The N2 highway might just be the most famous roadway in the Western Cape area of South Africa, because there’s so many places along it to visit and see, each offering a kaleidescope of opportunities within each town. It is lush and beautiful with greenery everywhere, wine routes dotted along where you can take in the luxury of wine-tasting, and have some farm fresh cheeses while you’re at it.
Starting with Wilderness, where our favourite place to stay is, Cinnamon House does not disappoint. Easily one of the best stops along the Garden Route, it is nestled between the Kaaimans River and the Goukama Nature Reserve. Wilderness could easily be called the very heart of the Garden Route due to its central location. It has pretty calm seas, long and unspoilt beaches, plenty of natural lakes and waterfalls, lagoons full of mystical beauty, rolling hillsides, and a whole host of wildlife. Not just a scenic drive, it’s a place to go hiking, horse-riding and beach-walking. The best part is being able to get back to an accommodation that seems to encompass the very best of the area it resides in. Cinnamon House gives you a taste of luxury and comfort, with views that are completely stunning after a long day spent enjoying Wilderness.
Victoria Bay is very near Wilderness, and if you happen to be a surfer this is a place you have to go, known for their national surf competitions.
Mossel Bay is another place worth seeing, and lies about 400km away from Cape Town to the East. It is a port town that holds about 60k residents, and also has the distinction of being the first place that Europeans set foot on South African ground, and is commemorated at the Da Gama Museum. Mossel Bay has the mildest climate in the world, second only to Hawaii, so it’s neither too hot nor too cold here nearly ever. You can enjoy the market at Hartenbos Beach, as well as taking a boat to Seal Island to see the critters its named for.
George is about halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, and is called “The Gateway to the Garden Route” with good cause. It’s a bit bigger than Mossel Bay with 157k residents, and is the largest city that is on the Garden Route. If you’re looking to get some food for the road or gear for your final destination this is the place to stock up for sure. George has the Outeniqua Railway Museum, which is only 720 meters from the mountains it takes the name from. If you hike up them you’ll get an unparalleled view of the city and beyond. You can find hiking trails also, that take you to George Peak or to Cradock Peak. The trails are about 18km and begin at the forestry station.
Knysna is home to 50k people, and is the native land to the Khoikhoi people. The world first heard about Knysna when a massive gold nuggest was discovered near Ruigtevlei, which naturally attracted fortune seekers, but also aided the economy of the small town. The Knysna Lagoon has to be seen, it’s home to 200 species of fish and a legion of sea birds. There’s also “The Heads” here, which are two huge sandstone cliffsides which resemble heads. The best time to visit is during the Oyster Festival, and you might see a playful monkey while here!
Plettenberg Bay is locally referred to as “Plet”, and was originally called Bahai Formosa which means “beautiful bay” by the first Portuguese explorers. It’s one of the very best places to get a wildlife safari, where you get the unique option to do so either by land OR SEA! Home to the Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve, it’s home to lions, rhinos, hippos, buffalos and a whole lot more. If you have rented your own car you’ll enjoy this so much more with a self-drive safari option. Be sure you bring your international drivers license with you though! The sensation of having a massive lion right next to your car is something that just cannot be expressed.
Nature’s Valley is the last mention here, and might just be the second most beautiful destination to Wilderness. A popular holiday-makers location, it’s between the Soutrivier, and the bases of the Tsitsikamma Mountains. It was actually not able to be accessed at all for a long period of time, until Thomas Bain created the Grootrivier Pass in 1880. Nature’s Valley is home to the world’s highest commercial natural bungee jump, so if you’re brave, this is the place to show it off. It is 206 meters high. There’s plenty of hiking trails here also, the Otter Trail, Salt River Cove Trail and Kalanderkloof Trails are all found here.
The Garden Route is among the most picturesque and stunning areas in South Africa, with so much to do that even if you had 6 weeks, you couldn’t possibly discover it all. Be sure you book ahead, since places like Cinnamon Housetend to fill up rather quickly during peak season, and as with any destination find out about specials, festivals and events going on, which the staff at Cinnamon House are always happy to help with.