What route to follow

Oct 1st, 2005, 07:13 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 4
What route to follow

We are arriving in Cape town Dec 5th for 14 nights and needed advice as to which parts we definitely shouldn't miss. Which scenic drives are the most spectacular without being too adventurous?!. We arrive late in to Cape town on a Monday evening and was thinking of going straight to guesthouse in Winelands and stay for 2/3 nights touring around different wineries. After that unsure whether to continue to Oudtshoorn on route 62(whats scenery like? as someone said it was quite barren) or to head down to Swellendam and tour garden route (knysna, mossel bay, George.) We would however then miss out coastline around Hermanus. (We are also visiting for the culture as well!)
At the end of the garden route had wanted to spend two nights at Lalibela Reserve and a further 1/2 at Elephant house and fly back to Cape town. (Nationwide flight probably) However I noticed from earlier postings most just go to Addo Elephant park. Are viewings of Big 5 infrequent on Eastern cape reserves during December? we have never done safari before but wonder whether to leave this to another holiday.
We don't want to feel like we are forever on the move so and wonder if we have enough time as we wanted approx 4-5 days around Cape town/ table mountain/ robben Island/ Cape point. Although i am sure we will definitely want to return to South Africa. I was all set to do garden route but someone said who spends alot of time out there for a first visit concentrate around the Cape and Winelands. Only thing booked is 3 nights in Cape town centre (from 16th December). I know I probably sound very undecided any advice?

Quick question -Does everything close on the government Day 16th /17th? of December, such as trips across to Robben Island and cable car up Table mountain
laura_ash is offline  
Oct 1st, 2005, 09:37 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I think that the route that you want to follow is a very interesting idea and will definitely work. I would even go as far as calling the route innovative because I don’t know of anybody who has taken this route in the past and even though I am sure there have been folk who followed this path they certainly have been few and far between. Very few people arrive in Cape Town and start off in the winelands however hearing your idea of doing this makes a lot of sense to me. Generally one would arrive in Cape Town after a long flight to SA and start touring immediately. This is because of the excitement of arriving in a new country and city and having the “raring to go” feeling. What generally happens is one does not put in enough recovery time for the long flight that one had just undertaken and after about the 2nd day you just about fall asleep for two of three days when your body simply gives up on you. By going to stay in the Winelands for 2-3 days initially the lifestyle of the traveller generally is much slower than in the city of Cape Town and I think you will find that it is a lot more relaxing on your body than by starting in the city itself. 2-3 days in the Cape Winelands would be absolutely perfect for you to experience the territory as well as to start your journey down the Garden Route or R62.

In my opinion your best bet would be to to travel down the R62 to Oudtshoorn and spend one if not two nights in the town. Whoever told you that the R62 is barren does not have a sense of appreciation for wonderful sprawling natural scenery because this route is famed for this type of drive. The towns that one travels through along the way to Oudtshoorn are wonderful country type villages and stop ins at places like Montagu, Barrydale, Ladysmith, Calitzdorp are all worth the extra time you will spend on the road to Oudtshoorn.

I have suggested two nights in Oudtshoorn because you should spend your first night in the town after your R62 drive and the next day I would suggest that you drive the Swartberg, Prince Albert, Mieringspoort, Oudtshoorn drive in that it is absolutely spectacular and makes for a great one day outing. Furthermore on one of your two evenings in Oudtshoorn you should make a point of going to Jemimas restaurant as this in its own would be worth a wonderful treat.

After Oudtshoorn I would suggest that you travel via Avontuur, Joubertina and Kareedouw to Port Elizabeth and eventually the Addo region. Personally I would not suggest staying at Lalibela. I would rather spend more time at Elephant House in relaxing fashion and explore Addo and Schotia so as to enjoy the game in the region. While talking of enjoying game please bear in mind that it is very unlikely that you will see the so called Big 5 in total in the Eastern Cape purely because I highly doubt if you will see a non encaged leopard anywhere in the region. With that said the Big 5 is nothing other than a marketing gimmick as there are so many other wonderful animals to see in the Eastern Cape as well as the rest of South Africa.

After your stay in the Addo region I would suggest that you return to Cape Town by car and NOT by plane. This will take about 3 days as opposed to the one day flight BUT you will have the pleasure of enjoying the Garden Route inclusive of areas like the Tsisikamma and towns like and Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, Wilderness and Swellendam. Furthermore you could return to Cape Town via the town of Hermanus and thus enjoy the fabulously scenic ride back to Cape Town via the False Bay drive that takes you past Gordons Bay and Somerset West.

This will probably leave you with the 3 nights that you have booked in Cape Town which should be ample for you to enjoy our city to the full inclusive of a drive down the Cape Peninsula, Table Mountain and Robben Island.

