What to see on the Garden Route

What to see on the Garden Route

Day 7: What to see on the Garden Route: Cape Agulhas, De Hoop Nature Reserve

Today we start the route through the places to see on the Garden Route , one of the most famous routes in the country that we will do on this trip to South Africa in 25 daysand that begins in the Mossel Bay area and ends in the Tsitsikamma National Park, which We will visit in a couple of days, but before , as we told you yesterday, after the whale watching in Hermanus , we are going to do a tour at 6:30 in the morning to see whales much closer than we saw them yesterday and which has turned out to be a unique and inexplicable experience.
After two and a half hours of a pure spectacle of nature, in which we once again see how small we are and the urgent need we have to respect the environment that surrounds us, we return to the port, where we pick up the rental car in South Africa and let’s go back to Hermanus Backpackers & Budget Accommodation , our accommodation in Hermanus tonight, where we pick up our luggage, have a quick breakfast and from where we start today’s route through the places to see on the Garden Route in South Africa, which will take us to Cape Agujas. or Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point in Africa.

What to see on the Garden Route in South Africa

Known as one of the most beautiful routes in the country, the Garden Route or Garden Route is a road, in this case the N2, as it passes through the coastal area between Mossel Bay and the Tistsikamma National Park, where in addition to the bays , the incredible white sand dunes and pristine beaches, highlight the forests of impressive trees that remain from the primary forest that formerly existed between the Knysna and Wilderness areas.
Although technically as we mentioned before, the Garden Route begins in Mossel Bay, many travelers extend the route to Hermanus, thus making a route through many more interesting points and places to see on the Garden Route. Although there are many more, we recommend the following, which are the ones that we will visit during the next three days that we will be in this part of the country before finishing the first stage of South Africa on our own .
  • Cape Agulhas: Considered the southernmost point in Africa, this place is not exactly on the Garden Route, although it is an essential part of a tour of the country, where you can also see the place where the warm current of Agulhas and the cold of Benguela.
  • De Hoop: This impressive and iconic reserve is home to some of the most impressive landscapes we have seen in South Africa. Little known, we recommend you stop at least one morning or one afternoon to do one of its trails and if you are lucky, continue watching whales on the coast.Mossel Bay: In the western part of a wide bay is Mossel Bay, a summer resort, which we have to confess, we do not find much charm, but it is a perfect stop to stretch your legs and have a drink in front of the sea.
  • Wilderness: Known for its famous 18-kilometer-long beach, this town without much interest, is another of the perfect places to stop for lunch and, yes, enjoy the incredible views of the landscapes that surround it.
  • Knysna – The Heads: Knysna is undoubtedly the most famous town to see on the Garden Route, although to us like the previous ones, we have to say they do not seem essential. That said, we do have to say that the landscapes that surround them are incredible and that the natural parks that we have not had the luck to visit and dot the area, we have read, are impressive.
  • Plettenberg Bay: Much appreciated and frequented by locals, Pletterberg Bay is a small town where Lookout Beach stands out, more than 10 kilometers long, and Keurbooms Beach, a virgin beach.
  • Tsitsikamma: One of the most impressive nature reserves in South Africa, especially its famous suspension bridge trail.
What to see on the Garden Route in South Africa
Taking into account our experience doing this route, from Hermanus to Tsitsikamma we would dedicate 4 full days, divided as follows:
  • Hermanus (1 day)
  • Cabo Agujas – De Hoop (1 day)
  • Mossel Bay, Wilderness, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay (1 day)
  • Tsitsikamma (1 day)
Cape Needles
As a summary, we want to highlight the places to see on the Garden Route , we are without a doubt all those that involve the natural environment, since these we believe are essential. In contrast, the towns that are highlighted on the route, at least for us, have not had special interest, although they are always a good stop to take a walk through the most central area and thus also learn a little more about the culture.

Map of the places to see on the Garden Route

We leave you a map with the places to see on the Garden Route that we talked about earlier so that you can get an idea of the location.
After the first part of the day enjoying the whales again, it is time to start the route of the places to see on the Garden Route , going from Hermanus to Cape Agulhas. The recommended route follows the N2, a much more direct road, but from what we have read, you can make a small detour, going along the road that takes you to Gaansbay and does not add more than 40 minutes to the journey and takes you through some of the most spectacular landscapes in South Africa.
After doing it we have to say that despite the fact that the first part, about 5-10 kilometers, they are beautiful since they pass along the coast, the rest of the road is not too impressive, so if you do not have to come to Gaansbay, we believe that it is not necessary to make this modification to the route.

