Top 5 things to experience on the garden route.
Having visited the garden route regularly over the last 20 years or so, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a plethora of adventures during that time. I’ve finally decided to share some of my favorite adventures and hope that someday, you’ll get to appreciate them as much as I do.
Everyone I meet that has visited the garden route, and I mean everyone, wishes they could return some day. With so much to offer, it near impossible to experience everything on just one trip – trust me – 20 years later and I’m still discovering new things each year.
The adventures vary from blissful hiking in a rainforest along the coastline, to heart thumping, adrenalin fueled shark cage diving and everything in-between. The world’s highest commercial bungee jump, world class and world famous hiking trails, a golf course ranked as one of the world’s finest, beaches, lagoons, rivers and lakes; the list goes on and on, but for this post, I’ve picked my favorite five.
Kleinkrantz is a (really) small neighborhood located in the ideal spot just between Wilderness and Sedgefiled on the Garden Route and home for the holidays. A 5 minute stroll from the house, and we’re at top of a dune which serves as the access point for the Kleinkrantz Beach.
Kleinkrantz is (very) popular with the Paragliders due to it’s high dunes which serve as a perfect launchpad for their aerial adventures, but for me, it’s the perfect spot for Sunset walks on the beach.
It’s not a “swimming” beach due to the steep drop-off in the surf, enormous waves, strong currents and impossible swimming conditions. All of which are the perfect recipe for some great surf fishing, and this is evident in presence of a few fisherman littered along this strentch of largely unspoiled coastline. There are no high rise hotels or apartments, just a few homes at the top the dune.
With every visit, the first thing I do as soon as I arrive, is head to the beach at Kleinkrantz, waiting for the Indian Ocean to swallow up the sun. The sound of the waves just has a way of awakening the soul.
Between the desk job and all the traveling it’s become increasingly difficult to find the time to play golf. That being said, it’s important to highlight that I am not an avid golfer. As much as I love to play, it’s not my first love when it comes to sports – that position is held unreservedly for football – or soccer as some may refer to it. Nevertheless, I do try and squeeze in a round when I can, and as an amateur golfer who is able to break 100, I do appreciate a quality course. I can however do without all the pomp and ceremony attached to the sport. Thus, even though the amazing Links at Fancourt, Dubai, Simola or Pezula (amongst) courses are a treat for more golfers, I much rather prefer the Sedgelinks 18 hole mashie course.
Just off the N2 highway and close to home, I get to swing my clubs on at least a half dozen occasions while at the coast. The atmosphere is relaxed enough for me to play a round or two with my wife, brothers, nephews and anyone else keen to join. The course is supremely maintained and offers enough of a challenge to make it interesting.
This unassuming water park located approximately 5km outside of Plettenberg Bay is simply awesome. It’s not widely known, and except for the small sign off the highway, you probably wouldn’t find it. I remember the first time we visited the park. It was a Saturday morning, and the kids were rummaging through some old brochures looking for something to do when they came across the flyer for Adventureland.
We called them, and they were open, so we decided to give it a try. We packed a cooler bag and some snacks before heading out on the 80 minute drive from Kleinkrantz. When we arrived, we paid our entrance fee, got our colored wrist bands and got into the park. At this point, I’d like to highlight that our past experience with waterparks included the likes of Sun City’s Valley of the Waves, or Forever Resorts Warmbaths. These are huge, legendary waterparks, complete with multiple swimming pools, some heated, some indoor, and definitely a wave pool. They also had lots of water slides and other fun activities for the kids. With this mind, we had an expectation which was about to the blown out the water (excuse the pun).
After you pay at the entrance and receive your wrist bands, there is a winding pathway through what seems like a forest. It’s quite pretty actually. At the end of the pathway, which is about 800m, you finally reach Adventureland – can you imagine our disappointment when all we seen was a what looked like just 4 slides and a small (ish) pool. We secretly said to ourselves (for fear of letting the kids down as they were super excited), that at least the scenery was spectacular – and it absolutely was.
Fast forward an hour later and you couldn’t get us off the slides, especially the ‘curly’ one. It’s no Atlantis super slide, but boy was it fun. We must’ve each gone at least 50 times – I kid you not! What an absolute treat of a day – It was quite, clean, had enough kids activities, a snack shop, beautiful surroundings and fun for all – what more could you ask for.
Needless to say that we’ve been back every year since and still have a jol on the slides. If you’re in the area, you’ve got to try the ‘curly’ slide at least once – we promise it won’t be your last.
There are so many unspoiled beaches on the Garden Route – and I’m just referring to the stretch between Mossel Bay and Sedgefield – that its difficult to find your ideal beach. I call it “your ideal beach” because if we’re honest, we all have certain things we love and hate about the beach – whether it’s the crowds, the texture of the sand, windy, not windy, big waves, no waves, blue bottles and so forth.
For me, it’s got to be Victoria Bay. It’s located just outside George en-route to Wilderness on N2. A winding road just off the highway eventually leads you to this beach, perfectly sheltered by the high cliffs all around. It has a small pier with a cosy tidal pool at it’s base. The beach is small, super clean and never really busy.
The waves are perfect – not too big, small or frequent. On the left of the pier, your have the swimming, and surfers can be found on the right of the pier – no one getting in each others way.
The camp site located on a ridge at the entrance of the beach has got to be one of the most picturesque camp sites in the world. Te best time to hit this beach is from 3 to 4pm onwards.
Other notable beaches include:
Heralds Bay – a great family atmosphere and the perfect place to braai (South African term for barbecue) on the beach.
Beacon Island Plettenberg Bay – very few waves, crystal waters and lots of eye candy for the guys.
Robberg Nature Reserve – take a 2km hike though the Gap along the side of the mountain before ending up at a twin beach – where the waves are on each side of the beach strip. Amazing
Sedgefield Lagoon – who doesn’t love a lagoon? Great place to spend the entire day
Noetzie – located just outside Knysna, this private beach (there is still public access) is unique with it’s very own castle on the beach.
There are others like Wilderness, Flat Rock, Groot Brak and many more. Visit them all if you can.
This Saturday morning market is located at the entrance of Sedgefield just off the N2 highway when traveling from Wilderness to Knysna. If you’re driving on the N2 on a Saturday morning, you cannot miss it – During the summer months, the car park is already full, with overflow right on the side of the highway. In fact, if you get there after 9am, it’s going to be hard to get a table for some fresh farmers breakfast.
The Wild Oats market incorporates a authentic Farmers Market, a traditional Flea Market and a Craft Market. With so much on offer, you would end up spending the entire day (and possibly a small fortune) at the Wild Oats Market.
At the Farmers Market you could treat yourself to some fresh breakfast – from scrambled eggs on freshly baked croissants, to simple pancakes with coffee. Everything is fresh and delicious, not to mention organic. You could stock up on some fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices and a lot more before moving to the Flea Market.
You can expect a traditional Flea Market. Yes, some of the stalls have the “made.in China” goods, but surprisingly, there are quite a few unique stalls – people selling second hand goods from home at bargain prices. Some great antiques and other awesome stuff can be found – just depends on the luck of the day.
The Craft Market is for the small businesses in around the region. You find hand made mirrors, pottery and other weird and wonderful stuff. To be honest, the crafty thing ain’t my favorite – coupled with the fact that by this time, I’m always tired so we kind of speed through it without taking too much notice. I promise to look closer next time.
All in all, the Wild Oats – a favorite to almost everyone.
Stay tuned for more Garden Route Adventures in due course, until then, Happy Travelling.
If you have any other Garden Route Adventures you’d like to share, comment below.