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Cape Town and the Garden Route for 12 days over Christmas / New Years


Oct 10th, 2013, 03:49 PM
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Cape Town and the Garden Route for 12 days over Christmas / New Years

Hi, I'm planning a trip to Cape Town and around (into Cape Town, out of Port Elizabeth) for 12 days around the end of year holidays. [I know things will be super crowded but this happened to be the time we had to take off.] I was hoping that some of you could provide some insight into a possible itinerary.

We arrive on the morning of the 25th (early, 9ish, following an overnight from London), and leave in the evening of January 5th. We'll rent a car at some point, and want to see Cape Town, the wine region and the Garden Route, as well as possible. We like hiking and culture, but probably won't be doing anything super strenuous as my girlfriend's mom will be joining us - so "walking" is probably more like it, and no bungy jumping or whatever.

I was thinking something like the following:

25th: Arrive, acclimatize, Capetown
26th: Capetown
27th: Capetown
28th: Capetown
29th: Capetown
30th: drive wine region, overnight Franschhoek
31st: Franschhoek
1st: Drive to Swellendam via Stanford, Arniston, Cape Agulhas
2nd: De Hoop Nature Reserve and then double back on to Plettenberg Bay
3rd: Plettenberg Bay (hike "walk" in Tsitsikamma)
4th: Plettenberg Bay (hike "walk" in Robberg)
5th: Plettenberg Bay (hike "walk" in Tsitsikamma on the way to Port Elizabeth for an evening flight)

Does that seem reasonable? I'm wondering whether I'm not giving enough time to the Overberg, and whether I'm spending too much of my (unfortunately limited) time in either Cape Town or Plettenberg Bay. At first I'd been thinking of staying in Cape Town for 4 nights and adding a night after the wine country to Hermanus (before Swellendam), but it seems like Hermanus will be crazy crowded at New Years and not necessarily so amazing anyway around the end of December, and since we'll clearly have at least a little jet lag it seemed reasonable to add the day to Cape Town. But I'm really not sure.

The other constraint is lodging, as in, there's not a lot of it. So there isn't really an option to stay in Knysna, for example, during the couple of days that we're in that area. The Fynbos Ridge Country House outside of Plettenberg Bay was available, though, and got good reviews. (It's booked but amendable).

One last thing: I've been on safaris and so I don't have any need to push through a day in Addo, and I don't want to see anything exploitative to animals, so I'm not rushing to plan on the Knysna Elephant farm, or an Ostrich farm, or things like that. I'd love to see animals in their natural habitat (and if there are whales at that time of year I'd go out of my way to try to see them), but I don't need to force it on this trip.

Any thoughts / help would be much appreciated.

rh53w is offline  
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Oct 10th, 2013, 04:32 PM
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I actually think you have too much time in Cape Town. I got back last week from a trip that included 3 full days in CT and it was just too much. If you're renting a car, you'll certainly have access to more than we did, but you might consider an overnight elsewhere. Enjoy your trip!
Hobbert is offline  
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Oct 11th, 2013, 04:58 AM
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Three or four nights in Cape Town would be a good intro to the city and allow for short day trips out of the city, so you could prbably shave one night off your itinerary if you wanted to get further afield. There's really no necessity to stay overnight in Hermanus though - it's a very easy day trip from either Cape Town or the wineland area near Franschhoek. However, I believe the whales have mostly departed the earea by early December, and there's not a huge amount of other things to see there.

I personally preferred Knysna to Plett. I'm not sure what you mean by no accommodation in Knysna, we found a good B&B without any difficulty.

On what grounds are you dismissing the excellent Knysna Elephant park as "exploitative" - have you ever been there? The animals there are mainly orphans who's parents were killed in culling operations or hunting. Without the sanctuary - and yes, the income provided by the paying public - these wonderful creatures would most likely be dead or living in terrible conditions.

It seems a shame to go to that part of the world and not see anything of the Klein Karoo either - Outdshoorn and its surroundings are amazing - I would personally cut some time form either Cape Town or Plettenberg to see this.
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Oct 11th, 2013, 07:29 AM
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Hi, thanks Hobbert and Gordon. It's hard without having been to Capetown to know how much time to allot there - some places seem to say that 5 days is about right, and some say 3-4 days. I figured that 4 was probably the way to go, but given that we're going to be arriving at 9am on day 1, the time it would take to get to the hotel, get situated etc, would really make it 3.5 days. And then we'd have jetlag as well as having to deal with any odd closures because of the holidays. We'd definitely plan to use a car from Capetown at least for one of the days to spend time on the Cape Peninsula.