Gaansbay, the place to swim with the great white shark in South Africa

You’ve probably heard of Gaansbay. Or the South African white shark. Or both. There are not a few travelers who come here to swim with white sharks, as it is one of the few places in the world where it can be done.
In our case, we value doing it for a long time until we start reading about the companies that do it. Once we had the information, we decided that this tour was not responsible at any time, since all companies feed the sharks so that they approach the cages, causing behavioral changes in them.
Given this, we decided that it was best not to swim with the white shark since logically we were not going to feel comfortable knowing that we were contributing in a very direct way to an irresponsible activity with nature.
Although we understand that this is something very personal, we want to record here what our reasons have been for rejecting swimming with sharks in South Africa and if you want to do it, all we ask is that you try to read a little about this topic and then decide if you want to do it or not, but always having the necessary information.
After this detour through Gaansbay we arrive at Cape Agulhas at 11 in the morning going directly to the lighthouse, where we are approximately 15 minutes and from where we follow the path until we reach the famous Cabo Agujas cartel, where you can take your photo at the southernmost point of the continent.
Cape Agujas, the southernmost point in Africa
Cabo Agulhas Cartel
From the lighthouse there is a path that runs parallel to the coast, a little over a kilometer long, in which you can see a ship stranded on the rocks and that we, because of the wind and forgetfulness , let pass as we make this journey by car, to go directly to the cartel.
In this area there is also a sculpture of the relief of Africa where the union of the Atlantic and Indian oceans is marked and, as we mentioned, the place where the famous cartel is located, through which most of the tourists come. And, although the landscape is really beautiful, it has nothing to do with the Cape of Good Hope, where we were the day we made the route through the places to see in the Cape Peninsula , which is much more spectacular.
Cape Needles
Touching the sea in Cabo Agujas
We are here for almost an hour, enjoying this symbolic place, since we take it in a very relaxed way, for when there are a few minutes to 11:30 we make our way to the last stop today for the places to see on the Garden Route , which is none other than the Hoop Reserve, more or less 80 kilometers from Cabo Agulhas, where we arrive at 1:00 p.m.
At this moment we have to confess that we have not read much about this place and we have not seen many photos either, so before making the visit we did not know exactly what we were going to find or whether or not it would be worth spending an afternoon like we were going to do. After the experience, we have to say that it is one of the most essential places to see on the Garden Route and one of the most brutal landscapes we have ever seen, so we advise you not to miss it and it is more, whenever you can, dedicate a full day and stay inside, in the area of the trail through the dunes. We assure you that you will not regret it.

De Hoop Nature Reserve

Incredible natural space of the Western Cape Province, De Hoop is one of the eight areas of this province that are included in the list of World Heritage Sites of UNESCO.
The marine protected area extends 5 kilometers out of the sea and as we will comment on several occasions, among the many animal species that can be found, the mountain zebras stand out, smaller than those we can see in the Kruger and the southern right whales, which they can be seen on these coasts between June and November.
De Hoop

What to do in De Hoop Nature Reserve

Within De Hoop you can do countless activities, including mountain bike rides, game drives, keep in mind that there are many animals, and trails from one day to several days, among which the famous Whale Trail stands out. than a 5-day route along the coast and the mountains, with spectacular views and many opportunities to watch whales and for which it is necessary to reserve because it has a limited number of people admitted.
The trails that we are going to highlight are those that can be done in a few hours, understanding that these are one of the activities to do on the Garden Route , as it has been for us, only a few hours.
De Hoop Nature Reserve
-De Hoop Coastal Trail (5 kilometers): 
This linear trail begins at Koppie Alleen, one of De Hoop’s best spots for whale watching. From here you can walk directly along the beach or take a walk along the rocky coast, through some walkways that have been prepared so that the vegetation of the routes that run along the beach is not stepped on. 
This trail is best done at low tide, since it is much easier to walk on the sand of the beach. You can see the state of the tides in the information office. If you do not have time or do not want to do it completely, you have the possibility of going around the same way, since this is linear.
Coastal Path at De Hoop
Keep in mind that before accessing these walkways and this coastal path, turning right from the parking lot, an incredible world of giant white sand dunes is waiting for you. Many people come to this path only to go along the coast but we advise you to do this part of the Coastal Trail, in which impressive sand dunes, from which you can see the whales on the coast, are one of the most incredible landscapes of South Africa.
De Hoop
  • De Hoop Klipspringer Trail (6 kilometers)
    This trail is circular and passes through the Potberg Mountains, in the northeast area of the reserve. The hike begins at the Potberg Environmental Education Center from where the views of the Breede River Valley are truly breathtaking.
    In our experience, if you can only do one of them, the Coastal Path or Koppie Allen is much more recommended and above all, spectacular.

