Getting Oriented

Although it is possible to get from place to place by bus, the best way to explore this region is by car. There are two practical routes from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. You can follow the N2 along the Garden Route, or you can take Route 62, which goes through the Little Karoo. These two roads are separated by the Outeniqua Mountains, which are traversed by a number of scenic passes. So it is possible—even desirable, if you have the time—to hop back and forth over the mountains, alternating between the lush Garden Route and the harsher Little Karoo. The inland border of the Little Karoo is formed by the Swartberg Mountains; the Great Karoo is on the other side, beyond the mountains.

Garden Route. This beautiful 208-km (130-mile) stretch of coast takes its name from a year-round riot of vegetation. Here you'll find some of the country's most inspiring scenery: forest-cloaked mountains, rivers and streams, and golden beaches. The area draws a diverse crowd, from backpackers and adventure travelers to family vacationers and golfers. The main towns along the route are (from west to east) Mossel Bay, George, Wilderness, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, the Crags, Tsitsikamma, and Storms River.

Little Karoo. Presenting a striking contrast to the Garden Route is the semiarid region known as the Little Karoo (also known as the Klein Karoo). In addition to a stark beauty that comes with its deep gorges and rugged plains, the Little Karoo offers the chance to visit ostrich farms, to stay at the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, to explore the impressive Cango Caves, and to relax at vineyards.

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