Western Cape, West Coast, Garden Route, Route 62
Western Cape, South Africa
The Western Cape is a province of South Africa, situated on the south-western coast of the country. It is the fourth largest of the nine provinces with an area of 129,449 square kilometres (49,981 sq mi), and the third most populated, with an estimated 6.5 million inhabitants in 2017. About two-thirds of these inhabitants live in the metropolitan area of Cape Town, which is also the provincial capital. The Western Cape was created in 1994 from part of the former Cape Province. The Western Cape is the southernmost region of the African continent with Cape Agulhas as its southernmost point, only 3800 km from the Antarctic coastline. The coastline varies from sandy between capes, to rocky to steep and mountainous in places. The only natural harbour is Saldanha Bay on the west coast, about 140 km north of Cape Town.
The Garden Route
The Garden Route coast is dominated by three inlets, of which the closest to Cape Town is Mossel Bay, an industrial centre of some charm, marking the official start of the Garden Route. Knysna, though younger, exudes a well-rooted urban character but has a major drawback – unlike Plettenberg Bay, its eastern neighbour, it has no beach of its own. A major draw, though, is the Knysna forest covering some of the hilly country around Knysna, the awe-inspiring remnants of once vast ancient woodlands. Between the coastal towns are some ugly modern holiday developments, but also some wonderful empty beaches and tiny coves, such as Victoria Bay and Nature’s Valley. Best of all is the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park, which has it all – indigenous forest, dramatic coastline, the pumping Storms River Mouth and South Africa’s most popular hike, the Otter trail.
Route 62 and Little Karoo
One of the most rewarding journeys in the Western Cape is an inland counterpart to the Garden Route – the mountain route from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, largely along the R62, and thus often referred to as Route 62. Nowhere near as well known as the coastal journey, this trip takes you through some of the most dramatic mountain passes in the country and crosses a frontier of dorps and drylands. This “back garden” of the Little Karoo is in many respects more rewarding than the actual Garden Route, being far less developed, with spectacular landscapes, quieter roads and some great small towns to visit. The most likeable of these towns are the historic spa town of Montagu, rural and arty Barrydale, and the port capital Calitzdorp. Oudtshoorn and the Cango Caves mark the convergence of the mountain and coastal roads; over the most dramatic of all passes in the Cape – the unpaved Swartberg Pass, 27km of spectacular switchbacks and zigzags through the Swartberg Mountains – is Prince Albert, a Karoo village whose spare beauty and remarkable light make it popular with artists. From Prince Albert, the hinterland of the Great Karoo opens up, the semi-desert that covers one-third of South Africa’s surface. The fruit farms of the Little Karoo spread out into treeless plains, vegetated with low, wiry scrub, and dotted with flat-topped hills. The best of the Karoo can be found in the Karoo National Park, while, in Sutherland, the clear, clean air provides some of the best stargazing opportunities in the world.
The West Coast
The West Coast of South Africa – remote, windswept and bordered by the cold Atlantic, demands a special appreciation. The sandy soil and dunes harbour a distinctive coastal fynbosvegetation, while the coastline is almost devoid of natural inlets or safe harbours, with fierce southeasterly summer winds and dank winter fogs, though in spring wild flowers ever-miraculously appear in the veld. The southern 200km of the region, by far the most densely populated part of the coast, has many links to Namaqualand to the north – not least the flowers. Outside the flower months of August and September, this part of the West Coast has a wide range of attractions, particularly during summer when the lure of the sea and the cooler coast is strong. The area is well known for a wide range of activities, most popularly various types of watersports, hiking and some excellent birdwatching. A highlight of a number of West Coast towns is the casual but sumptuous seafood feast served in open-air restaurants, with little more than a canvas shelter held up with driftwood and lengths of fishing twine or a simple wind-cheating brush fence as props. The idea is to serve up endless courses of West Coast delicacies right by the ocean, in the style of a beach braai.
