Robberg Nature Reserve

Robberg Nature Reserve has excellent hiking and is a fine location for birdwatching also. Image: Supplied

Year-end fatigue? Head for these hideaways on the Garden Route

Explore some of the area’s secluded beaches, soulful hikes and wholesome hideaways this festive season.

Robberg Nature Reserve

Robberg Nature Reserve has excellent hiking and is a fine location for birdwatching also. Image: Supplied

After a year filled with challenges, anxiety and fear, most South Africans are keen for a holiday that offers a complete break from the stress and uncertainty of everyday life.

Here’s a quick round-up of some of the Garden Route’s most worthwhile escapes. 

Fishing the ultimate fatigue buster

The act of fishing requires one to venture outdoors, get some fresh air and fully focus on the task at hand. Numerous studies have proven how fishing actually reduces the amount of cortisol (known as the stress hormone) in a person’s bloodstream. 

Fishing is a popular pastime along the Garden Route. Visitors to Botlierskop Game Reserve, midway between Mossel Bay and George, can try their hand at fishing with an experienced guide or take off for some time on their own, fishing rod and tackle in hand!

The rivers are full of largemouth bass, freshwater eels, carp and Blue Kurper, to name a few. 

Fancourt Estate in George also has a number of fishing dams, and guests can spend a day in restful contemplation, savouring the peace and quiet, as they attempt to catch “the big one”. The Leisure Centre has complimentary fishing rods and tackle for your use, and novice and experienced anglers alike will delight in a day of fishing for big-mouth black bass on a catch-and-release basis. 

There are also a number of fishing charter and tour companies along the Garden Route (including Garden Route Fishing Adventures, Enrico’s Fishing Safaris and Knysna Deep Sea Fishing Charters).

Those looking to inject some adventure into their fishing exploits can also consider deep-sea fishing on the rough ocean swells aboard a catamaran! 

Garden Route hikes to clear your head

hike Garden Route
The Garden Route is famed for its outstanding hiking trails. Image: Adobe Stock

Hiking is one of the many reasons why so many tourists head over to this part of the world. There are plenty of scenic hiking trails to choose from. 

For example, the Pass-to-Pass hiking trail near George promises pristine views of the Outeniqua mountains, while the Pied Kingfisher, Half Collared Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, Brown Hooded Kingfisher and Cape Dune Molerat trails near Wilderness are a wonderful way to explore the Garden Route National Park.

The Harkerville Forest Flora trail in Knysna is another must for anyone interested in exploring the route’s famous wildflowers that bloom in the spring and summer months. 

Sail away along the Garden Route

The Knysna Heads make for an excellent sailing outing, weather depending. Various charter options are available. Image: Adobe Stock

Travellers can escape the crowds and noise (and responsibilities back home) by booking a boat trip out on the Indian Ocean.

Most Garden Route boat trips combine the peaceful lull of the waves along with a good dose of salty sea spray, breathtaking views and gourmet nibbles accompanied by a generous glass of bubbly! 

Bury yourself in a book at a country retreat

Book lovers in search of a tranquil and luxurious hideaway could consider a stay at The Manor House at Fancourt. Recently named South Africa’s Leading Country House Hotel in the 2020 World Travel Awards, the five-star, 18-suite boutique hotel delivers the quiet sophistication and romance of an exclusive country retreat – with warm and generous hospitality.  

“The Manor House is a true haven tucked well away from the stressors of daily life. It boasts a private library where guests can curl up and delve into a pile of page-turners for hours on end. 

“Add to that, high tea beneath the shady garden gazebo, moonlit dinners on a private deck, relaxing spa treatments in the comfort of your room and you have yourself a Garden Route hideaway unlike any other,” ,” Peter Dros, Fancourt’s sales and marketing manager, said. 

An alternative option for book lovers along the Garden Route is to find a laid-back picnic spot where they can spread out a blanket, savour the silence and read to their heart’s content.

There isn’t any need to make up your own picnic basket either. Many of the Garden Route’s best-loved picnic spots and wine farms offer pre-packed picnic lunches for visitors to tuck into with glee!

Hideaways for birdwatching

knysna loerie
The Garden Route is the best place to look out for the famous Knysna Loerie. Image: Supplied

There is something about watching our feathered friends go about their business that brings about plenty of stress relief. Luckily, there are countless opportunities to enjoy some birdwatching on the Garden Route.

Whether tourists are visiting the Garden Route National Park, Robberg Nature Reserve or the Birds of Eden free-flight bird sanctuary, they are in for a real treat. All visitors are encouraged to keep their eyes peeled for glimpses of birdlife, from kingfishers and cuckoos to storks to swifts, wherever they go.

When people need a few days to escape from their worries, there truly isn’t a better solution than a leisurely trip along the Garden Route. Sailing, picnics, hiking, fishing, birding, and more – a treasure trove of restful hideaways awaits!