After a year filled with challenges, hardships and fears, most people are keen for a holiday that offers a complete break from the stress and uncertainty of everyday life. Travellers looking to ‘escape’ over the festive season can’t go wrong with a trip up the Garden Route – it’s brimming with secluded beaches, wonderful hikes and relaxing hideaways. Here is a quick round-up of some of this famed route’s most worthwhile escapes:
The act of fishing requires one to venture outdoors, get some fresh air, and focus on the task at hand. Numerous studies have proven how fishing actually reduces the amount of cortisol (known as the ‘stress’ hormone) in a person’s bloodstream.
The great news is that fishing is a popular pastime along the Garden Route. Visitors to Botlierskop Game Reserve, midway between Mossel Bay and George, can try their hand at fishing with an experienced guide or can take off for some time on their own, fishing rod and tackle in hand! The rivers are full of largemouth bass, freshwater eels, carp, and Blue Kurper, to name a few.
The Fancourt Estate in George also has a number of fishing dams, and guests can spend a day in restful contemplation, savouring the peace and quiet, as they attempt to catch ‘the big one’. The Leisure Centre has complimentary fishing rods and tackle for your use and novice and experienced anglers alike will delight in a day of fishing for big-mouth black bass – on a catch-and-release basis.
Of course, there are a number of fishing charter and tour companies up and done the Garden Route (including Garden Route Fishing Adventures, Enrico’s Fishing Safaris and Knysna Deep Sea Fishing Charters), meaning those looking to inject some adventure into their fishing exploits can also consider deep-sea fishing on the rough ocean swells aboard a catamaran!
Awash with an abundance of natural beauty, it is not surprising to discover that hiking is one of the reasons why so many tourists head over to this side of the world. Hiking along the Garden Route allows for a more personal encounter with Mother Nature’s masterpieces, and there are plenty of scenic hiking trails to choose from.
For example, the Pass-to-Pass hiking trail near George promises pristine views of the towering Outeniqua mountains, while the Pied Kingfisher, Half Collared Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, Brown Hooded Kingfisher and Cape Dune Molerat trails near Wilderness are a wonderful way to explore the Garden Route National Park. The Harkerville Forest Flora trail in Knysna is another must for anyone interested in exploring the route’s famous wildflowers that bloom in the spring and summer months.
Travellers can escape the crowds and noise (and responsibilities back home) by booking a boat trip out on the Indian Ocean. Most Garden Route boat trips combine the peaceful lull of the waves along with a good dose of salty sea spray, breath-taking views and gourmet nibbles accompanied by a generous glass of bubbly!
Book lovers in search of a tranquil and luxurious hideaway should book a stay at The Manor House at Fancourt. Recently named as South Africa’s Leading Country House Hotel in the 2020 World Travel Awards, the 5-star, 18-suite boutique hotel delivers the quiet sophistication and romance of an exclusive country retreat – with warm and generous hospitality.
“The Manor House is a true haven tucked well away from the stressors of daily life. It boasts a private library where guests can curl up and delve into a pile of page-turners for hours on end,” says Peter Dros, Sales & Marketing Director of Fancourt.
“Add to that, high tea beneath the shady garden gazebo, moonlit dinners on a private deck, relaxing spa treatments in the comfort of your room and you have yourself a Garden Route hideaway unlike any other,” he continues.
An alternative option for book lovers to consider when travelling along the Garden Route is to find a laid-back picnic spot where they can lay out a blanket, savour the silence, and read to their heart’s content. There isn’t any need to make up your own picnic basket either. Many of the Garden Route’s best-loved picnic spots and wine farms offer pre-packed picnic lunches for visitors to tuck into with glee!
There is something about watching our feathered friends go about their business that brings about plenty of stress relief. Luckily, there are countless opportunities to enjoy some birdwatching on the Garden Route. Whether tourists are visiting the Garden Route National Park, the Robberg Nature Reserve, or the Birds of Eden free flight bird sanctuary, they are in for a real treat. All visitors are encouraged to keep their eyes peeled for glimpses of birdlife, from Kingfishers and cuckoos to storks to swifts, wherever they go. There is no denying that the Western Cape as a whole is an absolute must for keen ‘twitchers’ looking to get away (and hide away) this festive season.
When people need a few days to escape from their worries, there truly isn’t a better solution than a leisurely trip along the Garden Route. Sailing, picnics, hiking, fishing, birding, and more – a treasure trove of restful hideaways awaits!