Follow Me Through South Africa’s Garden Route: Part 2!


Welcome back, and to part 2! If you have missed part 1, you can check it out here.


South Africa has so many spectacular places to experience, and each place is filled with little hidden gems; since moving to the beautiful mother city of Cape Town I have made it my mission to discover and experience as many of these wonders as possible!


Overnight Destinations:


PART 1:

  • Hermanus: 24th September to 27th September (Day 1 – 4)

  • Swellendam: 27th September to 29th September (Day 4 – 6)

  • Still Bay: 29th September to 1st October (Day 6 – 8)

  • Mosselbay: 1st October to 3rd October (Day 8 – 10)




PART 2:

  • Wilderness: 3rd October to 5th October (Day 10 – 12)

  • Sedgefield: 5th October to 7th October (Day 12 – 14)

  • Knysna: 7th October to 9th October (Day 14 – 16)

  • Oudtshoorn: 9th October to 11th October (Day 16 – 18)


Map of the Garden Route, South Africa


 

Wilderness


Unmissable Pit-Stops


While communing from Mossel Bay to Wilderness, be sure to make a stop at the Red Berry Farm in George.


The Red Berry Farm offers fun activities to guests of all ages, they have massive fields where you can go and pick strawberries, a huge maze you can get lost in and have to find clues to get out, for the children they have a The Red Berry Express (train), peddle go-carts, pony rides, bubble ball and bumper carts, and last but not least – be sure to enjoy the mouthwatering Artisanal Eateries located across the farm that offer homemade ice cream, pizza, craft beer, wine and so much more!



 

The Outeniqua Family Market


Another unmissable stop on the way to Wilderness is the Outeniqua Family Market which is open on Saturday Mornings.


At this market you can find close to anything, live music, a huge variety of food stalls are set up across the field, they offer fun-runs, art galleries, nurseries with the most beautiful and decently priced plants, freshly picked fruit and vegetables, clothing items and so much more!


This is a lovely stop for the family on a sunny day, there is a train for the children as well as a playground and many picnic benches to relax on.


Wilderness is probably my most favourite destination across the garden route, and I loved our stay here so much we went back again this year in August!


We stayed over at Touws River Lodge and paid R450 (£22) a night. This beautiful guest lodge had everything you needed, comfortable warm beds, a kitchen, a patio with a braai, and the bonus of having canoes and mountain bicycles ready for use!


Our host Marita is also an advert cyclist and is very encouraging when it comes to exploring the city.



 

Activities To Do In Wilderness


 

Canoe & Hiking


This one is quite a challenge I will admit, from the accommodation you canoe for roughly 1h15m 4kms upstream till you reach the Half-Collared Kingfisher Trail, you then park off your canoe and hit a 5km hike upwards towards a waterfall, the walk itself is deep within a forest and has the most incredible plant life.


Once you’ve reached the waterfall, you can choose to kick off your shoes and take a dip in the lagoon, set up a picnic or do some rock climbing. You definitely will want to eat and drink something before the long walk and canoe back home!



 

Kaaimans Grotto Hike


(This hike is said to be the most dangerous hike in South Africa, so be sure to bring your taser and pepper spray).


Hidden on the seaside cliffs close to the Kaaiman’s River Mouth, this beautiful hike starts on an old train track. You follow the rails until you reach a cave, it may seem quite daunting but don’t worry, right on the other side is a marvellous “cave home” habituated by a man named Cliffie who loves nothing more than to decorate his cave-dwelling with hundreds of shell mobiles that hang from the cave roof. Cliffe also gives shelter to homeless men and even feeds them! (Please note, if you visit, they do ask for cash donations).


Once having taken a tour through the cave you reach a cliff and a broken train track where you can some scenic photos.



 

Mountain Biking (MTB)


The Garden Route is filled with a wide variety of MTB trails that cater to all different levels and moods, you can cycle up the mountain on rocky terrain or simply cycle along the deck across the river.


Either way, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable view and a good workout!



 

Commuting From Wilderness to Sedgefield


 

Live Music And A Meal At The Duck on Deck


An absolute treasure you HAVE TO experience if you’re going along the garden route is to visit the Duck on Deck restaurant!


Duck on Deck is a remote sports bar/seafood restaurant that creates the perfect venue to escape the hype of life with a few friends and a drink.




