Explore the most scenic stretch of South Africa's coastline on an extraordinary seaside adventure.
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Day 1 - 8: Private African Sky Guide and Vehicle.
Guests are met and welcomed at a location of their choice in Cape Town. Today you’ll have the opportunity of experiencing a few of Cape Town’s world-famous attractions under the direction of your experienced African Sky guide. The looming Table Mountain was first summited by António de Saldanha in 1503 when he named it ‘Taboa do Cabo’ or ‘Table of the Cape’. Send a postcard from the upper cable station post office, take a mountaintop walk along one of the established walkways or simply enjoy the fantastic panoramic views across the Cape Peninsula. During the cooler part of the day, enjoy a leisurely stroll through Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens under Skeleton Gorge. Established in 1913, these gardens attempt to provide a comprehensive display of the region’s indigenous flora and include an impressive Baobab Tree in the new greenhouse. The recently completed ‘Boomslang’ treetop canopy walkway in the Enchanted Forest now provides folks with the opportunity to experience life in the treetops.
Prior to European arrival the Khoikhoi peoples were the dominant tribe in the area and farmed the Cape Peninsula and surrounds extensively, later trading with the first Europeans as they attempted to circumnavigate the southern tip of Africa. Portuguese seafarers were the first to make contact with these indigenous southern African peoples but the Dutch were the first to establish a permanent settlement here. Our full day itinerary includes scenic cliff-side mountain passes, idyllic seaside settlements, and fynbos ecosystems as we trace the Peninsula en-route to the Cape’s popular attractions. Our morning departure will see us traveling on a circular route. The little African Penguins at Boulders Beach are world famous and even featured on Animal Planet in a regular documentary. Here they go about their daily affairs, blissfully unruffled by the many human eyes observing their every move. Similarly, the Chacma Baboons will keep a close eye on you as you visit the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and make your way to the lighthouse where panoramic ocean views may be enjoyed. Chapman’s Peak Drive traces the steep west coast mountainside as it snakes its way along the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Watch out for the bronze leopard as it keeps an ever-watchful eye over Hout Bay, a memorial to the many animals that once inhabited the mountains dominating the Cape Peninsula. An exhilarating day of sightseeing sees us return to the city during the late afternoon.
Today our time is occupied by a somewhat unusual activity: a visit to the Motor Museum on the L'Ormarins estate in the Cape Winelands. L'Ormarins produces its robust wines on the slopes of the Groot Drakenstein mountains, some in the échalas style of the Rhône region of south-eastern France. Their museum is home to more than 220 vehicles including an 1898 Beeston motor tricycle and a sought-after 2003 Ferrari Enzo. Several recognizable brands such as Aston Martin, Maserati, Ferrari, and Porsche are exhibited, as well as several lesser-known collectibles like the Humberette (1914), Moretti 750, Bugatti Type 23 and the French-produced Le Zebre - inappropriately named after the African equid of which it bears no resemblance! Their collection includes representatives of the antique, veteran, vintage, post-vintage, post-45 and post-60 categories, all prudently housed in four de-humidified halls. Enthusiasts may spend as much time as they wish to inspect the collection at leisure. Later in the day, if time allows, we’ll pay a visit to the Huguenot Memorial Museum in Franschhoek. This small but interesting museum portrays the history of the French Huguenots who settled in the Franschhoek (literally, French corner) valley at the end of the seventeenth century.
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 2000km 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 do 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 Langeberg 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 dripstone 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 were 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 ever more 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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