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Western Cape and Eastern Cape, South African
Guided Safaris Tours
Day 1: Oudtshoorn
After breakfast we collect you from your overnight accommodation in Cape Town or from the Cape Town International Airport and make our way to Oudtshoorn along “Route 62”, the tourist route that meanders between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn, offering the shorter, scenic alternative to the N2 highway. This is an area of magnificent landscapes and towering cliffs, crystal clear streams and the abundance of trees and indigenous flora. The ever-changing colours of the majestic mountains, scenic passes, rivers, vineyards and orchards, as well as the attractions, will offer you an unforgettable adventure — whether this is in the physical sense or simply a kaleidoscope of scenic tranquillity. Innovation and pride, combined with a terrain and mild climate that are harmoniously balanced, results in the prominence of this region's wines. We reach Oudtshoorn in the late afternoon, a town that is known as the "feather capital of the world”.
We will overnight at the Hlangana Lodge (or similar). Set in a low-rise building in landscaped grounds, this polished hotel is 2 km from Oudtshoorn town centre and has airy, streamlined rooms with satellite TV, DVD players and free WiFi, plus tea and coffeemaking facilities, and minibars. A champagne breakfast buffet served in an airy dining room or on terrace with garden views is a daily vent. There's also an outdoor pool and a gym.
Day 2: Oudtshoorn
Today we visit the Cango Caves near Oudtshoorn, which are among the biggest stalagmite formations in the world. Some of the sandstone formations are colourfully illuminated and the bizarre shapes in the caves are mainly composed of calcium carbonate. They develop as limewater drips from the stones and evaporate. The structures growing down from the cave ceiling are called stalactites, while those that grow from the ground to the top are called stalagmites.
We will also visit a working ostrich farm where one can learn more about these fascinating birds. Commercial ostrich farming started during the late 1880's in South Africa; this was also the start of the ostrich industry worldwide. The fashion demand in Europe for ostrich feathers inspired the growth of the industry, with the Oudtshoorn district quickly being established as the “ostrich capital of the world”. During the first decade of the previous century, ostrich feathers gained record prices on foreign markets, ranking 4th on the list of South African exports, after gold, diamonds and wool. The consequence of this newly found opulence meant that ostrich farmers were able to build beautiful sandstone mansions. A unique feature of the farm experience is a visit to the Ostrich Palace "Welgeluk" which was built at the height of the feather boom in 1910. The homestead is a National Monument and is a superb example of the type of architecture that was used at the time. Safari Ostrich Show Farm was established more than 40 years ago. Lunch may be enjoyed at this farm.
Day 3: Knysna
After breakfast we go on the Swartberg Pass, which is considered one of the most impressive mountain passes in the world - an untarred road that winds to the summit 1583 meters above sea level in steep zigzags and sudden switchbacks with breathtaking views at every turn. The road is supported in places by hand-packed stone walls, a trademark of Thomas Charles Bain, the brilliant road engineer of the 19th Century. Along the way there are relics of old prisons, tollhouses, and Way stations that bear historic testimony to past adventures. Often covered with snow in winter, the mountain's microclimate supports fynbos and a rich bird life, in contrast with the arid-zone flora and fauna outside its cool shady kloofs. The Swartberg Pass was declared a National Monument in its Centenary year, 1988. Those who have crossed the pass will never forget it. Once we have summitted the Pass, we do a lunch stop at the quaint little town of Prince Albert and then go onto Meiringspoort.
Meiringspoort is a deep cleft through the seemingly impenetrable Swartberg Mountain range. This natural passage forms a convenient link between the Great and Little Karoo. Soaring cliff walls with spectacular rock formations line the 25 km tarred road, which winds along the floor of the gorge, crossing the Groot River 25 times. Entry to the Poort is via Klaarstroom, 55 kms east of Prince Albert, en route to Oudtshoorn and the coast. Hardy plants, including indigenous pelargonium, cling to the precarious rock faces while birds, baboons and smaller fauna abound in the protected kloofs and crevices. Among the most scenic spots is the waterfall tumbling into a dark pool that, according to legend, is bottomless. In Meiringspoort one feels insignificant against the overwhelming grandeur of the surroundings. Driving through this Poort with its winding road, the traveller is enchanted by the scenery with a kaleidoscope of every changing colour. The richness of the vegetation along the river will intrigue plant lovers and birdwatchers will be amazed at the bird life. Meiringspoort was originally opened to traffic on the 3rd March 1858. Please note that this trip is only possible if the pass has not been closed. This usually happens when there has been heavy snowfall or very heavy rain, making the road dangerous.
From here we will make our way to Knysna, where we overnight at The Rex Hotel. This hotel is a celebration of urban style, making it one of the most exhilarating getaway destinations in its class. Expect an eclectic mix of modern and classic comforts that capture the essence of 4-star luxury. The Rex Hotel offers travellers a gateway to Knysna’s outstanding restaurants, blossoming forests, nature reserves, arts and crafts, and the shores of the serene lagoon.
Day 4: Knysna
This morning after breakfast we visit the “Featherbed Nature Reserve”. Featherbed gives visitors to the Garden Route an unforgettable experience on the Knysna Lagoon. The Lagoon, more accurately defined as an estuary, has five fresh water rivers flowing in from the surrounding Outeniqua Mountains meeting with the surge of sea water from the Indian Ocean through the mighty headlands – known as the 'Knysna Heads' - the grand sandstone cliffs towering above the entrance to the Knysna Lagoon. Featherbed is a privately-owned, registered Nature Reserve and a South African Heritage Site, No.59. It is a pristine piece of paradise situated on the Western Head of Knysna and is accessible by ferry only. After driving through the reserve to the top of the Western Head, you can take the optional, 2.2 kilometre guided walk, passing through Milkwood forests onto the steep sandstone cliffs, into ancient Khoi Khoi sea caves and along a scenic coastal path fringed with aromatic fynbos. Your guide will inform you on the ecology, fauna, flora, bird and marine life in the reserve. On the coastal walk back, you can often spot the resident Black African Oyster Catcher, one of the rarest coastal birds in South Africa. Featherbed Nature Reserve is home to a breeding program of the rare Blue Duiker - one of the smallest antelope species in the world - the beautiful Knysna Loerie and the endangered Knysna Sea Horse.
Lunch will be at The Forest Restaurant is situated on the edge of the Lagoon under a canopy of Milkwood trees.
Later this afternoon you are at leisure to stroll around the town or the cute Knysna Waterfront to catch up on some shopping or relaxation.
Day 5: Cape TownThis morning we make our way to the nearby town of Mossel Bay where we visit the Diaz Museum. Of the five National Monuments on the museum grounds, four are buildings dating between 1830 and 1902. The museum grounds themselves, situated on the shores of the Indian Ocean, are a magnificent historical setting. They are situated at the very site where European explorers came ashore and made contact with the indigenous people. Information about the Khoi-Khoi and explorers can be seen in the Maritime Museum. After our museum visit we make our way back to Cape Town where we drop you off at your hotel or at the Cape Town International Airport in time for your flight.