Mostly it’s not about the destination, but about the journey. Only South Africa finds it easy to kill two birds with one stone – the beauty of Eastern and Western Cape provinces and its roads are just stunning. In two weeks of a holiday we wanted to see as much as possible and chose two scenic routes to cross a few highlights of South Africa.
N2, better known as Garden route, and Route 62 are completely worth the driving of 2.000 kilometers. You will pass rough coastlines, with good chances to see whales, lonesome beaches, dense green forests, cute farming towns, high mountain passes, orange-colored semi-deserts and buzzing ostrich farms.
Cape Town – kilometer 15
When I think about Cape Town, I feel the urge of packing my suitcase immediately and boarding a plane. The city attracts me for many reasons: It’s easy to get a good deal for a flight to CPT, then you leave the plane and you won’t take a jet-lag with you (when you live in Europe). I will even consider a trip to Cape Town for an one-week holiday in the future, because the city has my three favorite things in one place: mountains, a beautiful ocean and fancy restaurants. Luckily Cape Town was on our route twice so we could explore the beaches on our first stop and come back to climb the city’s mountains.
Where to sit on the beach: Nordhoek Beach, Bloubergstrand, Llandudno
Where to have coffee or dinner: The Test Kitchen (make a reservation 2 month before), Burger & Lobster, The Old Biscuit Mill, Rosetta Roastery, Truth Coffee Roasting
Where to rest: AirBnb in Woodstock
Muizenberg – kilometer 91
For the weekend we followed Capetonian surfers to Muizenberg. The small town is considered to be the birthplace of surfing in South Africa and is located in the South Peninsula. At „Surfer’s Corner“ you will understand why it is one of the most popular seaside suburbs. The wave at Muizenberg beach is not the most powerful one, but perfect for beginners. It is the longest break in the Cape Peninsula and rideable for approximately 1,5 km. You can change your cloths in on of the brightly colourful Victorian beach huts – they are so photogenic! Don’t forget to check your app „Sharkspotter“ before jumping into the waves as the marine ecosystem is quite alive.
The town of Muizenberg itself has a shabby chic atmosphere and was an exclusive seaside resort for the rich and famous back in the days. You will still find many corners with buildings in art deco style, where the spirit of „old Muizenberg“ is still alive.
Where to go:
St. James Walk (scenic coastal walk)
Tiger’s Milk (meet the surfers for dinner and drinks in a stylish atmosphere)
Betty’s Bay (skip crowded Simon’s Town and see penguins on your way to Hermanus)
Hermanus – kilometer 224
Hermanus is the whale capital in South Africa, it has been recognized by the WWF as one of the 12 best whale watching destinations in the world. I never get tired of complaining, that during our travels to a few whale watching spots worldwide we never saw more than a glimpse of a whale. But if you come to Hermanus between July and November, you won’t be disappointed and can see these beautiful mammals either from land or by boat. Follow the Whalecrier on Twitter and you will be on the safe side. When you just don’t have „whale-luck“, slowly I’m accepting this fact, than try to come in March as we did. It’s not crowded and you will be amazed by the rough coastline, which is more than beautiful.
Cape Agulhas – kilometer 351
We chose the rocky landscapes of Cape Agulhas to be our next stop, cause it’s a very special place on earth. Here is the spot where two great oceans – the Indian and Atlantic – meet. Some tourists suppose the Cape of Good Hope is the southernmost tip of Africa – sorry it isn’t. In Agulhas you can find the small monument marking this geographical highlight. Look towards the ocean, and you realize you’re gazing upon two great oceans while the whole entire African continent stretches behind your back. The wooden boardwalk meander through Agulhas National Park and offers incredible views over the crashing seas. Historically, the cape has been known as particularly hazardous to sailors as huge waves can reach a spectacular height of 30 meters. On your way out, consider a stop at the Struisbaai harbor and look for Parrie – a quite unusual attraction. Parrie actually is a resident stingray loved and fed by locals.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner for fish lovers: Cape Agulhas Seafoods
De Hoop Nature Reserve – kilometer 498
Completely underrated and one of my nature highlights in the Cape region: De Hoop Nature Reserve. Either for ocean, animal, desert or food lovers it has a lot to offer. You will just need to take the hassle of a detour on gravel roads – but it’s completely worth the kilometers. If you have some money left, check in at De Hoop Collection or if you want to dive into some aristocratical atmosphere than choose Potteberg Guestfarm. Take your time to explore the hiking trails of De Hoop – it’s a crazy mixture of beautiful landscapes coming together in one place. You will drive by some wildlife laying in the grass, after a few turns you’ll arrive at the turquoise ocean with its sandy trails and on the other side of the beach there are dunes waiting for you to climbing them.
