Exploring the Garden Route National Park
I was in South Africa visiting family and friends and went for a drive to visit some of the National Parks. The Garden Route National Park was one such park I managed to drive through. Lets not beat about the bush here… The Garden Route National Park is spread out! It starts near George and pretty much extends in one way or another right past to Plettenberg Bay. That’s a distance when driving in along the main route of nearly 234km!
This is the view of the Outeniqua Pass – the gateway into George, where the Garden Route starts from.
Even getting to this beautiful part of the world can take you through some amazing landscapes. I came through the Swartberg Pass (R328) and through the town of Oudshoorn. The pass is one of geological grandeur.
The day I drove past, the weather was a little cloudy, but the huge sides of the mountains as you go on your way really give you the sense of how small you are.
Driving into George is like any other place, except George is hemmed in by the high mountain Outeniqua Pass and forest on the one side and the Indian Ocean on the other. It is bustling and there are plenty of things to do here. Hillwalking and Water sports surround this town. There is really something for everyone to enjoy. Then it is a drive onwards and up the coastline as you begin to weave your way in and out of the National Park of the Garden route.
The size of sea hits you first as you round the corner coming into Wilderness. It is this mighty big ocean with rolling waves heading for land. The scenery here has changed quite a bit from the red rock in Swartberg Pass to bright greens and blues. The Wilderness National Park has a number of inland lakes surrounded by vegetation.
As you head on, you are always a bit slower here, because of the beauty of this coastal region, and you get the sense that everyone else is equally relaxed and laid back too. It is a lovely place to be.
I was heading for a stop in Knysna, when I came across a wonderful place to rest my head. Brenton-on-Sea!
What an amazingly tranquil place. There are plenty of places to stay here and you would not be amiss to spend a few more days here. I certainly was tempted to miss a prior engagement just to be here another day. As I turned off the main road and then took a sharp right under the bridge the road led me up a very steep incline. Still there wasn’t much here but the odd house and a view of the Knysna river. However, when I reached the top and saw the Ocean below me and this small village I knew I had stopped at the right place.
The Lady who served me, organised an amazing cottage at the Brenton-on-Sea Cottages. It was just what I had ordered.
The sound of the sea all night was very refreshing and I woke very early to get to the beach and watch the sun rise. No one was there yet and as I sat and watched the waves roll in I was totally in the moment. A little spot worth a visit if you ask me. Maybe have a look at the video of my trip to see the photos of this little secret hideaway.
I left Brenton-on-Sea (far later than intended) and headed onwards along the N2 towards Port Elizabeth. I stopped a few times along the way and spoke to some folks about the area. They all had the same to say. “Beautiful”, “Chilled out”, “Perfect”!
I had to make a call into Jeffreys Bay. If you are into your surfing, then this place will stand out for you mentally. The ways were calm when I was there and a training session had just begun, young children being taught how to get up on their boards and ride the waves. The whole place had a laid back vibe about it.
Jefferys Bay really is at the end of the Garden Route National Park and so signalled the end of my little drive through. I certainly hope to get back to spend some time in the log cabins in the woods and to kayak on Storms River Mouth. The rest camp there I was told is certainly worth a little stop over.
I cannot recommend a drive along here enough. There is so much to stop and see and you could easily get lost in its magnificence and variety of nature.
Oh, and if you are looking for those big animals to round off your drive… Just up the road from Jefferys Bay, past Port Elizabeth, is Addo Elephant National Park. Now what more could you want!
Have you been, tell us a story from your visit. Was it an adventure or washout? Click Garden Route National Park to return and tell us about the car you drove or hired, the places you stayed or people you met. Did you see a rare bird, sit and watch the sun rise over the sea. Share the experience.
If you have photos or videos you want to send to me to be part of the gallery, please email me at maur[email protected] and I’ll add them to the gallery.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”41″ gal_title=”Garden Route National Park”]