The Garden Route

On this episode of Vacation Vigilantes…

We wake up early despite going to bed late. It’s still roughly 7 hours to Cape Town from here and I expect we’ll be stopping for a lot of pics if the Garden Route is even half as beautiful as everyone says. Hangovers be damned.

Burt and Cheryl greet us when we get downstairs and tell us to help ourselves to some breakfast. There is a large common room and kitchen area all set up with a breakfast spread. Lots of tourist-types getting up and at’m. No stray looks or obvious disgust thrown our direction from anyone, maybe we managed to keep our anonymity despite turning into werewhiskeys last night. We go big on the breaky trying to soak up the demons.

The Storms River Guest Lodge checks out. Glad we stayed here, and in Stormsriver in general.

Finish up, thank Burt and Cheryl, and jump in the Polo. Knysna is only an hour away so we head there.

Nice to see the area in the daylight, it’s green and lovely driving by the water. We nab hwy 2 out of Stormsriver, take a winding little dip to a place called Nature’s Valley and then back up to the main road. Takes just over an hour to get to Knysna and wow have things changed since our drive started in Joburg. It’s a beautiful seaside town, clean and captivating. Reflections off the water of elegant boats and high-class housing, this is not like any part of South Africa we’ve witnessed thus far. It feels like a California coastal town.

We take the exit into Knysna and find ourselves by a lagoon with a small boardwalk of shops and coffee joints. We drive by a slip of fancy house boats looking for a place to park. We find a spot down by a tourist information center and some beefy looking off-road scooters. That’d be fun

Garden Route tourist info, perfect. This reflection off of the lagoon is dope. Gorgeous day.

We pop into the tourist info place and take a look around. It looks like an older gentleman is occupying the two employees at the desk with a touristy emergency. We don’t really gather what’s going on but he’s obviously agitated and the two college kids working there seem anxious. We grab a map and pamphlet and hold em up in a manner that says, “I see you’re busy with something, we’ll just grab these”, and we get a, “Yes, so sorry” head nod and eye roll, to which we wave and emote an honest, “No worries, good luck”, and take our exit.

We take a look at the info we’ve gathered on the dock. A boat full of passengers yells at us and waves.

Some fishermen hanging on the dock. Wonder what they catch here?

That’s the life, eh Narco? View of the Indian Ocean, a dock and a boat. Knysna, you’re beautiful.

We grab a coffee at this swanky spot by the water. I think the tourbucks are doing the Garden Route well.

We check out the Garden Route brochure a little more. Looks like we’ve already missed some easy lookouts, a waterfall, some rad trees and foliage, etc… between Stormsriver and here. Ah well, we ain’t backtracking. A lot of the vistas and places to stop are right along the highway. That’s easy, we’ll just go for it then.

On the way back to the car we pass by a realtors office. Well, just for shits lets… 3.2 million rand? For this place? That’s only 220K usd. Ahhhh what?! We’re going splits. Moving to Knysna. It’s settled.

We could turn this badboy into a Garden Route Hostel… Calling Margaret tomorrow.

We exit wonderful Knysna and are almost instantly in another picturesque town called Sedgefield, right by Groenvlei lake. I’ve been some pretty pretty places in my life. This is right up there.

Yeeeah, I don’t see us getting very far very fast with this kind of scenery around. Most people take a few days to a week to enjoy the Garden Route. Now that we’re here I definitely wish we had more time. Although, crossing all of South Africa in the last few days.. I wouldn’t trade that either.

Pulling out of Sedgefield and up a hill we come to this stunning vista of a beautiful beach with ZERO people on it. Secluded perfect beaches? What’s going on here? I’m moving in.

Highway 2 continues East out of Sedgefield and then we pass by three consecutive lakes. The Indian Ocean to the South and then lakes and mountains to the North. This drive is something else.

We meander into Wilderness by the Serpentine River, trying to keep our stops down so we can make time to Cape Town. Pass by a place called the Interlaken guest house that reminds me of Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, one of my all-time favorite places on Earth. Another beautiful vista in Wilderness and a stop for gas gets us down to another beautiful beach.

