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Touring and exploring

Get behind the wheel on the Garden Route

Nick Wilson September 17, 2015

With its wide open highways and dramatic roadside backdrops, South Africa is the perfect country to get behind the wheel for a self drive holiday to remember.

“Don't think you have to do the entire Garden Route in four or five nights. There are many smaller places to explore if time permits so you can extend to eight or nine nights and add so much more to your itinerary.”
Nick Wilson - Destination Manager for South Africa
Although little known, the Garden Route must rate as one of the best road trip adventures, stretching from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth it is mile after mile of jaw-dropping scenery with plenty of opportunity to explore wildlife and fine wines along the way. In particular the coastline will entrance you as the road winds by the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma Mountains. Every twist of road, every turn of corner will allow you to discover dreamlike forests, rugged coastline, white sandy beaches and roaring seas; all this with pretty villages tucked away beside remarkable wildlife reserves where animals of every description roam free upon the parkland. 
Here you’ll find the Big Five: leopard, lion, buffalo, elephant and rhino in the wonderful Shamwari Game Reserve - a perfect example of the wonders that lie in store along the Garden Route.  This is no city zoo; in Knysna Elephant Park there are opportunities to help feed these amazing creatures and to see at first hand their habitat and learn about the history of the elephant in South Africa.
Wildlife along the Garden Route
It’s true what they say – birds of a feather do flock together and especially when you visit the region called Oudtshoorn, famed for having over 400 ostrich farms. Plus at the Birds of Eden Aviary there are more than 3,500 species of birdlife waiting for you to take a picture or three. Take a peek in Highgate Ostrich Show Farm and you’ll have close encounters with the planet’s biggest bird. But the ostrich isn’t the only big beast on show here - it shares its home with Leopard & Nile Crocodiles too.
You may have heard of Hermanus, the town on the coast along the edge of Walker Bay. It’s a world famous whale watching spot as southern right whales cruise by within metres of the shoreline from June to December. From your perch on your clifftop hotel you can spy them with your binoculars as they breach, lob-tail and spout plumes of water, and all the while the mournful songs of these endangered beasts haunt the waters along this stretch of the Garden Route.
Small towns offer picturesque pit-stops during your self-drive holiday along the Garden Route. Be sure to pay a visit to Mossel Bay and try their mussels and oysters for which it is internationally acclaimed. Everyone loves a pretty beach, so why not don your flip-flops and head over to Plettenberg Bay for surf breaks and un-spoilt golden sands.
The Tsitsikamma Forest is a region of spectacular otherworldly beauty with giant trees, a prehistoric landscape as though time itself had passed this country by. Bucolic valleys give way to dramatic mountains and always there are trails for those wishing to explore the landscape by bicycle or on foot. Here, the five day Otter Trail will see you rise over coastal cliffs one moment and then plunge you into lush meadows bordering rivers teeming with fauna and flora.  
South Africa is a staggeringly beautiful country with fascinating cities and breathtaking landscapes. Wildlife adventures are everywhere you look while a shoreline hides secluded coves and dreamy bays in which to picnic and observe the beauty of nature.
Of all the road trips that are possible in the world there is nothing quite like the Garden Route. Once you start your engine, you may never want to return home again.