Sunday, June 16, 2013

Garden Route

The Garden Route is a popular stretch of the south-eastern coast ofSouth Africa. It stretches from Heidelberg in the Western Cape to the Storms River which is crossed along the N2 coastal highway over the Paul Sauer Bridge in the extreme western reach of the neighbouring Eastern Cape.

. The name comes from the verdant and ecologically diverse vegetation encountered here and the numerous lagoons and lakes dotted along the coast. It includes towns such as Mossel Bay, Knysna, Oudtshoorn, Plettenberg Bay and Nature's Valley; with George, the Garden Route's largest city and main administrative centre.

It has an oceanic climate, with mild to warm summers, and mild to cool winters. It has the mildest climate in South Africa and the second mildest climate in the world, after Hawaii, according to the Guinness Book of Records. Temperatures rarely fall below 10°C in winter and rarely climb beyond 28°C in summer. Rain occurs year-round, with a slight peak in the spring months, brought by the humid sea-winds from the Indian Ocean rising and releasing their precipitation along the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma Mountains just inland of the coast.

The Route is sandwiched between the aforementioned mountains and the Indian Ocean. The Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma indigenous forests are a unique mixture of Cape Fynbos andTemperate Forest and offer hiking trails and eco-tourism activities. Nearly 300 species of bird life are to be found in a variety of habitats ranging from fynbos to forest to wetlands.

Ten nature reserves embrace the varied ecosystems of the area as well as unique marine reserves, home to soft coral reefs, dolphins, seals and a host of other marine life. Various bays along the Garden Route are nurseries to the endangered Southern Right Whale which come there to calve in the winter and spring (July to December).

The Garden Route is home to the worlds highest bridge bungy jump, the Bloukrans Bridge Bungy, operated by Face Adrenalin.

We had lovely weather for the drive along the beautiful garden route, staying three nights in Plettenberg Bay before heading on to Port Elizabeth. On the garden Route there is lots of opportunities for hiking (with a guide).

Of course along the way there are townships on the side of the highway.



More stone markets - if only I did not have luggage weight restrictions!


Bridge with highest bungy jump in the world 216 meters - also the cheapest bungy jump in the world at $75
This is not one of my bucket list items - so do not fear this is not me!

During high season 30 people jump per hour

This tree is between 600 and 800 years old, 36,6 m tall and has a trunk circumference of 9 m. From the parking lot a one kilometer boardwalk path carries visitors through the dappled light of the lush, cool forest.

Tsitsikamma Mountains just inland of the coast.

Trees in this area are used to build furniture.

One of the highlights of our trip to South Africa was visiting the Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre where we had the opportunity to take a cheetah on a 1.5 hour walk.

Other animals at the centre.

It is more like the cheetah takes you for a walk as they set the pace and take breaks when they feel the need.

2 cheetahs, 3 guides , Mag and I

Cheetah licking my hand - they have a very rough tongue - yes I was nervous, at first!

Cheetahs had raw chicken we had wine and appy's!

Great opportunity to interact with a wild animal - HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

Note about African names - children are given an African name and an English name when born. You will see nametags with names such as Freedom, Choice, Precious, Beautiful, Chance etc. - apparently parents picking these English names most often do not know what the words mean, they like the sound of the word and use it as the English name for their child.


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