Wilderness – kilometer 772
Wilderness – a name that creates many daydreams. The town is a honeymoon location for many South Africans and undoubtedly a romantic place to have a stroll along the wide beach. We only had one night at this spot as it started to rain and we followed the sun and headed on further east on N2. But I will go back and if the only reason is to have dinner at Zucchini, a place that a friend insistently recommended.
Plettenberg Bay – kilometer 862
We couldn’t escape the rain even in Plettenberg and that’s why we escaped the present and travelled to the past by checking in at The Grand Cafe and Rooms in Plett. I loved this place so much. A sense of elegance and cosmopolitan charm reflects upon its setting over one of Africa’s most beautiful bays. We enjoyed one of the 7 uniquely styled rooms and had the luxury of taking a bath after the 60 second showers we got used to in Cape Town. At night we had the best dinner at a cosy spot called The Golden Palm. The tiny menu rocks and contains the best of the best: Dim Sum, Poké Bowls and Spare Ribs. The food is delicious and the interior design left me speechless. Now we had energy to start the 11 kilometer long „Robberg trail„. This adventure is probably one of my top-3 hiking experiences. From our trekking path we saw a shark waiting for a seal to dip into the ocean, we climbed huge rocks to get pack on the track and discovered beautiful unreal looking flowers.
Jefferys Bay and Route 62 – kilometer 1392
We drove a few hundred kilometers on the clock of our car and passed diverse spots like Tsitsikamma Nationalpark, tucked between the mountains and the sea. The place offers beautiful forests, reminding us of Canada. Moving on to Jefferys Bay the bad weather caught us again and we hadn’t had the best start with the city that we imagined to be a surfers mecca. Unfortunately the waves were flat and beside that the city had a sewage problem – so we left as fast as possible heading towards Outshoorn on route 62. The scenic road is also called „little sister of the Garden route“. I’m sure they don’t have the same father as they are so different. You will cross mountain passes and many farms, which were just in the middle of fruit harvesting season and selling their sun-ripened peaches, apricots, plums and apples.
Franschhoek – kilometer: 1798
The rewarding end of route 62 is the Winelands. When we arrived in Franschhoek, we didn’t want to drive by ourselves anymore and hopped on the Wine Tram (Blue Line) At the beginning it looked like a tourist trap, but in the end it brought us the funniest day in South Africa. I only say: day-drinking at its best. This stop was all about fine dining (Reuben’s Restaurant & Bar) and superb wines (Le Lude). I couldn’t afford a night at Babylonstoren, but I can afford a day. This place is my hottest recommendation for wine tasting, lunch, day-spa, an art walk through their gardens and souvenir shopping. It’s the oldest Cape Dutch farm, an architectural miracle and a huge marketing machinery. And yes, it worked with me!
Cape Town – kilometer: 1847
Welcome back to Cape Town – somehow I was happy and sad at the same time. The end of our trip came closer, but we still had some adventures ahead us. We had sinned a lot the last days in the Winelands, so we moved our bodies and climbed the landmark of Cape Town: Table Mountain. We chose the steep and shorter route through Platteklip Gorge and enjoyed a beautiful as well as demanding hike. The next day we explored the Cape of Good Hope and took a hike to Diaz beach and relaxed afterward in one of the numerous tidal pools. The city of Cape Town offers amazing views and we looked at it from all possible angles: from Lions Head and even from a helicopter. I always had the dream to board a heli and Cape Town fulfilled it with its convincing price performance ratio. A perfect end to a perfect trip.
© Michaela Blum