Source: A Fallen Flight
Spending time on the road in South Africa is probably one of the most rewarding ways to travel. But head for the Garden Route and Klein Karoo, where the traffic is easily managed and the roads pretty open, and you will discover what it’s like to travel with ease. Here the hustle and bustle of the city does not exist, so open your window, breathe in the fresh air and drive.
There are a few routes here that are an absolute “must-do”, with en-route stop over’s, viewpoints and iconic sites to visit as you wend your way through the Southern Cape.
Head along the R 62 to Oudtshoorn, South Africa’s heartbeat of the Klein Karoo. Visit the splendid Cango Caves and stand in awe as you admire the illuminated dark caverns. Get tickled by some ostrich interaction and indulge in a good old-fashioned “padstal” along the way. Then wind your way to Mosselbay via the R 328 Robinson Pass which is set in the curves of the Outeniqua Mountain Range. Stop at the summit of the pass and take in the spectacular view of these Mountains before winding your way down to the coast.
A Day in the Bay:
- Mosselbay the Point of Human Origin, is a place of seafarers, with history entrenched in its very being. A trip to Pinnacle Point to explore the forgotten caves and experience 90 million-year-old ancestry is essential. Head to town and explore the Diaz Museum to learn about ocean history, and then make your way to a harbour restaurant to treat yourself to some fresh fish. Adventure in the Garden Route starts here; find an interesting activity to do before leaving for George. Drive the R102 along the coast prior to joining the N2 to travel to the next coastal town, as many a whale has been spotted along this road.
Heading for Eden:
Wilderness. As you drive through the Kaaimans River Pass the Eden stretch of your journey starts, most probably the prettiest drive along the Garden Route as it has so much to offer. First, stop at Dolphins point; this overlooks the old train bridge and the mouth of the Kaaiman’s river, take in the scenery here and then head to the Touw River for a paddle and a short hike along the Kingfisher Trail to visit one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the area.
There is no shortage of restaurants in the region, but a stop at Timberlake village along the N2 is a real treat with a variety of places to eat and shop. The next spot to visit along the N2 is Gericke’s Point at Swartvlei Beach. Also known as the Sphinx of the Garden Route, this fossilised dune formation is quite a sight to see and lies half immersed in the ocean.
This is the Sunset stretch of the coast so make sure you are prepared for a good sundowner experience at one of the many viewpoints, recommended viewpoints are, Cloud 9 or Myoli Beach in Sedgefield, closer to Knysna there is Brenton on Sea or the Water Front. Whichever you choose, you will not be disappointed.
There are many different facets to this coastal town that originally became famous for its timber. Knysna is a combination of coast, farms and forest. Moulded into the foothold of the Outeniqua its beauty is unparalleled once you start exploring. Grab a map and visit the forest areas. Find one of the old trees and just stand and admire its majestic splendour. The oyster is another delight for which Knysna is famous, and can be found in many a restaurant in town. Then there is, of course, the view from the Heads of Knysna, an absolute must see. It is the portal of many a passing ship and one of the Garden Route’s’ iconic views.
The emerging bubbly and boutique wine estate route
Cruising to the Crags
Next stop, Plettenberg Bay and beyond. During your first visit to the area you definitely need to visit Robberg Nature Reserve and a morning hike along its sheer rock face and a beach swim should be on the cards. It is not a difficult walk and extremely scenic. Then off to The Crags for lunch at one of the budding boutique wine estates, where tapas and bubbly is highly recommended. There many soft adventure activities here and an afternoon exploring The Crags is an afternoon well spent.
End off your day by visiting Tsitsikamma Village, before journeying to your next destination.
You might want to try the crazy bungee jump off Storms River Bridge before leaving the Garden Route or if that is not your thing perhaps indulge in a canopy tour in the natural forest or a visit to Tsitsikamma Nature Reserve.
One thing is guaranteed, this will have been the trip of a lifetime!
