The Garden Route, South Africa Part One

If you’re travelling to Cape Town in South Africa, I can guarantee you’ll also be visiting at least one of the many places along the Garden Route during your stay. The Garden Route technically starts in Witsand in the Western Cape and extends all the way to Storms River in the Eastern Cape, the length is approx 300 km.

Coming from Cape Town, this meant we had a decent 300 km journey just to get to the start. In a good way, this forced us to break the drive, once on the Garden Route, into long sections to ensure we didn’t try to bite off more than we could chew. We’d learnt through our travels in Greece and Italy earlier this year, that travelling too fast was far too stressful, exhausting and expensive.

We hired a car for our entire stay in South Africa (two months), which meant that even though we didn’t use it everyday, we got a ridiculously good rate ($15 AUD a day). While there are a number of buses that service the Garden Route (i.e.: Baz), we didn’t want to be restricted to their drop off/pick up destinations and timetables.

Below were the places we stopped along the way and while we didn’t exactly do it in this order, it will make more sense if you’re coming from Cape Town. I’ve broken this blog up into two parts as it was far too long as one blog – and I know you’ve got a lot of things to do today! Part one covers the following places, travelling from west to east:

Still Bay

Still Bay

Still Bay was the starting point for our Garden Route adventure. It’s some 340km from Cape Town of mostly highway terrain – we based ourselves here for three nights to shake off the drive. There are of course plenty of things to see between Cape Town and Still Bay – but you’d need to travel quite a bit off course to get to them.

Still Bay was incredible for whale watching! We didn’t even need to take a tour, you can stand on the edge of the promenade (to the right of this picture) and see them popping up for air every few minutes within the Bay. We’d read that whales come here to birth their calves, which meant plenty of sightings.

For serious surfers, Still Bay offered an EPIC right hand point break. It was far too gnarly for me, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy watching the brave.

For walkers, there are plenty of beautiful trails in the area – especially around Skulpiesbaai Local Nature Reserve.

Something to note about Still Bay and a few other towns along the Garden Route: the food scene has a LONG way to go. We found some of the strangest food combinations here and ate some of the worst food we’ve had in South Africa.

Need more detail? How do you feel about a strawberry and bacon quiche? Poached eggs with yoghurt? Meat pancakes with chutney, coconut and banana? Bacon and banana pizza? Cheese on jam toast? Pineapple smoothie with lettuce?

Mussel’s galore in Still Bay!

Mossel Bay

Mossel Bay seemed like another destination along the Garden Route fuelled by summer-time activities. Much like the Australian coast, there is little to do when the sun isn’t shining. Think: surfing, boat trips, whale watching, hiking, seal spotting and shark diving.

If you’re into cage diving with sharks, this is THE place to do it. I’m ethically opposed to shark diving in the same sense that I’m ethically opposed to having a selfie with a tiger – needless to say it wasn’t on our agenda.

The town itself is rather small, you can easily walk from place to place and as for food we highly recommend Carola Ann’s cafe and The Cork and Plunger for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Mossel Bay
Lunch at Carola Anns was divine

Knysna

Would you believe I’ve eaten the most sushi of our entire trip here in Knysna? It’s true! Right on the water’s edge, Knysna (pronounced: Nighs-Nah) was a great spot for sashimi, california rolls and a ‘fashion sandwich’, you’ll need to google that, I wasn’t keen on ordering it.

The community aboard Thesen Island

The town itself was a little anti-climatic. We’d heard such great things about Knysna along the Garden Route, but we didn’t fall in love with the place at first sight. We stayed in the town itself and walked over the bridge to Thesen Island for food. It was a shame to see so much of the island inaccessible due to the gated community living within.

The Knysna waterfront was good for live music and sushi – it seemed largely to service tourists – but at least the wine was good!

During our stay, temperatures sky rocketed forcing us to scramble to the ocean front. Brenton on Sea was a bit of a drive from the town, but a beautiful spot to spend the day for a long walk, a swim or exploring the rockpools. We were delighted to see a pod of dolphins from the lookout!

Views at Brenton on Sea

South African Foodie Must Try’s

The Three B’s and a P!

  • Bobotjie (bar-boor-tie) – a mixture of curried meat and fruit with a creamy golden topping, similar to moussaka
  • Braai (bry) – the South African answer to the BBQ whereby food is grilling over coals
  • Biltong – beef, springbok, kudu, impala, wildebeest and ostrich they have it all. We highly enjoyed the chill beef.
  • Potjie (poi-kie) – a delicious pot based stew, usually prepared outside over coals

Sadly that’s it for now – otherwise you’d still be reading this ten minutes later. See you soon for Part Two!

Until then xo


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