There are plenty of holiday destinations in South Africa that are great to visit at any time of the year – during all four seasons – but the Garden Route tops the list, writes Chelsey Hale. She talked to four bloggers about the season they liked best.
Blogger Sara Essop, from In Africa and Beyond, briefly identifies the Garden Route for anyone who doesn’t know where or what it is.
“Sandwiched between the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma Mountains on the one side, and the Indian Ocean on the other, the route snakes along a narrow coastal road between Mossel Bay in the Western Cape and Storms River (Tsitsikamma) in the Eastern Cape. The 300 kilometre green forested route is interspersed by rivers, lakes and lagoons and is flanked by sandy beaches and pretty little towns.”
The region includes towns with lots to do in and around them – markets, restaurants and cafes aplenty, and offer activities like zip-lining and hiking and camping and driving in game reserves – like George, Victoria Bay, Knysna, Wilderness, Storms River, Sedgefield and Plettenberg Bay.
Essop admits that her family loves this region during spring because the weather is perfect. “It’s not too hot and not too cold,” she says. “We love hiking and the Garden Route has so many beautiful hiking spots. Our favourite is the Robberg Nature Reserve, a World Heritage Site just south of Plett.”
Even though Simone Verhoog, another blogger, describes herself as a bona fide winter lover, she insists that there is just so much to do during the summer. “There is literally something to do during every season of the year…. It’s beautiful and warm enough to enjoy the ocean, and as a family, our favourite part of the Garden Route is Sedgefield.”
Just outside town, she highly recommends visiting Scarab Village and Wild Oats Community Farmers’ Market.
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Live Green Love Green Be Green We are just mankind … Without the Earth we are nothing… #MondayMotivation 📷 Restaurant overlooking Storm's River Gorge in the #GardenRoute between #PlettenbergBay and #PortElizabeth . The beautiful #StormsRiver bridge spans the gorge. #WesternCape South Africa #travelafrica
Julie Glück, from One Stop Wanderlust loves autumn, when the weather is mild but still good, and the peak summer crowds have long since left.
“Autumn rolls out over the Easter school holidays and so we have many favourite spots that we’ve visited during this time, but one that tops our list is a visit to Monkeyland in the Crags. It’s a truly ethical sanctuary where families can walk through a forested canopy, learning about various primates whilst they swing and cavort around you.”
“In the autumn months, there’s always an Easter-themed festival or event on the go somewhere along the Garden Route,” adds Peter Dros, Director of Sales & Marketing at Fancourt Estate in George.
James Fouche, a travel writer based in George, highly recommends a whale-watching boat cruise, when southern right whales can be observed during the breeding and calving months from June to November. “As a child, I always regarded the ‘winter garden’ to be far more beautiful than the ‘summer garden.’ Flowers may be in short supply, but there is still a sense of life crawling within the confines of nature.”
“Most of the outdoor activities throughout the Garden Route continue to run, and are possibly even more alluring than during the summer. There are horse riding trips and tree top canopy tours in Tsitsikamma, and let’s not forget the Sedgefield or the George Farmer’s Markets. These are always bustling with warmth and fun, even on the coldest winter mornings.”
Fouche also notes that The Garden Route boasts a very active coffee scene, with roasteries like Caloroso, Root and Brothers supplying many of the local drinking spots. “The beans from these sources are of the highest calibre and sitting down to a hot brew in the company of your family makes for the perfect winter escape,” he explains.
“During the springtime school holidays starting in September, the Garden Route magically transforms into a wonderland of colour,” says Dros.