“To rent a car with Around about Cars and explore this incredible region of South Africa click here: “Car Rental South Africa”
I am very excited to share the following story with you. It is one of forgotten times, forgotten people, a time when the earth was a place to survive on, a time when people were faced with the raw elements and imminent change.
I was invited to spend a morning (and part of the afternoon) with Dr Peter Nilssen from the Point of Human Origins and step into their discovery of the Pinnacle point caves in Mosselbay, their archaeological finds, research and theories that have sprung from the interesting artifacts and stone found here. He, his colleague and the teams that have worked for years around the clock, in these crevices of earthly soil, to bring forth their finds in these series of 15 caves, each with its own unique shape, micro existence and geological development through the ages
It starts with his introduction to the human race and their mindset towards the planet they inhabit. The next hour or so I was completely captivated by his journey into the history of mother earth and her souls she so carefully selected to survive her growth. Of how we have become disconnected from our environment and if we can learn from our past while looking towards the future.
Peter has a very spiritual approach to his findings, a consciousness that is slowly returning to us here left on earth. It is clear that we have to relook our lives, how we live it and what we can carry over to our children. Stepping into these earth crevices with the knowledge of what has taken places here within the space of 30 – 90 million years leaves one in awe and respect of our ancestry.
As you descend towards the edge of the ocean, while looking up at the rock formations, you can not help wondering how the landscape was formed over this vast amount of time. Things we only dream to understand all while we scratch the surface of our planet. Peter talks about survival, tools, fire, food foraging and intellectual decisions made here by our stone-age descendants. You can’t help throwing yourself back in time and ponder of whether you would have survived this era.
In reality, we are only a small spec of dust, a tiny blue planet in the huge galaxy of stars and suns. In our tiny existence isn’t it time to put away our egos and look back to where we have come from and how we can harmonise with this beautiful body of energy and life.
As Peter states in Cave 13b “Welcome Home” I urge you to take the time discover and maybe rediscover the primal heartbeat inside you. One of standing still and looking back to see exactly how far we have come.
It has been a while since I have been to a golf course, or even a golf estate as a matter of fact, so when I received a phone call from Pinnacle Point Golf Estate to invite me to their invitational golf day and the launch of their events venue I grabbed the opportunity with both hands, bearing in mind that this happens to be one of my most favourite coastlines in South Africa.
I have had glimpses before of this coastline, near Mosselbay via Vleesbaai and Gouritzmond; it is where the St Blaize trail edges along the staggered coast of rock and stone leading to some of the most breathtaking view point’s I have seen. So you can imagine hoe I felt when I saw this golf course for the first time, it was like discovering the most beautiful picture in the world. The mere fact that someone has taken the time and effort to sculpt this piece of golf art into the cliff side leaves one in awe. It definitely is unique in its making and will be iconic for the rest of time.
Pinnacle Point has re-launched the estate making it a “live the lifestyle” destination, giving the public the opportunity to experience a game of golf, visit the new La Vita spa, or host a banquet, wedding or a conference. All at venue which overlooks the ocean. Added to this I highly recommend that you book accommodation and make full use of all the facilities on offer here.
For the golf enthusiast Pinnacle Point offers a driving range, a Pro Shop and full facilities for testing that golf swing.
I watched as golfers enjoyed the invitational golf which was hosted over 2 days, while family and friends indulged in the facilities of the La Vita spa. Visitors smiled and enjoyed the place, the people, and their surroundings. Greatly appreciating all effort that had been put in to making it a perfect weekend away.
But, I think my favourite activity for the weekend was watching and interviewing the kids as they had their caps and rugby balls signed by some of our rugby legends. Their faces beamed as they looked up at these “giants” of sport. One of the kids I interviewed was so enthusiastic about rugby that he blurted out that he was one day going to play “the game” for the Springboks. So watch the name Jamie van Zyl!!
Thank you, Fourie Du Preez, Handre Pollard, Johan Heunis and Werner Greeff for engaging so keenly with these young future sportsmen of the region. Let’s hope that we see them out there on the field one day.
