Garden Route, South Africa - Stein Travel
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Garden Route

The stretch of southern coastline between the town of Heidelberg and the Tsitsikamma National Park makes up South Africa's well-travelled 'Garden Route', scattered with popular resort towns. The coastal plain is backed by spectacular mountain ranges, offering scenic lakes, indigenous forests, golden beaches and secluded bays.

The main town on the route is George, which is a bustling commercial centre with some good hotels making it a good central point from which to explore the coastal region. From George it is also a short drive inland over the Outeniqua Mountains to Oudtshoorn, site of the world-renowned Cango Caves and home to several ostrich farms that welcome visitors to enjoy their entertaining and educational tours. Other popular holiday towns on the Garden Route include Mossel Bay and Plettenberg Bay.

Attractions along the Garden Route encompass a wide variety from historic sites to scenic vistas, and beaches to nature reserves. There are ample opportunities to interact with nature, and you may spot whales, dolphins, seals, baboons, and nearly 300 species of bird. To make the most of the area one needs to stray from the national N2 highway and explore the towns, villages and resorts en route. A fun way of enjoying the scenery is to ride on the Outeniqua Choo-Choo vintage steam train between George and Knysna. There are also great recreational opportunities to enthrall active holidaymakers, from bungee jumping and water sports, to hiking trails and canopy tours.

Information & Facts

Climate

The Garden Route has a maritime Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild, winters with chilly nights. The area experiences the most rainfall in South Africa, but this mostly falls at night; the western half of the Garden Route has most rainfall in the winter months, while towards the east rain tends to fall predominantly during summer. Average temperatures from December to March are about 75-86ºF (24-30ºC), while winters average 64ºF (18ºC).

Language

South Africa has 11 official languages, including Afrikaans, English, Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho. English is widely spoken.

Money

South Africa's currency is the Rand (ZAR), which is divided into 100 cents. Money can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and the larger hotels. ATMs are widely available (there is a daily limit for cash withdrawals) and major international credit cards are widely accepted, except in petrol stations where cash is required. Visitors should be vigilant when drawing cash from ATMs, as con artists are known to operate there. Travellers cheques and some foreign currencies are accepted at larger hotels and shops, but commission is charged, otherwise all commercial banks will exchange them.

Time

Local time is GMT +2.

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