Garden Route, Wildlife and semi-desert Karoo
This 6-day guided tour covers the lush and scenic Garden Route and wildlife in the adjacent semi-desert. Also included in the visits are three national game Parks, the Addo Elephant National Park, the Mountain Zebra National Park and Karoo National Park! This tour is an excellent substitute for game viewing in the north of the country!
Day 1. Cape Town – Route 62 – Oudtshoorn (Garden Route and Wildlife)
Depart from Cape Town on the 6-day garden route and wildlife guided tour. Drive eastwards via the beautiful Du Toit’s Kloof Mountains and the Breede Valley Wine region, heartland of South Africa’s Brandy producers as well as via the Robertson and Montague wine regions. You visit one of the many Wine Estates in these areas for a wine tasting.
Continue via Route 62 through the Little Karoo with its many unique mountain ranges and vegetation to Oudtshoorn. Visit an Ostrich Show Farm for some exceptional experiences with these strange birds!
We overnight in Oudtshoorn, also called the “Feather capital” of the world. Over ninety percent of the world’s ostrich farms are found here. Dinner included today.
Day 2. Cango Caves – Garden Route – George – Knysna
Our first stop is at the Cango Caves, regarded as one of South Africa’s foremost natural wonders. The fascinating calcite caves comprise an underground wonderland of stalactites and stalagmites. We visit an Ostrich Show Farm for some exceptional experiences with these strange birds!
An optional visit to the Cango wildlife ranch can be done. The Ranch encompasses of over 90 different species of animals. They provide guided tours which are fundamental in educating the public, giving each species a voice, and highlighting animal and environmental issues.
Travel further past Oudtshoorn, over the Outeniqua Mountains via George and Wilderness along the Wilderness National Park lakes area. We skirt around the lakes to Knysna on the edge of the Knysna Lagoon with its entrance to the sea guarded by two promontories known as the “Heads”. The area also falls within a National Park proclaimed to conserve the extraordinary beauty of the lakelands and indigenous forests. Knysna also offers shopping opportunities of unusual locally made art and craft, etc. Overnight at Augusta Bay Lodge or similar. Breakfast and dinner included.
Day 3. Plettenberg Bay – Tsitsikamma National Park – Port Elizabeth
This morning we explore Knysna and travel further via Plettenberg Bay to visit the Birds of Eden. This unique two hectare dome (the world’s largest) spans over a gorge of indigenous forest. It is currently home to over 3,500 birds from over 220 species, with the main focus being African birds. We continue to The Bloukrans Bridge, 216 meters (709 feet) above the Bloukrans River. The Bloukrans Bungee is also the world’s highest commercial bungee bridge and the highest commercial natural bungee jump in the world.
You visit the Tsitsikamma National Park (Khoisan for ‘The place of much water’) stretching over one hundred kilometres of wild and rocky coastline characterized by massive cliffs, narrow isolated beaches and shady indigenous forests along the river valleys. In the park you can do a relaxing walk/hike to the suspension bridge stretching over the mouth of the Storms river. The final part of the journey takes us past a few coastal holiday villages to Port Elizabeth, also called the ‘Friendly City’ en-route to the Addo area where we overnight. Overnight at Hopefield Country House. Breakfast and dinner included.
Day 4. Addo National park – Cradock – Mountain Zebra National Park
Travel to the Addo Elephant National Park, a finely tuned ecosystem that provides sanctuary to more than 400 elephant, lion, black rhino, buffalo, hyena, several species of antelope, and a wide variety of birds. The unique flightless dung beetle is almost exclusive to this area. After this unforgettable experience, you drive via Cradock to the Mountain Zebra National Park. The park proclaimed to save the rare Cape Mountain Zebra from certain extinction, also boasts lion, black rhino, buffalo, springbok, blesbuck, black wildebeest, grey rhebok and mountain reedbuck. After game viewing drives in our vehicle, you arrive at the camp to overnight in the park’s chalet type accommodation. Overnight Mountain Zebra Park. Breakfast and dinner included.
Day 5. Graaff Reinet – Beaufort West – Karoo National Park
After breakfast and another drive through the park, you travel via Graaff Reinet through one of the remotest and arguably loneliest roads in the country, where it is impossible to determine the horizons for the mirage images. Graaff Reinet, the oldest town in the Eastern Cape, is world renowned for its well-preserved old buildings. In all, there are 220 proclaimed National Monuments in the town.
The vast open plains are stark contradictions of the densely populated areas of the world. You visit the Valley of Desolation, a geological phenomenon; a ravine with giant dolomite pillars eroded into extraordinary shapes, hiding fossils of animals that inhabited the swamps 200 million years ago.
A short visit of Beaufort West takes us to the birthplace of Chris Barnard who performed the world’s first successful heart transplant, and some of the old colonial buildings in the town.
After that we travel to the Karoo National Park, renowned for its impressive landscapes and large variety of plants, mostly succulents, and animals that have adapted to this harsh climate. You travel through the park and have an opportunity to spot animals such as the black rhino, lion, springbok, eland, mountain reedbuck, kudu, gemsbuck, and a variety of bird species, including one of the largest concentrations of the rare Black Eagle. It is also home to some fifty-nine species of reptiles, including five species of tortoises.
Overnight in the park in the chalet type accommodation at the foothills of the Nieuwveld Mountains.
Day 6. Matjiesfontein – Hex River Valley – Cape Town
After an early morning game walk in the park, awe at the wide open spaces of this semi-desert area as you travel through the village of Laingsburg that was almost completely washed away by a freak flash flood in the mid nineteen seventies. At Matjiesfontein, a well-preserved and isolated Victorian village established as a health resort in the 19th century, you stop for lunch in the Lord Millner Hotel. After that you travel over the summit of the Hex River Pass with great views of the Hex River Valley. As you descend into the valley, the vegetation changes abruptly from the semi-desert Karoo to a colourful patchwork of vineyards. Then westwards via Worcester, nestled in the wine-growing region of the Breede River Valley. The Huguenot Tunnel through the Drakenstein Mountains takes us via Paarl back to Cape Town, where we arrive late afternoon.
The following tours may interest you as well!
5-Day Garden Route and Karoo Tour departing daily – Code – SCCS
6-Day Garden Route and Wild Coast – Code – SCCP