Then to the young man Seamus Mchugh that puts so much effort into developing the sport of golf for our youth, you really made my day. Your passion shines through in every moment of what you do. Keep up the good work. Pinnacle is so lucky to have you.
Another thing that makes Pinnacle Point so unique is that it has one of the oldest Heritage sites in the world and has been declared a South African National Heritage site; soon they hope to be declared a world Heritage Site. This could possibly be where the small core population that gave rise to all humans alive today first began to exhibit their modern behaviour. It is here they harvested food from the sea, used complex bladelet technology, and ochres for symboling. The Caves are also significant because they may provide clues as to how our species reacts to climate change from 400,000 to about 30,000 years ago. Descending down towards the caves you are taken to the edge of the cliff face where hidden hollows are revealed, although picturesque it is quite daunting to think that people actually roamed and gathered food here.
The knowledge and understanding of the complex history, archaeology and plant life, that Christopher our guide so carefully shared with us, is astounding. If you are a student of life, a wide-eyed wanderer or an adventurer this place is definitely worth a visit. You will return from this trek enlightened and with a triggered sense of wonder,thinking about the possibilities and impossibilities of past life experiences right on the foothold of Africa.
Many thanks to everyone involved in the making of a great weekend
O George this is the portal to the Garden Route, and not only is it the portal to this beautiful area but it must be the prettiest one in South Africa. When flying into George it’s normally with a wide sweep and you need to hold yourself back not to stay glued to the window. I guess if airline carriers had balconies you could hang over to get a better look; this would definitely be the place to do it. It is the portal of oceans, mountains, forest, farmlands and Karoo with fynbos synergies and a mumble jumble of smells on these salty air covered scrubs. Unspoilt by the human touch and with miles of natural land and beaches that you can visit without bumping into another soul, it all adds to the endless beauty that the area has to offer, however , do not be to misled, George is not without the infrastructure of modern man. But we are not here to shop; we are here to venture into the unmistakable allurement of this region. So let’s take a closer look at what it has to offer. Wearing a pair of slip slops and throwing some comfortable walking shoes into a backpack we head out to the seaside, the countryside and the back roads of George.
Our first stop is Wilderness’ famous outlook called Dolphin Point, it overlooks the Kaaiman’s River Mouth and the rusty remembrance of the Kaaiman’s train bridge that has piggybacked many tourists along this old scenic track. The dark waters of the Kaaiman’s and the ocean blues meet here at the base of its foundations, along with pods of dolphins and a few paragliders that hang over the point during the summer season, you only can imagine what it must be like to see this sight for the first time. A definite must see, it’s like an introduction to the George area.
We then wandered into the village of Wilderness and took the picturesque drive to the viewpoint called Map of Africa; it is here that you can see how the Kaaiman’s has cut its way through rock and stone to shape the point of Africa, it’s like the river knew that we will one day be looking down on her from above. It’s lush and green with natural forest and you can hear the birds sounds echoing from lower down while watching the dark river winds its way around the loving curves of this African shape.
After taking in all that beauty we meander our way back to the small Wilderness village and soothe our thirst with an ice cold drink and some dinner at a local restaurant called Cocomo and this while listening to the strumming sounds of a guy and a guitar
We end our day at Surfari, a hostel type of accommodation, elevated over Victoria Bay, also known in the surfer’s community as Vic Bay. First, you think “hostel” but don’t be fooled, this little place with it’s a clean edged finishes, retro decor, and crisp white linen puts it into a category of its own, maybe something like a 5-star backpackers. A very cool place indeed and with a fabulous view and throw in a room with a huge comfortable double bed, en-suite bathroom and it’s just what one needs when travelling to adventure paradise. Surfari has a communal kitchen in typical backpacker’s style, with its complimentary coffee and tea, which always comes in handy. But what I love about this place is that you meet other like-minded travellers and chat about your travels or about the swell and the righthand break at Vic Bay.
