Self Drive Cape- Garden Route – Karoo – Return

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21 Days –  Cape Town – Garden Route –  Karoo – Cape Town

(Pictures from Anneke and Johan Holand who were our happy clients on this trip)

IMG_0420Experience the Mother City, abuzz with colour and alive with energy, before making for Hermanus where whales woo their visitors. From there you make for Oudtshoorn where you cycle down the magnificent Swartberg Pass and visit the magical Cango Caves. After that you are off to Knysna and the verdant splendour of the Garden Route, through the forests of Tsitsikamma and on to Kariega Game Reserve, home of the Big 5. Then Grahamstown awaits with all its historical charm. The relaxing drive to Graaff-Reinet brings you to the panoramic views of the Valley of Desolation, followed by a stop in Nieu-Bethesda. This Little Karoo town has been forgotten by time! Your next stop is Beaufort West for a game drive before travelling on to Franschhoek where you will savour the legendary wine route. Your self-drive ends back in Cape Town.

The Easygoing Smiley Face Cape-Garden Route-Karoo-Return Self-Drive includes:

IMG_1583– premium accommodation x19 + standard accommodation x1, breakfast x19, dinner x2

– a Group C rental vehicle with executive insurance

– 1x city cycle tour of Cape Town, 1x Robben Island tour, 1x whale boat trip in Hermanus, 1x Swartberg Pass mountain bike tour, 2x guided game drives in an open vehicle in Kariega Game Reserve, 1x guided walk through Grahamstown, 1x guided game drive in Beaufort West.

Group size: minimum 2

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You fly to Cape Town International Airport and pick up your rental car to drive to your first night accommodation.

IMG_0942Your start your holiday with a cycle tour through Cape Town’s colourful cosmopolitan city and surroundings so you get to know the town from up close. You’ll see the highlights, learn about its history and meet some of its characters. You continue your adventure with a trip to Robben Island where the most celebrated South African hero Nelson Mandela served 18 years of his 27 year prison sentence. With two of the favoured activities from the Smiley Face Tours team ticked off your list you drive on to the next one: a boat trip to see the Southern Right Whales!

From Hermanus you drive along the scenic Route 62 to Oudtshoorn where you will race down the Swartberg mountain pass on mountain bikes, an exciting 54 kilometer adrenaline rush! Don’t worry though: you ride in your own time, at your own pace and you can stop where and whenever you want. All of our travellers, young and older, rate this activity as a highlight of their holiday – the Smiley Face Tours team rates it as a favourite. During your downhill cycle you explore the limestone wonders of the Cango Caves and visit the Ostrich Show Farm where you get to stand on top of ostrich eggs (they won’t break!).

IMG_0607You return to the coast with a visit to Knysna. It’s worth it to drive to the Knysna Heads to view the cliffs and even join a cruise over the lagoon. Bathe in the forest freshness of the Tsitsikamma National Park before heading off to try spot the Big 5 (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino) at Kariega Game Reserve where you’ll enjoy two guided game drives.

Together with a guide you walk through the historic city center of Grahamstown, the ‘City of Saints’ – home to the annual National Arts Festival, Rhodes University and a vast number of monuments. Part of the tour is a visit to the Observatory Museum that holds one of only 4 working Victorian camera obscura’s in the world. During your stroll you’ll get to see an eclectic mix of cultures, something that makes this quaint town a fascinating place to stay.

IMG_1275Grahamstown is your furthest point from Cape Town. After that you follow the scenic route inland through the Karoo where the stark beauty of the Valley of Desolation in the Camdeboo National Park will give you the panoramic shots you’ve been looking for. Your next stop is Nieu-Bethesda, a tiny village tucked away in the heart of the Little Karoo and overlooked by time. Its residents live a quiet and simple life, writing, painting and crafting, selling their wares at authentic little markets on Saturdays. There are no tar roads and don’t look for cash machines. There simply aren’t any!

The solitude continues, your off into the Great Karoo looking for desert animals under the starry African night in Beaufort West. In Franschhoek your self-drive ends in a final frisson of fun as you taste and savour the fruits of the winelands where wine-tasting opportunities are abound before heading back to Cape Town.

In Cape Town you drop off your vehicle at Cape Town International Airport before boarding your flight back home.

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