With regard to your question about the public holiday 16 December (17 December is not a public holiday) all of the places you mention such as Table Mountain and Robben Island will be open (weather permitting) and furthermore most other places will all be open too. You probably wont even realise that it is a public holiday for South Africans other than you will see many more people on the beaches and places of play on the day.

If you want me to elaborate on places of stay and attractions along the above suggested route just say so and I will do this in a a follow up mail to the Fodors board.

Hope this helps in making your journey to our country a fabulous one.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
Oct 1st, 2005, 10:13 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
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selwyn has given sound advice, take it!
mkhonzo is offline  
Oct 5th, 2005, 08:24 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 4
Thanks for that advice Selwyn. We are leaving Cape town until end of trip as i had really wanted to stay at Cape Cadogan and could only get in for these dates(thought we'd have some luxury somewhere without paying the waterfront prices!)
Thinking more about the trip my boyfriend and I have decided to cut the travelling down, and not do Addo.
What I have in mind is: (Winelands, garden route , the cape)

Day 1 arrive midnight into Cape town so looked for a reasonably price guesthouse nearby - came up with southey cottage.??

Day 2 am Get delivery of hire car(Tempest?) and travel for two nights to Winelands. Opted for Plumwood Inn as seemed cheaper than Cuthbert Inn and could walk around the town in the evening?. (What reastaurant did I see you had been to Selwyn on an earlier posting, which had been recommended by Kavey and you agreed it was excellent and reasonably priced?)
Day 4 Travel to oudtshoorn on R62 stopping at villages. Stay overnight at La Plume? or does anyone recommend anywhere else?
Day 5: Visit working ostrich farm, (seen Mammoth cave in Tennesee amny yaers back so not sure if we will go to caves). Stay a second night in Oudtshoorn
Day 6: Travel over Swartberg pass. I saw got themselves a driver on an earlier posting. How does that work and cost? Then travel down to garden route (probably travelling for a full day inc Swartberg Pass?). Were thinking of staying in Knysna that night but Elephant hide where I had wanted to stay was booked. Therefore proposing Tsala treetop for 2 nights then Knysna for two nights. While staying at garden route wanted to do some outdoor activities. :
Tree top tour seems v. recommended. Is it as it looks on web where you just go from platform to platform or do you see animals as well?
- are there any canoe trips on lake?
Be grateful for other suggestions on activities in garden route in area.

We were not going to go further than Plettenberg Bay on garden route.

Day 9: Head towards Cape via Hermanus and Lowry pass?. Not researched this area yet. Shame no whales.

We then have 5 nights left ( 3 are definitely booked for Cape Town CBD). ideally somewhere along trip would like to stay somewhere on coast with view of coastline perhaps, ideally as a base to see Cape Point. (Although I understand Knysna 6hrs from Cape point, perhaps have one night one place, and another night somewhere else). Any suggestions please?

Many thanks for all your time

laura_ash is offline  
Oct 7th, 2005, 03:11 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,097

Comments and answers to your above mail:

I don’t know Southey Cottage however my comment is that it is somewhat out of the way and I am sure you could do much better location wise in the city centre

Cape Codogan is a great place to stay. At one stage I had problems with this guesthouse because of its non private walk in bathrooms however I very recently had people stay at this venue and only one room now has this non private type bathroom while all the other bathrooms have been converted to be private All in all in my opinion your planning around staying at Cape Codogan will pay off huge dividends for you accommodation wise in Cape Town.

The restaurant that Kavey and I spoke of is Le Bon Vivant. Absolutely wonderful establishment.

La Plume is a very nice place to stay in Oudtshoorn. Try and book the room called Bellies. It is wonderful. An important point is that La Plume is a working ostrich farm and the owner will give you a tour on the farm showing you all the ins and outs of ostrich farming. Thus you do not need to make a special trip to another ostrich farm as you suggest in your itinerary.

You do not need a driver on the Swartberg Pass. You can do the ride yourselves and I would highly recommend this journey.

Fair warning as wonderful as Tsala is so expensive it is too. Look at this very carefully. If you want to splurge there is no better place to want to do this however if you are on a budget Tsala is NOT the place to be.

The treetop tour is one on which you see no animals whatsoever. Even without animal viewing I recommend this experience highly as it is a great 2.5 hour activity. There are other facilities at the adventure centre where the treetop tours take place and I would suggest that you go to the website at http://www.stormsriver.com/Package/packages.asp so as to see what is on offer.

Small point is that if you are going to travel down to the Tsisikamma Forest area you will be travelling way past Plettenberg Bay.

With the extra night that you speak of where you would like to stay near the sea I would look at staying in Hermanus itself or otherwise travel on to Kleinmond and stay at The Beach House which is slap bang on the sea.. http://www.thebeachhouse.co.za/beach...ttractions.htm

Hope all of the above answers your queries and helps you in planning your trip. Do not hesitate to ask for any further help if you need it by simply writing to the Fodors board.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  

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