I know it is Kerala that is revered as God’s Own Country but one trip to South Africa and trust me, you would be willingly sharing the sobriquet between the two. It all started when my husband moved to the African land on business a few moons ago. I, like any loving wife, was more than glad to visit him and that too in a destination I had never visited before. So what I had imagined to be a romantic holiday, surprisingly also turned out to be the biggest adventure of my life!
True to my spirit, I packed well in time and was jumping with excitement as I boarded the 15-hour long connecting flight from Delhi to Cape Town via Dubai. Well, it was an exhausting journey but all my tiredness disappeared as soon as I looked out the window. South Africa (SA) was absolutely gorgeous! The usual trend for most first time international travellers is to flock to either Europe or parts of South East Asia. I am so glad we didn’t because SA is more beautiful than you or I could ever imagine. Most of us are oblivious to the fact that in Cape Town, the second most populated city in SA, there are more than 1,100 species of indigenous plants, at least 250 species of birds and different types of terrains that your camera will be spoilt for choice.
I cannot even begin to fathom what locales like Durban, Sun City, Johannesburg, Kruger, Kenya and others have to offer! These are all in our bucket list though.
For now, let’s travel back in time to June 7, 2013 when we kick started our vacation with a moonlit night at the CUBE Guest House at Hout Bay, a coastal suburb of Cape Town. Tucked in a corner surrounded by lush green trees, was our li’l wooden cottage with a private pool. It’s a pity that June is a winter month here or we would have definitely taken a dip in the pool.
Garden Route – Highway to Heaven
The next morning started early with a hearty breakfast prepared by the caretaker at CUBE. The delicious fare comprising jams, eggs, breads, cheese and juices charged us up for the 500 kilometres drive we were going to undertake. That’s how we started out for Knysna, a town that falls on the famous Garden Route.
Photo Credit: South Africa Tourism Board
With infinite shades of green and brown, the Garden Route boasts of small and quaint countryside houses, extensive golf courses, evergreen forests, stunning green landscapes, countless types of flora and fauna, spectacular bridges, cliffs, valleys and coastal towns. The best of Mother Nature is enclosed in this dream drive route.
Things To Do
Apart from driving and soaking in the gorgeous locales all around, you have plenty of sightseeing options in this part of South Africa and one could perhaps spend days or even weeks exploring the region. Here are the things to look out for:
Vineyards – With a variety of wines to taste ranging from red, white and rose wines, Jakkalsvlei Vineyards in the Langeberg Mountains, Bramon Wine Estate in The Crags and Herold Wine in George are the popular choices.
Feast on the beauty of the rolling vineyards along the Garden Route
Nature Reserves – There is a plethora of options available for wildlife and nature lovers on this stretch. Top choices are Birds of Eden, Featherbed Nature Reserve, Garden Route National Park, Knysna Elephant Park, Oyster Bay Reserve, Tsitsikamma National Park amongst countless others.
Ostrich Farms –Oudtshoorn is the best bet for seeing the biggest ostrich farms in SA. The highlight of this place is the ostrich rides at more than 70 kmph. Highly recommended!
White Sand Beaches – Port Elizabeth, St. Francis Bay, Plettenberg Bay and Mossel Bay boast of white sand beaches, perfect for long romantic walks.
Adventure Activities - There is no end to the adventure sports you can enjoy on the Garden Route. I could go on and on but the not-to-miss ones are bungee jumping from Bloukrans Bridge, deep sea diving at Mossel Bay and Plettenberg Bay, skydiving at Plettenberg Bay, whale watching at Hermanus and shark cage diving at Gansbaai.
Fine Dining – There are so many fine dining places to explore on different destinations along the Garden Route stretch that you might want to try a new place for each meal. Bomo Terrace at Plettenberg Bay, The 5th Season and The Rose on York Restaurant at George, Dine in Style at Wilderness, The Lighthouse Restaurant at Mossel Bay, Jazzbury’s at Mossel Bay, Vaaljapie Station restaurant at Little Brak ... the list is endless...
But this was just a prelude. There’s more to go. Stay tuned as I present the Venice of SA in my next!