Beautiful houses along the coast and a fun looking ‘downtown’ strip, the Garden Route does seem like a great trip all in itself. We hit the beach for a quick stroll.

This lil guy was making tracks in the sand and we followed the patterns for half mile before deciding we really had to make tracks of our own.

Back on Highway 2 we blast through Victory Bay and into the interior a bit through a place called George before making another stop in Mossel Bay. Colorful town out on a point that juts into the Ocean, we cruise through following signs for the Cape St. Blaize Lighthouse.

Mussels along the rocks lending to the namesake

Peter gets spooked taking a pic. Stay off the dark rocks, bro

There’s a good looking foodtruck up by where we parked, Serengeti truck shop. It’s about that time. We take a gander.

 

Kudu Burgers?! Yum! Oh dear, the Triple Bypass Monster Burger might be a bit overkill considering we still gotta drive over 4 hours to Cape Town. Maybe tone things down to just the Godzilla Mega Burger?

We strike up a conversation with the guy and he instantly catches my accent, “Oh you’re a Newfie, eh?”, “Haha, almost. Nova Scotian.” He tells us that for years he was a car salesman up in Calgary. I tell him I’ve been there several times, “Up passed Cemetery Hill? Lots of car dealerships”, “Ahhh no idea, man. Mostly spent time on the Stampede Grounds haha”, “And for good reason!”

We put in for a Kudu and Godzilla burger and chat it up some more. He’s an Aussie, spent time in Canada, came down here and found the South African girl of his dreams. Decided to move here and make it work. “Beautiful place for sure. But the Garden Route has it’s own set of problems, fuck me.”

He tells us his inspiration for the food truck came from travelling through the states. “Burgers in the states, holy fuck. Best burgers you’ll have in your life. Now add the exotic meats of Africa…. I’ve got my own sauce that I’ve designed. Stick out a finger.” We oblige and he puts a dollop of a light orange sauce on each of our eager fingers. Nummy! Kind of thousand islands but more tangy than the Big Mac variety. I like it, looking forward to these burgers now. He’s taking his time with them and they look baller. 

We shoot the shit about our SASS plans through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, etc… and he’s stoked for us. Gives us a few pointers and says if we have time we should get to Jakkalsvlei winery just North of here. It does look pimpin but we’re on a bit of a time crunch to get to Cape Town and meet Mark tonight.

We get our monstrous burgers dripping with special sauce and cheese. It’s one of those burgers that’s so big you don’t even know where to start. Gonna need a few more napkins for this beast.

We thank him for the conversation and grub and mosey off towards the lighthouse licking our fingers and taking big bites of drippy awesome burger.

Off to the side of the parking lot is a small bridge out to some rocks with a good view of the lighthouse and buildings. The reflecting pool mirrors the clouds amazingly and hide a trove of starfish under the water

Yep, Mossel Bay was a great place to stop.

Peter’s got his eyes on a reflecting pool in the hopes of getting the lighthouse reflected off of it in between the reddish rocks of the Bay. I follow suit and get a pic of him getting the pic

We climb back towards the bridge and pass some folks who’re curious about what we’re doing down there. Peter shows them his pic and they’re blown away. “Photography is such a patient practice. I watched a nature show where one guy sat for 900 hours to get a pic of a certain frog that only comes out at certain times. Those camera guys are amazing.”

They’re an older couple from Pretoria. They tell us a story of how they moved here and were putting an alarm on their house. A what? Alarm. Oh you won’t need that here. Yeah, huge difference from Pretoria, Joburg and here, that’s for sure. They live in a suburb up the way, just came down for lunch. Nice duo, they’re talking our ears off though and we start to get antsy for the road again. Wish them a pleasant day and book it back to the Polo.

Alright, I think that about does it for the stunning Garden Route. It did not disappoint. We throw on My Dad Wrote a Porno and crank it out of Mossel Bay hoping to get to Cape Town for sunset.

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