A bold and jagged outcrop of the Western Cape fold escarpment, the Cederberg range is one of the most magical wilderness areas in the Western Cape. Rising with a striking presence on the eastern side of the Olifants River Valley, around 200km north of Cape Town, these high sandstone mountains and long, dry valleys manage to combine accessibility with remote harshness, offering something for hikers, campers, naturalists and rock climbers. The Cederberg Wilderness Area, flanking the N7 between Citrusdal and Clanwilliam, was created to protect the silt-free waters of the Cederberg catchment area, but it also provides a recreational sanctuary with over 250km of hiking trails. Throughout the area there are also numerous San rock-art sites, an active array of Cape mountain fauna, from baboon and small antelope to leopard, caracal and aardwolf, and some notable montane fynbos flora, including the gnarled and tenacious Clanwilliam cedar and the rare snow protea.
In Cape Town, the Mother City, and around the Western Cape, there are a host of amazing hotels to choose from. Each of them providing the highest levels of service and amenities during your stay.
Guest Houses and Lodges
Western Cape guest houses and lodges are an ideal alternative to staying at the (sometimes more expensive) hotels in the area. Meals besides breakfast are often available (dinner and/or lunch) usually on request. Many of the services offered at hotels can be expected, such as airport transfers, wake up calls and laundry service.
Bed and Breakfast and Self Catering
Budget, comfortable and luxury Western Cape self-catering accommodation available for holiday rental year-round. This includes free-standing holiday homes, luxury villas, holiday cottages and self-contained chalets often in a garden, beach or bush setting, holiday apartments and suites / units (with kitchenettes and usually private entrances). All Western Cape self catering accommodation units are fully equipped which enables guests to cater for themselves. Bed & Breakfasts are usually less expensive than hotels and often offer the same standard of accommodation. Staying at a B&B gives you the opportunity to live as a local and enjoy the advice of your hosts.
Knysna and Wilderness (Garden Route)
The Swinging Tarzan may appear simple enough, but don’t be fooled – this course has many challenging obstacles to navigate. Your abilities will be tested throughout the 29 obstacles, leaving you with a triumphant sense of achievement at the end. Ready to take on the High Flying course? Ages 11 and up can challenge themselves to the exhilarating course that boasts an impressive 48 obstacles. Gradually building up from the 1.4m high start, this course will test your strength, agility and determination.
- Dolphin Paragliding
Based in the heart of the Garden Route South Africa , Dolphin Paragliding is, in a nut shell, the bee's knees in paragliding, with an excellent safety record we offer tandem flights, courses, gear sales, tours, accommodation, as well as guiding and equipment rental to ensure only the best flights . Tandem flying is fun, safe and easy. Within in a few minutes you could be flying like an eagle. A SAHPA tandem rated pilot will fly with you and you can sit-back and relax while you share the joy of flying with them. With the Trike flight one can explore the coast and search for marine life like dolphins, sharks, whales, rays and even turtles. This Trike flight is ideal for photography and video shoots. It's also great for those persons who are not so mobile and is wheelchair friendly. All flights include free video or photos.
- The Malachite bird hide
The Malachite bird hide is located on the northern shore of the Bo-Langvlei in the Wilderness Section of the Garden Route National Park. Bo-Langvlei is one of a series of lakes connected by the Touw River (Eilandvlei, Langvlei and Rondevlei) and hosts a variety of aquatic species and is an internationally proclaimed Ramsar site. Major concentrations of Great Crested and Blacknecked Grebe are present on Rondevlei and Bo Langvlei. Grey and Purple Heron, Little Egret, African Spoonbill, Little Bittern and Redknobbed Coot are prominent. Wildfowl are prolific including Yellowbilled, Macoa and Whitebacked Duck, Cape Shoveler, Southern Pochard and Cape, Redbilled and Hottentot Teal. The Kingfishers are also abundant and can be photographed fishing from various perches. The forested hillsides that surround the area are home to several raptors, including: Cuckoo Hawk, Crowned Eagle, Forest Buzzard, Black and Rufous-chested (Red-breasted) Sparrowhawk and African Goshawk. The hides are good at both sunrise and late afternoon.
