Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Private Garden Route Tours in South Africa

Like every person in the world, travellers are also individuals with their own interests and requirements in life. While most of us love joining a tour group, there are those who prefer doing things their way, in their own time and most importantly, see and do the specific attractions and highlights they want.

Our Private Garden Route tours provide exactly that. We provide the qualified guide (driver), vehicle, fuel, toll fees, accommodation and breakfasts. All activities and highlights along the way will be your decision. The guide will make the bookings and arrangements and you can pay for it on arrival at the attraction.

Click and have a look at our Private Garden Route Tours.

Our Private Garden Route Tours offer you the selection of budget, backpackers or 3 star accommodation. Luxury packages are also available. We will gladly build you a customized 4 or 5 star package. Honeymoons, families, groups or couples can all be catered for specifically.

 Make sure to include the Garden Route during your visit to Cape Town. It truly is one of the (if not THE!) most beautiful spots found throughout South Africa. Relaxation, history, adventure, nature and wildlife are but a few of the things to do along this lush stretch of land. Click the link and view our entire selection of Garden Route Tours.

Happy Travels
Till later!
The Cape Town Experience Team

Monday, 21 September 2015

The history of The Garden Route

The Garden Route of South Africa is the stretch of the southern coast of South Africa and runs from Mossel Bay to Port Elizabeth. The name ‘Garden Route’ refers to the diverse vegetation found here and the variety of lagoons and lakes strewn along the coastal areas. The Garden Route includes towns like Mossel Bay, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Stormsrivier and George which acts as the Garden Route's biggest city and administrative centre.

Travelling along the coast of The Garden Route, the vegetation becomes lush and evergreen compared to the inland areas, which makes it hard to believe most of the Knysna and Tsitsikamma forests were totally destroyed by early settlers of this area. What we see today is only a tiny piece of the indigenous forests that ruled this area.

The Garden Route offers mild to hot summers along with mild winters. It has the second mildest climate found in the entire world after Hawaii. Temperatures won’t often drop below 10° Celsius during winter and hardly ever climbs beyond 28° Celsius in the summer. Rain comes all year round, with a small increase during spring months, brought along by the humid sea breezes from the Indian Ocean ascending and dropping its precipitation on the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma Mountains.

The recent history of the Garden Route is very closely connected with the development and need for wood to satisfy the growing population of the Cape. It took only a handful of years for the tiny pockets of forests in Cape Town’s Southern suburbs to be depleted, and with the arrival of the first white colonists reaching Mossel Bay in the early 1700’s the demand doubled. During the mid 1800s the forest areas around the Garden Route were targeted, but it was only until a road was built crossing the Keurbooms River that the Tsitsikamma area came under serious threat.

Today The Garden Route is well protected and visitors can enjoy nature’s untouched beauty at its best. More photos and information on the history of The Garden Route can be found in Tsitsikamma Park.

Till later!
The Cape Town Experience crew

Monday, 7 September 2015

Popular Garden Route Adventure and Adrenaline Attractions

The Garden Route has something for everyone. If you're hoping for relaxation and bare feet in the sand then you'll find it. Nature walks and hikes are available for the nature lovers and wildlife will make sure you get a good dosage of animals if that is your wish. But then you get the individuals who enjoy getting their blood pressure up a little and exploiting the feeling of 'being alive'! Yes, for them there's also a handful of interesting stops. Here's a list of Popular Garden Route Adventure and Adrenaline Attractions for those who enjoy the wilder side of life.

