Welcome to my new travel post, I can’t tell you how much I loved this trip, well after reading you’d know why? So my would be holiday had already created so many pictures and thoughts in my mind as I went about planning from getting South Africa visa and booking the flight tickets. Finally the day came when I had to set for my long haul flight and I just couldn’t wait to arrive at my destination. It is said airport meetings are very exciting, yes they are and that too when you got to meet someone special. My heart was fluttering as I was walking through the arrivals lounge waiting to see him after months of separation at Johannesburg international airport. And there I found him! My husband and I were super excited to see each other and were ready for our journey ahead. We boarded the flight to Port Elizabeth to explore the coolest coastal towns on the planet and truly epic scenery along the world famous garden route.
Though most visitors idea of a drive through South Africa involves a land rover following a big five. However, there is a lot more to do in this land of contrasts which comprises of iconic coastal landscapes, friendly locals and spectacular cliff hugging highways that makes it one of the world’s best road tripping destinations. It’s so gorgeous that I can’t stop raving about it. There had been no time for jetlag and little time for sleep as we wanted to make most of every moment in S.A. We set out to discover the beauty of Port Elizabeth by driving along the pristine sea view road for some game viewing and watching the lions eating!
On seeing the lions, giraffes, African buffaloes, zebra and deers drinking water by the lakeside we were simply thrilled and it was sheer delight to watch them in their natural habitat.
In SAMREC, we played with the Penguins and it’s so cute to see them stagger awkwardly which is too adorable and how they tip over, fall down, and get up only to fall again. Next day we woke up early to see the sunrise and jog along the beach, wow what fun it was! After a delicious breakfast, we said goodbye to PE and piled into the car for some more stunning views along the route.
We drove to Storms river- passing the Bloukrans bridge- the highest bungee jump in the world- 216 metres. Could you imagine jumping off this?
After gunning through the vastly rich panoramic views, we arrived at Plettenberg’s bay just in the nick of time to catch the sunset. It was love at first sight with it’s pristine and unspoilt beaches! Had I had more time, I could see myself putting down roots here and hanging out for weeks.
Birds of Eden and Monkey Land
There are birds sitting everywhere and flying around through the canopy. The place is lush and betrays every shade of green possible. It is the largest free flight aviary in the world. The monkey land guided walking safari was a living forest experience.
So we were amidst the ringtail lemur, squirrel monkey, gibbons and many primitive cousins of ours. Not to mention our guide Thaimbu, oh man he had amazing sense of humour and could make even the monkeys laugh! In the evening we took the sunset cruise to Knysna heads which guards the getaway into knysna’s huge tidal lagoon, and sipping a glass of champagne while watching sunset was too dreamy!
The wacky town of ostriches in Western Cape had some surreal spine chilling experiences waiting for us. It was an easy walk through the farm, touching and feeding ostriches by hand was exhilarating! Viewing animals from a far is thrilling but what gives me a high is the unconventional way. My this desire was fulfilled after riding an ostrich and to stand on the ostrich eggs, one is the equivalent of 24 chicken eggs!
Cheetahs, tigers, lions, leopards oh my god! What could be more adrenaline kicking then to have an up close and personal experience with them. Then we went to Cango Caves and were surprised by the incredible dripstone formations inside. After having our share of some geographic lessons we started to drive for our next destination.
We were supposed to go for shark cage diving, but high tides prevented us from doing so. Instead we decided to have the glimpse of this beautiful city on hop on hop off city sightseeing bus which departs from the two oceans aquarium at V&A waterfront. The city is beautifully designed and can make anyone awestruck! The two oceans aquarium opened up a world of mystique and magic pertaining to the sea.
V&A waterfront is a must to explore, the market is full of shopping malls, Coffee shops, entertainers, restaurants with delectable cuisines to eat, from craft beer to exotic flavoured macaroons, sushi and juice bars and whatever you can dream of! The visit would be incomplete without viewing the table mountain which is among the seven wonders of the world. Well in the afternoon we drove to the cape of good hope which is the most south western point of the Africa continent. The drive was magical as one could see diverse and dramatic ocean views with the meeting of Atlantic and Indian ocean. We stopped by the Boulders beach on our way back to the hotel, this is a popular penguins nesting beach.
And while coming back, I came across an area with brightly coloured houses and they were way too beautiful. It’s a town called Bo-Kaap formerly known as Malay Quarter situated on signal hill. What a treat it was to watch such a vibrant township!
You know I don’t really like shopping, ok fine I like shopping…Alright Alright I love shopping and I’m a big Shopaholic hehe!! So I made sure to leave some space in my suitcase for souvenirs and modern African beadwork to fine wines, local designs and everything possible 😉 Cape town is surely the place to break out your credit card. It is a shopper’s paradise from upmarket malls to local craft flea markets, Victoria and Alfred waterfront, Cavendish square, Green market square, Milnerton flea market are some of the best places for shopping.
We had to catch our flight from Cape town to Johannesburg and realised that like all good things come to an end and so did our trip to South Africa. Going early morning in our car to explore a new place, admiring breathtakingly beautiful scenery, stopping at every amazing stop now and then at our own pace. The non-stop, out of the world experiences, day after another were like a dream come true! The smell of African land, the thrills, the adventures, friendly locals and their warm hospitality are some of the things I’ll cherish livelong. This road trip along the garden route was, hands down, one of the best trips of my life!
Planning tips- Where to stay
Brook’s hills & suites ocean facing resort is the Ocean-Port Elizabeth. Knysna terrace-knysna is an excellent place to stay, a close walk from the waterfront and the town. Avenue’s guesthouse, a laid back b&b- 23 21 Ave, linkside, Mossel bay, Inn on the Square Hotel, Green Square is a great option as it is in the heart of Cape town.
Where to eat-
There are many eating points all along the Garden route as you pass by various towns. However, keep some fruits, snacks and drinks available in your car. Some of my favorites are- Café Mario, Wu’s Chinese restaurant, East head café in Knysna. At V&A Waterfront Cape Town, Ferryman’s Tavern, Willoughby& Co., Mitchell’s Scottish Ale house. At long street CT- Mama Africa, Lola’s, Bob’s bar.
Avis offers the best rates, customer service and reliable standards one would expect from a big international company.
The road conditions are excellent throughout the area and you can use your Indian licence here. The regions are generally safe but follow the usual precautions and avoid driving at night.
Hey do let me know if you’ve seen the Garden route and also help your friends by sharing this if they’re planning to go on this splendid Road trip.
And as I wrap up this episode, another one is just beginning to form..
And on that note.. will be back soon, so stay happy guys, keep travelling and keep exploring!