The Garden Route – Western Cape, South Africa
Africa’s Southernmost Coast
This 130-mile stretch east of Cape Town runs along the coastal terrain of lakes, mountains, forests, and golden beaches. The waters are full of penguins, dolphins, and migrating whales. Its year-round beauty is enhanced between July and October, when multitudes of blooming wildflowers create a nonpareil diversity of flora due to unique climatic and soil conditions.
The floral kingdom of the Southern Cape is the most varied in the world, as hiking among hundreds of miles of trails and leisurely drives through forests and parkland will illustrate. The famous Otter Trail in the Tsitsikamma National Park is a five-day hike through some of the country’s most spectacular scenery; half-mile trails descend from the Visitor’s Center for those without much time or stamina.
The charming town of Knysna is a must-see. While you’re there, sample some of the area’s renowned oysters; the famed Knysna Oyster Company’s alfresco tasting tavern overlooks a scenic lagoon. Follow the town’s walking trails out along the coast to view the Heads, rock sentinels that stand guard at the mouth of the lagoon.
On a gorgeous sweep of beach lies the Plettenberg, the coastline’s most exclusive hotel and an enchanting place to stop. Built around an 1860 manor house, a more contemporary addition has airy rooms that overlook the pool and ocean. Come at least for a wonderful lunch on the open terrace and whale-watch as you dine.