South Africa's gorgeous Garden Route
The Love South Africa group on Flickr is constantly updated with fantastic images taken all over the country. Why not share your pictures, too?
Each week we choose images from this group to share on our blog. This week we are celebrating South Africa's gorgeous Garden Route, a popular tourist route along South Africa's coast that is renowned for its scenic beauty.
One of the most popular stops is Storms River Mouth in the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park, which is the start of the famous multi-day Otter Trail. For those who want a small taste of what this hiking trail entails, a short walk takes you to this suspension bridge across the mouth of the river.
In the Garden Route National Park, you can see some local wildlife, like these dassies or rock hyraxes. The park is divided into three parts (Tsitsikamma, Knysna and Wilderness) protecting a diverse landscape of lakes, mountains, forest and fynbos.
Wild elephants once roamed the Knysna forest, which is so dense that it was a rare event to glimpse one of these creatures. Today, it's believed that a few isolated individual elephants may still live in the forest, but your best chance of encountering one of these pachyderms is on a visit to the Knysna Elephant Park.
The Garden Route is full of laidback towns like Sedgefield, which has a Slow Festival around Easter each year. On the outskirts of Sedgefield you'll find Scarab Village, which hosts a weekly craft market each Saturday where you can buy anything from mosaic artworks to bonsai trees.
There's no shortage of surf spots on this stretch of coastline. One of the most popular is tiny Victoria Bay, or Vic Bay, a little cove that can be found at the bottom of a winding road close to the town of George.
Although technically not on the Garden Route, Oudtshoorn is less than an hour's drive from George, and many visitors include it in their Garden Route itinerary. This town is in the heart of ostrich country, where you can visit a farm to learn more about these extraordinary creatures.
This picture of a young lad diving into the water was photographed at Mossel Bay, and won best adventure image with the Guardian newspaper in the UK. Mossel Bay is the official start of the Garden Route. If you do pass through, be sure to visit to the Dias Museum Complex, which has a life-size replica of the caravel on which Bartolomeu Dias sailed around the coast of South Africa in 1488 (he first set foot on African soil at Mossel Bay).
Another popular coastal town on the Garden Route is Wilderness, with its miles and miles of white beach and intricate lake system. There's a magnificent view to be had overlooking the town as you drive into it on the N2. It's a bird's-eye view that is also enjoyed by paragliders as this is one of the best places in the country for this sport.
Be sure to set aside a good few days to fully explore the Garden Route and enjoy the scenic beauty and variety of activities on offer here. And don't forget to leave some footprints in the sand during a sunset walk on the beach...