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Garden Route Self-Drive Tours
Garden Route South Africa Self-Drive Tours

Garden Route

Often called Eden because of its lush splendour, its mysterious forests, dramatic coastline, tranquil lakes and rugged mountains. A popular golfing destination with world class golf courses in Mossel Bay, George, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. A road trip or self drive tour on the Garden Route is top of the list for a South African tour enquiry. The Garden Route has mild to warm summers, and mild to cool winters.

Rent a car on the Garden Route and tour this popular stretch of the south-eastern coast of South Africa. It stretches from Heidelberg in the Western Cape to the Storms River in the Tsitsikamma region. The name Garden Route comes from the verdant and ecologically diverse vegetation (most bearing flowers at some time of the year) encountered here and the numerous lagoons and lakes dotted along the coast. It includes towns such as Mossel Bay, Knysna, Oudtshoorn, Plettenberg Bay and Nature's Valley as well as the Tsitsikamma region, with George the Garden Route's only city and main administrative centre.

The Route is sandwiched between the Tsitsikamma and Outeniqua mountain ranges inland and the Indian Ocean. The indigenous forests are a unique mixture of Cape Fynbos and Temperate Forest and offer hiking trails and eco-tourism activities. Nearly 300 species of bird life are to be found in a variety of habitats ranging from fynbos to forest to wetlands. Ten nature reserves embrace the varied ecosystems of the area as well as unique marine reserves, home to dolphins, seals and a host of other marine life. Various bays along the Garden Route are nurseries to the endangered Southern Right Whales which come there to calve in the winter and spring (July to November).

Knysna

Founded by George Rex, reputedly the son of George III of England, Knysna wraps around the Knysna lagoon. Knysna's history originates from woodcutters, sea-farers, gold-diggers and timber merchants that moved into the area. At one time a flourishing port, it is now a popular holiday resort. By the time of George Rex's death in 1839, Knysna had become a major timber center, attracting white labourers who felled trees with primitive tools for miserly payments, and looked set eventually to destroy the forest. The forests only narrowly escaped devastation by far-sighted and effective conservation policies introduced in the 1880's. The Heads are two impressive rocky peninsulas, where the lagoon enters the sea. Although known as the lagoon, with a size of 18 sq kilometers, it is actually the estuary of the Knysna river, open to the Indian Ocean at all times. The lagoon is well known for its cultivated oysters and the Knysna seahorse.

Knysna has two islands: Leisure Isle, facing The Heads, an upmarket residential area with a small beach, Bollard Bay and Thesen Island, previously the sawmills from where the forest wood was shipped through The Heads, and now turned into a very expensive residential area and shopping center with canals and bridges, each property with its own jetty.

Activities in Knysna include a ferry boat trip to the Featherbed Nature Reserve, mountain biking in deep forests, township tours, the Elephant Park where you can feed and stroke the elephants and some great swimming beaches just a short drive away. By having your own hire car on the Garden Route, you can get to all these varied places with ease.

Plettenberg Bay

This bay was originally named by the Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Diaz on his epic rounding of South Africa in 1488. He called it "Bahia das Alagoas" - Bay of the Lagoons. Some 90 years later in 1576 Manuel de Perestrello sailed into the bay and named it "Bahia Formosa" - Beautiful Bay. But in 1778 Governor Van Plettenberg thought it best to rename it after himself!

About 500m beyond the Bay you can see Robberg Peninsula jutting out into the ocean, to the west - formed by a geological fault about 90 million years ago. Today it is a very popular walking or hiking destination, as there are short to long options - all with magnificent views of the Bay. Not to be missed is the cave at Nelsons Bay which was inhabited by Middle and Late Stone age people for the past 120 000 years.

Plett as it is commonly known, is an excellent destination for a South African beach holiday and for nature lovers, hiking on Robberg Peninsula is a must. In the area you can also visit Birds of Eden (the largest single span aviary in the world) and Monkeyland, where you walk with a guide amongst the free roaming monkeys in the forest. Or spend and afternoon game watching on an open safari vehicle at a game reserve close by.

Tsitsikamma

The focal point of the Tsitsikamma coast line with its black rocks and pounding white foaming breakers, is the scenic Stormsriver Mouth Resort in the Tsitsikamma National Park. Adventure activities include the Tree Top Canopy Tour (where you glide from 30m high tree to tree in the Tsitsikamma Forest) and the world's highest bridge bungy jump of 217 metres at the Bloukrans Bridge. The world renowned Otter Hiking Trail starts at Stormsriver Mouth and finishes at Natures Valley. Book a year in advance though if you have a hiking holiday in mind.

Eine Selbstfahrerreise am Gartenroute ist besonders empfehlenswert.

Selfreizen de zuidelike Kaapstad en Garden Route of enige verskillende gebieden in Suid-Afrika.


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Tree Top Canopy Tours

Cycling in the Garden Route

Knysna Lagoon


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