The Garden RouteNo visit to the Western Cape is complete without at least a few days spent in the beautiful Garden Route region. Incorporating the picturesque stretch of coastline between Mossel Bay and Nature's Valley, the Garden Route is aptly named for its lush greenery and the vast Tsitsikamma Forest. The coastal route includes the towns of Mossel Bay, George, Wilderness, Sedgefield, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay and Nature's Valley - each with their own charm and attractions.
The Garden Route is ideal for a self-drive holiday and can be easily reached from Cape Town via the N2 through the farming regions of the Overberg, or alternatively via Route 62 which travels through the Breede River Valley towns of Robertson and Ashton and then on to Oudtshoorn before joining up with the N2 at George.
Tsitsikamma is the Khoi-San word for a place of many waters. It is the perfect description of this exquisite area but does not do justice to the overwhelming experience the Tsitsikamma provides for those fortunate enough to visit it and to indulge in its unique pleasures.
The Tsitsikamma National Park is internationally recognized for its forests which harbour and conserve the giant Outeniqua yellowwood - one of the few true monarchs of the world's forests. This enormous tree is one of the most successful species in existence, having survived unchanged for millions of years. Tsitsikamma National Park is also Africa's oldest and largest marine reserve, playing a vital role in the preservation and conservation of marine fauna and flora. Tourists, and particularly hikers from all over the world, visit the area which is known for its rugged, unspoiled coastline - a photographer's dream.
Know as "The Feather Capital of the World" because of the flourishing ostrich industry Oudtshoorn itself, the heart of the ostrich feather industry when it was in its hey day the late 1800s and early 1900s, is well worth a visit.
An important geological feature to be found just outside Oudtshoorn is the Cango Caves, a series of caverns and chambers naturally hewn out of limestone. The Cango Caves are among the top ten most visited South African attractions.
The East CoastAgulhas National Park
Lying in what is known as the Agulhas Plain at the southernmost tip of Africa is the Agulhas National Park, just 45 kilometers from the popular village of Gansbaai. This might be the meeting place of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, but the park's focus is on some of the most splendid examples of lowland fynbos and lowland fynbos on limestone soils - considered endangered and restricted largely to the southern Overberg. The Agulhas National Park is the mainstay of the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative, whose aim is to address the main threats to the globally significant lowland fynbos biodiversity of the Agulhas Plain, and to improve the livelihoods of the region's local communities.
Hermanus, the world's foremost land based whale watching destination, is a thriving holiday resort offering residents and holiday makers all modern amenities, yet retaining its fisherman's village charm. The popular resort town of Hermanus, situated between mountain and sea, has gained world-wide recognition as the world's foremost land based whale watching destination.
The West CoastThe Western Cape's 'West Coast' has beautiful unspoilt beaches, magnificent mountain ranges, and the most spectacular wild flowers which bloom in the spring. The West Coast area of the Cape consists of three main areas, West Coast, Swartland & Sandveld and Olifants River Valley.
The charming little village of Darling lies between vineyards and golden wheat fields only 75km from Cape Town along the West Coast road and 25km from the beach at Yzerfontein. The town of Darling deserves a stop, especially in September for its Wild Flower and Orchid show and for its locally produced wines.
The unpretentious, picturesque seaside village of Lambert's Bay lies right up the West Coast, not
far from Clanwilliam and only 2.5 hours' drive from Cape Town. This part of the coast is quite simply
beautiful, with wide expanses of white sand under blazing blue skies.
The popular town of Langebaan is just over 100 km from Cape Town on the West Coast off the R27 next to Langebaan Lagoon. The white Caribbean like beaches surrounding the crystal clear waters of the Langebaan Lagoon are one of the main attractions of Langebaan.
Cape Route 62Route 62 is modeled after the iconic US Route 66, made famous by the late, great Nat King Cole in the song of the mid 20th century. Travelers headed for the Garden Route will find that Route 62 offers a better alternative to the dull N2 motorway between Cape Town and George, being more scenic and slightly shorter. This well-maintained blacktop highway meanders from Worcester, by way of the Breede River Valley, through Robertson, Ashton and Montagu, then the Klein Karoo landmark towns and then on to George and the Garden Route.
It's an area of magnificent landscapes and towering cliffs, crystal clear streams and an abundance of trees and indigenous flora - all contribute to make Paarl, Wellington, the Breede River Valley, Klein Karoo and Langkloof some of South Africa's most diverse regions.
Cape Route 62, also known as the Mountain Route, offers the visitor range upon range of striking mountain
edifices. Passes such as: Michell's Pass near Ceres, Bain's Kloof Pass near Wellington, Gydo Pass due
north of Ceres up the Skurweberg, Tulbagh Kloof (after the town of Tulbagh), Prince Alfred's Pass (after
Prince Alfred) from Knysna to Uniondale, Tradouw Pass near Barrydale, Garcia's Pass from Riversdale to
Ladismith, Cogmans Kloof, from Ashton to Montagu and Swartberg Pass from Oudtshoorn to Prince Albert.
No fewer than 500 different species of succulents are to be seen along Route 62. Orchards and vineyards are there in abundance, too. The main highway traversing this fascinating land, Route 62, is reputed to be the longest wine route in the world.
Driving east on Route 62, from Ladismith via the striking Huisrivier mountain pass, travelers suddenly encounter the little town of Calitzdorp, once renowned as the Port Wine Capital of South Africa, but now more commonly known to be the Heart of The Klein Karoo. Robertson is well known for its beauty, renowned for its wines of connoisseur quality, radiant roses and thoroughbred horses. Columns of red or yellow cannas and flaming bougainvillea line the roads outside the wine estates, gardens overflow and vineyards are banked with roses.
The quaint little Victorian town of De Rust, on Route 62, is conveniently positioned at the southern entrance to Meiringspoort - a magnificent gorge through the Swartberg Mountain Range - and just a few kilometres from Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of the country. De Rust might be small but it is charming and has become something of a haven for artists and is famous for its dessert wines and cheeses.