After I spent 14 days in Cape Town I wanted to see more of the beautiful country down south in Africa. For about 600 EUR I rented a middle class Ford for a whole month to went on a road trip all around South Africa. The nature I saw & the people I met on this journey made this adventure to something I'll never forget.
My first day took me to Muizenberg, only about 40 minutes away from Cape Town. This trip was the perfect opportunity to get used to drive on the left side of the road. I had problems at the beginning but after a few days you'll get used to it. Muizenberg is a small town near the Cape of South Africa. To be fair, it is just a beach with some colorful beach houses where tons of surfers scrimmage at the shore to find the perfect wave.
Infamous for great whites, several lifeguards observe the beach to warn people early enough if there is a shark alert. Kind of weird to hang out in the water, if you know that there could be a great white shark behind you any time. Still I enjoyed the stay at the Atlantic Ocean but it was time to hit the road.
simon town and the cape of good hope
The drive down to the cape of good hope is pure nature. Rough ocean on one and beautiful green fields and mountains on the other side. If you are on the way down I recommend a stop at Simon Town, more precisely at Boulder Beach. This beach is one of the few once worldwide where you can observe penguins at close range. For an small entrance fee, you'll get the chance to walk or even swim right next to this cute creatures. Definitely a place you want to do a stop.
After another 40 minutes you'll be at the entrance get of the "Cape of good hope National Park". A lot of people will tell you this is the most southern point of Africa, it is not, but later more. Wooden walkways lead you all the way down the rocky path to the cape of good hope. The sea and the cape it self was and is infamous by seafarers. At least 23 ships didn't make it around the cape and you can find their wrecks on the seabed of the Atlantic Ocean right next to the shore.
There are tons of beautiful spots to sit, relax and watch the Atlantic Ocean smashing against the massive walls of the cape. This was one of my first stops on my world trip in 2017 and the feeling I got there was one, I immediately got addicted to. This "I'm at the end of the world and I feel free" feeling is something that will always haunt me.
hermanus & kap agulhas
The distances between those little towns on the western cape are short. Still you should take your time to visit all cities. Every place has something special to offer and so does Hermanus. Especially in the South African winter this place is infamous for its whale watching spots. There are tons of beautiful cliffs around town where you can enjoy the sunrise or sunset and if you get lucky even spot some dolphins or whales. I spent only 2 days there but still this place meant something special to me. After all the excitement back in Cape Town and all the preparations for my worldtrip the weeks before, this place really made me come down a bit. I remember sitting on a small bench on the cliffs looking down on "Voëlklip Beach" and just enjoying life for a few minutes.
Like I mentioned before, a lot of people claim that the cape of good hope is the most southern point of Africa. In fact it is Kap Agulhas and this place should definitely be on your bucket list, when you are in South Africa. You can't really miss the way down there, there is only one road heading south: The last road on the African continent - next stop, Antarctica. To be fair, there is not much to see. You find a wonderful old lighthouse, an old ship wreck and the famous monument, which indicates, that you are now standing right at the point where you can see the Indian and the Atlantic ocean merge into each other.
where the real garden route begins...
The garden route is actually just one road, the national freeway N2. Starting at Mossel Bay all the way to Port Elizabeth, the entire road is only 360 kilometres long, so you could do it in only one day. But since it is one of most beautiful scenic roads in the world, you really should take your time to explore every single place on the way. I recommend at least one whole week for this short distance.
The town of Mossel Bay (Mossel -> Africaans: for Shell) is like I said before the start (or the end) of the Garden Route. Actually there is not much to do there and I have to say I didn't really spent a lot of time in this town. From May till October they offer whale watching tours and if you are into shark diving this might be a good spot for you. The bay has this little island called Seal Island not far from the shore. Tons of seals romp around on this little rock every morning. If you get lucky and get up early enough you can see great whites hunting around the island, trying to get a good "breakfast".
