Adventure Seeking along the Garden Route

When I was first planning our trip, I knew South Africa was a country of adventure and in my research I came across a zip line tour in the mountains of Elgin.  Cape Canopy Tours happened to be on our drive to the Garden Route and it was also rated the #2 best attraction in the world by Lonely Planet so I felt pretty confident we would be safe AND have an amazing time.   And have an amazing time we did!   The zip lining was breath taking.  Not going to lie.. I almost had a panic attack before the first zip but then it got easier each time...by the 14th jump it was a breeze.  The trip up and down took about 4 hours and when we finished, they gave us a delicious South African lunch.  (I stuck with feta & spinach pie but Robby went rouge and got a springbok pie, which is equivalent to venison in the US.)  

If you saw my previous post, I talked about how wonderful our tour guide from Wine Escapes was.  So when we mentioned to him we had this zip line tour planned he told us about a vineyard near by, called Oak Valley, that we needed to visit and a really cool food market where we could grab lunch.  Oak Valley was an interesting experience because we happened upon a hoity-toity Mercedes Benz wine festival.  We definitely stuck out when we first walked up, but then we took off our sweaters, tied them around our necks and blended right in with all the Dutch wasps. :)  We only stayed for an hour due to the 5 hour drive ahead of us but I found my favorite Sauvignon Blanc from SA within that hour. 

We made a quick stop at this amazing outdoor food market called Peregrine Food Stalls.  There was a bakery, cafe & a food stall with artisanal cheeses, local wines & locally produced goods.   When we finally got on our way, we had a good 4.5 hours left to drive to Knysna.  

Our first night on the Garden Route, was in Knysna at the cutest little airBnB!! We didn't reach the loft until about 9 so we didn't get to explore the area but we found a decent place for dinner and called it a night.  We met a dear friend from high school for breakfast and enjoyed these views. 

The town is primarily built on the northern shore of a large warm-water estuary, known as the Knysna Lagoon, which is fed by the Knysna River. The estuary opens to the ocean after passing between two large headlands. These are popularly known as "The Heads", and have become infamous due to the loss of boats and fishermen passing through their treacherous and unpredictable waters.  

After our very early breakfast, we headed east to meet some sweet elephants over at the Elephant Sanctuary near Plattenberg Day.  This sanctuary is one of 3 across the provinces in Southern Africa.  These elephants have been domesticated through positive reinforcement animal management principles, and as a result, provide visitors a unique opportunity to interact with them.  We got to walk with them, hand in trunk and really love on them.   It was such an incredible experience and I would highly recommend this sanctuary over any other based on the way they treat the elephants with such care. 

From there, we headed further east along the Garden Route to Jefferys Bay which happens to be one of the five most famous surfing destinations in the world.  There was actually a great white shark attack here in 2015 during a major surf competition so we stayed clear of the water.  J-Bay itself was just a sleepy little beach town and the perfect lunch time stopping point on our cross country road trip.  The last hour of our road trip took us to Port Elizabeth where we spent the night before hoping on a plane to our safari. 

Alana Buffington