The owner of the venue is the sweetest man, he makes the best potato salad ever and is probably the most accommodating person I’ve ever come across – somehow, he could see I was getting hungry during the show and cut me up some cucumber, he even gave my a little takeaway of cucumber and salad wrapped up like a little duck.






The venue overlooks a gorgeous pond where the ducks live, you will find the performing stage right at the end of the pond where they host the performances of South Africa’s hidden stars.


We were lucky enough to watch the performance of local Steam-punk star Stretch.


Stretch is a Steampunk Singer-Songwriter-Storyteller.


With stylings and influences of Jazz and Swing, she takes her audience on a journey of the weird and wonderful world seen through her eyes. Stretch's character, script & songs are conceptualized, written and produced by Lauren Smith who also performs as the lead character in her shows enriched with soulful music and storytelling.


 

Sedgefield


Sedgefield naturally fulfils many stipulations of the Italian Citta Slow "Slow Town" tenets and is why the tortoise is the town’s emblem.


During our time here we chose ATT 41 for our stay and paid only R731 (£35) for 2 nights, ATT 41 offers a really homey vibe and is run by a stunning elderly couple who have lived in the area for years.



 

Activities Found In & Around Sedgefield


You will learn it takes time to discover Sedgefield's multiple treasures hidden in plain sight! I’d recommend spending at least 5 days in the area, unfortunately, we only spent 2.


It requires you to be an astute observer, to have a genuine love for nature and have a keen sense of adventure!


A few of the highly recommended activities are listed below:

  • Picnic next to the lagoon

  • Laze under an umbrella on any one of 5 beaches

  • Swim in the invigorating water

  • Kitesurf along the length of Myoli and Cola beaches

  • Throw a fishing line from the rocks

  • Surf the waves on Swartvlei beach

  • Canoe the rivers

  • Snorkel in the amazing tidal pools at Gerickes

  • Surge on the incoming tide at the Swartvlei Rivermouth

  • Enjoy some lazy stand-up paddling on the peaceful lagoon

  • Hike the nature trails of Goukamma Nature Reserve

  • Cycle wherever your fancy takes you

  • Take a paragliding lesson or enjoy an exhilarating tandem experience

  • The activities are honestly endless, grab your tekkies (trainers) and get going!


During our short stay, we were fortunate enough to experience the beaches, lagoons, a few favourite restaurants and a spectacular show!



If you try hard enough, you can find a private beach – we found one which we had all to ourselves for the whole day making the perfect photoshoot location! All you stunning models and photographers would be in complete heaven in Sedgefield. The water is mighty cold so I would highly suggest a wetsuit if you wanted to swim.


Do yourselves a favour and step into your most confident version to make some unforgettable images on the beach.



 

Knysna


Knysna is one of the most popular destinations along the Garden Route because it holds the balance of the “busy city life” and the “tranquil nature life”, though I wouldn’t suggest simply going to the mall when you can grab a canoe, go kloofing (South African name for canyoneering) or try water-skiing, stand up paddling or wakeboarding – Knysna is your water sports adventure wonderland!

During our time in Knysna, we stayed at the magical Woodlands Self-Catering unit paying R1560 (£76) for 2 nights.


Woodlands is a very well kept establishment that holds multiple guest houses each with its own braai, patio and garden. Truth be told it is probably the most aesthetically pleasing accommodation I have ever come across; the owners have truly worked hard to create a fairytale location. The property even holds its own hiking trail through a forest for you to start your morning off with!



 

Activities In & Around Knysna


Knysna is the home of adventure along the Garden Route. Our natural surroundings make for the perfect playground for adventure sports of all kinds.


Kilometres of exciting single cycling tracks through indigenous forests and Cape fynbos has made Knysna THE mountain biking destination. Add six annual MTB events, along with private operators offering adventure as well as leisure rides, hit the saddle!


Knysna’s MTB offerings include adrenaline-pumping pedalling and family-friendly rides for all ages. There are more advanced tracks where it is mandatory to have an emergency contact ready and available just in case of a likely injury.


Not even to mention the forests, coastal routes, rolling hills and mountains are crisscrossed with hiking and running trails. Trail runners will be challenged, and families will enjoy easy hikes. We completed a beautiful hike along an old run-down mining area.


Once you’ve experienced your dose of adrenaline for the day, you can wind down with some exploration of the local beaches, take a sunset cruise or partake in some retail therapy at The Knysna Waterfront.