This little place blew my head away. Only about 6,000 people living there and I admire them with envy. Before I went to South Africa I didn't really see a lot of the world, I went to the US a view times, I spent some time in Brasil, saw some stuff in Europe and did a trip to Thailand. This spot, especially the beach gave me a new perspective on what I want to do in the future. "I want to see as much beautiful places as possible" I said to myself, while I was walking down this enormous, empty beach.
In my opinion the thing on the Garden Route is, that there is nothing spectacular going on. It's just the nature that is out of this world and it's the animals you see that make you want to say "woooow" pretty much all day long. I can't really tell you what to do in the individual cities. I just enjoyed being there, enjoyed the beaches, the cliffs the forest and the kindness of people you meet on this very special trip. I know that there is tons of activities like kitesurfing, surfing, hiking etc. but I, like I said, just enjoyed the freedom on the road.
One place I do remember in Wilderness was "The Green Shed Coffee Roastery". Damn this little bistro is something. The time I was there it was owned by some cool hippies. I tell you, they have great coffee and pastries. You should definitely stop there for a little break.
next stop knysna
After a short drive of only 40 minutes on the N2 Hwy (I told you that the distances on the Garden Route a short) I reached my next stop, the little town of Knysna.
Besides stunning beaches the lagoon of Knysna is offering, there is another place I'd recommend to everyone driving down the Garden Route. If you leave the N2 Highway and drive down the Knysna main road you'll reach the Belvidere Estate. A short drive is leading up to a viewpoint which is not only a gorgeous photo spot, but also gives you a crazy view over the whole lagoon and the Indian Ocean. On your drive down, you might want to stop at the "Holy Trinity Belvidere Church". Build between 1833 and 1857, this Norman style church and the gardens around it, invite to linger all day long.
bays, ports and elephants
I could go on and on, there are several little places on the N2 Highway where I just spent some time for a coffee or a lunch break. Plettenberg Bay with its wonderful huge beach and the chance to see whales all year around. Surf Paradise Jeffreys Bay with its perfect Supertubes which puts this place on every "Best-Surf-Spot-in-the-World" list. The Tsitsikamma National Park with its 217 meter high Bloukran Bridge and of course the wind city Port Elizabeth, which also marks the end of the Garden Route.
No matter how much time you'll find for this trip, the drive down the N2 Highway will be a time you'll never forget.
port elizabeth to addo
The city marks the end of the Garden Route and also offers pretty much the same wonderful things you can see on the rest of the road. Penguins, Whale-Watching, enormous huge beaches and this wonderful laid back feeling you get when in South Africa. Personally it was just a stop over for me. I wanted to go to Addo Elephant Park.
I was never a huge fan of watching animals at zoos, I think if you want to see an animal, visit their natural habitat. Somehow I have an obsession with elephants, I don't really know why, somehow these animals just make me happy. So I was pretty excited to go do Addo.
70 kilometres north of Port Elizabeth you'll find this diverse wildlife conservation park which measures more than 3,600 square kilometres. Enough space for more than 600 elephants, 400 Cape buffaloes and about 50 endangered black rhinos.
I booked a tour with a local guide called Siya. You can tell that he was not doing all this because of the money, he really cared about all those animals living in the park. There are several spots on the tour where you can get out of the safari-car and just walk around on your own, still Siya was always watching out for you. If you search the internet, Addo Elephant Park is always up front in top lists for best animal spotting worldwide. For a good reason, this park is a crazy experience and a must do if you are on the Garden Route. Later on I went to Kruger National Park, which really blew my head away but still Addo is definitely a place you want to visit with your whole family if you are close.
5 things you don't wanna miss
- Go see penguins in Simon Town
- Visit the "Cape of good hope"
- Try to see whales and great whites in Hermanus and Mossel Bay
- Hit the Garden Route and enjoy one of the most impressive scenic roads in the world
- See elephants in their natural habitat in Addo Elephant Park