Best of the Cape Tour
|Day 1, Cape Town and Surroundings, km 250
Amongst the most popular travel destinations in South Africa is the Western Cape region with Cape Town as its centre. Although it's a small area relative to other popular cosmopolitan cities, it attracts millions of visitors from all over the world every year. Cape Town is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world as it is surrounded by glorious landscapes with unique vegetation, beautiful mountains and stunning wide beaches, especially on the Cape Peninsula, at False Bay and on the West Coast.
In the morning we will pick up our bikes and go for a Peninsula Drive, we will see all the Highlights of Cape Town and surroundings: Signal Hill, Camps Bay and the beaches, the harbor in Hout Bay, Chapmen’s Peak Drive, CapePoint, Simonstown and the Penguins, Groot Constantia and Table Mountain.
Overnight in Cape Town, Park Inn or similar
Day 2, Cape Town – Hermanus – Cape L´Agulhas, km 350
The Overberg region starts about 100 kilometres east of Cape Town on the other side of the Hottentots Holland and Wemmershoek Mountains. Formerly this region was practically cut off by the mountains, which is still reflected in its name. Nowadays the Overberg can easily be reached via the Sir Lowry's Pass. The region is interesting because of a number of picturesque seaside resorts and fishing villages like Kogel Bay, Rooi Els, Betty's Bay, Kleinmond, Hermanus, Gansbaai, Struisbaai, Cape Agulhas and Arniston / Waenhuiskrans.
We leave the hotel at 9.30am and head for the exhilarating and spectacular drive round False Bay via Gordons Bay, Betty's Bay and on to the historic coastal resort of Hermanus, the “whale capital” of South Africa where we lunch. After lunch the route continues through rolling wheat fields with long sweeping bends - ideal bike country. Finally we arrive at Cape L'Agulhas, and there visit the southern most point of Africa. Our accommodation for the night has a superb restaurant specialising in locally caught fish.
Overnight in Cape L'Agulhas or Swellendamm
Day 3, Cape Agulhas – Swellendam – Knysna, km 350
The Garden Route is one of the most beautiful and popular travel destinations in South Africa. It starts in the west at Swellendam and ends - officially - at Humansdorp just before Port Elizabeth. The most interesting part stretches from Mossel Bay to the Storms River mouth in the Tsitsikamma National Park. The Garden Route is one of the most beautiful and popular travel destinations in South Africa. It starts in the west at Swellendam and ends - officially - at Humansdorp just before Port Elizabeth. The most interesting part stretches from Mossel Bay to the Storms River mouth in the Tsitsikamma National Park.
Again traversing the rolling wheat lands with magnificent views of rich farming country we head for the picturesque town of Swellendam and then leave the coastal lowlands via the rugged Tradouw Pass which crosses the Langeberg range of mountains. The huge Outeniqua pass which brings us back to the coastal plain and on to the "Garden Route" . Our overnight destination, Knysna surrounds as tranquil lagoon which empties into the Indian Ocean through the turbulent waters of the "Heads".
Overnight in Knysna, River Club
Day 4, Rest Day, Knysna, Optional Visit Tsitsikamma National park
The Tsitsikamma National Park is an 80 kilometre long coastal strip between Nature's Valley and the mouth of the Storms River. In the park the visitor finds an almost untouched natural landscape. Two long hiking routes with some huts for overnight stays are well established. The popular Otter Trail of 48 km and the Tsitsikamma Trail of 72 km, both offer the well-trained hiker an experience of a unique plant and animal world. Some indigenous Yellowwood trees still exist here, over 800 years old. Besides the diverse birdlife, one can also observe smaller mammal species, the cute dassies for example, which often graze near the beach.An alternative is just to laze around the resort's swimming pool or get a tan on the beach.
Overnight in Kynsna. River Club
Day 5, Knysna – Port Elisabeth – Addo National Park (Big Five), km 350
Today, after an early start we continue along the 'Garden Route' and pass through the Tsitsikamma forest where the indigenous forest includes stink wood and yellow wood trees. Along the way we leave the main road to do the Grootrivier Pass and Bloukrans Pass on the twisty old road under the ancient forest canopy .Passing through the industrial town of Port Elizabeth we turn inland, encounter typical "African bush type country" with huge thorn trees and arrive in Addo in time for dinner which is followed by the evening safari on trucks in the Addo Elephant National Park. The first settlers in the Addo region immediately decimated the big elephant herds, because they frequently devastated their fields and plantations. So the number of elephants continuously decreased, until there was eventually hardly a dozen of them left. The remaining elephants became protected in the Addo Elephant Park, established in 1931. However, the surviving elephants were known to be highly aggressive. In an attempt to mollify them, they were fed whole truck-loads of rotting oranges. All together this experiment was successful and the elephant population started to grow again. These special feedings were soon stopped, but still today the elephants are mad for oranges, and will smash any car if they sense the smell of their favourite citrus fruit in it
Overnight in Addo NP or Port Elisabeth The Kelway
Day 6, Addo – Graaf-Reinet, km 250
Heading further inland we traverse the Olifantskop Pass and spend the entire day on magnificent roads with hardly any traffic in remote African bush type country. We pass through the frontier towns of Cookhouse and Cradock before crossing the Sneeuberg (Snow Mountain) range via the Wapadsberg and Nauderberg passes and finally descend to the historic town of Graaf-Reinet. Before or after dinner (depending on the time of year) we take a short trip to the Valley of Desolation to watch a truly magnificent sun set of the Great Karoo. In Graaf-Reinet our accommodation is in the much revamped old slave quarters of the area governor's former residence. Around 1770 the trek of the Boers had penetrated from the Cape into the area of today's Graaff-Reinet. Here, at the margin of the colony, they led an unsteady life under constant threat from Xhosa groups, but as independent and autonomous farmers. (See "History" menu for details.) This situation was too difficult for the Cape Town administration to inspect, so they decided to establish a state authority in the region. The first administrator was installed here in 1785. He determined the borders of his territory in 1786, had an administration building erected - the Drostdy - and named the place after the then Governor Jacob van der Graaff and his wife Cornelia Reinet.
