The Western Cape is known for its beautiful vistas, clement weather and natural attractions, but no where is this so true as on the Garden Route. This stretch of coastline boasts some of the most spectacular vistas in South Africa along with some of the most interesting towns and attractions on a single stretch of coastline. There are many attractions along the way that is sure to keep you occupied as you explore this beautiful part of South Africa.
|The Ougrabies Choo Tjoo is the best way to see the
There is some confusion as to where exactly the Garden Route officially starts, but many sources cite the town of Heidelberg to be the 'official' start of the Garden Route. From here the route travels along the coast heading east for about 200 kilometres via scenic towns like George, Knysna, Mossel Bay, Wilderness, Sedgefield, Nature's Valley and Plettenberg Bay. On the eastern edge the route terminates at the Tsitsikamma Forest.
The Garden Route is sandwiched between the Outeniqua Mountains to the west and the Tsitsikamma Mountains to the east. The area ranges from lush green forests nurtured by the area's high yearly rainfall to the semi-arid Klein Karoo around the town of Oudtshoorn.
Over 300 bird species call the Garden Route home along with countless species of animals from the smallest blue duiker to the majestic elephants of the Knysna Forest. The area is also home to the indigenous Cape fynbos that is only found in this part of the world. These plants are known for their distinctive aroma and beauty.
For visitors to the Garden Route, there are a number of options available. By far the most common way to see the area is to self drive. The roads are well maintained and marked making it easy to get around. This also allows you to turn off at the numerous small towns not often mentioned, to stop at small craft stores and to experience the Garden Route at your own pace. Another favourite option is the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe. The train is one of the oldest steam trains still running in Africa. The tracks hug the coast stopping in many scenic towns as it chugs along the coast.
The towns along the Garden Route are all centres where visitors are welcome and where you are sure to find something interesting. Many of these towns are havens for artists and craftsman. With a little effort, visitors will be able to find interesting and unique items hand-crafted by some of the best artists in South Africa. Museums also abound allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the history of the area. Numerous festivals that occur throughout the year in different towns along the route, also offer opportunities to get up close with the locals and their talents.
For the more adventurous, the Garden Route also offers other activities. While far from exhaustive the list includes hiking and cycle trails, scuba diving, abseiling, fishing, paragliding and much more.
The Garden Route is the jewel of the Western Cape. It offers beautiful scenery and a multitude of activities for people of all ages. It is no wonder that many people have called it the Garden of Eden of Africa.
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