Garden Route & Eastern Cape
The Eastern Cape is full of surprising contrasts. One day’s drive will take in sophisticated fine arts, gourmet dining, and a superb, rugged, unspoiled seascape. The forever landscape to the east of Cape Town, reaching all the way to the Wild Coast and deep inland, is an amazing treasury of all kinds of good things and places.
The Garden Route is universally known for its spectacular natural beauty. The journey crosses magnificent mountain passes, winds gently along the unspoiled coastline, and ventures deep into the breathtaking state forest in the Tsitsikamma National Park, renowned for its protection of South Africa’s remaining indigenous yellowwood trees. The lush, forested Garden Route takes in some of the country’s finest seaside resorts, like Wilderness, Plettenberg Bay, and - perhaps the best of all - Knysna, with its giant sandstone ‘Heads’ framing the entrance to the tidal lagoon.
Oyster lovers will be captivated by Knysna, the country’s largest commercial oyster farming centre. Hikers and ramblers are drawn there too, to tackle the numerous world-famous coastal hiking trails.
Step for a while into moments of South Africa’s history, as you visit a restored cottage in Cradock, home of the noted 19th century author and feminist, Olive Schreiner. Marvel at the unexpected splendour of the untamed Wild Coast in the former Transkei, where former President Nelson Mandela was born.
A visit to this region of the Cape would not be complete without a glimpse of some of the remote villages, many almost unchanged since they were built. You’ll love the quirky nineteenth century architecture, with delightful rustic scenes and a warm country welcome.
Port Elizabeth, the gateway to the Eastern Cape, is different! You’ll sense it immediately. The startling out-of-the-ordinary vistas will generously reward your eastward journey.
Can't Be Missed - Garden Route
- Take the adventurous canopy tour in the Tsitsikamma forest, riding high on cables among the treetops.
- Gorge yourself on oysters at Knysna’s annual ten-day Oyster Festival, held in July.
- Don’t miss the goldsmiths, painters, potters and antiques merchants on Plettenberg Bay’s arts and crafts route.
- See the marvellous, multi-coloured stalactites and stalagmites in the Cango Caves.
- Bask on one of Port Elizabeth’s wide, sunny beaches, then stroll along the long and impressive promenade.
- Take a sunset champagne cruise from Mossel Bay to Seal Island.
Can't Be Missed - Eastern Cape
- Stroll around the unique Owl House with its strangely attractive cement statues of women, animals and birds, including dozens of owls,
- Look, from a hilltop, over the Valley of Desolation, towering dolomite columns exposed by millions of years of erosion.
- Stand in awe in Nelson Mandela’s humble childhood home, and a museum dedicated to his life.
- In the East London Museum, see the coelacanth, caught nearby in 1938, when this deep-sea fish was thought to have been extinct for about 80 million years.
- Take a stroll or a horse ride along the pristine beaches of the Wild Coast.