In May 2009, I self-published a book, entitled Gold Mines, Elephants and Foefie Slides: An Adventurous Weekend on the Garden Route.
It tells the story of a long weekend we spent on South Africa’s lovely Garden Route during May 2008.
We stayed in an adorable timber cabin in the forests of Rheenendal, flew through the canopy of the Tsitsikamma forest on a foefie slide, walked trunk-in-hand with magnificent elephants at The Crags, and hiked around some of the abandoned gold mines at Millwood. And, as we discovered, there is so much more to explore and experience in this extraordinarily beautiful region of South Africa!
If you are curious to read more about our adventurous weekend, feel free to have a look here. This will give you the links to the blog posts I wrote originally about our trip.
I am selling copies of my book at R200.00 a copy (excl. postage). It makes a great Christmas or birthday present, and it’s particularly useful if you are planning a trip to South Africa!
If you would like to buy a copy of my book for yourself or for family and friends, you can reach me via the Contact Me form.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Publisher: Tuffy-Cat Press
Country: South Africa
Publication date: May 2009
Length: 208 mm
Width: 149 mm
Thickness: 6 mm
Weight: 140 g
The Garden Route is a particularly scenic stretch of coastline in the South-Eastern Cape province, stretching from Mossel Bay in the west to the Storms River in the east. Some of the larger towns found along the coast are George, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, with numerous smaller settlements inbetween, and even Oudtshoorn, further inland and famous for its ostrich farming, appears to be part of the Garden Route.
It is bordered on the southern side by the Indian Ocean, with the warm and fast-flowing Agulhas Current, which travels south from the Equator, running east to west along this stretch of coast. Centuries of erosion by wind and sea has given rise to both sandy beaches and rocky beaches, as well as creating steep cliffs that plunge precipitously into the ocean, pounded and undercut by the furious swells. You can spend many days exploring the sea shore with its diverse range of plant and animal life – and keep a lookout for whales, such as Southern Right whales, Humpback whales, and Bryde’s whales. There are also dolphins (Common, Humpback and Bottlenosed), as well as Orca whales and Minke whales, and Cape Fur Seals, who like to bask in the sun on the rocky shoreline.
Towards the north, the coastal plains of the Garden Route are bordered by the Outeniqua (west) and Tsitsikamma (east) mountain ranges, both of which belong to the Cape Fold Belt Mountains of the Southern Cape. These rise up to about 1,600m above sea level, and are made of erosion-resistant Table Mountain sandstone. They were originally covered by impenetrably dense afromontane forests, but these have been cut down over the last few centuries and now only a few large tracts of natural forests still remain. You will also find some remaining forest giants (‘big trees’), which are usually Outeniqua yellowwood, stinkwood, or ironwood. As in the Cape Peninsula, fynbos also grows here.
In the upper reaches of the mountains, the rivers have steep gradients and the gorges tend to be fairly narrow. There are spectacular waterfalls and white water rapids. Further down, the gradients flatten and the rivers flow more slowly, gradually eroding the sides of the valleys. As the rivers reach the flat coastal plains, they slow down even further, beginning to deposit the sediments they have been carrying from further upstream. They also begin to meander, and to create lakes and vleis. This is particularly striking in the Wilderness area, where you find a whole series of lakes, which are ideal for water sports such as canoeing and kayaking. When the rivers meet the sea, estuaries and lagoons are found, as well as wetlands or marshy areas on the flood-plains of rivers.
The original explorers who ventured into this area on foot, on horseback or by ox wagon, had to force their way through dense forest, scrambling up and down mountain sides, following rivers courses, all the while looking for a way through to somewhere as yet unknown. They had to find ways of traversing numerous rivers, whose gorges higher up the mountain were terrifyingly steep-sided and eroded by torrents of water. Nowadays, you can travel safely by car and on well-designed roads across mountain passes and river bridges.
As you can see from the above description, there is an extraordinary range of environments in this area – and thus a wide range of sports and leisure activities on offer here:
- you can go hiking across rugged mountains and through indigenous forests,
- you can picnic beside spectacular waterfalls,
- you can go canoeing across peaceful lakes,
- you can spend long hours birdwatching,
- you can go scuba-diving in the ocean,
- you can mountainbike up and down rugged terrain,
- you can sail a catamaran through the dramatic and dangerous Knysna Heads,
- you can climb into an underwater cage and see the great white sharks up close,
- you can stroll along sandy beaches,
- you can look for shells and sea anemones in rock pools,
- you can watch out for whales and dolphins playing in the surf,
- you can gallop on horseback across the beach,
- you can go paragliding and hanggliding from the tops of hills,
- you can fly a microlight across the lakes and lagoons, getting a bird’s eye view of the coast,
- you can go for a leisurely sunset cruise on a sailboat,
- you can bungee jump off the Gourits or Bloukrans River bridges,
- you can travel on the Outeniqua Choo-Choo steam train,
- you can go blackwater tubing down the Storms River gorge,
- you can eat oysters at any one of the many seafood restaurants on the Knysna lagoon, …
- or you can simply sit under a tree and gaze out at the scenery, with a refreshingly cold drink in your hand, and not do anything much at all.
There is literally something for everyone on the Garden Route.