After my eventful stay in Cape Town with friends which included, wine tasting, beer tasting, classic fish and chips, Table Mountain, penguins, outdoor cinema and retail therapy at the waterfront, I was ready for part 2 of my holiday. I arrived at Cape Town International Airport at 7 am extremely eager to begin my trip to the well documented Garden Route. This trip would be my first time in the garden route and I had 3 objectives in mind:
- Selfies with ostriches in Oudtshoorn
- Oyster indulgence in Knysna
- Visit the indigenous Tsitsikamma Forest on the border of the Eastern & Western Cape Provinces
With my trusted rented grey 3-door VW Up and colourful turquoise suitcase in tow, I headed out on the N2 freeway to begin my next solocation!
The drive from Cape Town to my first pit stop in Swellendam, which is approximately 200km away, was not heavily congested for the festive time of year. Swellendam, a small town along the N2, has its own distinct character and small-town charm with friendly faces happy to welcome out-of-town guests. Through some research, I discovered that Swellendam is the 3rd oldest town in South Africa and was established in 1746. The town functioned as a replenishment station for early settlers. The drive to Knysna was reasonably easy to navigate with a handful of beaches for keen travelers to stop and cool off from the scorching summer heat. I loved Herold’s Bay which was a hive of activity from festive season holiday-makers to the more remote and quiet beach in Wilderness, a beach town approximately 40km’s from Knysna. One can also stop at Victoria Bay and a beach in the town of Sedgefield along the N2 Garden Route.
I finally reached my final hotel destination in Knysna 6 hours later due to all my pit stops along the way. As a first time visitor to Knysna, I could immediately tell how the town received its reputation as a holiday spot for the wealthy. Holiday homes, luxury vehicles and sailing boats along the lagoon can attest to the town’s reputation. The crisp summer breeze, the taste of sea salt in the air and overall relaxed atmosphere of the town has made Knysna my choice destination for some much-needed R&R. Main Road is the central hub of Knysna town and is packed with convenience shops, a mall, filling stations, banks and other amenities that one could expect to find in a small town. I settled into my hotel and rested ahead of my plans for the remainder of my holiday.
The next morning I headed out back onto the N2 as I made my way to the Garden Route National Park Tsitsikamma Section. The drive is lined by recreational stopovers including the Knysna Elephant Park, Forever Resorts Plettenberg Bay, Natures Valley Rest Camp and the Bloukrans Bridge, one of the highest bungee jumping spots in the world standing at an impressive height of 216m above the Bloukrans River.
The Garden Route National Park Tsitsikamma section was breathtakingly beautiful. This Park forms part of SAN Parks which has 19 conservation locations around South Africa. I am transported back by my nostalgic thoughts as reflect on this league of my trip. From the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks and the vast lush hues of greenery throughout the forestry region, one can’t help but be overcome with a sense of inner peace and stillness while being captivated by nature’s beauty.
At Tsitsikamma, visitors are provided with two options to reach the Storms River suspension bridge. A brief hour hike or a boat ride which takes visitors on a short tour of either the gorge or waterfall. I chose the latter.
The boat ride through the gorge at Storms River was a scenic experience which I believe everyone should experience at least once. As a passionate nature lover, I was intrigued by the natural rock formations which shaped the gorge as the tour guide shared some interesting facts about the biology and origins of the gorge. The sound of bats could be heard from deep within the caves. My thoughts suddenly drift to how the sounds might change when it becomes darker, and they retreat from the caves.
The park has accommodation options to suit most budgets to small log cabins and family logs which add to the rustic and natural feel of the Tsitsikamma National Park. The park also offers a man-made beach with water activities including kayaking & lilo, scuba diving, and snorkelling.
The remainder of my stay in Knysna was pleasant as I acquainted myself with the town and its locals. I concluded my holiday with a trip to Noetzie beach, my jewel of the Garden Route. The beach has a famous reputation for its castles which create a storybook backdrop along the beachfront. A short drive on the gravel road, which I believe helps to set the mood for the final destination, combined with a steep downhill walk and about 100 steep staircase leads visitors to this slightly hidden and uninterrupted beach.
As I looked back at the path that my footsteps had carved into the sand I was reminded once again that God is a master architect. My lifelong belief that we are truly blessed to live in this beautiful country was reinforced a thousand times over.
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in the Garden Route despite not having time to see the ostriches as I had initially planned however this does give me a reason to go back!