The Garden Route is probably the most internationally known driving route in South Africa, and that is with good reason. Within a few hundred kilometers there is a lot of variety when it comes to nature, wildlife, activities and sights. When planning to drive the Garden Route it is important to take time into consideration, and a week should do if you want to drive one way comfortably, and 11-12 days if you want a round trip, driving through Route 62 on the way back (see map). When it comes to accommodation there should was plenty of options for budget travelers/hostels along the way.
As we were on a tight schedule we did this trip in one week, covering the following places:
Hermanus was a place we had heard would be great for whale watching, but since we did not want to pay to do one of the organised boat tours we ended up sitting a few hours at the rocky beach without seeing a single whale.
Cape Agulhas is the most southern point of Africa (not Cape Point like most people think). It was a pretty long drive off the original route, but we were too curious to not drive the extra kilometres too see. All there was to see was a white lighthouse, restaurant and souvenir shop where they tried selling us water from both the Indian and the South Atlantic Ocean.
Mossel Bay was a bit disappointing to us, as we found the city a bit less lively than the other places we visited. It was a harbor town know for its whale catching and beach, but except for a lunch break we did not spend much time here.
Bloukrans Bridge used to be the worlds highest bungee jump and they tried to convince us that it still was. We felt like this was a compulsory stop, as we needed something to make our harts pump faster after spending hours packed in a small car. Even though the price was pretty stiff (something like 750Rands!).
Jeffreys Bay was probably the best part of the trip. Here there were heaps of possible activities such as horseback riding, surfing, skydiving etc etc. We decided to spend the time surfing and shopping in some of the many retail outlets and partied until late night at the hostel.
Port Elisabeth was another harbor town which I did not find that interesting. We took a trip up the old tower to get a view of the city and spend some time at an art park where one of the highlights was a split up taxis hanging on a stone wall. The street food we bought of the street was good though (Ethipoian food if I was to guess).
Since we did not want to back-track we took another route on the way back (Route 62) which went through big wine regions such as Robertson Wine farms and Oudshorn which is a place known for its many ostrich farms. Some only let you see ostriches and play with the big eggs, but the one we stopped at actually let us ride the ostriches which was great fun!
All in all it was a great trip, but if I was to do it again I would have spent much more time at the places we visited.
If you are interested in hiking, Cape Town also offers some excellent trips that can be done in less than a day. Then I would recommend starting with Lions Head (easy/just a couple of hours), then go up table mountain and take the cable car or rappel down (medium/almost full day) or cross all the Twelve Apostles (hard/several days). You should be able to see all the way to Robben Island from all of these places and get a great view of Cape Town.
But the ultimate daytrip from Cape Town is to go south to Cape Point visiting places as Fish Hoek and Simons Town/ Boulder Beach along the way. I’ll write an own post about this coming up in a few days..
Orange River is the longest river in South Africa, and together with classmates from Cape Town, I paddled through parts of it, having South Africa on one side, and Namibia on the other.
The trip started with 10 hours in a bus, without air condition. It became quite warm, but luckily the sun had started to set when we got there, so together with the hot humidity it created a comfortable temperature in the desert area. Just after we had crossed the border, we were allowed out of the bus, and sat down around a campfire with the group and the crew of guides that would take us 70kilometres down the river that we would paddle the following days.
All of the five days spent at the river started early (usually around 7AM) and were mostly spent paddling, with only short stops to catch the breath and gather the group, except for our lunch breaks which luckily were a bit longer. After the breaks we went on until the sun set and we could make a camp and have dinner while telling ghost stories and sing songs around the campfire.
The paddling trip was tough, and was by some people described as a fantastic hell. All the meals were prepared on bonfires, and all night were spent outside in the wilderness among spiders, scorpions and bigger animals. It was a trip where everyone got to show their true side, as some helped more, and encouraged others to paddle on, but it was an experience which made everyone grow closer to each other. I think that this, until now, is the best trip I have ever done in my life. Even though everyone agreed, when getting home, that they were glad the trip was over.