Are you ready for your next adventure? We highly recommend you head out to the Garden Route, but take the time to explore those off the beaten track spots along the way. We recently had guests who wanted something out of the ordinary and they opted for this tour even though they had visited the Garden Route before and had enjoyed its breath-taking scenery, amazing attractions and some extreme adrenaline-pumping activities. This time, they wanted more. They wanted to experience more of the countryside and its people and do the things they didn’t previously have time for.
In order to accommodate their wishes, we decided to venture off the usual routes, which meant more travelling time, but also resulting in a soul-searching experience in a class of its own! Not only was this an amazing experience for our guests, but it was also an eye-opener for us. Garden Route tours are normally conducted along the N2 (National Road 2), with a return journey via Oudtshoorn, the capital of the Little Karoo, and Route 62, the longest wine route in the world. This time ‘round, it was the journey itself that proved to be enlightening. The memories would last a lifetime.
We collected our four guests (two couples) from their guest house in Newlands at the base of Table Mountain and as they made themselves comfortable, we started our adventure along the N2 towards Somerset West. We made our first stop at Morgenster Estate in Somerset West for an olive tasting to line the stomach for what was still to come: a wine tasting at one of the Winelands’ most spectacular wine estates, Vergelegen. Thereafter we made a turn at De Trafford Winery in Stellenbosch and everyone felt relaxed and not only enjoying the superb wines, but also the natural beauty of the area.
We then left De Trafford and Mont Fleur farm, and headed East, through the town of Stellenbosch and over the Helshoogte Pass towards Franschhoek. We simply had to stop at one of our most favourite lunch spots – Haute Cabriere – with the most extraordinary view of the Franschhoek valley. That was Day 1’s halfway mark. After a delicious lunch and lots of lively conversation, we continued inland across the scenic Franschhoek Pass and towards the largest water catchment area of the Western Cape, the Theewaterskloof Dam. Our tour was in early autumn and the apple orchards of Grabouw were not in bloom, but the countryside was still absolutely stunning. Within an hour we were back on the N2, travelling over the Houwhoek pass and descending into the rolling landscape of the Overberg district.
Our guests settled back in their seats for an after-lunch nap as we made our way to Swellendam for a late afternoon pit stop. As we turned off the N2 once again, dairy farms with thorny hedges lined the road, and the blue, green, and grey mountains engulfed us. Entering the little village of Suurbraak, we pulled over at a sign that read, Paradise Organic. The charming owners of the restaurant gave us the warmest of welcomes and made us feel right at home. Louis, one of the owners, pulled me aside and mentioned that they had been expecting us, as they’re often in contact with the owners of the guesthouse we would be staying at that evening. We all enjoyed a refreshing homemade ginger beer, after which we were informed that the owners of our guesthouse had called to hear if there had been any sign of us. We settled our bill and asked for directions. To our surprise, they laughed as they explained it to us and waved goodbye rather dramatically. We soon realised why: The Green Fig Guest House was less than 20 seconds away, on the same side of the road!
We were happy to unpack and refresh in our cosy home for the night. We later assembled in the lounge area and our host, Peter, and his wife, Evelyn, escorted us, on foot, back to Paradise Organic for a pre-arranged dinner. We were told that we could expect the most fascinating stories over dinner about anything from gods and chiefs to cow dung and apple pie. Excited about what the evening had in store, we settled in for an unforgettable dinner at Paradise Organic, in the small town of Suurbraak.
Watch this space for a part 2 of our Garden Route Tour experience.