Friday, January 23, 2009

The Garden Route, South Africa

For anyone visiting South Africa, one of the most exciting and beautiful things to do is take a driving tour of the world famous Garden Route. Filled with exotic locations, incredible vistas, welcoming local populations and wide variety of plants and animals to see, The Garden Route is unlike any road or highway you have ever traveled on. There is a reason why travelers and tourists from all over the world make sure this wonderful adventure is on the list of things to do on a vacation in Africa.

The Garden Route is a very popular and beautiful stretch of the coast of southern South Africa, stretching from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape along to the Storms River. Named for the exquisite natural plant life that inhabits the region, the Garden Route is absolutely breathtaking and offers a wide array of places to visit and sites to see. The Garden Route includes towns and areas such as Mossel Bay, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Nature’s Valley and others. The Garden Route is found between the Outeniqua Mountains and Tsitsikamma Mountains and the Indian Ocean, home to temperate forests and nearly 300 species of birds and plentiful wildlife. A variety of habitats are found along the Garden Route including forest, wetlands and fynbos. Nature reserves, varied ecosystems, and maritime reserves where one can find coral reefs, dolphins and seals make the Garden Route one of the greatest destinations in the world for ecotourism and African safaris. Most people enjoy The Garden Route on automobile tours, but it must be noted that it is also the home of Africa’s last remaining passenger steam train, known as the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe.

Mossel Bay is a museum and historical site lovers dream, boasting wonderful educational sites such as the Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex, The Maritime Museum, The Shell Museum and Aquarium and others. Historical sites include the Cape St. Blaize Cave and Khoi Village, St. Blaize Lighthouse, Santos Pavilion and Lazaretto Cemetary amongst others, not to mention the rich archtiecural gems of the area. Top notch hotels, some of the greatest game reserves, a plush casino and fine dining are all juxtaposed against a breathtaking landscape and surrounding wilderness area great for animal watching.

Safaris of many kinds and outdoor adventures are abundant along The Garden Route, including the Keurbooms River Ferries, Botlierskop Day Safaris, The Garden Route Game Lodge and others. Plettenburg Bay is home to the Tenikwa Wildlife Center, Monkeyland and Birds of Eden. Knysna boasts outdoor experiences of many kinds including the Knysna Elephant Park and Spring Tide Sailing Charters, and Tsitsikamma offers the Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours.

The Garden Route is dotted with artists, galleries, craft museums and markets, making this fantastic stretch of the African Coast one of the most diverse and rich combinations of culture and wildlife. Any type of accommodations you can think of will be found along this pristine stretch of coastline, from bed and breakfasts, upscale hotels and golf courses and metropolitan hospitality, to camping and lodging in a rustic fashion.

The Garden Route is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline and enjoyable highways to travel on anywhere in the world. Offering a wide array of activities for every personality and kind of traveler, it is a must see for anyone visiting South Africa. Whale watching, sea kayaking, traditional African safari, walking safari and many other exciting adventures await you all along this famous bit of highway.

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