There are many ostrich breeding farms here and a visit to any of them is recommended.

The Cango caves are located at the foothills of Swartberg near the town. They are known for the spectacular and magnificient rock formations.

We reserved our next morning for a Meerkat watching tour in the area. Meerkats are a part of the Shy 5 and live in groups. A few of them guard the group while the others search for food. Watching the Meerkats in their natural environment was one of the highlights of our trip!  

Ostrich Farm
Stalagtites and Stalagmites in Congo Caves
Beautifully lit interior of the caves
Clepatra’s Needle
Meerkats have extremely good vision
Alert Meerkats looking for danger
Meerkats dig for insects, catterpillars and bettles
Watching the Meerkats at sunrise

Day 13 : Cape Agulhas/ Hermanus- winery route

Cape Agulhas is the southern tip of the African continent and is the dividing line between the Atlantic and Indian ocean. The cape has a beautiful coastline with rocky beaches.

From Cape Agulhas we headed on to the beautiful town of Hermanus- famous for it’s wineries. We embarked on a wine tour here where we tasted some of the best wines – Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

Wine Estate
Mountain scenery, lush farmlands and wine farms
Beautiful coast of Hermanus
Cape Agulhas

Day 14 : Cape Town

Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa and is surrounded by the majestic Table mountain. The Cape peninsula has a southern end known as the Cape point and the Cape of Good  Hope. The places that should be visited while in Cape Town include Robben Island, Table Mountain, Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Bo-Kaap and boulder’s Bay.

Places to see in Cape Town
Table Mountain
View of the city from Table Mountain
Coloured houses in Bo-Kaap
Victoria and Alfred Wavefront
African Penguin at Boulder’s Beach
‘Visit Africa to dine and drink fine Wine’

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