8 Day Garden Route – Karoo Splendour Tour
Cape Town to Port Elizabeth
Western Cape and Eastern Cape, South African
Guided Safaris Tours
Day 1 : Mossel Bay
A Far and Wild Safaris guide will collect you from your overnight accommodation in Cape Town or from the Cape Town International Airport and drive to Mossel Bay where we visit the interesting Diaz Museum in the town. This building was originally erected in 1901 to serve as a grain and sawmill. It was adapted to serve as a unique Maritime Museum and houses, the impressive life-size replica of Bartholomew Diaz's caravel, the ship in which he sailed into Mossel Bay in the year 1488. It also displays ship models of a bygone era, route maps to the East and exploration of the Dark Continent in general, as well as the Post Office Tree, the Granary and the Shell Museum.
Beaches and sunshine, the clean Indian Ocean and the Outeniqua Mountains green and purple in the distance,- this is what Mossel Bay is about - a gentle seaside town on the Garden Route of the Western Cape Province of South Africa.
We will overnight at the Point Hotel (or similar). The Point Hotel is built right on the rocks above a huge natural rock pool and overlooks the endless blue expanse of the Indian Ocean.
Day 2 : Knysna
Morning visit to the Featherbed Nature Reserve, an unforgettable experience on the Knysna Lagoon. Featherbed is a privately-owned, Nature Reserve and a South African Heritage Site, a pristine paradise situated on the Western Head (The 'Knysna Heads' - the grand sandstone cliffs towering above the entrance to the Knysna Lagoon) accessible by ferry only. After driving through the reserve to the top of the Western Head, guests take the optional, 2.2 kilometre guided walk, passing through Milkwood forests onto steep sandstone cliffs, into ancient Khoi Khoi sea caves then along a scenic coastal path, fringed with Cape fynbos. On the coastal walk back, you can often see African Black Oystercatcher, a rare coastal bird in South Africa. Featherbed Nature Reserve has a breeding program for the rare Blue Duiker - (one of the smallest antelope species in the world) - the colourful Knysna Turaco and the endangered Knysna Sea Horse.
Lunch at The Forest Restaurant, on the edge of the Lagoon, under a canopy of Milkwood trees.
Balance of the afternoon at leisure, stroll around the town or the interesting Knysna Waterfront for some shopping or relaxation.
Day 3 : Oudtshoorn
Today's overnight destination is Oudtshoorn in the Little Karoo.
Renowned for its ostrich farms, Oudtshoorn is known as the "feather capital of the world". We visit the Cango Caves which are home to some of the largest stalagmite formations in the world. The caves are widely branching and offer different and strange formations mainly composed of calcium carbonate. We also visit a working ostrich farm to learn more about these fascinating birds as well as their commercial farming which started in South Africa, during the late 1880's.
Lunch is enjoyed at the farm.
We will overnight at the Turnberry Boutique Hotel (or similar). This tiny piece of Scotland is situated in the centre of town and room amenities include air-conditioning, satellite TV's, mini-bars, tea/coffee making facilities and wireless internet connection.
Day 4: Oudtshoorn
After breakfast we drive the Swartberg Pass, considered one of the most impressive mountain passes in the world - an untarred road that winds to the summit 1583 meters above sea level with scenic views all the way. The road is reinforced in places with hand-packed stone walls, a characteristic of Thomas Charles Bain's design, a brilliant road engineer of the 19th Century. En route are relics of prisons, tollhouses, and Way stations that bear historic testimony to the past. 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. Lunch stop at the town of Prince Albert, then on to Meiringspoort, a deep ravine 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. Please note that this trip is only possible if the Swartberg pass has not been closed. This usually happens when there has been heavy snowfall or very heavy rain, making the road dangerous.
Overnight Turnberry Boutique Hotel or similar.
Day 5 : Karoo National Park
Today we leave Oudtshoorn en route through the Karoo to the Karoo National Park near Beaufort West. The Great Karoo is a vast and unforgiving landscape of which the Karoo National Park is but a small portion. Being the largest ecosystem in South Africa, the Karoo is home to a fascinating diversity of life, all having adapted to survive in these harsh conditions.
Karoo National Park is dominated by the lofty Nuweveld Mountains and rolling plains, where many species that originally occurred here now once again occupy their former ranges.
The Karoo National Park has a wide variety of endemic wildlife. Many species have been relocated to their former ranges - such as brown hyena, lion and Cape mountain zebra.
Day 6 : Mountain Zebra National Park
This morning we make our way to the Mountain Zebra National Park near Cradock. The craggy heights of the Mountain Zebra National Park's Bankberg with rolling plains and deep valleys, and have become a preserve for the Cape mountain zebra. The proclamation of the park in 1937 saved these animals from extinction, and currently their population stands at 300. Other mammals found here include cheetah, Cape buffalo, black rhino, eland, black wildebeest, red hartebeest and gemsbok, while mountain reedbuck and grey rhebok frequent the higher areas. Caracal occupy the niche of primary predator. Spend the day game viewing - game drives will be conducted by your guide in his vehicle.
Overnight Mountain Zebra National Park Camp.
Day 7 : Addo Elephant National Park
Drive to the Addo Elephant Park, which lies in the dense valley bushveld of the Sundays River region of the Eastern Cape. The original Elephant conservation section of the park was proclaimed in 1931, when only eleven elephant remained in the area - today this finely tuned ecosystem is sanctuary to elephant, Cape buffalo, black rhino, lion, a variety of antelope species, as well as a unique flightless dung beetle, found exclusively in the Addo area. The remainder of the day will be spent on game drives into the various areas of this park which offers some of the best elephant viewing in Africa.
Now the third largest national park in South Africa, Addo Elephant National Park has expanded to conserve a wide range of biodiversity, landscapes, fauna and flora. This park conserves no less than five of South Africa's seven biomes Stretching from the semi-arid karoo area in the north around Darlington Dam, over the rugged Zuurberg Mountains, through the Sundays River valley and south to the coast between Sundays River mouth and Bushman's river mouth, Addo covers about 180 000 hectares (444 700 acres) and includes the Bird and St Croix Island groups.
Plans to expand Addo into a 264 000 hectare (652 300 acre) mega-park which includes proclamation of a 120 000 hectare (296 500 acre) marine protected area, which will include islands that are home to the world's largest breeding populations of Cape gannets and the largest breeding population of the endangered African penguin.
Overnight Addo Main Camp.
Day 8 : Port Elizabeth
After extended game drives in Addo, we depart for Port Elizabeth where we drop you off at the Port Elizabeth Airport or at your overnight accommodation in the mid-afternoon.