African Safaris, Ecotourism & Accommodation in
South and Southern Africa
 
6-Day Garden Route Tour
Cape Town to Port Elizabeth
 
Day 1 - Oudtshoorn
After breakfast we make our way to Oudtshoorn along “Route 62”, the tourist route that meanders between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn, offering the shorter, scenic alternative to the N2 highway. This is an area of magnificent landscapes and towering cliffs, crystal clear streams and the abundance of trees and indigenous flora. The ever changing colours of the majestic mountains, scenic passes, rivers, vineyards and orchards, as well as the attractions, will offer you an unforgettable adventure — whether this is in the physical sense or simply a kaleidoscope of scenic tranquillity. Innovation and pride, combined with a terrain and mild climate that are harmoniously balanced, results in the prominence of this region's wines. We reach Oudtshoorn in the late afternoon, a town that is known as the "feather capital of the world”.
We will overnight at the Turnberry Boutique Hotel (or similar). The four star Turnberry Boutique Hotel in the centre of the picturesque Klein Karoo town of Oudtshoorn. A warm welcome, awaits visitors to this tiny piece of Scotland set in the heart of the Klein Karoo. Relax in the comfort of one of the well appointed air-conditioned bedrooms (each with satellite television, a coffee station and a mini bar), all with en-suite bathrooms, and cosy double beds fitted with crisp white linen. Each room also has wireless Internet connection.
Day 2 – Oudtshoorn
(Breakfast, Lunch)
Today we visit the Cango Caves near Oudtshoorn, which are among the biggest stalagmite formations in the world. Some of the sandstone formations are colourfully illuminated and the bizarre shapes in the caves are mainly composed of calcium carbonate. They develop as limewater drips from the stones and evaporate. The structures growing down from the cave ceiling are called stalactites, while those that grow from the ground to the top are called stalagmites.
We will also visit a working ostrich farm where one can learn more about these fascinating birds. Commercial ostrich farming started during the late 1880's in South Africa; this was also the start of the ostrich industry worldwide. The fashion demand in Europe for ostrich feathers inspired the growth of the industry, with the Oudtshoorn district quickly being established as the “ostrich capital of the world”. During the first decade of the previous century, ostrich feathers gained record prices on foreign markets, ranking 4th on the list of South African exports, after gold, diamonds and wool. The consequence of this newly found opulence meant that ostrich farmers were able to build beautiful sandstone mansions. A unique feature of the farm experience is a visit to the Ostrich Palace "Welgeluk" which was built at the height of the feather boom in 1910. The homestead is a National Monument and is a superb example of the type of architecture that was used at the time. Safari Ostrich Show Farm was established more than 40 years ago. Lunch will be enjoyed at this farm.
For your own account you may have time to visit the Cango Wildlife Ranch and Valley of Ancients, an endangered species breeding facility extraordinaire. The oldest and biggest cheetah contact centre worldwide offers visitors the rare opportunity of interacting with hand reared cheetahs and getting actively involved in saving this species and others from extinction. For the adventurous there is an opportunity to come face to face with wildlife in the Natural Encounters programme where you can touch a cheetah, enjoy the closeness of a tiger cub, wrap yourself in a python and even dive with Nile crocodiles.
Day 3 - Knysna
(Breakfast)