Shark Cage Diving
Shark Cage Diving is an extremely popular attraction in South Africa and many operators provide you with the opportunity to get in a cage and face to face with these majestic ocean predators. This activity is available as day tours in Cape Town, Gans Bay and The Garden Route. Book your early morning pickup and dive with one of the shark diving companies in Cape Town or include it during one of our longer or private Garden Route tours.
Shark Cage Diving, South Africa

Swimming with seals
Plettenberg Bay is found in the heart of The Garden Route and a large number of ocean activities are available in this popular town. Apart from whale and dolphin viewing you can also put your swimming gear and join hundreds of seals for a swim. Explore the daily routines, agility and excitement of seals as they welcome you into their world. Swimming with seals is a specialized activity and usually only available on private Garden Route tours.
Swimming with seals in The Garden Route, Plettenberg Bay

Bungy Jumping
Only for the brave! Yes, the famous Bloukrans Bungy Jumping bridge in The Garden Route surely requires no introduction. A dramatic 216 meter drop and nothing but a rubber cable to make sure you don’t ‘swim with the fishes’ in the river below. It takes a few gasps of the bravest breaths you have, but once you’re done and back on the bridge nothing will take away the feeling of that plunging moment. The Bungy bridge is included in most GardenRoute tours where the optional choice of jumping is included.
Bungy Jumping at Bloukrans Bridge, Garden Route

Ziplining Tours
Ziplining through the treetops of Tsitsikamma and The Garden Route is in fact a very relaxing activity and sometimes incorrectly categorised as an adrenaline attraction. Ziplining is for any age and a perfect family activity. The height might be a factor as anybody with a fear of heights should probably have a second thought! There’s a couple of these options available along The Garden Route.
Ziplining in Tsitsikamma, Garden Route

Cango Caves Adventure tours
The Cango Caves provide a unique experience where you step back in time to observe stalactites and stalacmites formed over hundreds of thousands, if not millions of years! The standard tour consist of very basic strolling on comfortable walkways. The Adventure tours, however is a little different and much more challenging. If you don’t mind tight spaces, crawling, sliding on your belly or getting a little dirty then give the adventure tours a go! The Cango Caves are available in almost all Garden Route tours visiting Oudtshoorn.
Cango Caves guided tours in Oudtshoorn, Garden Route

Another activity which there are plenty opportunity of in The Garden Route and along the coast! With the ocean, rivers and lakes never far away you are sure to find a few canoes lying on a river bank waiting for renters and take to the water. Canoeing in The Garden Route gets you very close to the natural beauty and tranquility of the area.
Canoeing in Wilderness Park, Garden Route

Till Later!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

10 Awesome Facts About South Africa

South Africa has become a hotspot for travellers and tourists in recent years. We are all familiar with the turbulent history, the role of Mandela, Kruger Park, Table Mountain and other everyday familiar landmarks and attractions. There are however a few amazing facts about South Africa not known by many people. Here is a list of 10 Awesome Facts About South Africa which can be explored or included in our Cape Town and Garden Route tours.

Hermanus is the best land-based whale watching spot in the world. From June to November you can see some amazing whale action from the shores or join boat tours from Hermanus harbour. Day trips or Whale Watching Tours to Hermanus are easy to find, or you can include a stop here during Garden Route tours.

Table Mountain is believed to be older than the Himalayas. Impossible to miss this majestic rock while in Cape Town, so no need to look for it or ask directions! It’ll find YOU! She is home to more plant species found in the entire United Kingdom! 

South Africa is one of the six floral kingdoms of the world and the only one to have its entire floral collection contained within the boundaries of a single country. You can view ‘Fynbos’ everywhere in Cape Town and along The Garden Route. Our National Flower - The King Protea - comes from this special plant species. Visit Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden while in Cape Town to have a close-up look at this collection of plants and flowers. 

South Africa is one of the largest fruit exporters in the world. About an hour’s drive from Cape Town you’ll find the town of Grabouw where one of the largest cooling storage facilities can be found. This town is also the home and birthplace of the famous Appletizer drink, along with the title of the world's first biodiversity wine route.

Route 62 leading to and from Oudtshoorn is the world’s longest wine route and arguably South Africa’s most popular country road. The majority of Garden Route tours visit Oudtshoorn and will take Route 62. There are a number of interesting towns and rest stops along the way.

