Most foreigners I meet have seen more of my beautiful South Africa in their brief visit than I have. On one of many trips to Montagu, I took time out to explore a little, and loved what I found. Too often I have arrived, hiked / climbed / run, and left again, without scouting around a bit, or spending time chatting to the locals. This has changed…
They each have their own character. Some, like Greyton and Knysna, pander unashamedly to tourists, whilst others, like Montagu, seem only to endure visitors from the outside world. Others, like Genadendal, simply don’t seem to notice.
This beautiful sea-side village on the coast of the Overberg has managed to retain its charm. It makes for a relaxing and romantic weekend away.
Head up the N7 passed Citrusdal to visit this sleepy little town and its wonderful dam. The home of rooibos tea sits next to the mighty Cederberg mountains.
Only 145km from Cape Town, the hamlet of Greyton lies north of the N2 against the towering Riviersonderend Mountain Range.
The village boasts many fine eateries along its oak lined roads, as well as some interesting antique shops and art galleries.
You are not likely to go to the sleepy little village of Genadendal unless you have some business with the Moravian Church, or are hiking the Genadendal Hiking Trail.
This small holiday village is on the coast a few kilometres from Stilbaai.
Knysna is for me the heart of the Garden Route. The town lies on the shores of the Knysna Lagoon, and is surrounded by beautiful forests which stretch to the Outeniqua Mountains.
This small town in the Klein Karoo is on Route 62 some 330km from Cape Town, and was only known to me for the Ladismith Cheddar I buy from Pick ‘n’ Pay, until I visited it to run the inaugural Stanley’s Mountain Run in May, 2010.
It is as small as you expect it to be, sitting quietly in the shadow of some pretty imposing mountains, including Towerkop, which local legend tells was split in two by an angry witch.
Langebaan is pretty much the original West Coast long weekend destination. Situated on the shore of the impressively large Langebaan Lagoon, this is a haven for Capetonians in search of a long weekend of water sport.
For many years known to me only for the Montagu Warm Baths, this has become one of my favorite destinations, due mainly to the phenomenal rock climbing available in the area.
Montagu is an easy drive from Cape Town, making it a perfect weekend getaway.
Nature’s Valley is a tiny little seaside hamlet that has managed to effectively limit development (I think they have a very active ratepayers association). The end result is enviable, and some other Garden Route destinations would have done well to have done the same.
Plettenberg Bay, known to most simply as Plett, has long outgrown its sea-side village shoes and is now a modern town.
Another town that I have passed by on my many trips to the Garden Route.
This gorgeous little sea-side holiday spot is found on the coast at the mouth of the Goukou River on the Southern Cape coast. It can be reached by turning off the N2 between Riversdale and Albertinia and heading 26km down the R305.
The Boland town of Tulbagh is possibly best known for the earthquake on 29 September 1969. The happy consequence of this natural disaster was that many buildings were not only rebuilt, but faithfully restored to their original state, making the town a treasure-chest of Cape Dutch architecture, boasting the largest concentration of National Monuments in a single street in South Africa.
Wilderness lies on the Garden Route between the towns of George and Sedgefield. It is easy to rush past this beautiful little seaside town on the way to Knysna or Plettenberg Bay; however it is itself a gem and well worth a visit.