Continuing on our journey down the Garden Route, I thought that for those not au fait with the route, I should perhaps first expand a little on the area before letting you into my next secret find.
The Garden Route in the Western Cape is one of the most scenic routes in the country and a main tourist attraction. If you had been one of my international clients, visiting South Africa, I would have definitely recommended that, had you the time, you explore this region as a priority on your trip. As for the locals, well, guys, if you have not spent some time at least once on this amazing route, I really do feel for you – you just do not know what you have on your doorstep and what you are missing.
The route is generally thought to extend from about Mossel Bay to St Francis Bay along the Indian Ocean. As a tourist though, one can vary the route to perhaps going a little inland so you could take the Route 62, generally known as the longest wine route in the world via Ladismith and Calitzdorp to Oudtshoorn and then over the Outeniqua Pass
down to George where you then continue on the original route along the coast. Whichever way you go, there are many little towns and villages along the way to explore. The most commonly used as bases though are Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. Plettenberg Bay especially is where the majority of the Cape Town locals spend their annual beach holiday.
It is not only the beautiful scenery that attracts visitors but also the many different attractions.
My top TEN attractions on the Garden Route would be:
- Bungee jump off the Bloukrans Bridge, the highest commercial bungee jump in the world – click to see YouTube here
- Interact with monkeys in an indigenous forest at the Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary
- Experience an unforgettable encounter with elephants at the Elephant Sanctuary
- Visit the Birds of Eden Sanctuary
- Fly through the air in the Tsitsikamma Rainforest with a canopy tour through the trees
- Take a trip across the Knysna Lagoon to the Featherbed Nature Reserve
- Hike or bike in the forests
- Spend some time on the many beautiful beaches
- Visit a game reserve
- EAT– enjoy a gourmet experience with local fare at fresh markets to up market restaurants, taste locally produced cheeses, fresh oysters , wines, gins, beer and more….
The best kept secrets though are the hidden destinations off the main route and that is where my next secret was to be found. The Outeniqua Trout Lodge is situated about half way along the Prince Alfred’s Pass between Knysna and Uniondale. More about this spectacular pass will be revealed in my next post.
There are 4 self-catering two bedroomed wooden lodges high up on the mountain. We stayed in Loerie which had spectacular mountain views. Although there are some wonderful walks to be had, you could just as easily have spent the whole day lazing outside on the lovely covered verandah reading and taking in the view. The lodges have everything you need including a ceramic fireplace which we needed on our first evening. It warmed the place up in about 20 minutes and kept the whole lodge toasty all night. There is a portable braai outside, gas stove and oven inside, all kitchen utensils, two bedrooms (one with double en-suite shower room) and the other bedroom with two single beds and a very large family bathroom with shower and bath. One could easily stay here comfortably for weeks…..oh how I wish…..
The entire farm is operated with “green” electricity, having being off the grid since 2000. All electricity, water and effluent treatment is provided from natural resources ie hydro and solar. So… no cellphone reception, no TV and no computers. It was fabulous!!! Also no hairdryer as all electrical appliances are low energy consuming. I have now learnt that hairdryers, kettles and toasters use a vast amount of electricity. So glad that I already have a gas hob at home and my kettle is boiled on the hob, plus I have not used a hairdryer for over a year so quite impressed with the electricity I must have saved, says me shining my halo There was no electric toaster……but I did see a contraption in the cupboard that I think could be used to make toast, just not sure how.
We took a fantastic hike up the mountain behind our lodge – it was a relatively easy walk although it was literally straight up the mountain. The views from the top were amazing, the flora and fauna too beautiful for words. You really felt completely immersed in nature. The sunsets were gorgeous.
And, when you put the light out at night, the silence and absolute darkness literally healed your soul. Getting a little carried away here… but I promise you, this is a healing place; somewhere you can rest from all the hustle and bustle and re-energize yourself.
I am really enjoying finding places that are trying to practice responsible and sustainable tourism whether it’s a simple solar panel, recycling, small organic vegetable garden or being totally off the grid like the Outeniqua Trout Lodge; it is just so good to see that people are starting to really think about the future of our planet.
Have you stayed anywhere recently where some sort of “green” activity is being practiced and would it influence you into booking there because they are “green”?