|East from Cape Town,
the coastal area known as the Overberg presents
attractive resort towns such as Somerset West and probably the best
place in South Africa for whale watching, Hermanus.
Agulhas, the less than inspirational cape which is essentially
the southerly tip of Africa is also along the Southern coast, as
well as the wreck strewn cliffs around Arniston
and Elim, a 19th century Mission village whose
principal profession is still growing and drying flowers. Swellendam,
215 kilometres (130 miles) from Cape Town, is a charming Cape -
Dutch village, rich in fine old buildings, many of which make up
the excellent Drostdy Museum.
From here onwards, the south coast becomes known as The
Garden Route due to the wealth of forests that used to
line the coast. There are a few areas of hardwood forest left, but
even with so much development, this is a breathtaking area for holidays,
with brilliant beaches, great swimming and plenty of activities
Mossel Bay was 1 of the 1st harbours visited by
European sailors and the town now has an outstanding museum charting
the maritime history of the coast. Wilderness is an appealing little
resort sandwiched between the reedy lakes and the dunes of
the Wilderness Natural Reserve, an exceptional place for bird watching
Knysna is a comfortable tourist town located between
the lush inland Knysna forests and the horseshoe shaped Knysna Lagoon.
It has numerous interesting small museums and a nearby game farm.
South Africa’s trendiest resort, Plettenberg Bay,
has brilliant beaches, the Robberg Nature Reserve, where you can
normally see seals and dolphins and Monkeyland, a sanctuary dedicated
to primates of all kinds.
An equally attractive, but remarkably different route, called the
inland route, runs parallel to the coast, on the
far side of the mountains. This leaves Cape Town via the Winelands,
enduring through market gardening towns, such as Ashton, Robertson
and Montagu, famous for olives and wine, into the Little Karoo,
the scrubby extension of the Great Karoo Desert.
Most people choose a mix of the 2 routes, crossing the Outeniqua
and Swartberg Mountains over a series of spectacularly beautiful
switchback passes, of which the most stunning is undoubtedly the
Swartberg Pass to Prince Alfred, and the more common Outeniqua Pass
from George to Oudtshoorn, well known for its ostrich farms, as
well as the Cango Caves.