Garden Route and Lesotho
Enjoy this thirteen day Overland Camping Tour travelling from Cape Town along the Garden Route, Eastern Cape, Lesotho and Natal to Durban. Travelling from Cape Town you will have the opportunity to sample some of the Cape's finest wines as you stop at one of the many farms in the region. You then depart east towards the small town of Swellendam, which is steeped in history, nature and outdoor activities. You then head towards Oudtshoorn where you will enjoy a tour of the Cango Caves and an Ostrich Farm. From here you travel to the seaside village of Knysna renowned for its beer and oysters. It is then a short drive to the Storms River and Bloukrans Bridge, where the Bungy jumping is the highest in the world.
The journey continues into the Eastern Cape where you enter the Addo Elephant National Park. You will be surrounded by these magnificent animals. From here you travel to Hogsback where you can enjoy hiking in the forests before setting off to Lesotho. Enjoy the experience of Pony Trekking through the remote hills of Lesotho. The tour then travels to the Royal Natal National Park where you can explore the magnificent mountain paths. The tour then terminates in Durban.
After a short briefing we leave Cape Town and travel a short distance to Stellenbosch. The heart of South Africa's wine industry, Stellenbosch is a place of great beauty and culture that's steeped in South African tradition. The Stellenbosch Wine Route is arguably the country's most famous. On the way we stop at a wine farm to sample some regional wine. We also visit the Cheetah Breeding project to admire these beautiful animals. We continue our journey to Swellendam where we overnight. Nestling at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains, Swellendam has much to offer visitors who have an interest in history, nature and outdoor activities. Situated on the N2, approximately 300km from Cape Town and George, Swellendam is the perfect choice for a halfway stopover or as a base from which to explore the area.
Kam'bati Camp, Swellendam
We drive inland to the Cango Caves where we take a guided tour. Many of the most significant discoveries in the Caves were made by its first full-time guide, Johnnie van Wassenaar. - who served for 43 years: from 1891 until his retirement in 1934. He opened many side chambers and introduced thousands of people to Cango 1, which remains the only part of the Caves which the public may visit. Importantly, though, it is clear that the Caves were known to man long before Europeans first landed at the Cape: recent finds - of some tools left behind in ancient hearths in the Cave mouth - prove that humans have lived and sheltered here for at least 80 000 years. While in the area we have the opportunity to visit an Ostrich farm for a quick tour. Oudtshoorn is known as the ostrich feather capital of the world. Ostrich feathers where obligatory items of high fashion just before world war one. The great feather boom began around 1870. At it's height there were more than 750 000 domesticated ostriches in the little Karoo area and feathers where being exported at the rate of about 450 000kg's a year. Then came world war one and then austerity became a way of supporting the war effort. Many farmers went bankrupt in this time. In later years the industry revived with the demand for ostrich leather, biltong, eggs and feathers. At present there are about 90 000 Ostriches in the Little Karoo.
Kleinplaas Holiday Resort Campsite
We return to the coast via some lovely country roads and camp near the picturesque seaside village of Knysna. One of the Garden Route's most popular places is the Knysna Lagoon, an excellent venue for water sports. The lagoon is guarded by two sandstone cliffs known as The Heads. There are spectacular views from the Eastern Head. The town is renowned for its beer and oysters. Visitors are welcome at Mitchell's Brewery, and you can sample oysters at the Knysna Oyster Company. Millwood House Museum covers the region's history. The Angling Museum is housed in the Old Gaol complex in Queen Street. Local craft centres and art galleries are well worth a visit. Noetzie, the Buffalo Valley Game Farm and the Featherbed Nature Reserve are additional attractions.