South Africa is also home to the Ostrich Capital of the World. The town of Oudtshoorn again makes its mark on the world with this title. The town has the most amount of ostriches concentrated within one area. Along with some wildlife activities and the majestic Cango Caves, Oudtshoorn has become a permanent fixture on Garden Route tours.

About 900 different species of birds can be found within South Africa. In total that calculates to about 10% of the entire planet’s bird species! This makes South Africa a gold pot for bird lovers along with Birds of Eden which can be found along The Garden Route. This bird sanctuary is the largest free flight bird cage in the world.

Cape Town Film Studio has become one of the most popular film studios in the world during recent years. The reason for this is the low cost of producing your movie here and the fact that we have every kind of landscape you could possibly require, including forests, mountains, beaches, farmlands, wetlands and bushes.

You can view rare African Penguins in several locations in and around Cape Town. These birds are protected and the government created parks for them where they can be viewed and observed in their natural habitat. Visit one of these colonies in Cape Point or during Garden Route tours stopping in Betty’s Bay.

South Africa is the oldest wine producing country outside of Europe and the Mediterranean. Our wines include all the famous and popular names and our sparkling wines and brandy’s compete with the best in the world. You are never too far from a wine farm in South Africa and our Cape Town wine tours or Garden Route tours include a visit for some indulgence of these products.

There you have it! 10 Awesome Facts About South Africa which you can view or explore during our Cape Town and Garden Route tours. If you have any specific interests which you would like to prioritise, give us a shout and we'll plan it for you when you come and visit!

Till later!
The Cape Town Experience Crew

Thursday, 27 August 2015

5 Scenic, Leisurely Walks in The Garden Route

Not all of us are cut out to take on a few hours or sometimes even a few days of hiking tours through forests, rivers, bushes, hills and mountains. A leisurely stroll would be more preferable to take in the surroundings, natural wonders and fresh air The Garden Route has to offer. Here is a list of 5 Scenic, Leisurely Walks in The Garden Route that can be done in an hour or two. These walks are suitable for the not-so-fit or less agile individuals and still offer the magnificent natural beauty found within The Garden Route.

1. Southern Tip, Cape Agulhas

Agulhas does not officially form part of The Garden Route, but is used a lot as a first night's stop on many Garden Route tours. Taking a walk from the lighthouse to the Southern tip is a beautiful stroll with unique vegetation, fresh ocean air and some whale spotting during winter months. And when you reach the Southern tip, you can go back home and tell your friends you've walked from The Indian Ocean to The Atlantic ocean!

2. St. Blaize Trail, Mossel Bay

This walk has the potential to become a full day event, but the distance is completely decided by each individual. Mossel Bay is the official start of The Garden Route and offers picturesque views along the coastal areas. The St. Blaize trail starts with an age-old cave where evidence of early bushmen living there was found. From here you can decide if you would like to continue onwards or turn back to the parking lot a few metres down the stairs.

3. Tsitsikamma Suspension Bridge

One of the most popular walks along The Garden Route is the Tsitsikamma Suspension Bridge. A two kilometer return stroll of a boardwalk trail takes you to the Stormsriver mouth where it leads into the Indian Ocean. A couple of suspension bridges takes you over the river mouth with incredible views into the mouth and towards the ocean. This stroll is included by many tour operators in their Garden Route tours, and those who prefer to go without the walk can relax at the restaurant and view the spectacular surroundings.

4. Tsitsikamma Big Tree

Not far from the suspension bridge walking route within Tsitsikamma Park is the trail to The Big Tree - The oldest recorded Yellow-wood Tree in South Africa which is also our National Tree. This walking route is easily found just off the N2 motorway and could even be used as a toilet stop and leg stretcher on Garden Route tours. The walk takes you on a boardwalk through thick, protected forests while the sounds of birds and nature surrounds you - a quick, beautiful introduction to The Garden Route.

