Every year, thousands of Joburgers head to the Cape over the Summer break. Whilst I understand the urgency to get to your destination, especially a coastal one (believe me I do – Durban is home), stopping along the route on your roadtrip can be so informative and often loads of fun. Who knows what you could be missing along the way?! 🙂
Over the Easter break we planned a trip to the Garden Route from Johannesburg. It was our first time, and we were absolutely thrilled. I mean, have you ever heard anyone say what a miserable vacation they had along the Garden Route? Never. Now the info I am about to share is a combination of my own research and advice only fellow travellers will give you.
Here’s what you can look forward to along the way:
You will quickly recognise once you have left Johannesburg. Clear skies, farmland, sunflowers, cattle, dams, and just beautiful scenery awaits. It is so refreshing. You come to realise how much you miss when you travel by plane.
Anglo Boer War Museum
You can find the Anglo Boer War Museum in Bloemfontein. It is only a few kilometres off the main highway so no need to worry about deviating off your route for too long.
Unfortunately we visited the museum a day before the Easter weekend began and it was closed. There are remnants of the Anglo Boer War and this era outside the indoor museum. I must admit that i did find it quite bizarre that a museum would close before Easter weekend?! 🙂
Kuilsfontein Farm Stall
An ex-colleague (thank you David HJ!) told me about the Kuilsfontein Farm Stall, and their infamous lamb pies. There are padstals (farm stalls) all over South Africa, but this one was particularly cute. They sell beautiful handmade toys, preserves and fresh food.
The Gariep Dam is the largest storage reservoir in South Africa. In the age of the internet, you will be surprised how much you can learn from fellow travellers and South Africans. It is a fantastic spot to relax and picnic, take a stroll, and stargaze at night. A great halfway stop, being six hours from Johannesburg. If you decide to stay over, have a sundowner or two at the De Stijl Hotel.
I didn’t realise that the Three Sisters land formation also made for the name of the town. There’s loads of mountains in the area and whilst we knew what it looked like, we just couldn’t see it. 🙁
Travalia Farm Stall
Stop at the Travalia Farm Stall at Three Sisters in Beaufort West for a hearty breakfast, and refreshments. It was our first taste of the infamous Karoo lamb chops.
Beaufort West is a popular halfway stop for travellers headed for the Cape, or like us the Garden Route.
There are a number of routes that lead to the Garden Route but we were advised by fellow travellers to drive through the majestic Swartberg Mountains. Look out for the tourist office and be ready to take a small walk up to the waterfall, where you can take pictures or even have a swim.
Graaf Reinet and the Drostdy Hotel
On the way back to Johannesburg, we decided to take a different route and drove via Willowmore to the Drostdy Hotel, where we stayed over in Graaf Reinet. Small towns are so interesting and more often than not, they have hidden gems. This hotel was built in the 1800’s and they have retained the Cape Dutch and Victorian look and feel.
The Valley of Desolation and the Camdeboo National Park
The Valley of Desolation is situated in the Camdeboo National Park. It is a few kilometres from the town of Graaf Reinet. It is a must-see, and very popular for sunset. Just look at this pic!
Last but not least – it is an amazing feeling to travel through so many provinces on route – Gauteng, Free State, Northern Cape, Western Cape and Eastern Cape.
Now this is not meant to be a comprehensive list as there are so many different routes that one could take in and out of the Garden Route, but it’s what we experienced and able to share with you. Happy roadtripping!