Early morning and the sun edges its way through my window, I bolt straight up, scramble for some kit to wear, throw it on, dash out the door with camera and phone in hand. A sunrise at Vic Bay is not to be missed. The east facing bay captures this moment perfectly and upon arrival we found a couple of sleepy surfers are already kitted up and all set to take on the crispy ocean. You cannot describe sunrise to people, you just have to soak it in and watch as the day unfolds into another picture display of colour. I understand why people love this place so much, it’s a personal feel, almost like a community of surf babes and dudes, of ALL ages, then throw in a couple of fisherman with tall tales, as few holiday makers and organise a “braai”. That’s Vic Bay!!
After a hot steamy shower we left Vic Bay and head out for the day. Our next stop is the Hoekwill Country Café for a wholesome breakfast and good coffee. And man, do people in this region know about good coffee! There is a large coffee culture in the Garden Route and it definitely shows; no matter where you stop there is always a fine coffee on offer.
Sitting at this corner cafe relishing every bite of my delicious meal I notice that most people walk, run or cycle here. Although the small parking lot is full of cars, most people arrive on foot, shopping bag in hand, purchasing local produce and chit chatting with each other before continuing with their daily lives. I had to, of course, leave with freshly baked bread under the arm before hitting the 7 Passes Road towards the start of the Outeniqua Hiking Trail that begins at the foothold of this mountain range, in a place called Beervlei.
Beervlei is neatly nestled at the edge of a pine forest and host one of SANParks offices. This is where you leave your vehicle and head up through the pines forest to start of the hike. The trail is a 7 day full on backpacking trip over and around the Outeniqua Mountains, with scenic drop downs into valleys and breathtaking elevated views. Or you can do one or two hour hikes here and just enjoy indigenous forest with trees that are almost a thousand years old and is surrounded by delicate intricate structures of moss, ferns and fungi.
Once in the forest you are left in wonder as the sunlight filters through the maze of greenery and leaves a magical glow all around. Hiking in the area is a definite do, even a short forest stroll is recommend, it’s just good for the soul.
Next we head back to the town of George, and travel along the 7 Passes Road built by Thomas Baine in the late 1800’s, it’s an undersized road but a very scenic drive, and every now and then you stop at one of the pass crossings and admire the bridge building of that time. Watching the dark tannin water flow under these historical bridges, it reminds me that it’s due to the lack of limestone in the area that the water never changes colour here. Yet you can still cup you hand into it the river and drink the sweet coca cola like water.
Barely back in town and we wind ourselves back up the Outeniqua Pass towards the northern slopes of this mountain range, for a stopover at a farm stall called Hop Valley. This little spot is very well-liked by the local community and if a local whispers in your ear about a place you have go to, well you go.
It’s not a typical farm stall, first of all, its smack bang in the middle of hops country, so everything you drink has some form of fermentation and beer aspect to it. I immediately grab a ginger beer, as it appeals to the old fashioned farm girl in me, but there is a variety of other interesting fermented drinks you can try out, among them the famous Khoi “karrie” beer that is made from honey, so pick and choose your favourite flavour as you go along.
On the other end of the farm stall, tucked in the corner, is a little section where they make pizza. It is here that Bobby and Ria bring forth their slices of delicious oven baked Italian pizza. Order a few and sit under the trees while you sip on a tall locally produced drinks.
We had to drag ourselves away from here as the next stop awaits us, Herold Wines.
An interesting little wine farm located on the Montagu Pass, where the sunlight caresses the northern slopes of Cradock Peak and the Karoo starts edging its way into the fynbos district. Originally a hops farm it now flourishes as a wine farm after the first vines were rooted here in 1999. Herold Wine Farm was not without its challenges, namely bush pigs, birds and baboons being the biggest ones and it was a rather lengthy process that eventually brought them into the synergy of nature versus man.
The vines here grow at 650m to 700m above sea level, in the changing seasons of the Outeniqua, making it on of the highest positioned wine farms in South Africa. Herold has a homely warm farm type environment where you can sit and chat away with the darling of the tasting room, Ingrid and take in her knowledge of the wines and the area. Herold Wines also offer a few guest cottages, so if you feel like kicking off your shoes and relaxing in this mountainous environment of the Outeniqua, with numerous hiking paths and bird life, this is definitely the place.