5. Wilderness Waterfall, Eden Adventures

Found within Wilderness is a river running through the town going by the name of The Touw's River. You have the optional choice here to canoe up the river for about 3/4 of an hour where you then leave the canoes and hike the rest of the way through beautiful forests observing nature at its best. The Waterfall at the end of the walk is a welcome award during summer months. Have a refreshing dip, pack the picninc baskets and spend some time here away from everyday life. This walk is included in the 6 Day Garden Route Tours run by our travel partners, Earthstompers Adventures.

These walks are easy to find and won't take too much out of your back or knees! Stop at any of these hiking trails for a bit of fresh air and beautiful natural surroundings while on Garden Route tours. If any of these are of specific interest to you, feel free to let us know and we'll include time for it on our Private Garden Route tours. Visit our website for more information or to make an enquiry!

Till later!
The Cape Town Experience Crew

5 Popular Game Reserves on The Garden Route

The Garden Route provides various types of scenery - from forests, to beaches, mountains and even a semi-desert area when crossing the Outeniqua Mountains into The Klein Karoo. Wildlife is also included in this kaleidoscope of scenery and environments. Here is a list of 5 Popular Game Reserves on The Garden Route if you feel like adding some game drives or a bush break to your Garden Route tours.

1. Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, Oudtshoorn

Oudtshoorn might not officially be part of The Garden Route, but being so close to the heart of The Garden Route and offering such amazing activities, tours and landscapes it is surely a not-to-be-missed town. Buffelsdrift Game Reserve can be found in this town offering a variety of accommodation types, packages, tours and activities. The reserve is ideally situated close to surrounding attractions such as The Cango Caves, Cango Wildlife Farm and a number of Ostrich Farms.

2. Garden Route Game Lodge, Albertinia

The name says it all! Garden Route Game Lodge is found directly off the N2 motorway as you leave the town of Albertinia on your way to Mossel bay. The reserve is perfect for overnight stays, day visitors and even an impulsive coffee break if you feel like stretching the legs during Garden Route tours.

3. Botlierskop Private Game Reserve, Mossel Bay

Botlierskop Private Game Reserve has become a very popular Garden Route stop for overnight guests along with day visitors coming for day tours, lion walks or elephant encounters. Being only a few minutes drive from the town of Mossel bay, guests have the flexible options of spending their time on the beach or in the bush. Mossel Bay also offers shark cage diving and whale boat tours, making sure you get the full package of wildlife on land and in the ocean!

4. Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve, Plettenberg Bay

Moving east along The Garden Route you'll find the town of Plettenberg Bay. About 11 km's off the N2 motorway running through the town is Plettenberg Game Reserve. The lodge offers various types of accommodation and is perfect for day visitors or those interested in horse-back safari tours. A quick drive takes you to the centre of Plettenberg Bay where you can enjoy the beaches, shopping and various other Garden Route activities.

5. Schotia Private Game Reserve, Addo

Reaching the end of The Garden Route you'll find the popular Addo National Park near Port Elizabeth. Bordering the park of Addo is Schotia Private Game Reserve. The reserve is a fantastic location for wildlife viewing, including free-roaming lions where you might even witness a hunt! With easy access to Addo and Port Elizabeth, Schotia is an ideal spot for an authentic wildlife experience in South Africa and The Garden Route.

This list should give you a handful of options and a good idea of the lodges and game reserves found on The Garden Route. These areas are all malaria-free and close to all the regular Garden Route stops and attractions. If you would like to book one of our guided Garden route tours including an overnight stop at one of these lodges, please have a look at our website and view our selection of Private Garden route tours.

Till Later!
The Cape Town Experience Crew

Monday, 24 August 2015

10 Wildlife and Animal Centres along The Garden Route

Apart from its natural beauty, The Garden Route also provides plenty of opportunity to interact, observe or get close to a variety of animals and wildlife. If you are a fan of our furry friends and would like to learn as much as you can while on the Garden Route, then this list is for you. Find here 10 Wildlife and Animal Centres along The Garden Route and do them in your own time on self drive tours or join one of our group Garden Route tours.

