The Garden Route

by Anna

We set off from Franschhoek on scenic Route 62 along the “longest wine route in the world.” It was a beautiful drive through lush mountains on steep, winding two-lane highways and through long stretches of red, rocky desert in the Karoo. We couldn’t believe how much the landscape changed in such a short amount of time! We made a pit stop for lunch in Oudtshoorn, famous for its ostrich farms where people can take a wild ride on an ostrich if they are feeling so inclined, and then made our way onto the Garden Route, a scenic 300km stretch that is a top priority on almost everyone’s South African itinerary. As we approached Knysna, our home base for the next few days, we were awed by the landscape around us as we passed by dense forests and the turbulent waters of the Indian Ocean, finally settling on a tranquil lagoon where Knysna is situated.

Knysna lagoon

We spent the next few days enjoying the natural beauty around us with hikes in the ancient forests around Knysna, heading to look out points to take in the two cliffs, called the Knysna Heads, that create a dramatic entrance from the Indian Ocean into the lagoon, checking out all of the unique, crazy-looking birds around the lagoon (a bird watchers paradise!) and stopping to watch impromptu rugby matches on evening strolls. We checked out the Wild Oats farmer and crafts market, the beautiful and almost deserted white sand beaches of Buffalo Bay and had an awesome “slow food lunch” overlooking a river in the Goukamma Nature Reserve. But I think our favorite part about Knysna was our B&B hosts, Margo and Agnieszka, two of the nicest and coolest gals around! We couldn’t get enough of Agnieszka’s ridiculously delicious two-course, gourmet breakfasts each morning and loved hanging out and chatting with them over amazing fresh-pressed coffee and good tunes before we started out each day.

Knysna Heads
Jubilee Creek Walk
In the forest A nice cow family strolls past us on our walk
Looking into the lagoon
View from East Head Cafe Best. Dessert. Ever.
The Heads leading out to the Indian Ocean
Rugby at sundown
Wild Oats farmers’ market Buffalo Bay
Buffalo Bay
The River Deck
Johnny’s braai (bbq) My delicious quiche
Our B&B, 9 On Heron
The breakfast room at 9 on Heron Agnieszka’s yummy “course 2” of breakfast
The tropical gardens outside our room

After a lovely few days in Knysna, we packed up our things, hit the store for lunch and dinner supplies and headed off for Tsitsikamma National Park. Wow, was this place unbelievable! Tsitsikamma, meaning “place of much water,” lives up to its name with a stunning stretch of coastline, where we were lucky enough to camp out for the night. After taking a hike to the three suspension bridges dangling over the rocky coast at Storms River Mouth, we grabbed a couple bottles of my new favorite beverage, Savannah Dry Cider, and settled in at our cozy “forest hut” just a few feet from the crashing waves. The waves were huge, and it was great entertainment just sitting and watching the giant sprays of whitewash and resulting rivers of foam. We met a couple other campers from Holland and Zimbabwe cooking up our pasta that evening in the camp kitchen and hit the sack early in preparation for our long drive to Hogsback the next day.

Suspension bridges
Crazy amounts of foam A view from our walk to the bridges
Our camp site
The camp grounds were so nice…there was even a pool
Our “forest hut” for the night The Sherwoods got the Stinkwood hut!
Sunset
The campgrounds at dusk

We almost wished we could have stayed longer at Tsitsikamma, as it was so beautiful and serene as we headed out early that morning. We decided we’d drive about an hour to Jeffrey’s Bay, aka J-Bay, for breakfast and hopefully check out some of its acclaimed surf breaks like Super Tubes. Unfortunately, J-Bay was as flat and calm as a lake, but it was still a beautiful spot to see while we filled up on French Toast and coffee.

J-Bay
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One Comment to “The Garden Route”

  1. Everything beautiful. Envy you!!

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