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Let us take you on a Garden journey filled with rich history and unfeigned beauty through wine tasting, visiting the Ostrich farm, Visiting the Cango caves, view dolphins & whales at Mossel Bay, so much wild life at the parks, with more elephants than you ever saw at once in a lifetime. It will leave you wanting yet satisfied!
3 Hours Before Flight Time
Leaving the mother city of Cape Town behind, we drive to Stellenbosch to the Spier Wine Estate where we visit the Cheetah Breeding Centre before some excellent wine tasting a little later in the day. On clear days the magnificent mountain scenery makes for a memorable first day. On arrival at our accommodation stop for the night, your guides will brief you on what to expect from the days ahead. Optional activity: Dinner out
Accommodation: Two per room: Lord Charles Hotel: www.nh-hotels.co.za
Facilities: En suite, hot showers, Laundry & Internet (WiFi)
Route: Cape Town to Stellenbosch: ± 45 km
Travel time: ±1 hour
Activity Package: Wine tasting and entrance to Cheetah breeding project
Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch was founded in 1679 and is the second oldest European settlement in the Western Cape Province, after Cape Town. It was named after Simon van der Stel, the Governor of the Cape Colony at the time, and it means “(van der) Stel’s forest”. The early settlers to this fertile region were encouraged to plant oak trees and Stellenbosch’s oak lined streets led to the town being known as “Eikestad” (village of oaks). Stellenbosch is situated on the banks of the Eerste River (“First River”), so named as it was the first river van der Stel reached and followed when Jan van Riebeeck sent him from Cape Town on an expedition over the Cape Flats to explore the territory now known as Stellenbosch. The Dutch were skilled in hydraulic engineering and they devised a system of furrows to direct water from the Eerste River through the town along Van Riebeeck Street to Mill Street where a mill was erected.
Soon after the first settlers arrived, among them the French Huguenots, grapes were planted in the fertile valleys around Stellenbosch and soon it became the centre of the South African wine industry.
One of the first schools in South Africa opened in Stellenbosch in 1683, and in 1866 the Dutch Reformed Church opened a gymnasium which is known as the Stellenbosch Gymnasium. The Gymnasium, renamed in 1881 as Stellenbosch College, finally reached university status in 1918 and was renamed Stellenbosch University. More than 26 000 students attend Stellenbosch University today.
Today we travel along the famous Route 62 towards Oudtshoorn and, time permitting, stop at Ronnie’s Sex Shop, not a sex shop at all, but a rather interesting country pub… We take a guided tour of the Cango Caves, which are some of the most impressive limestone caverns and the different formations are quite astonishing. You will have the opportunity to visit an Ostrich farm later in the afternoon. Tonight we stay in Oudtshoorn. Optional Activities: Ostrich Farm visit.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Camp: Kleinplaas Holiday Resort Campsite www.kleinplaas.co.za
Facilities: Drinkable water, shared ablutions, hot showers.
Route: Stellenbosch to Oudtshoorn. ±400 km
Travel time: ± 5-6 hours
Activity Package: Cango Caves Standard Tour
Oudtshoorn – Ostrich Capital of the World: Oudtshoorn was known as the ostrich capital of the world. It was named after Baron Pieter von Rheede von Oudtshoorn, who died in 1773 on his way to the Cape to become Governor. The town was founded in 1847. The town is situated 300 m above sea level, with the Swartberg Mountain range to the north and Outeniqua range to the south. Arbeidsgenot, the home of Cornelius Jacob Langenhoven was built here. Langenhoven was the author of the old South African National anthem, “Die Stem” which still forms part of the new National Anthem.
Ostrich feathers where obligatory items of high fashion just before World War One. The great feather boom began around 1870. At it’s height there were more than 750 000 domesticated ostriches in the little Karoo area and feathers where being exported at the rate of about 450 000kg’s a year. Then came world war one and then austerity became a way of supporting the war effort. Many farmers went bankrupt in this time. In later years the industry revived with the demand for ostrich leather, biltong, eggs and feathers. At present there are about 90 000 ostriches in the Little Karoo.
Cango Caves: Common myth has it that the Caves were first explored by a local farmer named Jacobus van Zyl (after who the first chamber, van Zyl’s Hall, was named) – although research fails to reveal anybody by that name in the Cango area in the 1770’s. And besides – we now know that the Caves have been known to man since the Early Stone Age.
In the 19th century, entrance to the Caves cost 5 rix dollars – the modern equivalent of about R500.00 – but that even didn’t deter some destructive tourists and many carted away parts of the delicate stalactites and stalagmites for souvenirs or engraved their names onto the walls. In response, the governor of the Cape Colony, Lord Charles Somerset, published the first Caves Regulation in 1820. The 1st law designed to protect an environmental resource in South Africa; it banned the collection of souvenirs, proved for fines for anyone caught damaging Caves formations and prescribed an entrance fee which had to be paid to the District Officer – who was made responsible for enforcing the rules.
Many of the most significant discoveries in the Caves were made by its first full-time guide, Johnnie van Wassenaar. – who served for 43 years: from 1891 until his retirement in 1934. He opened many side chambers and introduced thousands of people to Cango 1, which remains the only part of the Caves which the public may visit. Importantly, though, it is clear that the Caves were known to man long before Europeans first landed at the Cape: recent finds – of some tools left behind in ancient hearths in the Cave mouth – prove that humans have lived and sheltered here for at least 80 000 years.
