Garden Route and Little Karoo
Garden Route and Klein Karoo Overland Tour “Mountains and passes, forests and birds”
Day 1: Cape Town to Oudtshoorn
Leave the winelands behind on the journey over the Hottentots-Holland mountains to Worcester, the beginning of the Breede River valley stretching eastwards for more than a 100 kilometers with estates producing some of South Africa’s premier wines.
Guided by the Langeberg mountains, travel through Robertson and Ashton where we enter the little Karoo via the Cogmanskloof Pass to the pretty little town of Montagu. Admire the gables of the beautifully restored houses framed by an unbelievable variety of colourful bougainvillea.
Stop at Barrydale for an optional lunch break before continuing through this silent wide valley, hemmed in by two great mountain ranges, past Ladismith and Calitzdorp – Port Wine capital of South Africa.
Arrive in Oudtshoorn in time for a guided tour of the the awe-inspiring Cango Caves with their great halls and incredible limestone formations. Sunset is the time to enjoy a glass of wine before dining on barbecued ostrich filet.
Day 2: Oudtshoorn to Tsitsikamma Lodge
With 95% of the world’s ostrich population around Oudtshoorn , a tour of one of the top ostrich show ranches is a must. Meet and learn more about these pre-historic birds.
At the nearby Cango Wildlife ranch a guided tour of the crocodile pens and Big Cats enclosure, (lions, tigers, pumas and jaguars), concludes with the option of entering the cheetah enclosure to touch these magnificent animals.
Leave the little Karoo over the breathtakingly beautiful Outeniqua mountains. Travel along the coast to Wilderness and then via the lake district to the lovely coastal town of Knysna, well known for it’s many art and craft shops.
We travel further eastwards to the Tsitsikamma Lodge to overnight in their charming wooden chalets – each fitted out with a Jacuzzi! Time permitting, take one of the many beautiful walking trails through the peaceful forest. Return for a sundowner on your private patio or visit the intimate, well-stocked pub before sitting down to a delicious buffet dinner.
Day 3: : Tsitsikamma Lodge to Knysna.
A breakfast second to none! Too many options to choose from and far too few hours in the day. Firstly a short walk through the forest to a giant Outeniqua Yellowwood tree which was already growing when Europe was still caught in the Dark Ages. Nearby, an optional adrenalin ride from tree-top to tree-top – suitable for ALL ages. Our next stop is in the Tsitsikamma National Coastal Park where you can take a half-hour walk through the forest to a suspension bridge spanning the Storm’s River mouth. Alternately, spend your time on the covered deck at the restaurant and look for the dolphins which frequent this region. The next optional adrenalin stop is optional for the world’s highest bungee jump – a drop of 180 meters from the 216 meter high Bloukrans bridge. The oldest jumper to date was 93 years old!
Onwards to the “Crags” where there is the option of visiting an enormous covered aviary housing hundreds of wild indigenous birds – a two hour visit which is well worthwhile. Another optional visit is right next door – “Monkeyland”, a collection of primates rescued from private zoos, abandoned by, or confiscated from, their previous owners. A quick stop at the coastal resort of Plettenberg Bay – playground of the rich and super-rich, for a photo stop, to dip your toes in the ocean and maybe have a snack. Another option on the way to Knysna is a visit to the elephant park – now housed on a farm near Plettenberg Bay with elephants from the Kruger National Park.
Twenty minutes drive further takes us to the coastal resort of Knysna for our overnight stay. Time permitting after this hectic day, there is the option of a sunset cruise on the Knysna estuary. After checking in at our overnight accommodation, we have a two-minute walk to one of the fine restaurants in the Knysna waterfront for dinner.
Day 4:Knysna – Mossel Bay – Swellendam – Cape Town
Westwards to Cape Town where the first stop is Mossel Bay to visit the Dias museum displaying a replica of the caravel in which Bartholomew Dias rounded Cape Point in 1488. The watering hole, shell museum and the historical Post Office Tree that served the Portuguese and other mariners since the early 16th century, are to be seen nearby.
As the dairy and sheep farms give way to wheat fields, the 18th century frontier town of Swellendam comes into view, snug against the Langeberg mountains.
Enjoy an optional lunch at a restaurant set in idyllic surroundings before the next leg past the rolling wheatlands takes you to the apple and pear orchards of Grabouw. Stop at an interesting little farm stall on the way to the Sir Lowry’s pass view site overlooking the Cape Flats with Table Mountain more than 60 kilometers away. Arrive in Cape Town an hour later to relax in the shadow of Table Mountain.