After hopping back in the car we decided to wind our way back to George along the historical Montagu Mountain Pass that curves through this area like a large snake, it is a beautiful drive and recommended for the adventurous wanderer that visits the area.
Beer tasting awaits us in George and besides, what’s the point of visiting hops country if you can’t at least have a craft beer made right here in the hops valley region.
Robertson Craft Brewery is where we have our last stop for some beer tasting. Beer with tones of citrus, banana, and other interesting flavours delight the tastebud. I love beer, and the Robertson Brewery is right up my alley, sipping on the tasters and rolling them around in your mouth until you find one that agrees with your palate. Then, of course, ordering tall ale and having a chat to Kevin Robertson about his beer making and all the craft beers that are popping up in the area. It definitely is such a treat enjoying this simple pleasure of ancient nectar and the philosophy behind it. A good way to end a day ….
George a place to visit, to step back in time, to enjoy the old fashioned hospitality of people and a place to just breath …
‘Thank you to Cheapflights for making our #CheapflightsExplorers trip around George and the Wilderness possible.”
For more information about George visit
Every now and then I listen to people talk about interesting things in the area and my curiosity level goes from 0 to flatlining in under 20 sec. If there is anything that intrigues me, it is how things work, where do they come from and why are they here? I can not, for the life of me, just simply except things…
I travelled to the town of Calitzdorp on “Route62” ,looking for the infamous bloom of wild flowers, when I joined the company of friends in town, this is when the conservation came up.
“Have you ever seen the Redstone Hills?”
“What Redstones Hills?” Was the reply
“The natural formed arches in this display of rock formations “
Well I always knew the Karoo and Klein Karoo had a fascinating geological system, but what I was about to discover left me in awe..
“Accommodation nesteld between the Red Stone Hills “
I know……I get excited about rocks and landscapes! But for me there is nothing more rewarding than staring over a terrain and even try and conceptualise how it come into existence, what forces of nature were used to edge out every curve, formation and angle to create the vast beauty it brings us today, and even better still, what will it look like in another million years?
These “Enon Conglomerates”, as they are known, were deposited by high energy, fast flowing rivers, and are found between Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn, where they form the strikingly red “Redstone Hills” The Little Karoo contains two geological features that give the landscape a special character. This one was formed during the erosion of the African interior following the bulging of the continent during the massive lava outpourings that ended the Karoo sedimentation 180 million years ago, some of the eroded material was trapped in the valleys of the Cape Fold Mountains, especially during the Cretaceous period, about 145 ± 4 to 66 million years ago.
If the information overload is to much, I recommend hopping in your car and roadtriping to the Klein Karoo.
Once you reach Oudtshoorn, turn onto the R62 and look out for the Kruisfontien road to right, it will only take a short drive before it all unfolds before your eyes…
“Regardless, put me in a car and tell me to head for the hills and a cheesy grin is stuck on this face for at least three days. I just love being out there on the backroads. “
A second and bigger boom started after the war. It was during this period that “feather barons”, ostrich farmers who had become rich, built most of Oudtshoorn’s famously opulent “feather palaces”, their houses, most of them on the west bank of the Grobbelaars River. Ostrich feathers were outranked only by gold, diamonds and wool among South African exports before World War I. The market collapsed in 1914, according to , as a result of “the start of World War I, overproduction and the popularity of open-topped cars, which made ostrich-feather hats impractical.” 80% of the ostrich farmers were bankrupted, and the ostriches were set loose or slaughtered for biltong.
Followed by the historic passes through the Outeniqua hills and if you stand still and listen, you can perhaps catch the clanging of steel tools on rocks.
Blood, sweat and tears seeped into the ground of these forgotten dust tracks. Camera in hand I try and capture a few moments in time, place myself in the footsteps of ghost and wonder what it must have been like back then.
