Explore the most scenic stretch of South Africa's coastline on an extraordinary seaside adventure.
Guests will be met on arrival at Cape Town International Airport, or at any other location of their choice in Cape Town for the start of their tour. From there the day is spent exploring one of the world's most beautiful cities. A cable car ride up Table Mountain is first on the agenda, from where sweeping views of the entire Cape Peninsula can be enjoyed.
You will visit the world-famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens ,which had its origins when the mining magnate Cecil Rhodes donated the land to the people of South Africa. The garden is home to 4 000 of the 18 000 species of flora which are found in South Africa and creates a most remarkable display. The tour then makes its way to the hotel.
Located in one of the most picturesque valleys of the Cape, the town of Franschhoek owes its existence to the first French settlers who worked the Drakenstein Valley. Some time is devoted to exploring the town and its memorial to the French Huguenots, set in a lovely garden, before visiting three of the internationally renowned wine estates in the valley. All the noble cultivars and classic styles are on display, from superb whites such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon and Chenin Blanc, to the rich reds of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Merlot. During the late afternoon, the tour makes its way back to Cape Town.
A drive over the spectacular Chapman's Peak pass, cut into the 650m high Chapman's Peak, leads the tour through the town of Noordhoek to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. A botanical and scenic delight, the reserve is home to several antelope species as well as a great diversity of flowering plants and birds. A highlight is sure to be the walk to the edge of Cape Point. This Cape, which has played such a central role in the tales and legends of the ocean, was and remains an important landmark on the southwestern tip of Africa.
The tour traces the False Bay on the way back to Cape Town, stopping at Boulders Beach, an attractive secluded beach comprising a tumble of huge round rocks on a sandy shore. The boulders are the ideal vantage point for observing the antics of the colony of mainland-based African penguins.
The tour traces the coast from Gordon's Bay, traversing the towns of Rooi Els and Betty's Bay on the way to Hermanus. En route, several stops are made at vantage points from where the southern right whale can potentially be spotted. These whales frequent the waters of South Africa's coastline during the months between June and November. They travel approximately 2 000km from the Southern Ocean to give birth in these waters.
Spotting these graceful mammals regally splashing about is a most rewarding experience. Lunch is enjoyed in Hermanus with its sweeping views of Walker Bay, said to be the best place on the entire coast from which to enjoy whale watching. After some time spent in Hermanus, the tour continues via Bredasdorp to the quaint fishing village of Arniston. The village takes its name from a tragic shipwreck which occurred in these treacherous waters in 1815. The village is located a stone's throw from the southern tip of Africa and the coastline surrounding it is noted for its bizarre marine erosions, of which the most famous is the Waenhuiskrans, an enormous cavern eroded from the cliffs within walking distance of Arniston. During the afternoon a visit is made to Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point on the African continent, before returning to the overnight destination.
After breakfast, the tour travels to the town of Mossel Bay, generally regarded as the southern entry point to the scenic Garden Route. The Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Diaz first set foot on shore here in 1488 and a stop at the museum named after him is made. The museum is reasonably close to the Milkwood Tree and fountain, which served as a post office and watering hole to seafarers in centuries past. There is a replica of the vessel in which Bartholomew Diaz reached these shores at the museum, a gift from the Portuguese to South Africa on the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of his voyage. The tour then makes its way to Knysna, traversing the towns of Wilderness and Sedgefield en route.
The Outeniqua Mountains form the barrier which divides the semi-arid interior from the lush coastal plains of the Garden Route. The tour crosses this barrier via the Outeniqua Pass to Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of the world. The town is located in a great valley which is known as the Little Karoo, with the Langeberge and Outeniqua ranges forming its boundary to the east and the Swartberg Mountains forming its western boundary. We visit the Cango Caves which lie in the foothills of the Swartberg Mountains. This great cave system is amongst the world’s largest and is blessed with elaborate drip stone formations, the highest of which stands 12.6m tall. The caves extend up to about 1600m into the limestone-rich hills. It is truly an impressive sight.
Lunch is followed by a short drive to an ostrich farm where we focus on the farming of the largest of the world’s birds. Great fortunes where built in the heyday of the industry when the feathers where prized fashion accessories. Today the meat, with its low-fat content, is sought-after in a world evermore preoccupied with healthy living, and the leather is a prized raw material in the production of fashion accessories. The brave can even endeavor an ostrich ride before we make our way back to the overnight destination.
After breakfast, the tour crosses the Knysna Lagoon by ferry to the Featherbed Nature Reserve. The unique 150 ha private nature reserve encompasses the entire Western Head of Knysna, with spectacular views across the lagoon and the ocean, as well as the treacherous passage between the two. The passage claimed many a ship during Knysna's days as an exporter of timber. The reserve is one of South Africa's heritage sites and is one of the highlights of the Garden Route tour. It is home to two of the Garden Route's icons, namely the Knysna Loerie and the Blue Duiker, one of Africa's smallest antelope species. The afternoon brings the tour to Plettenberg Bay, where the finest beaches in the Garden Route offer the perfect sunning experience, relaxing in the sun or braving the waves of the Indian Ocean. The tour makes its way back to the overnight destination after a wonderfully relaxing afternoon.
Guests are allowed a late morning after which they will be transferred to George Airport for a flight to Cape Town. Guests will be met on arrival at Cape Town International Airport and then assisted in transferring to an international flight back to their country of origin, or are alternatively transferred to any location of their choice in Cape Town, after a memorable tour of one of South Africa's most interesting regions.
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