Whales in De Hoop

As in Hermanus, in the Hoop Nature Reserve it is possible to see southern right whales, between June and November from the same coast of the reserve, something that has done it, together with the previous one, in one of the best areas of whale watching in land of the world.
A World Heritage Site, during the winter months, from June to November, its coasts receive hundreds of whales that come to mate, feed and give birth to their young, this being a perfect showcase for travelers who can see them from the dunes without disturbing them.
Whale in De Hoop Nature Reserve

Tips for visiting De Hoop

  • Admission to De Hoop is R50 per person, but is included in the Wild Card.
  • The reservation hours are from 7am to 6pm.
  • Something important is to check the directions to get to De Hoop since neither on its website nor on the GPS is it very clear. From Cape Town you should take the N2 towards Somerset West continuing towards Caledon. There you must turn right towards Bredasdorp and continue towards De Hoop Nature Reserve. When you reach the sign, you must turn right towards Buchu Buschcamp which is the path that leads directly to the entrance of the nature reserve.
  • At the box office, after paying or showing the Wild Card, they will give you a map with which we advise you to familiarize yourself before doing any trail.
  • Something important to keep in mind is that there are accommodations within the reserve, including one just off the coast that is really wonderful being next to the dunes. In our case, if we were to come again, we would undoubtedly opt for this option.
Accommodation in De Hoop
  • Please note that there is only one restaurant in De Hoop on the reservation, where there is also accommodation. We eat here, at the Fig Tree restaurant just 3 kilometers from the entrance where we order a couple of sandwiches plus beer, water and two espressos for R370, before doing the trails and the truth is that it is a highly recommended option.
  • In addition to this restaurant, on the coastal path, which is the one we recommend you do, halfway there is a small stand where they sell drinks.
  • Although the trail is not demanding, it is worth coming with comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat, especially on hot days.
  • Although, as we have mentioned, there is a drinks stand in the middle of the coastal path, try to bring enough food and water if you think you are going to do the full path.
  • If you come in winter, bring warm clothes.
  • Respect nature. Always.
De Hoop
It is 1:30 in the afternoon, when after paying the entrance fee and checking the map with the possible trails, we decided that the best thing is to go to the Fig Tree restaurant just 3 kilometers from the entrance of the reserve where we eat a couple of sandwiches more beer, water and two espressos for R370 that in addition to helping us recharge, allow us to review the map again and decide that of the three trails we had in mind, in the end we are going to decide on Koppie Allen, or coastal path, of 5 kilometers that runs through the dunes, with some truly spectacular landscapes, from where, if you are lucky, you can even see whales on the coast.
We started the trail at 2:30 in the afternoon, starting in the dunes area and we can only say that after 3 hours enjoying this place, De Hoop has become one of the most incredible places we have ever seen. That is why without a doubt, if you have a morning or an afternoon, we can only recommend that you make this stop on the Garden Route, since we are sure that you will not regret it.
And if in addition to these incredible landscapes you add the possibility of seeing whales, we see more than 20 on the coast, many of them very close, De Hoop’s summary is simply BRUTAL.
De Hoop Landscapes
After enjoying one of the most incredible places in the world, when it is 5:30 in the afternoon, we return to the car park to pick up the rental car and head to Malgas, where we arrive 40 minutes later and where we stay at the Malagas Hotel , our accommodation in Malgas tonight, which passes without pain or glory, in which we also have breakfast and dinner included, which like accommodation, leave a lot to be desired, but which have helped us to catch up a bit With work, download the hundreds of photos that we have today and rest for tomorrow, continue with the beautiful Garden Route of South Africa.
Route map of the places to see on the Garden Route
We leave you a map with the stops of today’s route for the places to see on the Garden Route that include Cape Agulhas and De Hoop Nature Reserve.

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