As for Hermanus, maybe it's best to skip it entirely? It sounds like things like Stanford, Cape Aghulas, and De Hoop are still worth seeing, though?

Perhaps a better way would be:
Dec 25, 26, 27, 28: Capetown
Dec 29: whatever in Capetown remains, and on to Franschhoek (either in the morning or the afternoon)
Dec 30: Franschhoek
Dec 31: Swellendam via Stanford, Arniston, Cape Aghulas
Jan 1: De Hoop Preserve, then on to Oudtshoorn via Montagu etc
Jan 2: Explore around Oudtshoorn and on to Plettenberg Bay
Jan 3, 4, 5: Tsitsikamma, Robberg, etc, and on to Port Elizabeth to fly out

Does that make more sense?

To address some of your questions:

-Regarding accomodation in Knysna, I didn't mean that no accomodation exists, just that it seems that a lot of it is booked already for the dates we'll be in the area. I don't love the idea of picking up and moving hotels while we're in the Knysna/Plettenberg Bay area, so that means I need 2 hotel rooms for 3 nights from Jan 2-5. There didn't seem to be a great selection. Not that there was in Plettenberg Bay either; it just happens that I found something there that had very good reviews. I'm indifferent between the two (not having been to either) and actually searched for accomodation in Knysna first without much luck.

-Regarding the Elephant Park, it was just a guess. Maybe I'm wrong? I've been to the Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary in Nairobi, which is absolutely not exploitative, and to the Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai, which I kind of felt was a little exploitative (despite all of its clearly good efforts to save the creatures). With respect to the Elephant Park in Plettenberg Bay, I think I was a little put off by the offer of riding the Elephants, which seems a little zoo-like, however gentle it may be. Am I mixing that up with another place? Anyway, given that I have already been to some places like this, I'd just as soon donate to Sheldrick and maybe see something that I haven't seen before, particularly if I don't know for sure in advance that this specific sanctuary is not actually exploitative.

By the way, is there something specifically to be recommended in Oudtshoorn?

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Oct 13th, 2013, 02:11 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
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If you are planning to rent a car, book it sooner rather than later. Last year we wanted to go to CPT arriving on 25th Dec but due to no cars being available, we went to Durban instead. And I mean, nothing available, with any car rental company or wholesaler (eg Autoeurope), any type of car, from any location airport or downtown CPT, from Hout Bay or George or Port Elizabeth from Christmas until first week Jan.
As you have found out, the same applies for accommodation. I do agree with the others, that your original plan has too many days in CPT itself. We normally stay outside CPT
Odin is offline  
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Oct 14th, 2013, 06:54 PM
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This has me thinking about my own trip next July. Aside from JoBurg and Kruger, we set aside 5 nights in CPT, 1 night in Hermanus, 2 nights in Knysna. Should we bump a CPT night to Garden Route? Traveling with 3 kids 5-14. I'm completely overwhelmed.
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Oct 15th, 2013, 06:15 AM
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Hobbert that must have been a whistle-stop tour in 3 days, I lived there for 2 years & still missed out on plenty :0)

There is so much to do around the area that 4 days will hardly scratch the surface.

I have seen the odd whale late in December but they have generally all gone by mid month.

I often suggest Wiesenhof Legacy Parks, a conservation park for orphan animals very close to Cape Town about 1 hour drive up the N1, arrive before 10am & follow the truck that feeds the animals.

I love the Overberg region, Swellendam didn't attract me, did a half day-trip I prefer Cape Agulhas, Stuisbaai, Arniston have stayed in both. From here you could take the back road & the pont across the Breede River at Malgas for a unique experience & then De Hoop is not far. Close by is the lovely fishing village of Witsand.

After De Hoop you seem to be back-tracking going to Montagu ?

It doesn't make sense to me to visit Tsitsikamma from Knysna, rather move on & stay there.
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Oct 15th, 2013, 06:23 AM
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Profenglish, Hermanus to Knysna is about 6 hours drive with nothing much on route unless you get of the main highway, it might be a bit much with young children. Alternatively you could drop Hermanus & stop at Witsand a 3 hour drive from CT & the same onto Knysna, a lovely fishing village of the beaten track, lovely beach & whales. Whilst Hermanus is good for whale watching from cliff top I much prefer being at ground level watching them. You should add a day for Tsitsikamma.
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