1. Cango Wildlife Ranch

Cango Wildlife Ranch in Oudtshoorn is a popular wildlife and interaction park and a regular stop on Garden Route tours along with visiting Ostrich Farms and The Cango Caves. Observe and interact with a large number of different animals including lions, cheetah’s, birds, bats, monkeys and, if you’re up for it try cage diving with crocodiles!

2. Jukani Wildlife Centre

Jukani specializes in different cat species from all over the world. The centre adopts or saves animals in danger or in need of a new, better home. Lions, tigers, leopards and more can be seen here. Some very rare cats, soon to be extinct can be observed here as the story of their demise will be shared by your guide. Jukani is found on the N2 motorway and easily accessible when touring the Garden Route.

3. Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre

Tenikwa is another facility on The Garden Route with a variety of lesser known cats of South Africa, also in great need of assistance as their numbers in the wild are dropping rapidly. Here you can take a walk with a cheetah or go on one of the hourly, guided tours to show you around and inform you of the animals' daily routines, natural habitats and level of endangerment. Tenikwa is found within a small village called 'The Crags' near Plettenberg Bay

4. Monkeyland

Also within 'The Crags' on the Garden Route you will find Monkeyland. A living forest experience of hundreds of monkeys going about their daily lives. Visit them on guided tours in their natural habitats as they play, run a round, lounge in a tree or even come a little closer to you to inspect the welcome visitor. Guided tours depart from the restaurant on a regular basis and you can enjoy a light lunch or refreshment at the restaurant while viewing some monkeys cruising around.

5. Birds of Eden

Birds of Eden is the world’s largest free-flight bird cage and truly a highlight on many Garden Route tours. Guided tours through the park can be requested but in general visitors walk through the park in their own time and pace. Birds of Eden is truly an ignition of the senses, even if you’re not a bird lover. The sights and sounds and collection of birds in the park will surely offer something that you’ve never seen before and will probably never see again.

6. Garden Route Wolf Sanctuary

Even though wolves are not indigenous to South Africa, you can learn more about them right here on the Garden Route. Apart from wolves, you can have a look at some pigs, donkeys, goats, sheep and more. Bring the kids and let them pet some of the animals. A picnic area is available to relax and take in the glorious nature of The Garden Route.

7. Knysna Elephant Park

In the heart of The Garden Route, between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay you will find the signpost for Knysna Elephant Park. Take a walk alongside elephants and feed them optional fruits as they keep you company during their feeding times in the field. Group tours happen very regularly during the day, and rides or additional activities can be booked for certain times during the day.

8. Ostrich Farm

Oudtshoorn, even though not officially part of the Garden Route, is a popular stop during tours. It is known as the Ostrich Capital of the World due to the large amount of ostriches and farms concentrated in the town. Visit one of these farms, learn about the birds, their lifestyle, high quality leather and if you've never tried ostrich meat, then this is the time to try it!

9. Lanwood Snake Sanctuary

If you love them or even if you cannot stand the sight of them, snakes are awesome creatures! Stop at Lanwood Snake Sanctuary in the heart of The Garden Route for some interesting insights into our slithery friends. Live shows, tours, display boxes and even some interactions will bring you close to a wide variety of snakes while you learn the secrets to their daily lives.

10. Lion Walk

In Mossel Bay one will find Botlierskop Private GameReserve. Apart from their game drives and elephant experiences they also offer the lion walk activity on the farm next door – Zorgfontein. This activity is a highlight on many Garden Route tours but usually offered as an optional activity. Take an hour long stroll with a couple of hand-reared lions in a free-roaming area without cages or leashes.

So! There you have it! 10 Wildlife and Animal Centres along The Garden Route where you can get your dosage of wildlife found within The Garden Route and South Africa. If you would like to join us on one of our tours, or perhaps need assistance in building a customized tour which includes any of the above parks or centres, simply click and visit our website at The Cape Town Experience and get in contact!

Till later!
The Cape Town Experience Crew