Home' Horizons : Horizons Feb Mar 14 Contents February / March 2014 Horizons 17
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Cape Town looking toward the
Twelve Apostle mountains
The lush countryside near the
town of George between the
Outeniqua Mountains and the sea.
Coastal highway and rail
bridge at Mossel Bay.
holiday in one of South Africa’s
Most visitors start their journey
at the western end of the Garden
Route in Cape Town. The city is set
in one of the world’s most beautiful
landscapes, backed by rugged
tabletop mountains wrapped in
clouds. Neither quite European
nor totally African, Cape Town has
blended influences that provide
it with Dutch architecture, British
parks and Malay food, as well as
an interesting history.
Where oceans collide
As you head out of the city, the N2
passes through rolling wheat country.
A detour south to Cape Agulhas
brings you to the southernmost
tip of Africa, where the Indian and
Atlantic oceans meet in a collision
of pounding waves. At Mossel Bay
the main highway dips down to the
coast, where you can settle in for
some spectacular scenery. The town
of George makes for a good first
base. If any part of the region can be
compared to a garden, it’s the lush
green countryside around this town,
sandwiched between the coast and
the Outeniqua Mountains.
George was described in 1811 as
“the prettiest village in the world”
by novelist Anthony Trollope, and
nothing much has changed. The
town is dotted with historic buildings
in the Cape Dutch and European
styles of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Outside the library in York Street
stands an oak tree under which
slaves were once bartered. Pieces of
slave chains and an old lock are still
embedded in the bark as an eerie
reminder of Africa’s dark past.
The Garden Route leads on to
Wilderness, a relatively upmarket
resort town with good beaches
backed by lagoons and marshes
visited by flamingos and spoonbills.
If you think bird-watching is boring,
you might change your mind after
seeing giant kingfishers hunting
across the lakes, and flocks of
flamingos moving in pink clouds
across a silvery sheen of water like
a scene from Out of Africa.
The next stretch of the Garden
Route eastwards leads into
Knysna, where the region’s natural
splendours converge in a shimmer
of lagoons and scalloped coastline.
You could easily stop here for a
few days of swimming, fishing and
walking through the area’s giant
yellowwood forests, damp and
dripping with ferns. If you’re an
ardent angler, don’t miss the town’s
Angling Museum, which follows the
history of rod, reels and hooks and
is the only museum of its kind in
the southern hemisphere. Knysna is
also a good place to buy souvenirs
such as woven fabrics, pottery and
handcrafted wooden furniture made
from local hardwood.
Not much further east, Plettenberg
Bay has more marvellous coastal
scenery, where sluggish rivers meet
golden beaches and frothing surf.
It’s very upmarket in places, home
to the holiday villas of wealthy South
Africans – though you can also take
a tour through the local shanty town
and learn how the vast majority of
South Africans live.
Plettenberg Bay is the sort of place
where you wake up late, play a
round of golf, go for a coastal walk
and then enjoy a gin-and-tonic as
you watch the sun set. The town
is dotted with boutique hotels and
luxury B&Bs, or you could stay
in the countryside beyond town
in alternatives such as Lilypond
Country Lodge, where a guest-only
restaurant demonstrates that fine
dining and wilderness are far from
incompatible in South Africa.
The nearby Robberg Peninsula
has an 11-kilometre trail from which
you can observe seals, humpbacked
whales and a variety of sea birds.
This windswept peninsula also
has shell deposits left over in
middens that are remnants of the
beachcombers who lived here at the
time of first European settlement.
Plettenberg Bay also offers plenty
of water sports such as boating,
water-skiing, wind-surfing, canoeing
and diving. In fact, the warmth of the
Good roads, glorious
scenery and plenty of
tempting detours are
tailor-made for a driving
holiday in one of South
Africa’s safest regions.
9/01/14 10:03 AM
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