Today we cross over the magnificent Outeniqua Mountains to Knysna. Look out for whales and dolphins as we pass through Mossel Bay. Your afternoon is free to explore Knysna, one of South Africa’s most popular seaside towns. Optional Activities: Knysna Elephant Park, Lagoon Cruise, Township Tour, Birds of Eden, 4×4 Forest drive with lunch, Predator Rehab, Monkey town.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Camp: Forever Resort Plettenberg Bay: www.foreverplettenberg.co.za
Facilities: Shared ablutions, hot showers, swimming pool, kiosk, laundry
Route: Oudtshoorn to Plettenberg Bay ±150 km
Travel time: ±2-3 hrs
Knysna: Today’s highlight is the Knysna Lagoon, a perfect spot for water sports or simply relaxing and admiring the striking beauty of The Heads. The town of Knysna, voted South Africa’s favourite holiday town, nestles in the lagoon basin. It is protected by The Heads – two towering sandstone cliffs flanking a deep channel through which the tides flow. There are spectacular views and a cosy restaurant at the Eastern Head, and the Western Head is a privately owned nature reserve – Featherbed Bay.
The Knysna Lagoon is one of the few places in the world that supports an oyster hatchery, and the town is well-known for its fresh oysters, as well as its beer, made locally at Mitchell’s Brewery. Rich in history, Knysna’s museums are well worth visiting; the Millwood House Museum, and the Angling Museum in the Old Gaol. There are many other attractions, from the lush surrounding rainforests, the nearby Buffalo Valley Game, Featherbed Nature Reserve and Noetzie beach, to the wide selection of restaurants and craft markets. The forest, one of the largest areas of indigenous trees left in South Africa, is very dense and in some areas impenetrable. Knysna was originally founded by George Rex in the 19th century as a port for the timber trade. The forest was nearly decimated as a result of logging, but escaped devastation due to far-sighted conservation policies introduced in the 1880s. The herds of forest elephants that once roamed the forest have not been so lucky, they have all disappeared and one lone female is said to remain today. The beautiful and elusive Knysna Loeries can still be seen in the area, as well as a large variety of other birds and a few small antelope.
One of South Africa’s best-kept secrets is the Tsitsikamma National Park. Boasting exceptional hiking trails and superb coastal scenery Tsitsikamma is a destination that many people will return to. The first few hours of the famous Otter Trail Hike are included in your Activity Package. For those needing an adrenaline boost the nearby Bloukraans Bridge is home to the world’s highest bungee jump at 216m! Optional Activities: Bungy jumping (highest in the world), treetop canopy tours, hiking.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Camp: Tube ‘n Axe www.tubenaxe.co.za
Facilities: Drinkable water, shared ablutions, hot showers, bar
Route: Plettenberg Bay to Tsitsikamma. ±40 km
Travel time: ±1 hour
Activity Package: Tsitsikamma National Park Entrance Fee
Tsitsikamma National Park: Tsitsikamma National Park stretches between the sea and the Tsitsikamma Mountains, along the Garden Route, one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. The Park, covering 80km along the coast between Nature’s Valley and Storm’s River mouth, encompasses a range of different ecosystems – indigenous forest, commercial plantation, Fynbos, and inter-tidal zones – and offers magnificent scenery and walks. It was the first Marine National Park to be proclaimed in Africa, and it is now the third most frequently visited of the 20 national parks in South Africa. The forest has more than 30 species of indigenous trees – there are several massive trees, the tallest of these is 36 meters high, and some are more than 1000 years old.
Continuing to the Eastern Cape, we enter Addo Elephant National Park, which is home to many of Africa’s big game. Our truck gives us an elevated view on our game drive this afternoon, particularly for those photographic enthusiasts amongst us. Optional activities: Night game drive with SANP
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Camp: Addo Elephant Park www.sanparks.org/parks/addo
Facilities: Drinkable water, shared ablutions, hot showers, restaurant, shop, swimming pool
Route: Tsitsikamma to Addo. ±340 km
Travel time: ±4-5hrs
Included highlights: Game Drive in Nomad Truck
Addo Elephant Park: In 1919 the administration of the Cape Province decided to cull the elephant population in the Addo region and hired a Professional hunter, Major Jan Pretorius, to destroy the entire herd that inhabited the area at the time. It took him a year to kill 120, before he was stopped due to public outcry. Only 16 traumatised Addo elephants remained, wounded, frightened and unable to coexist with humans. In 1931, when only 11 elephants were left alive in the area, it was proclaimed a national park. The elephants, however, were still hostile – destroying crops and attacking anyone who came near. Finally, in 1952, one of the farmers of the area suggested that a fence be erected around the park. This kept the Elephants secure and out of the surrounding farming area. Black rhino was reintroduced in 1961- the first in the Cape for a hundred years. Today the Park is sanctuary to over 450 elephants, Cape buffalo, a variety of antelope species, as well as the flightless dung beetle, found exclusively in this area.
Addo elephants are unique in that although they belong to the same species as the African Elephant, they are smaller with more rounded ears and the females generally have no tusks.
After an early morning game drive in Addo we depart the National Park and drive to Port Elizabeth Airport where our tour will end.
Accommodation: Own arrangements/post-tour accommodation can be booked through Nomad.
Included Highlight: Morning game drive in Addo in the Nomad truck
We will drop you off at the airport.