- Wilderness Beach
Unspoilt, expansive, beautiful ... just a few words used to describe the gorgeous beach in the Wilderness. And you won't have to fight for space here - Wilderness offers kilometres of white sandy beach ideal for long walks and for playing with your dogs or letting them run free, if leaving your pets behind when you go on holiday is not an option. Kids will love the wide open space and its safe to swim here. Wilderness Beach is also an excellent beach for dolphin- and whale spotting. Watching the dolphins play in the waves is breathtaking!Knysna
Featherbed gives visitors to the Garden Route ‘an unforgettable eco- experience on the Knysna Lagoon’. The Lagoon, more accurately defined as an estuary, has five fresh water rivers flowing in from the surrounding Outeniqua Mountains meeting with the surge of sea water from the Indian Ocean through the mighty headlands – known as the ‘Knysna Heads’ - the grand sandstone cliffs towering above the entrance to the Knysna Lagoon. Included is our own private nature reserve & trail, restaurants and a fleet of various boats. We can offer activities such as cruising the lagoon, nature trails and hiking the Knysna Heads.
A unique and true forest experience. Enjoy an exhilarating downhill on the Monster Mountain Scooter, descent through indigenous forest, sweepy bends and single track. A scenic minibus ride takes you into the heart of the forest to the best hills to start your descent in the Garden Route National Park. All of this while on the lookout for the our local wild life, the majestic Knysna loerie, the shy bushbuck and wild boar. Scooters are non motorized making this eco friendly. All trips are guided by professional qualified guides. All scooters can handle one adult with a child passenger.
- Snorkelling with Seahorses
Take a trip to Knysna and go snorkelling with the very charming Knysna seahorses. These brownish creatures are irresistibly cute and a must visit while in the area. Knysna is known for a few things - oysters, gorgeous homes, and the massive lagoon. This lagoon is a hotspot for water sports like waterskiing, kitesurfing, hydrofoiling, kayaking and stand-up paddling; thanks to the calm, shallow waters. However, it is also the home of a number of fantastic marine species; not least of all, the endemic Knysna seahorse.
- Lagoon Oyster Tour
Knysna and Oysters go together like champagne and caviar, sea and sky. If you're more than a little intrigued by oysters, then join us for the ultimate oyster experience on the spectacular Knysna Lagoon. Learn all there is to know about one of the world's most loved delicacy, taste the difference between wild and cultivated oysters, all whilst cruising the lagoon to the Heads and surrounds. The cruise includes complimentary local white wine and oysters for tasting.
Monkeyland, Wolf Sanctuary and Birds of Eden (Garden Route)
- The species of primates that you will be able to see free roaming in the Monkeyland forest include 2 Lemur species; the Black and White Ruffed Lemur (Varecia variegata) and the Ringtail Lemur (Lemur catta), 2 Langur species; Spectacled Langur (Trachypithecus obscurus) and the Hanuman Langur (Semnopithecus entellus), Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta caraya), Bolivian Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri boliviensis), Geoffroy's Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), Tufter or Brown Capuchin (Cebus apella), Red-backed Bearded Saki (Chiropotes chiropotes), Vervet Monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) and Monkeyland's only ape species the White Handed or Lar Gibbon (Hylobates lar).
- The bird sanctuary (Birds of Eden - home to about 220 different types of birds) provides a forever home where previously caged birds can live a life of free-flight in a habitat as large and natural as is possible. The feathered inhabitants of the aviary are comprised of a mixture of exotic, as well as African birds. This includes previously caged pets, hand reared and imprinted individuals, which in turn explains why some of our inhabitants, mainly being the parrots, (of which we have 60 different species) are unafraid of human beings and seemingly tame. All new arrivals at Birds of Eden go through a process of rehabilitation before their final release into the main aviary. Most of the birds that arrive at Birds of Eden have a history of being caged in small environments. Many of the birds we home have never encountered other birds. Therefor the main rehabilitation process involves socialization with other birds in large outdoor pre-release aviaries. Here they are given the chance to build up flight muscles, flight control, i.e. practicing landings, change of direction etc. The rest of the release process is based on instinct and it is rather remarkable - all the birds instinctively know which area of the aviary suits their needs, how and where to look for, and find food, water and shelter from the weather.
