I absolutely love getting up at the crack of dawn, jumping into my car with a cup of coffee and hitting the road… to just about anywhere! Many of our students at Oxford English Academy have done the same, renting a car and heading off into the unknown.
One of the most popular, beautiful and scenic routes in all of South Africa is the Garden Route.
Leaving Cape Town you head out on the N2 and all you need to do is stay on the road for the next 800km! You will head inland at first and find quaint small towns dotted around the vast open farmlands. When you reach Swellendam take a turn left and drive through this 250 year old town. You will find a couple of arty, eccentric cafes on the main road, well worth a visit.
The first town you encounter along the coast is Mossel Bay, one of South Africa’s bigger coastal towns. The town has some beautiful beaches and a camping site right on the beach which is popular with South African families in summer.
A little further along you will wind around the coast, where one turn is sure to take your breath away as you reach the coastal town of Wilderness. The incredible stretch of beach you encounter from the top of the hill that leads into the small town, will be a memory hard to forget.
If seclusion is what you are after you will want to stop here for a day or two. This town is what one can refer to as intimate and yet offers adventure at the same time. Besides the beach there are hidden lakes and rivers to explore in the lush greenery surrounding the town.
Driving along another 50km you will come to a town called Knysna, voted the best town in South Africa time and time again. You will quickly see why it has been awarded this honour on more than one occasion. Picturesque to say the least, Knysna is surrounded by a huge lagoon that leads out into the Indian Ocean at a site called the Knysna Heads, two large sandstone cliffs overlooking and keeping watch on the ocean. Check out the official Knysna Tourism website for information on places to stay and things to do in this funky town. Knysna hosts in excess of seven festivals throughout the year, including the well-known Oyster Festival and Knysna Literary Festival.
Once you have managed to drag yourself away from this little piece of paradise and continue on your journey, the next town over is called Plettenberg Bay. This coastal town is a hive of activity in summer, day time and night time alike. From here you can visit places like the Elephant Sanctuary and Monkey Land.
Keep heading East and you will happen upon the Tsitsikamma Forest, which according to www.SouthAfrica.info “a place of deep, heavily scarred gorges, cliffs, tidal pools and thick evergreen forests. There are walking trails that range from comfortable day-long hikes to much longer treks.”
From here you will head towards South Africa’s premier surfing spot, Jeffrey’s Bay. This town is another one of many that offer incredibly long stretches of open beach. Super Tubes beach is the home of one of the world’s best waves. In July the town comes alive with visitors to watch the world’s top surfers compete in the JBay Open.
Last but not least on your coastal journey is the city of Port Elizabeth, a major port city known for its numerous wildlife reserves outside the metropolitan. Be sure to check out the Addo Elephant Park. This friendly city is the perfect ending to your trip and while there perhaps arrange for a boat tour to ensure the whales wave you off. From here you can either drive back and do it all over again, or jump on a plane for a quick one hour flight back to the Mother City!