Our Garden Route Vacation

With the midyear almost apon us, we decided to make the most of the many public holidays in April, string them together and get out into nature.

The destination was the beautiful Garden Route. It is found between the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma mountian ranges. The Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma indigenous forests are a unique mixture of Cape Fynbos and Temperate Forest and offers the true thrill seeker many options to get the adreniline flowing.

We decided to hit the road early and the 5am start was crisp to say the least. As the sun rose, we were graced with stunning autumn views of the vineyards in the Elgin Valley as we passed through one of our favourite parts of the country.

As always, our first planned stop for breakfast was Ou Muel in Riviersonderend, known for their delicious pies and coffee. Fueled and ready, we continued on to Sedgefield.

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Our destination for the first 2 nights was Sedgefield. It’s a lovely seaside village that is entirely surrounded by lakes and fynbos covered dunes, situated snugly between Wilderness and Knysna.

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The campsite we would call home was Lake Pleasant www.lakepleasantresort.co.za, a stunning camp site on the shore of the freshwater lake Groenvlei. All campsites are well shaded with stunning green grass and have power points. Please note however, you would need to take along your caravan adaptor (You can also rent at reception if you forget). Sites are not entirely demarcated, but they are spacious, green and a mobile braai stand is also provided.

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This was an “essentials only” camp as we used cars with no trailer, so no time for the bells and whistles. This ensured a quick set-up and we were ready to explore the town of Sedgefield.

For lunch we headed to Pili Pili bar on Myoli Beach. This bar forms part of a backpacker’s lodge with an in-house adventure centre, where you can book all your outdoor activities ranging from horse-riding and mountain biking to paragliding. The setting provides for an awesome afternoon chilling in the sun with your feet in the sand and enjoying their delicious food and drinks.

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Sedgefield is beautiful. One would normally pass through the town, but on your next trip don’t only look out for the speed cameras, plan to explore the town, its got loads to offer.

After a chilled afternoon in the sun enjoying the local craft beer, we hit the shops arriving back at camp to braai and prepared the campsite for someexpected early morning rain.

We awoke to the sound of much needed rain drops on our tents. Our Tentco tents stood up against the rain keeping us dry and warm inside.

Our Saturday morning was fresh and wet. Time for that hot 2-minute shower. The ablution facilities at Lake Pleasant need special mention, they are nothing short of amazing. They are clean and neat with plenty of hot water provided (And loo paper too ;). We were even more impressed by the constant cleaning from the friendly staff despite the weather conditions. The girls were happy campers!

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Warmly dressed and ready to explore, we headed to the markets – Wild Oats Community Farmers Market, Scarab Arts & Craft Village and the Mosaic Market located on the edge of town all within walking distance from each other and each provided something unique. They are all worth a visit and we guarantee that you will find something you like.

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Deciding what to have for breakfast was a bit tricky as there were many delicious options. The markets were abuzz with live music and people milling about enjoying what’s on offer. It’s important to take cash, as Snap Scan or Zapper have not been introduced yet. There is an Absa and Standard Bank ATM at the garage, but their queues are long and not being prepared takes away from the experience.

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We headed to the Cloud 9 lookout which turned out to be paragliding launch site. The view was spectacular, overlooking the town surrounded by the lakes. Its definitely worth a visit. We couldnt find it when we looked so this is how to get there…

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Take a left off the N2 (Heading to Knysna) into Berghaan street. Its the road to the left just as the N2 becomes a single road. You will cross a railway line and onto a fairly decent gravel road. Follow this up to the lookout point. There are signs along the way.

After all that fresh air we decided to explore some of the local pubs namely, The Sedgefield Arms, Tiffany’s and Filos. Each has something unique to offer and all are worth a visit. After a good day out, we headed to camp to start the fire and relax.

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Lake Pleasant has a variety of accommodation options. There are garden lodges, timber cabins and caravan plots & campsites. An onsite restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and supper, as well as a shop which stocks the basics. Kids will also be entertained by jungle gyms, pools, tennis courts and mountain bikes & kayaks for hire. We highly recommend it and will definitely be visiting again!

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Sunday morning the boys headed to the Garden Route Trail Park www.gardenroutetrailpark.com. The trail park is on another level with km’s of single track. It’s a mountain biker and trail runner’s dream.

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While the boys were away the girls started packing up camp as we prepared to head to our next destination, the Tsitsikamma National Park. We stopped for lunch in Knysna at Tapas & Oysters on Thesen Island. Driving through Knysna, one can still witness the devastating effects of the fire, but the rehibilitation is coming on nicely.

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On route to Tsitsikamma we stopped at the Bloukrans Bridge, the home of the highest bungee jump in the world. The free fall is a whopping 216m. We preferred the tranquil views instead of the bungee. You can find them here -> www.faceadrenalin.com.

The moment you enter the gates at Tsitsikamma National Park into the Storms River Mouth rest camp you realise just how beautiful the area is. All camp sites are located along the rugged shoreline. Caravans and tent camping are separated on opposite sides of the rest camp. We set-up camp on site 112, which we we highly recommend as its close to the shops and ablution facilities. Because sites are a bit cramped, but site 112 was perfect as it only has neighbours on one side and uninterrupted ocean views. Sites are allocated on a first come first serve basis, so get there early to avoid disappointment.

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We settled in and got the fire going just before sun set, enjoying the sounds of the crashing waves. The park also offers forest huts and cabins all overlooking the ocean. The camp site has all you need to have a comfortable stay, a basic equipped kitchen provides you with Fridge/Freezer, Stove where you can cook meals if you tired of your braai. Also, it has a laundry, scullery and even a car wash which is not being used anymore due to the water crisis.

Falling asleep and waking up to the sound of the waves is rather therapeutic, we loved it. Monday morning breakfast was served early so that we could spent the day exploring the park. The park has 4 short nature trails ranging from 1 hour to 3 hours allowing the nature lover time to absorb and appreciate the beauty.  This is also the starting point of the famous Otter trail which is a 42km hike consisting of 4 nights and 5 days, definitely one for the bucket list. Other activities in the Park are the Lilo and kayaking up into the river mouth where you can explore various caves.

We did the walk to the suspended bridge and lookout points. The bridge was built in 1969 and rebuilt in 2006, it has a length of 77m and height of 7m and is definitely worth a visit.

What however started as a walk across the bridge, ended up in a 2 and a half hour walk up to the lookout point which to be honest, no photo can do justice. It’s a good idea to take some water with you as its quite a steep walk. Walking back, we relaxed at a stunning little beach, pity it wasn’t that hot for us to take a swim but the kids were taking advantage none the less.

On our way back, we popped in at the shop on site. It stocks all the basics you would need, ranging from wood to food, just in case you forgot to bring something along. For the rest of the afternoon, we put our feet up, relaxed and took in what nature had to offer, after all, camp life is all about relaxing.

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Waking up to another perfect morning, the boys headed out for the ride taking them through forest and mountain fynbos. Suitable for families, the undemanding trail mostly follows comfortable contours in the plantation and indigenous forest.

By the time the boys got back to camp the ladies has already started packing up, and just needed to pack the cars and homeward bound it was.

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That capped off an awesome few days along the Garden Route. This was our last camp as winter approaches, so from next month we are back to exploring solid structures.

Next is Darling on the West coast. See you there!

For more amazing pics, check out our Facebook Page: Weekend Madness Travels SA

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