CAPE NATURE SPLENDOUR GUIDED TOUR – 6 DAYS (Starts from and returns to Cape Town)(CODE: SCCN)

Day 1. Swellendam – Mossel Bay – Oudtshoorn

Depart from Cape Town and drive eastwards in direction of the Garden Route via Sir Lowry’s Pass and the famous apple country of Grabouw to Swellendam, where we visit the Bontebok National Park.

In Mossel Bay on the edge of the Garden Route you visit arguably the oldest post office in Africa, the Post Office Tree, and the site of the first landfall made by the Portuguese explorer Bartholomeu Dias in 1488. Then you travel over Robinson’s Pass to the Little Karoo for a visit to an ostrich show farm with some unique experiences, including ostrich racing . A ride on the back of an ostrich is not for the fainthearted. Overnight in Oudtshoorn, also called the  “Feather Capital”, as over ninety percent of the world’s ostrich farms are found here.  Overnight at La Plume Guest Lodge or similar. Dinner included.

Day 2. Cango Caves – Garden Route – George – Knysna

You visit the Cango Caves, regarded as one of South Africa’s foremost natural wonders. The fascinating calcite caves comprises an underground wonderland of stalactites and stalagmites. A visit to the Cango Wild Live Ranch with its cheetahs and crocodiles is optional.

You travel over the Outeniqua Mountains to George and Wilderness for a visit to the Wilderness National Park lakes area. Now, truly in the Garden Route, we skirt around the lakes to Knysna on the edge of the Knysna Lagoon with its entrance to the sea, guarded by two promontories known as the ‘Heads’. The area falls within a National Park proclaimed to conserve the extraordinary natural beauty of the Lakeland and adjacent indigenous forests. Knysna also offers shopping opportunities of unusual locally made art and craft, etc. Overnight at  Augusta Bay Lodge or similar. Breakfast and dinner included.

Day 3.  Plettenberg Bay – Tsitsikamma National Park – Port Elizabeth

You explore Knysna and travel further via Plettenberg Bay through magnificent scenic river valley passes.  Visit the Tsitsikamma National Park (Khoisan  for “The place of much water”), stretching over a 100 km wild and rocky coastline, characterised by massive cliffs, narrow isolated beaches and shady indigenous forests along the river valleys. Our next stop is Storms River with the impressive Paul Sauer Bridge across the valley, towering 139 m above the river.  The final part of our journey today see us exiting the Garden Route and past a few coastal holiday villages to Port Elizabeth, also called the “Friendly City.  Overnight in Port Elizabeth at Fifth Avenue Beach House. Breakfast and dinner included.

Day 4. Addo National park – Cradock – Mountain Zebra National Park

You visit the Addo Elephant National Park, a finely tuned ecosystem that provides sanctuary to more than 400 elephant, lion, black rhino, buffalo, hyena, several species of antelope, and a wide variety of birds. The unique flightless dung beetle is almost exclusive to this area.  After this unforgettable experience, you drive via Cradock to the Mountain Zebra National Park. The park proclaimed to save the rare Cape Mountain Zebra from certain extinction, also boasts lion, black rhino, buffalo, springbok, blesbuck, black wildebeest, grey rhebok and mountain reedbuck. After game viewing drives in our vehicle, you arrive at the camp to overnight in the park’s chalet type accommodation. Overnight Mountain Zebra Park. Breakfast and dinner included.

Day 5.  Graaff Reinet – Beaufort West – Karoo National Park

After breakfast and another drive through the park, you travel via Graaff Reinet through one of the remotest and arguably loneliest roads in the country, where it is impossible to determine the horizons for the mirage images. Graaff Reinet, the oldest town in the Eastern Cape, is world renowned for its well-preserved old buildings. In all, there are 220 proclaimed National Monuments in the town.

The vast open plains are stark contradictions of the densely populated areas of the world. You visit the Valley of Desolation, a geological phenomenon; a ravine with giant dolomite pillars eroded into extraordinary shapes, hiding fossils of animals that inhabited the swamps 200 million years ago.

A short visit of Beaufort West takes us to the birthplace of Chris Barnard who performed the world’s first successful heart transplant, and some of the old colonial buildings in the town.

The Karoo National Park is renowned for its impressive landscapes and large variety of plants, mostly succulents, and animals that have adapted to this harsh climate. You travel through the park and have an opportunity to spot animals such as the black rhino, lion, springbok, eland, mountain reedbuck, kudu, gemsbuck, and a variety of bird species, including one of the largest concentrations of the rare Black Eagle. It is also home to some fifty-nine species of reptiles, including five species of tortoises.

Overnight in the park in the chalet type accommodation at the foothills of the Nieuwveld Mountains.

Day 6. Matjiesfontein – Hex River Valley – Cape Town

After an early morning game walk in the park, awe at the wide open spaces of this semi-desert area as you travel through the village of Laingsburg that was almost completely washed away by a freak flash flood in the mid nineteen seventies.  At Matjiesfontein, a well-preserved and isolated Victorian village established as a health resort in the 19th century, you stop for lunch in the Lord Millner Hotel. You travel over the summit of the Hex River Pass with great views of the Hex River Valley. As you descend into the valley, the vegetation changes abruptly from the semi-desert Karoo to a colourful patchwork of vineyards. Then westwards via Worcester, nestled in the wine-growing region of the Breede River Valley. The Huguenot Tunnel through the Drakenstein Mountains takes us via Paarl back to Cape Town, where we arrive late afternoon.

CAPE NATURE SPLENDOUR GUIDED TOUR – 6 DAYS (Starts from and returns to Cape Town)(CODE: SCCN)