One day I might be brave enough to face this unforgiving history on a bicycle too, but for now the comfort of a car is bliss.Thanks to Mark and Amanda Dixon from www.gardenroutetrail.co.za and Juan Botes and Janine Swart www.chaingangevents.co.za for tagging me along, I loved it. #HowzitSouthAfrica
Day tripping to the small town of Riebeeck Kasteel and Riebeeck Wes, not so much for its wine but for its extensive history and incredble beauty. The bonus was the warm people that I met.
Riebeek-Kasteel is one of the oldest towns in South Africa, situated at 80 km north-east of Cape Town in The Riebeek Valley together with its sister town Riebeek West
Named so in honour of their commander, Jan van Riebeeck, during 1661 by Pieter Cruythoff leading an inland discovery expedition. On the 3rd February 1661 they ascended a lonely mountain and came upon the fertile vista of the Riebeek Valley.
In the 19th century both Jan Smuts and Daniel Malan were born in the outskirts later both becoming prime ministers of the country.
Having lived in a small town myself for the last couple of years it’s always great to listen to other people’s stories in small towns, how they got to live there, why did they leave the city?
And what their life styles are all about now? Then of course you start looking around and you know why, here you can step outside and breath to escape
The first stop is the Tourism information centre where as per normal you get the usual run down of a town. A great start I must say! Well done Tourism, what a lovely girl you have there.
So I popped into a few shops and spots in town and chatted to the people who live here and make a day to day living in Riebeeck Kasteel.
A wine dealer called Anton that consults and returns every couple of years, a retired journalist Jacques Pauw and partner Sam Rogers who decide to start a ‘small’ B & B and Restaurant /Bar in a Grand Dame mansion now called the Red Tin Roof.
A craft brewer, Steve Miller who is the head honcho at Garagista and bides his time making happiness in a bottle to share with us, Cheers.
And an Olive Boutique where Susan shared her story and love for olives with us, she processes these ancient fruits into tasty snacks, mustards and smooth oils all fit for the palettes of gods, and even has a range of body pampering products.
Exploring some of the historical buildings and places of interst in the area I came across the Royal Hotel who has the longest stoep (veranda) South of the Limpopo and is the oldest and most colonial hotel of the Western Cape.
My favourite place however was the Smuts house. Located on the outskirts of the town of Riebeeck West it show cases the humble begins of Jan Smuts in this tranquil setting among the trees. A great visionary in his day, Smuts was a well connected man with a broad outlook on life.
The day came to an end way to soon and I left with the feeling that I need to discover some more…
Take a trip to this fascinating delicious little town and indulge in its riches of culture, food and beauty.
Thank you for time Riebeeck Kasteel, you stole a piece of my heart.
The Travel Bug Rose
Whales, we talk about them, we sometimes spot then in the distance. For to many a land lubber, it’s just a huge beast far away on the horizon. Some of us watch them in awe as they play, roll, leap, splash in their many displays and some of us dream to know the beast better.
They are mysterious in their own right, for when they take to the oceans unknown to us, deep into the blue; we can only be left wondering. Do they sing the same songs, do they respond differently to nature out there or do they stay the same?
But, when they are here and you get the opportunity to see them up close and you watch and learn, it becomes surreal. These massive knobbly creatures that indulge in play, as if they are merely children and drops in the sea, can leave you giggling while watching.
When they launch their enormous bodies into the air as if ballerinas on their début nights, they come across weightless. Lifting their tails to wave goodbye in a speed that only a racing driver can understand, only to pop up unexpectedly next to you, baffles the mind I must say. And then they blow and sing sounds that you will never listen to on a radio, but out here on the ocean, it’s the most beautiful thing you’ll ever hear.
They grunt and growl, deep rumbles, do they want to tell us something? Sky-hop to take a better look, how curious they are….
The distances they travel to breed, mate, and feed we will never travel in our lifetime and talk about eating politely, plankton, imagine how you must eat to feed that body. They add to the oceans health, part of the delicate balance that we live in. No one taught them how. They just knew. Imagine if we can learn to talk in song, to feed ourselves with only what we need and to not need more. They are huge but not greedy, they are huge and yet graceful… surely we can learn something from them.