It is a short drive to the Storms River and Bloukrans Bridge. We will spend time exploring this coastal region and the Tsitsikamma National Park. The hiking here is some of the best in South Africa. Tsitsikamma National Park is the third most frequently visited out of the twenty national parks in South Africa. The Park conserves a considerable portion of the natural biota (all living organisms) of the Garden Route. The primary vegetation biomes consist of Mountain Fynbos, Coastal Fynbos, Afromontane Forest and the Marine herb land-, inter-tidal-, and sub-tidal zones. The mean annual rainfall is 1200 mm. Tsitsikamma National Park protects a wonderland of inter-tidal and marine life. This is one of the largest single unit 'no take' (including fishing) Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in the world, conserving 11 percent of South Africa's Temperate South Coast rocky shoreline and provides a 'laboratory' for fisheries baseline research on endangered linefish species. In 1964 when it was proclaimed, it became the first Marine National Park to be proclaimed in Africa. In the forest there are several massive trees, the tallest of these is 36 m, some are more than 1000 years old. The forest has more than 30 species of indigenous trees.
Tube'n Axe Campsite
The journey continues into the Eastern Cape where we enter the Addo Elephant National Park where we are surrounded by these magnificent creatures. Game driving in the National Park will allow us to take some wonderful photos.
Although the Addo Elephant belongs to the same species as the African Elephant, it is smaller, with more rounded ears and the females generally have no tusks. The park was named after the KhoiKhoi name Kadouw, which they gave to a forting place over the nearby Sundays River. The bush here is a combination of Acacia, Spekboom, Gwarrie and Boerboom. The English name for the Spekboom is "Elephants food".
In 1919 a Professional hunter, Major Jan Pretorius, was hired by the administration of the Cape Province to destroy the entire herd that inhabited the area at the time. It took him a year to kill 120, but he was then stopped due to a public outcry. Only sixteen Addo Elephants remained, but they were peppered with bullet holes, panic stricken, vengeful and cunning. And they declared war on man. In 1931 the area was proclaimed as a national park. The Elephants, however, were still on the war path, destroying crops and attacking anyone who came near.
Finally, in 1952, one of the beleaguered farmers of the area suggested that a fence made up of tram rails and lift cables be erected around the park. This finally kept the Elephants secure and out of the surrounding farming area. Black rhino was re-introduced in 1961- the first in the Cape for a hundred years.
Addo Elephant Park
After a final game drive in Addo we depart the National Park and drive, via Port Elizabeth, to Hogsback. The following day your guides will lead you on a relaxing hike in the surrounding forest. The town of Hogsback nestles on the slopes of the Amatola Mountains and is particularly renowned for its indigenous forests and its fairytale landscape. The Amatola Mountains rise from the dry grasslands and hot valleys, their green flanks an oasis of jewelled colours and coolness. Paths lead through the indigenous rainforest that crowds the slopes, to waterfalls sparkling down the cliffs. Misty rainbows lead to the pots of gold and fairy hideaways.
Away with the Fairies Campsite
Today we leave South Africa and enter Lesotho. The next day we get up early and those going on the Pony Trekking will ride into the remote hills of Lesotho accompanied by local guides. If you remain behind you can visit the local village or craft market. Landlocked in the centre of South Africa, Lesotho is one of the few countries in Africa with natural boundaries created by tribal demands rather than those imposed by colonial decree. There are few natural resources and population pressures have decreased the agricultural potential, but the country has an almost overwhelming natural beauty coupled with welcoming, generous people. Much of Lesotho is covered by the high Maluti Mountains, and indeed even the lowlands, where most of Lesotho's 1.5 million people live, only fall to 1,300 m above sea level - The Highest Lowest Point of any country in the world. The Maluti mountains are a rugged, wild range ideal for trekking. The visible history goes back at least 30,000 years, with cave paintings and other Bushman relics found in numerous scattered sites.
We return to South Africa where we drive to the Royal Natal National Park. We spend the next two days exploring mountain paths and enjoying the beauty of the Drakensberg. Royal Natal boasts some of the most splendid mountain scenery in Africa. The main feature is the world famous Amphitheatre, a rock wall approximately 5km in length, and 500m high. Above the amphitheatre is Mont-aux-Sources peak where, as its name implies, the Orange River starts its long journey to the Atlantic ocean. The most popular activity at Royal Natal is undoubtedly hiking. The Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa (or uKhahlamba -the Barrier of Spears) is a 200-kilometre-long mountainous world heritage site. The largest proportion of the South African component of this area falls in the kingdom of KwaZulu-Natal.
Our journey takes us through some amazing scenery on our way down to the KwaZulu Natal coast. In the late afternoon we enter Durban where your tour ends.