- The Lupus Foundation, trading as the Tsitsikamma Wolf Sanctuary, supports the survival of the wolf around the world by: 1) Putting plans in place to preserve a healthy genetic strain outside its natural domain. 2) Teaching about its life and its association with other species. 3) Its dynamic relationship to humans. 4) Provision of a sanctuary and ultimately a “natural habitat” for captive wolves. 5) Public education on the value of ALL wildlife. 6) The importance of not removing animals from their natural domain. 7) The importance of ending hybridising (cross-breeding).
The Crags Elephant Sanctuary and Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary (Garden Route)
- The Crags Elephant Sanctuary, Plettenberg Bay, has African elephants and offers an interactive elephant experience and elephant back riding. We offer hands-on educational elephant interactions. This provides our guests with a far more intimate experience with the elephants. Our dedicated staff is committed to the use of positive reinforcement elephant training methods and as a result we have relaxed elephants who enjoy interacting with our guests. Guests are guided on foot through The Elephant Sanctuary. Walk trunk-in-hand with the elephants.Guides will provide in-depth information and insight into African elephants. You will be introduced to our elephants in the forest area, and here you will be able to touch and interact with the elephants. You will see the special relationship that the elephant handlers share with their elephants and become a part of it. Riding is an opportunity to experience elephants from a different perspective.
- The Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary is home to big cats such as lions (white and tawny), cheetahs, tigers (Siberian, Bengal and white), leopard (spotted and black), jaguar, pumas, caracal, serval cats and other wildlife species such as zebra, wild dog, springbuck, zorilla, honey badger, raccoons and various snake species (which are housed separately). At Jukani the focus is on conservation education and specifically the plight of large predators in captivity, in South Africa and all over the world. Visiting Jukani is not just about viewing predator cats - it is also an informative experience. Our experienced and trained guides will take you on an tour of the sanctuary and introduce you to all the sanctuary inhabitants.
Oudtshoorn (Route 62)
The Cango Caves
The Cango Caves is a cultural and natural landmark in South Africa. The 20 million year-old Cango Caves system consists of a series of hidden chambers cut deep into a thick limestone rock layer. It is situated in the Swartberg Mountains, 30 kilometres north of Oudtshoorn, in South Africa's Western Cape Province.
Quick Facts: Frequently described as one of the great Natural Wonders of The World / The biggest show cave system in Africa / Inhabited since the Early Stone Age / It is South Africa's oldest tourist attraction
The formations are unique: they would not have normally formed in this area and are a result of faulting. The Cango Caves became a popular attraction during the 1800s. Many visitors broke off stalagmites and stalactites and wrote their names on the walls. In response, the then governor of the Cape, Lord Charles Somerset, published the first Caves Regulation in 1820. It was designed to protect an environmental resource and banned the collection of souvenirs.
Cango animal encounters
In this Natural Encounters Program you can;
Befriend a snake / Meet a cheetah / Interact with a Serval / Chill with a Tegu / Hang out with our Ring-Tailed Lemurs or Croc-Cage Dive with Nile crocodiles!
Walking with Meerkats
You will have to meet your guide before sunrise and take a short hike to the burrows. You will then observe how wild meerkat wake up, brush their teeth, comb their hair and put on their makeup. This is the only site in South Africa where you can do an exclusive 2-3 hour tour with wild meerkats.
Cango Ostrich Farm
Tours are comprehensive and are not only interesting but also great fun. The tour is an easy walk through the farm. Visitors are taken out in small groups by professional guides.