After breakfast we go on the Swartberg Pass, which is considered one of the most impressive mountain passes in the world - an untarred road that winds to the summit 1583 meters above sea level in steep zigzags and sudden switchbacks with breathtaking views at every turn. The road is supported in places by hand-packed stone walls, a trademark of Thomas Charles Bain, the brilliant road engineer of the 19th Century. Along the way there are relics of old prisons, tollhouses, and Way stations that bear historic testimony to past adventures. Often covered with snow in winter, the mountain's microclimate supports fynbos and a rich bird life, in contrast with the arid-zone flora and fauna outside its cool shady kloofs. The Swartberg Pass was declared a National Monument in its Centenary year, 1988. Those who have crossed the pass will never forget it. Once we have summitted the Pass, we do a lunch stop at the quaint little town of Prince Albert and then go onto Meiringspoort.
Meiringspoort is a deep cleft through the seemingly impenetrable Swartberg Mountain range. This natural passage forms a convenient link between the Great and Little Karoo. Soaring cliff walls with spectacular rock formations line the 25 km tarred road, which winds along the floor of the gorge, crossing the Groot River 25 times. Entry to the Poort is via Klaarstroom, 55 kms east of Prince Albert, en route to Oudtshoorn and the coast. Hardy plants, including indigenous pelargonium, cling to the precarious rock faces while birds, baboons and smaller fauna abound in the protected kloofs and crevices. Among the most scenic spots is the waterfall tumbling into a dark pool that, according to legend, is bottomless. In Meiringspoort one feels insignificant against the overwhelming grandeur of the surroundings. Driving through this Poort with its winding road, the traveller is enchanted by the scenery with a kaleidoscope of every changing colour. The richness of the vegetation along the river will intrigue plant lovers and birdwatchers will be amazed at the bird life. Meiringspoort was originally opened to traffic on the 3rd March 1858. Please note that this trip is only possible if the pass has not been closed. This usually happens when there has been heavy snowfall or very heavy rain, making the road dangerous.
From here we will make our way to Knysna, where we overnight at the Knysna Hollow (or similar). The Garden Chalets and Rooms are set in lush gardens and have been tastefully decorated with a Knysna forest feel. Room amenities include televisions, tea and coffee making facilities and private patios.
Knysna Waterfront

Day 4 - Knysna
(Breakfast, Lunch)

This morning after breakfast we visit the “Featherbed Nature Reserve”. Featherbed gives visitors to the Garden Route an unforgettable experience on the Knysna Lagoon. The Lagoon, more accurately defined as an estuary, has five fresh water rivers flowing in from the surrounding Outeniqua Mountains meeting with the surge of sea water from the Indian Ocean through the mighty headlands – known as the 'Knysna Heads' - the grand sandstone cliffs towering above the entrance to the Knysna Lagoon. Featherbed is a privately-owned, registered Nature Reserve and a South African Heritage Site, No.59. It is a pristine piece of paradise situated on the Western Head of Knysna and is accessible by ferry only. After driving through the reserve to the top of the Western Head, you can take the optional, 2.2 kilometre guided walk, passing through Milkwood forests onto the steep sandstone cliffs, into ancient Khoi Khoi sea caves and along a scenic coastal path fringed with aromatic fynbos. Your guide will inform you on the ecology, fauna, flora, bird and marine life in the reserve. On the coastal walk back, you can often spot the resident Black African Oyster Catcher, one of the rarest coastal birds in South Africa. Featherbed Nature Reserve is home to a breeding program of the rare Blue Duiker - one of the smallest antelope species in the world - the beautiful Knysna Loerie and the endangered Knysna Sea Horse.
Lunch will be at The Forest Restaurant is situated on the edge of the Lagoon under a canopy of Milkwood trees.
Later this afternoon you are at leisure to stroll around the town or the cute Knysna Waterfront to catch up on some shopping or relaxation.

Day 5 – Addo Elephant National Park
(Breakfast)

This morning we travel to the Addo Elephant Park, stopping along the way to visit Plettenberg Bay and then on to the Bloukrantz Bridge where you have the opportunity to bungee jump at this, the highest commercial bungee jump in the world at 216-metres! Please note that this is for your own account. We then visit the Tsitsikamma National Park and walk to the suspension bridge over the Storms River, the round trip taking about an hour and a half and then a stop at the Paul Sauer Bridge over the Storms River to take a stroll onto the bridge and enjoy lunch here.
After lunch we head for the Addo Elephant Park which lies deep within the shadows of the dense valley bushveld of the Sundays River region of the Eastern Cape. Here the evenings are punctuated by the strident howl of the black-backed jackal, and the francolins call heralds each new dawn. Safe from relentless persecution in the past, the grey leviathans of the bush now roam in peace. The original Elephant section of the park was proclaimed in 1931, when only eleven elephants remained in the area - today this finely tuned ecosystem is sanctuary to elephants, Cape buffalo, black rhino, a variety of antelope species, as well as the unique flightless dung beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo.

Day 6 – Port Elizabeth
(Breakfast)

We will spend the remainder of the day on extended game drives into this popular game reserve and this evening you will be dropped off at your overnight accommodation or at the airport in Port Elizabeth in time for your flight.

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