6-Day Garden Route, Wildlife and semi-desert Karoo
This 6-day guided tour starts off exploring the lush and scenic Garden Route and, secondly, wildlife in the adjacent semi-desert. Also included are three national wildlife areas, the Addo, the Mountain Zebra and Karoo National Parks! 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. We drive eastwards via the beautiful Du Toit’s Kloof Mountains and the Breede Valley Wine region, heartland of South Africa’s brandy producers. Our journey includes the Robertson and Montague wine regions, visiting one of the many wine estates along the route, for a special wine tasting.
We continue via Route 62 through the Little Karoo with its many unique mountain ranges and vegetation to Oudtshoorn, visiting an Ostrich Show Farm for some exceptional experiences with these strange birds!
Overnight in a Guest Lodge on a working ostrich farm – La Plume Boutique Guest House. Dinner included today.
Day 2. Cango Caves – Garden Route – George – Knysna
After breakfast, we visit the Cango Caves, regarded as one of South Africa’s foremost natural wonders. The fascinating calcite caves comprise of an underground wonderland of stalactites and stalagmites.
An optional visit to the Cango Wildlife Ranch can be done once we leave the caves. The Ranch encompasses 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.
We then leave Oudtshoorn, and travel 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 natural beauty of the lakelands and adjacent indigenous forests. Knysna also offers shopping opportunities of unusual locally made art and craft, etc. Overnight at Parkes Manor or similar. Breakfast and dinner included.
Day 3. Plettenberg Bay – Tsitsikamma National Park – Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth)
We explore Knysna this morning, then travel further via Plettenberg Bay to visit the Birds of Eden Sanctuary. 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, built 216 meters (709 feet) above the Bloukrans River. The Bloukrans Bungee is the world’s highest commercial bungee bridge and the highest commercial natural bungee jump in the world.
Our next stop is at 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 our journey takes us past a few coastal holiday villages leading to Port Elizabeth, also called the ‘Friendly City’ en-route to the Addo area where we overnight. Overnight at Gerald’s Gift Guest House or similar. Breakfast and dinner included.
Day 4. Addo National Park – Cradock – Mountain Zebra National Park
After breakfast, we visit 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, we drive via Cradock to the Mountain Zebra National Park. The park proclaimed to have saved the rare Cape Mountain Zebra from certain extinction. It also boasts black rhino, buffalo, springbok, blesbuck, black wildebeest, grey rhebok and mountain reedbuck, amongst other wildlife. After game viewing in the tour vehicle, along the road leading to our rest camp, we arrive late afternoon. At camp tonight, we stay in the park’s chalet type accommodation. Overnight Mountain Zebra’s comfortable chalets. Breakfast and dinner included.
Day 5. Graaff Reinet – Beaufort West – Karoo National Park
We start our journey today game viewing in our tour vehicle. On our route out of the park, travel via Graaff Reinett 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 Reinett, 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 planes are stark contradictions of the densely populated areas of the world. We 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 of this area, 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. We arrive at the Karoo National Park in the afternoon, renowned for its impressive landscapes and large variety of plants, mostly succulents, and animals that have adapted to this harsh climate. Our route through the park gives us the opportunity to spot animals such as the black rhino, springbok, eland, mountain reedbuck, kudu, gems buck, 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 chalets with en-suite bathrooms in the park.
Day 6. Matjiesfontein – Hex River Valley – Cape Town
An early morning game walk in the park, surrounded by the awe-inspiring wide-open spaces of this semi-desert area, or a drive in our vehicle. We then leave the park and continue to the village of Laingsburg that was almost completely washed away by a freak flash flood in the mid nineteen seventies. Matjiesfontein is a well-preserved and isolated Victorian village that was established as a health resort in the 19th century. We stop for lunch at the Lord Milner Hotel.
We then travel over the summit of the Hex River Pass, offering great views of the Hex River Valley. As we descend into the valley, the vegetation changes abruptly from the semi-desert Karoo to a colourful patchwork of vineyards. Our route turns then westwards via Worcester, nestled in the wine-growing region of the Breede River Valley. The Huguenot Tunnel through the Drakenstein Mountains then takes us via Paarl back to Cape Town, where we arrive late afternoon. Breakfast included.
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