The Garden Route with its string of scenic bays, beaches, cliffs, lagoons, lakes, pounding surf, rocky capes and beautiful wild flowers is the most popular and scenic stretch of the southern coast of South Africa.
Mountain ranges crowd close to the shoreline and the high rainfall brings a plentiful water supply to the narrow coastal terrace where every square meter of soil seems to nourish some sort of plant growth or other. The terrace is covered in so dense a jumble of trees and flowering plants that it would make a cultivated garden pale into insignificance in comparison. The coastal waters teem with game fish for the fisherman and scuba divers can explore a magic world of brilliantly coloured sea plants, molluscs and vast shoals of little fish.
Nature has made an enchanted abode of this beautiful place
From time immemorial this coastal terrace has delighted visitors and the French explorer, Francois Le Vaillant who passed this way in the 1780’s, described it as follows : “The land bears the name Outeniqua which in the Hottentot tongue means 'a man laden with honey'. The flowers grow there in millions, the mixture of pleasant scents which arises from them, their colour, their variety, the pure and fresh air which one breathes there, all make one stop and think nature has made an enchanted abode of this beautiful place”.
The rocky shoreline in places will suddenly give way to secluded, sandy beaches, one of which, Victoria Bay, is renowned for being one of the world's best surfing beaches. The rivers, deeply stained with the amber colour of the soil, often have lovely long stretches that are navigable by small boats. The chain of lakes and in particular the great lagoon at Knysna, cheerfully lend themselves to swimming, boating and fishing, while the wild flowers and the high forests offer long, cool drives through tunnels of shaded trees.
For locals, tourists and visitors to South Africa, it is one of the highlights of this beautiful country.
The Garden Route is 198 kilometers (123 miles) long.
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