Top 5: South Africa Garden Route Highlights
By Gap 360
Last updated: 2nd May 2018
Ever wondered how we manage to put together such awesome group trips? It’s because the team at Gap 360 are travellers, just like you, and to make sure you have the best time on your trip we regularly go and check out the programmes ourselves (it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it!). Gap 360 Travel Advisor, Emma, has just got back from South Africa – check out what she got up to below.
If you want to experience a bit of everything on your travels, then I would definitely recommend travelling along the Garden Route in South Africa. It really does have it all, from wine tasting and big cities to adventurous activities like shark cage diving and bungee jumping, and then there’s the opportunity to volunteer with children and see the ‘Big 5’ on safari – the list goes on! Here are my top picks for places to visit and things to do while you’re in South Africa:
1. Cape Town
Cape Town is one of the most amazing cities I have ever been to, it’s beautiful, vibrant and lively and has the incredible Table Mountain as its backdrop. There is so much to see and do there, check out the restaurants at the V&A Waterfront, take a cable car ride, or even do the three-hour walk up Table Mountain! A must-see is Cape Point: the most southerly point in South Africa, and while you’re there definitely go on a vineyard tour and enjoy a day of wine tasting in one of Cape Town’s famous wine regions!
Out of everything I experienced over my four days in Cape Town, there were two highlights that stood out the most.
Boulders Beach ‘the land of the penguins’ is a 40-minute drive out of the city centre near a lovely seaside town called Simon’s Town. It costs just R65 to spend the day there, which goes towards the conservation of the area. With the beautiful white sand and turquoise sea, it’s a great place for a beach day and did I mention the penguins? There are thousands of them just chilling on the rocks and swimming in the sea, they aren’t shy and will quite happily pose for photos!
Cape Town Community Projects
I was lucky enough to go and visit our community projects during my trip, and what the team and volunteers are doing out there is incredible! Our South Africa Childcare project is based in a Township near Cape Town where 70 disadvantaged children are looked after at a crèche, which gives parents the opportunity to go out and work without having to worry about who is caring for their children and gives the kids a good start in life. While we were there, we got to spend time with some of the kids, who are aged 3-6.
As a volunteer you will prepare their meals, read stories, draw with them, teach them songs and games and play with them outside. They are the sweetest children and are so happy to learn, I left there with the biggest smile on my face! If you’re looking for something really worthwhile and rewarding on your travels, then I would definitely recommend checking this out!
2. Gansbaai (for Great White Sharks)
Gansbaai is located just two hours from Cape Town and is famous for its great white shark cage diving trips! From being terrified of sharks from the age of seven after watching Jaws I never thought I would ever be mad enough to actually be in the water with them! But I have to say, it wasn’t scary at all!
The cage is connected to the boat and around ten people go together in one line. You have a wetsuit on and a mask and all hang on to the cage with your head bobbing above the water (there’s a lid on top so you are completely safe). As the marine experts on the boats shout ‘shark’ you all dunk your heads in. These humungous creatures are so beautiful and graceful and just swim alongside the cage; we were lucky enough to see two great whites along with a number of copper sharks.
3. Storms River
Storms River is in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. The river mouth is located in the Tsitsikamma National Park, which is the place to go for those who love a bit of an adventure! There’s Bloukrans Bridge for adrenalin junkies (not me), which is the highest bungee jump bridge in the world! There’s also a range of activities from paddle boarding to guided walks and zip lining; my highlight was our kayaking and cliff jumping trip!
4. Jeffreys Bay
Jeffreys Bay is a popular surfers town and is a great stop if you’re looking for some beach time. It’s so relaxed and laid-back and the beaches are beautiful! I would definitely recommend staying at a hostel called Island Vibe, it’s right on the beach and even has a surf school! There’s loads to do there with surfing and sandboarding being two of the most popular activities, plus the nightlife and food scene is great! Definitely check out a restaurant called Nina’s – the ostrich fillet is a must-have!
5. Big 5 Safari
Saving the best for last, if you go to South Africa you have to go on a safari!
I was lucky enough to go and visit a private game reserve located near Port Elizabeth and covering 6,000 hectares of beautiful South African landscape. It’s an award-winning reserve where, as a volunteer, you get to live in luxury whilst getting stuck into a range of different wildlife projects to help with the conservation and protection of the animals.
You get to go on daily game drives as well, so will get to see the ‘Big 5’ during your stay! I managed to see three out of the five: lions, elephants, and rhino. The highlight for me, which was such a David Attenborough moment, was when we got to witness a herd of elephants drinking from a watering hole, seeing animals like that up close was an experience I will never forget.
That sums up my top five stops along the Garden Route but there is so much more than just that! Make sure you get out there to experience an adventure of a lifetime!
Feeling the urge to book a South Africa trip? We have lots of options to choose from, why don’t you call us on 01892 527392, chat to us online, or ping us an email to [email protected] to find out more about all our South Africa group trips!