3 Day Garden Route
The Garden Route is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world. Stretching from Storms River Mouth in the Eastern Cape to Mossel Bay in the Western Cape. We spent three days on the Garden Route from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. I’ve decided to share our Garden Route itinerary. The only thing I regret about this trip is that we didn’t stay there long enough, you could easily spend a week or two exploring each area/town. This is what we managed to squeeze in, in three days.
Day 1: Outeniqua
We began the day with a drive over the picturesque Outeniqua mountain range. This route took us into the semi desert region of the Klein Karoo and into the bustling town of Oudtshoorn- known as the ostrich capital of the world. Oudtshoorn is situated in a beautiful valley between the Outeniqua and Swartberg Mountains. This region offers the wildlife and adventure enthusiast loads to choose from. I just wish we had a few days here, that way we could have done some hiking!
Being the only ones on the tour, we had a choice to visit The Cango Caves or the Cango Endangered Wildlife Ranch. As we are both animal lovers, we decided to go with the second option. Cango wildlife ranch has over 90 species of animals. Although, I don’t agree with animals being kept in captivity these guys do a fantastic job in looking after the animals. Firstly, we set off on a guided educational tour around the ranch. We learnt a lot about the animals in the ranch, we even got the chance to interact with some of them.
About the cheetahs
The Cango Endangered Wildlife Ranch is home to hundreds of cheetahs. Their main aim is to save and rehabilitate these wild felines and release them back into the wild. Did you know? The cheetah population is on a worldwide decline, with less than 7 000 remaining. These complex cats are near the top of the endangered list. Conservation is on top of their mission, and these felines have become the emblem for the reserve to rescue animals and give them back to their rightful home. To decrease the declining population and increase genetic diversity among cheetahs, a breeding program has been implemented. Therefore, they breed them so that they can release a huge majority, back into the wild. The cheetahs are monitored closely before being released, in a private owned game reserve. The breeding facility and private game reserve is across the road from the wildlife rand. The cheetahs are bread and then released into the game reserve, where they are monitored for a while. Here they can hunt and fend for themselves. Unfortunately, not all cheetahs make it into the wild for many several reasons. So, instead they join the captive cheetahs in the ranch.
Skeptical about the whole experience, I experienced a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To encounter and interact with a tamed cheetah. I learnt a lot about the cheetahs and cheetah conservation from their handlers. It was a terrifying experience at first, but the handler reassured me. The cheetah we interacted with was used to human contact. As I got crept closer to her, I gently kneeled on the floor besides her. I touched her soft fur, she began to purr like a pussy cat. We then encountered with the cubs, they were very playful at first – which made it hard to capture a good picture! The handlers don’t allow you to touch them whilst they are playing. After a few minutes they settles down, snuggling into each other.
Over all, it was a fantastic experience. I think that The Cango Endangered Wildlife Ranch does a fantastic job at looking after these animals. If it wasn’t for tourists visiting rehabilitation centers like this, then there would be a lot less animals in the wild. However, you should always do you research before visiting places like this. As not all of them are there to help the animals, instead they use them to make a profitable business.
The ranch is privately owned with no grants, adopters are the actual people who make it possible for them to take care of each individual animal. Any animal on the ranch is eligible for a care taking adopter, from there Critically endangered Ring-Tailed lemur, to the magnificent Cheetahs. An animal adoption helps Cheetah Preservation Foundation save endangered species!
Should you wish to support the Cheetah Preservation Foundation you have the option of becoming a member. Please contact the Congo Wildlife Ranch if you require any information on ways to become involved. Through public involvement, the Cheetah Preservation Foundation was able to contribute and is continuing to contribute to the following projects and organisations:
Day 2: Elephant Sanctuary
After spending a night in Segefield, we were up bright and early so we could head towards the famous Jeffrey’s Bay. First of all stopping by The Elephant Sanctuary in Plettenberg Bay. We spent a few hours there playing with the African giants. We even walked them around the field, hand in trunk. They’re so gentle, i will never understand why people kill such a beautiful, innocent giant. There were five at the camp, all of them had been rescued from poachers. One female and four males, one had lost his tusk.
I’m so happy that there are places in the world like this, they really do care for these animals. If i had the money, i would definitely open my own elephant sanctuary. If you do decide to visit Plettenberg Bay, be sure to stop by the sanctuary. All money spent there goes towards the up keep of these gentle giants.
Tsitsikamma National Park
Our road trip of South Africa’s Garden Route continued from Jeffrey’s Bay to Tsitsikamma National Park. As we drove our tour guide stopped, so that we could take in all the glorious views. Amazing green forests, mountains, cliffs, waterfalls, rivers and endless coastlines for miles. However we came upon the decision to stay in the Tsitsikamma National Park.
Forests, oceans, beaches, cliffs – Tsistikamma National Park has it all. If you visit at the right time of year, you will be sure to find whales breaching. The park stretches along the coast line and offers spectacular views. One side of ocean breaks, the other side beautiful evergreen bush.
Unfortunately, we just didn’t have enough time here to do everything we wanted to do. We only managed to squeeze in a small hike. Ideally, you need a few days in the park as it has so much to offer.
10 Things to do
- Bloukrans bridge bungee jump – the highest in the world
- The otter trail
- Horse riding
- Mountain biking
- Zip wires
- Forrest tours
- Scuba diving
- Whale and dolphin watching
Jeffrey’s Bay is one of endless summer where people predominantly come to escape the city life and enjoy a relaxed lifestyle – swimming costumes are the requisite attire. The beaches are safe and the water is warm, so swimming and water sports are the main pastime. As if this weren’t enough of an invitation, this stretch of the coast is also home to dolphins that grace the waves and there are often whale sightings. There are also a variety of shells that visitors collect by the handful – and they’re welcome to do so.
Day 3: Addo – Port Elizabeth
Finally, there is no better way to end your Garden Route road trip, than spending the day at Addo Elephant Park. Located 70 kilometers from Port Elizabeth, Addo became a national park in 1931, with only 11 elephants. There are now more than 600 elephant, and in fact, Addo is home to of all the big five: elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and black rhino. Since it stretches into in open waters on the coast, there have also been great white shark and Southern right whale sightings. After spending the whole day here, it was time to head towards Port Elizabeth airport. This is where we took a flight to Johannesburg, where our next adventure awaited.
Therefore, a road trip along South Africa’s Garden Route should definitely be on your list of upcoming adventures! Cape Town alone is already worth the travel and has so much to offer that you can easily fill an entire week here: hiking up Table Mountain or Lion’s Head, great wine at one of the many wineries around Stellenbosch or a good coffee and cool market in the hip Woodstock neighborhood. And then there is the breathtaking Chapman’s Peak Drive, probably one of the most beautiful streets in the world which you can drive several times without it getting boring! I’ll get to that later.