Hermanus is a popular seaside holiday
The scenic Garden Route, with its pristine beaches, blue mountains,
lush forests and azure lakes, is one of the most beautiful holiday
destinations in South Africa. With False Bay and Table Mountain as
backdrops, head east on the N2 a stretch of road along South
Africa’s glorious southern coast known as the Garden Route. But
first, you’ll need to negotiate Sir Lowry’s Pass, perilous with
tight bends and sheer drops from unimaginable heights, providing
Winding your way down the mountain through fertile valleys and
quiet farming communities, you’ll come to Hermanus, a popular
resort clinging to the very edge of the continent and famed as the
world’s best land-based whale-watching site. The Whale Crier
announces through his kelp horn where whales have been sighted,
bringing droves of locals and visitors to numerous look-out points
to watch whales frolic, mate and calve.
Recommended accommodations are either the Birkenhead House with
stunning out-of-town location; or the Marine Hermanus, with a very
good wine list.
A little beyond Hermanus is Gansbaai, known for offering the
best shark-cage diving in the country. Deckhands lower a cage into
the water and then you soon after. Once you’re safely inside the
cage, the crew starts chumming the water with bloody bait instantly
attracting the attention of underwater predators.
There are a number of suspect diving outfits in the area, so
take care. One recommended company is Unreal Dive. A great B&B
is the luxury Round House ask for a room at the front. The Round
House has superb whale-watching from their viewing deck.
Continuing your drive you’ll pass villages and stretches of
beach until you reach Mossel Bay. Halfway between Cape Town and
Port Elizabeth, it has been featured in the “Guinness World
Records” as having the mildest all-year climate, second only to
Hawaii. Preserved old-stone buildings speak volumes about its
Beyond Mossel Bay is the capital of the Garden Route George.
George is bursting with graceful old buildings, numerous museums,
the Old Slave Tree that still has an iron chain embedded in its
trunk, the oldest church in South Africa and the country’s smallest
cathedral. George also has Victoria Bay, a secluded beach renowned
for surfing, and a large tidal pool at Herold’s Bay.
Accommodations are numerous but recommended is African Oceans
Manor-on-the-Beach B&B. The most luxurious room is Suite 4 with
sea views and an elegant Victorian bathroom.
The Fancourt Hotel & Country Club Estate is also a pleasant
stay ask for a lake-view room.
Cradled in the deep green vastness of misty mountains is the
fairy-tale landscape of Wilderness, some nine miles east of George.
Wilderness is a romantic world of lakes, rivers and estuaries which
gently unfold against a backdrop of tranquil talcum-white
Accommodations include The Waterside Lodge B&B ask for the
Surrounded by indigenous forests is Knysna, home to the
country’s only national lake and largest estuary. The waters of the
Indian Ocean channel through two large sandstone cliffs the Knysna
Heads forming the gateway to the marine reserve. A must-do
excursion is the old Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe steam train, which runs
between Knysna and George via the Lakes area. You’ll also want to
spend time at the Knysna Elephant Park.
Stay in one of the tree-suites of the Phantom Forest Eco
Further on is Plettenburg Bay, with 15 nature reserves,
including the Tsitsikamma National Park. The park preserves the
Khoisan (Bushmen) caves’ rock art. Accommodations include the
Castle on the Cliff with its own coastline.
The Garden Route will not fail to capture your imagination,
compelling you to linger just a little longer.