South Africa: The Garden Route

 

This one’s a bit nostalgic for me, as we took this lovely road trip from Cape Town up the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth a couple of years ago now, but it will definitely go down as a lifetime family favorite!!  I’ve recently updated all the links/businesses so they should be current.

CAPE TOWN

See/stay:

  • Victoria and Albert Waterfront – There are several hotels in this area and I recommend staying here because it’s central and has good security. South Africa is still a country with huge economic disparity so you really need to be aware of safety. We stayed in an apartment in this part of town and it was great. Many of the city’s best restaurants are in this area too.
  • Uthando tours/education – This wonderful organization coordinated a visit to some of the nonprofit projects in one of the townships just outside Cape Town. They do amazing work for the community, and it was one of the most impactful days of our whole trip.
  • Hop on Hop off bus – sounds touristy but it’s really a great way to easily get around the city.  Much better than trying to drive or take taxis.
  • Table Mountain – take the aerial tramway or hike to the top for the best views of Cape Town
  • Lion’s Head – you can hike up here too for great views down over CT but if you don’t make it, Table Mountain is enough!
  • Robben Island – where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.
  • District Six museum – history of a neighborhood razed by apartheid
  • Camp’s Bay – just over the hill from the main part of the city is this fun beach town with lots of restaurants and beach lounging
  • Boulders Beach  – African penguin colony – cuteness!!!
  • Kalk Bay – on your way to or from the African penguins and stop for lunch, antique shopping, and ice cream in this cool little fishing town.  Don’t miss the Cape to Cuba restaurant!
  • Shark diving – SOOOO not my bag but if you’re seeking thrills you can dive with great whites.
  • Visit the Cape of Good Hope

Eat:

  • Beluga – beautiful spot on the harbor for sushi
  • Africa Café –  super super cool place serving foods traditional to different African tribes with music and more. Loved this!!
  • Savoy Cabbage –  beautiful space and great food
  • Old Biscuit Mill – great farmers market, yummy food and cool boutique shops – do not miss
  • Bo Kaap – Highly recommend a visit to this neighborhood – a vibrant community of people from Cape Malay live in super colorful houses and have a distinctive history and cuisine. We did a walking tour and cooking class/lunch in someone’s home, which was super special. Capetown Magazine had a nice article with ideas as well.

WINE COUNTRY

Winelands – Stay a at least a couple of nights in this gorgeous part of the country – about 45 minutes from Cape Town. Main towns Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are surrounded by beautiful countryside, fantastic wineries, and many excellent places to stay.  Biking, wine tasting, and general loveliness abound. Have lunch at pretty  La Petite Ferme.

OUDTSHOORN

  • The ostrich capital of the world!   Visit Safari Ostrich  to learn about the birds, and smaller kids can try their luck on a bird ride!
  • Cango Caves –  These beautiful limestone caves are definitely worth a detour.  I seem to remember a funky restaurant/park just outside with mini zip lines for the kids as well.
  • Meerkats –  This one takes a bit of motivation but is totally worth it. Get up at the crack of dawn and meet your expert naturalist guide near open fields to catch the wild meerkats emerging from their homes to greet the day. Fascinating and adorable.
  • DeZeekoe Guest Farm – This farm/hotel/restaurant is a great spot to stay in the area and they can help arrange tours for you.

COASTAL GARDEN ROUTE

Next your drive will take you down along the Indian Ocean which is dotted with quaint little beach towns including Mossel Bay, George, Knysa and Plettenberg Bay. Many Cape Town residents have their getaway cottages along this stretch. Knysa harbor is particularly good for a lunch stop.

Visit all three of these spots if you can:

Near Port Elizabeth

  • Addo Elephant National Park – This is a famous national elephant preserve with other wildlife viewing as well. As it stretches down to the sea, this park technically offers the “big 7” – elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, southern right whale and great white shark.  Um obviously not all viewable on the tour…   We stayed at Addo Afrique Lodge which was rustic and fun, but there are a bunch of lodges and game reserve hotels to try in this area.
  • Schotia Private Game reserve –  Enjoy a jeep tour for up close viewing of lions, rhinos, giraffes and a fun bbq dinner afterward. We enjoyed this a lot as a quick and easy mini safari experience, but you might skip it if you have already been on enough safaris!!
  • Alexandria Coastal Dune field – SUPER COOL massive sand dunes covering over 140km.  They are on private land, but are reachable by a couple of different boat cruises, and I believe you can arrange hikes/tours to parts of them with a naturalist as well.   Don’t miss a day of sand sledding!!  We took Addo Cruises, but also look at Sundays River Adventures.

 

 

 

 

 

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