What you will experience:
- the eggs, incubators and chicks (in season)
- to hug and kiss our super friendly female - Betsie
- to feed the ostriches by hand
- receive a 'neck massage' by ostriches
- learn about the history, farming practices and industry with ostriches
Ceres, Montagu, Calitzdorp, Robertson (Route 62)
They offer one of the best Zipline Tours in Africa. Come and experience this 1,4km of pure adrenalin Eco Adventure, consisting of 8 slides varying from 100-290m in length. This Eco-Adventure is safe, fast and long. The tour takes place in the Schurweberg Mountains below the Koekedouw Dam in Ceres. Experience the true beauty of the Western Capes fynbos and rugged sandstone mountains.
Montagu Breede River Goose Boat Trips
Safe swimming from THE RIVER GOOSE or shore (bring your own costumes and towels) - Try your luck at catching The Big One (Bass in abundance) - A bird watchers paradise - Refreshments available - Trip only or Trip and a Braai. Break away from THE RIVER GOOSE by using our paddle ski or dinghy.
Calitzdorp Donkey Trail
Die Hel in the Gamkakloof Valley was first inhabited by farmers in 1830. It was accessible only by foot until 1963 when a road was built winding from the Swartberg Pass down into this remote valley. Before the road, a ‘donkey trail’ over the Swartberg Mountain from Calitzdorp to Die Hel was the only commercial life line with the outside world. This historic ‘donkey trail’ start at Hans and Erika Calitz family farm ‘Living Waters near Calitzdorp. The Donkey Trail will be a three night, two day hike over the Swartberg Mountains to Die Hel. Supplies and equipment are to be carried by donkey. The trail package will include comfortable accommodation at Living Waters, Wyenek Camp and Die Hel. Wholesome meals, guides, donkeys and return transport will also be provided.
Robertson Klipdrift Brandy Distillery
The Klipdrift Brandy Distillery in Robertson promises a generous dose of South African hospitality to all who come and visit. Klipdrift gifts and novelties are exclusively available at our Klipdrift Shop. We mix informative tastings and tours through our world class distillery with entertaining glimpses into the history of everyone’s favourite brandy. If you enjoy good brandy ( and our range offers many ), or if you simply love places of warmth and hospitality we’d like you to come over and make yourself at home in our Clock Bar.
Cederberg, Lamberts Bay and Clanwilliam
Cederberg Stadsaal Caves
Stadsaal Caves and Bushmen paintings as well as Truitjieskraal are found high in the central Cederberg beyond Cederberg Cellars & Sanddrif. They are a ‘must’ for all Cederberg visitors and keen photographers could spend hours here capturing the play of light and shadows on the open caves and rock formations. Nearby there are some Bushmen rock paintings from an ancient time when elephants roamed freely through the Cederberg. You will need to buy a permit, obtainable from Algeria Forest Station, Dwarsrivier farm, Cederberg Oasis or Mount Ceder. If travelling from Clanwilliam or Citrusdal, take the day and stop to visit Algeria Forest Station, the Cederberg Cellars and perhaps enjoy a hike or swim in the river at Algeria…
Welcome to the seafood hotspot of the West Coast! Lamberts Bay is known as the Diamond of the West Coast and the crayfish mecca of South Africa. Snoek is also available during a snoek run which takes place a couple of times during the year. Boats from all over the West Coast flock to the town to catch this fish which has also become more popular. Lamberts Bay is also famous for its long stretches of uninterrupted white beaches and abundant marine life which gathers in the cool blue waters. This gem of a seaside village owes its origin to humble beginnings as a fishing village, like most of the surrounding South African coast villages, but is has become one of the major tourist attractions on the West Coast due to its moderate all year climate. The Sandveld Museum and nearby local farms like Wadrift, will open your mind to the cultural history of this unique place.
