April 7, 2014 by DAVE JACK
Possibly one of the prettiest and most scenic parts of South Africa has to be The Garden Route and although it is generally regarded as including Oudtshoorn which is about 50km inland of the coast, it’s the coastal part of it that holds particular attraction for me. It’s the part from Storms River to Mossel Bay that is the section I like and if you ask many people who have travelled the N2 in the direction of Cape Town if they have been to Storms River Mouth they will describe the bridge on the main road where there is a petrol station and various places to buy “goodies” or have something to eat, but that is most certainly not Storms River Mouth and if you are on the N2, slow down for a couple of hours and go down to the mouth. The turn off is about 10kms on the Cape Town side of the Storms River Bridge I have just mentioned. Travelling towards Cape Town you turn from the N2 and make your way down a narrow twisty road to the mouth with its chalets and caravan park for those who want to take in the beauty of the mouth for longer than just a couple of hours. If you’re feeling peckish, sitting virtually on the rocks, is a very pleasant restaurant where you can satisfy those hunger pangs and take in the raw beauty of it all. Those who have travelled the N2 between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town and have not taken the time to go down to Storms River Mouth have missed one of South Africa’s most rugged and raw places of beauty. Next time you are on that stretch of road don’t, whatever you do, miss it.
Tear yourself away from Storms River Mouth and back onto the N2 in the direction of Cape Town and the next town you get to after passing a few resorts alongside the river, is Plettenberg Bay, a very popular holiday destination, particularly over Christmas for visitors from all over South Africa but in particular many from Johannesburg wanting to unwind and catch their breath after a busy year. During holidays the beaches are full of people soaking up the sun and wanting that tan they can take home to show they had a good holiday. Plettenberg Bay hosts one of the largest seagull breeding colonies along the South African coast at the mouth of the Keurboom’s River. There are many sea birds in the area including the endangered African Oystercatcher living along the shores.
The Robberg Peninsula is home to a large Cape Fur Seal colony, seals can often be seen in the surf off Robberg Beach. Great White Sharks, attracted by the seals, can also often be seen from the high ground of Robberg Peninsula. Southern Right Whales as well as other species of whales are common in the bay during their breeding season from July to December. Plettenberg Bay also has three species of dolphins that visit the bay throughout the year. A distinctive flower-shaped sea shell called a pansy shell is endemic to this part of the coast, and is used as the symbol representing the town.
Plettenberg Bay has plenty to offer in the way of accommodation with a couple of hotels and dozens of guesthouses ranging from modest to top of the range and some very good restaurants where you can spend a relaxing evening after a day on the beach.
Next stop on the N2 is Knysna with its famous lagoon on which you can travel in one of the boats, some offering meals, and most with a pub on board. At the far end of the lagoon you’ll find the “Heads” that opens into the sea but only the most experienced sailor would consider going through the Heads.
The best views of the Heads, if you are a little apprehensive about going close on the lagoon, is to drive out to the Heads to one of the restaurants where once again very relaxing and with lovely views of the entrance to the lagoon through the Heads from where this photograph was taken.
They say there are only two speeds in Knysna. Very slow and stopped and this makes it the ideal destination for those wanting to get away from it all but who don’t want to lie and fry on the beach. Relax at one of the local coffee shops or take in the goods on offer at one of the curio shops in the town. The big attraction in Knysna though, is the Waterfront with its little shops and places, both big and small, where one can sit down to have a meal, all the while looking out over the lagoon and the feeling you get is that there is not a problem in the world.
What about accommodation in Knysna though? It’s estimated that there are over 200 guesthouses in an around Knysna and with that sort of competition one can get extremely good accommodation at extremely reasonable prices. Not far away, if you are wanting the beach you will find beaches that are not as busy as the beaches further up the coast but almost as good. So let’s stop over in Knysna until next week when we move further south towards Mossel Bay and more of the beauty of the Garden Route.