 

Oudtshoorn


Inland from the Cape’s famous Garden Route, over breathtakingly beautiful mountain passes, magnificent red rocks and the wide-open spaces of the Klein Karoo, you’ll find Oudtshoorn which is commonly known as the “ostrich capital of the world” (Klein Karoo means Small Karoo: A Karoo is an area that is devoid of surface water, and its name is derived from the Khoisan word meaning “land of thirst”).


During our stay in Oudtshoorn, we chose Shadowlands Guest-house and paid R1200 (£58) for a 4-bedroom house for 2 nights. Shadowlands is run by a charming couple who respect your privacy, yet still make themselves available during your stay.


There are two canoes that you can use along the lagoon and it is located near enough to the main road for you to easily explore what Oudtshoorn has to offer.



 

Activities In & Around Oudtshoorn


 

Cango Caves and Wildlife Ranch


Probably the main driving force for people to visit Oudtshoorn are the Cango Caves and the Cango Wildlife Ranch.


The Cango Caves is a cultural and natural landmark in South Africa. The 20 million-year-old Cango Caves system consists of a series of hidden chambers cut deep into a thick limestone rock layer. It is situated in the Swartberg Mountains, 30 kilometres north of Oudtshoorn.


There are guided tours throughout the cave every 60 minutes where you walk with a group through the limestone and have a guide explain how it was created, how old it is, who found it, and backstories such as how concerts used to be held within the main “auditoriums” due to its incredible acoustics. These, unfortunately, had to be stopped as people started breaking off pieces of limestone and touching the early cave art which of course tainted it.


You can choose between a standard tour or the adventure tour, now let me tell you that the adventure tour is definitely not for those who are claustrophobic! You will be required to crawl up, down and through very narrow caves with a whole group Infront and behind you – and yes, there are rare occasions where people get stuck and you simply have to wait there trapped in a cave until you are rescued, but don’t worry, it doesn’t happen often at all!


The caves are absolutely stunning and are definitely something you don’t want to miss, so put your fear aside and enjoy the ride!



 

Cango Wildlife Ranch


Only around a 10-minute drive from the Cango Caves is the Cango Wildlife Ranch which has been running for over 30 years and comprises over 90 different species of animals and 100 full-time staff. They also offer guided tours throughout the ranch which are fundamental for their education programs, giving each species a voice, and enlightening the public on animal and environmental issues.


The Wildlife Ranch is a stunning destination for the whole family and truly connects you with nature, they offer bird feedings, animal pettings and a scrumptious restaurant where you can try out some pretty unique food such as crocodile burgers.



 

Bufflesdrift Game Lodge


What an absolute surprise finding this gem was! While at the Cango Wildlife Ranch someone mentioned to us that if your birthday was during the initial level 1 lockdown, Bufflesdrift Game Lodge will give you a free bush safari, and lucky for us – our birthdays are 3 days apart and were during the designated time period!


During the safari, you can expect to see hippo, giraffe, eland, zebra, buffalo, springbok, and many more stunning creatures. The Safari is around 2 hours long and your guide stops around halfway and sets up a lovely refreshment station.



The Safari is definitely not the only activity this stunning resort offers, they also offer tranquil luxurious tented accommodation, elephant walks and feedings, walking amongst cheetahs, lion experiences and a very well-reviewed spa making this an ideal destination for the family.



 

Thanks!


If you are still with me, thank you so incredibly much for virtually experiencing parts of the Garden Route with me! South Africa truly has so much beauty and culture to offer, and I sincerely hope to share some of it with you.


If there is anything you would specifically like me to write about next, please feel free to say so, I hope this has inspired you to start planning a trip down the Garden Route!


With much love, and until next time!


 

90% of the accommodation bookings have been done through LekkeSlaap. I’ve found that LekkeSlaap is the most ideal system to use when booking accommodation in South Africa, they offer a huge variety of establishments along with killer specials, the agents are super accommodating and friendly. I’ve been using them for 3 years now and I haven’t experienced any issues. Check them out!


 

Written by Candice Stratford


Bio:


Hey there! My name is Candice Stratford and I live in the beautiful mother city of Cape Town in South Africa.

I am a secondary school English teacher and I am in the process of completing my second degree in Psychology.


I am passionate about life and all living things, exploration and discovery along with experiencing the beauty this Earth has to offer.


Please follow me through my journey of light, love and growth xx











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