The Doring River is situated near Clanwilliam, about 3 hour’s drive from Cape Town. Set in the foothills of the Cedarberg, this lovely area offers visitor beautiful scenery and springtime flower displays. The river itself winds through a pristine canyon, offering a real wilderness experience. Dry in summer, winter rains swell the river forming exciting whitewater rapids such as ‘House’,’ Krantz’ and ‘Island’. They use inflatable two person ‘crocs’ that are easy to paddle and steer. They also have a couple of rafts that are very stable and perfect for less confident paddlers. Each trip is run as a self-contained expedition – they carry everything they need with them and take everything back out again at the end. You make our way down river, camping at night. All you need to provide is your personal camping gear and drinks of your choice. All meals are included from breakfast on the first morning and an optional dinner on the Friday night, as are qualified guides, and boating and safety equipment.
Lamberts Bay Bird Island Nature Reserve
Bird Island lies about 100m off the shore of Lambert’s Bay on the Cape’s West Coast. It offers visitors a rare opportunity to see the blue-eyed Cape gannet up close. Bird Island is one of only six sites world-wide where Cape gannets breed, and it is the only breeding site easily accessible to the public. Bird Island is not only a tourist destination, but used for scientific research. The research done on the island relates to the bird populations, in the form of monitoring, censusing and patrols. The Gannet colony at Bird Island is one of the most monitored colonies in the world. It is censured (population recorded) every day, while all eggs stolen by gulls are recorded.
West Coast Fossil Park
The fossil site is world-renowned for its exceptionally well-preserved fossil faunal remains that date to the terminal Miocene/early Pliocene (circa 5.2 million years ago). A national and international team of researchers are currently unraveling the fascinating and unique history of fossils from the West Coast Fossil Park and attempting to recreate the environment and climate of the west coast some 5 million years ago. At this time many animals that are now extinct, such as saber-toothed cats, short-necked giraffes, hunting hyenas and African bears roamed the west coast which then had a more subtropical climate with lush, riverine forests and open grasslands.
Langebaan Lagoon is a large salt water lagoon, regarded as a wetland of international importance, protected by the West Coast National Park (formerly called the Langebaan National Park). The lagoon is an intense turquoise; only 6 metres deep at its deepest and completely open to the sea. No river runs into it – making it one of only three lagoons world-wide not fed by fresh water. This beautiful landscape attracts numerous waterbirds, Palearctic and rare migrant waders. As such it is one of South Africa's Important Bird Areas. The lagoon holds Ramsar wetland status as a result.
Unlike your standard river lagoon, which forms when a fresh water river reaches the sea, this lagoon has been shaped by the rise and fall of sea levels over time, and is a self-sustaining, pure salt water lagoon. Daily tides bring nutrient rich water from the ocean into the lagoon, provided by the cold benguela current flowing up the west coast. The lagoon has a series of unique salt marshes that make up the biggest salt marsh area in the country. The lagoon supports huge populations of crabs and snails, as well as over 70 different marine algae, and serves as a nursery for juvenile fish.
West Coast National Park
Wildlife in the park includes large antelope such as eland, red hartebeest, bontebok, kudu, gemsbok, steenbok, mountain zebra, duiker and ostriches in the Postberg section. Other smaller animals include the bat-eared fox, caracal, and Cape gray mongoose. Many Palearctic migrants winter in the lagoon during the austral summer, particularly in September as species arrive from the northern hemisphere, and in March when they gather in large numbers to feed up prior to undertaking the return migration. At these times the birds will be transitioning out of and into their breeding plumage. Red knot, sanderling, little stint, Ruff, marsh, Terek and Curlew sandpipers, ruddy turnstone, ringed and grey plover, greenshank, Eurasian whimbrel, Eurasian curlewand bar-tailed godwit are the most regular species.
On the land the fynbos surrounding the lagoon is home to southern black korhaan, Cape spurfowl and grey-winged francolin, Cape penduline and grey tit, southern anteater chat, white-throated and yellow canary, Karoo lark, chestnut-vented warbler, bokmakierie and Cape bunting which are all easily seen. African marsh harrier and black Harrier hunt by quartering the ground. The coastal islands at the mouth of the lagoon are important breeding colonies for Cape and Hartlaub's gull, Cape gannet and African penguin, as well as cormorants and terns.