Overnight in Graaf-Reinet, The Drostdy
Day 7, Graaf Reinet – Oudtshoorn, km 350
Today brings an entirely new sensation - passing through the endless flat plains of the Karoo. At times it is as if one is biking across the sea, vistas are so enormous, the horizon so vast and far away. Distant mountain ranges subtly change colour and only an occasional car or truck is encountered. We lunch in the little hamlet of Willowmore (there being no where else to stop !) and finally reach Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of the world. Here we will visit a typical Ostrich farm and the famous Cango Caves. Oudtshoorn would just be a small sleepy town behind the mountains, if it wasn't for the two big ostrich show farms, which attract entire busloads of tourists every day. In a profitable competition, the two venues, Highgate Ostrich Show Farm and Safari Farm, offer more or less the same program to the numerous visitors. In a two-hour turn, small groups are guided through the premises and, listening to short lectures, learn everything worth knowing about ostriches. At the end, the daring tourist may go for a ride on the obstinate birds and make a bet on who might win the ostrich race. The Cango Caves near Oudtshoorn (approx. 30 km from town) are among the biggest stalagmite formations in the world. One can go for extensive subterranean walks in the widely branching caves. Some of the sandstone formations are even colourfully illuminated.
Overnight in Oudtshoorn, Hlangana Lodge
Day 8, Oudtshoorn – Montagu, km 250
We recross the Little Karoo , again through wild and rugged country passing through Calitzdorp, Ladysmith and Barrydale arriving back in the Western Cape at Montagu, an attractive spa town with natural hot water springs hidden in a mountain cleft. Montagu, founded in 1851, lies in a fertile valley between the Keisie and the Kingna rivers, which join at the western extremity of the town. Originally, when the settlement was still called "Agter Cogman's Kloof" ("behind Cogman's Pass"), it was difficult to access. It took many hours to master the tough Cogman's Pass and often the ox wagons and carts were stranded at the kloof. Only in 1877 did the master engineer Thomas Bain build a road and blasted a little tunnel through the mountain. During the Anglo-Boer War the British built a Fort right above this needle eye.
Montagu calls itself the "Gateway to the Klein Karoo". The plateau of the Klein Karoo stretches south of the Swartberg mountains about 300 kilometres to the east up to Oudtshoorn and Uniondale. This area has higher rainfalls than the Great Karoo in the north-east and is noticeably more fertile and greener.
Overnight in Montagu, Montagu Country Inn
Day 9, Montagu – Stellenbosch (Winelands), km 200
Today we will visit the famous Cape Winelands. Spectacular mountain passes will take us first to Franschhoek and further to the 2. oldest Town in South Africa: Stellenbosch. After Check Inn, we will visit a wine farm and enjoy a wine tasting. The beginnings of the viticulture at the Cape stem from the 17th century. Dutch and especially French settlers brought the know-how and quickly gained excellent results in the sunny and fertile valleys around Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. This is still today the heartland of wine production, but nowadays good wines also come from the Breede River, the Overberg, the Swartland and even from the Cedarberg. Many small wine farmers have joined together to form big co-operatives, the largest being the KWV - Kooperatiewe Wijnbouers Vereeniging. Other vintners have been able to survive as family businesses and many of them are well-known overseas as well. For example, the Nederburg label goes back to the year 1792. Their top wines win medals world-wide. Stellenbosch, the second oldest town in South Africa, was developed from a settlement of Dutch immigrants to whom arable land on the banks of the Eerste Rivier (first river) was given. The first govenor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel, called a small island in the Eerste Rivier where he and his men had made a camp in 1679, Stellenbosch, meaning Stel's bush.
Overnight in Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch Hotel
Day 10, Stellenbosch – Clanwilliam, km 250
Clanwilliam is one of the oldest towns in South Africa. In 1732, the Voortrekkers, the first Dutch farmers, settled along the Olifants River and in 1820, the English administration of the Cape established a Magistrate's Court here. In the beginning, the settlement grew very slowly, and a fire in 1901 destroyed almost all of the houses. Today, Clanwilliam is a flourishing town and the centre of Rooibos tea production which grows exclusively in the sandy valleys of the Cedarberg. It is being centrally marketed in Clanwilliam. Wine and citrus is also grown here. The fertile soil could only be intensively used, after a dam was constructed at the lower Olifants River. Its water runs through a wide-spread canal system to the fields.
Overnight Clanwiliam, Strassbergers Hotel
Day 11, Clanwilliam – West Coast – Cape Town, km 250
Today we head back to Cape Town via the West Coast. The West Coast National Park near Langebaan, south of the industrial port of Saldanha was created in 1985 to protect the coastal environment from d estruction. A large part of the lagoon of Langebaan belongs to the park, which protects about 30,000 hectares of coastal vegetation from destruction. In the expansive swamps of the lagoon, 250 bird species make their nests: including oystercatchers, cormorants, gannets, flamingos, seagulls and many other sea birds.
In the afternoon we return the bikes