Scenic ways and Cape Town braais – 10 days on South Africa’s garden route

Today’s blog comes from Chris Newnham, the Assistant Manager in our Reading store 

Incredible landscapes, stunning city views, poignant history, adrenaline activities galore and sparkling modern culture – South Africa has it all in abundance. I had the pleasure of exploring the famous Garden Route for 10 days from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth– and what a pleasure it was!

The impressive Garden Route

Scenic ways and Cape Town braais – 10 days on South Africa’s garden route

Cape Town in the clouds

We started off in the impressive city of Cape Town which is sheltered by the famous Table Mountain. It had a ‘great outdoors’ feel with more joggers than London Bridge on Marathon day. Deciding that we didn’t want to get sweaty in a foreign city we opted (copped out) for the cable car up the mountain to catch our view of the city. There is a steep, winding path scrambling over rocks and cliffs but we obviously couldn’t offend the engineers who built the cable car by opting for that route. The day started off nice and sunny but by the time our allocated departure came round the notoriously unstable Cape Town weather decided to bite us. We managed a quick 5 minute photo stop of the bay and the city up the top of table mountain before the fog and rain closed.

Me - really impressed by rhinos

Another of Cape Town’s famous attractions is Robben Island- the site of Nelson Mandela’s incarceration. Getting on a boat to cross the choppy ocean at 7am after experiencing Cape Town’s fine nightlife was rough to say the least. But our local guide who was an ex inmate of the prison helped us through it and opened ours eyes to what 10 years in a place like that must feel like. The prison itself has been left untouched and you can see the old cell blocks and surrounding wasteland. There are even mock cells that you can walk through and try to imagine exactly how tough it must have been.


Being wined and…well, wined

Our next stop on the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth was the Cape winelands. We visited a few wineries where we got taught the process of how to turn grapes into the juice we all love (in my case, a little too much at times). Having not been brought up in Downton Abbey (more to the pity, I rock tails) I wasn’t accustomed to finer formalities of owning an estate and thought the tastings would be a rather stuffy affair. My ignorance became obvious as our host took us through how to really taste wine in a great relaxed atmosphere. We all had a few glasses but as it was only midday we managed to keep it respectable and most of us ended up buying at least 2 bottles of the good stuff to savour back at home. As the price per bottle worked out less than your average supermarket tipple I wish the U.K. import laws were a little laxer.


Screaming like a baby

Moving on from the relaxed luxury of the winelands, the next few days saw us get to grips with the more extreme side of SA as we spent a day kayaking along the coast. We also headed inland through the waterways and jumped on inflatable boards to paddle up the river canyons. The next morning I decided to tie an elastic band to my legs and jump off a perfectly sound bridge. Unlucky for some the 100{8105bc8a7da0e4ee2985a05e217cd0e1bef95b551bf8bafd62a449e444182173} safety record was maintained and I lived to tell the tale. My only regret was not saying something cool to the camera as I jumped off rather than screaming like a baby.

Trying not to look scared at the worlds highest Bungy

Savannah Sunsets

And what was in store after all the wining, dining, paddling, wining, jumping, wining, kayaking and wining? Some relaxation yes? Oh no! They’d saved the best till last with 3 days at a private game reserve. We managed to spot 4 of the 5 big five animals (damn you leopard!) and checked out a rehabilitation centre and the reserve’s conservation lodge to see how they’re working to preserve these magnificent animals for years to come. The last evening out in the bush supping sparkling wine in a converted water tower watching the sun set over the Savannah will get me through many a cold, grey, British night to come.

Has Chris’s tale inspired you to discover everything South Africa has to offer? Check out our fantastic range of adventure tours and you could be just as thrilled as Chris by a rhino in no time.