The Smiley Face Cape-Karoo-Return Tour
21 Days Cape Town – Garden Route – Karoo – Cape Town
Join us on a guided bicycle tour of magnificent Cape Town to experience its history and cosmopolitan vibe from up close before making for Hermanus where breeding and birthing whales woo their visitors. After these two activities, both favoured by the Smiley Face Tours team, your journey takes you to Oudtshoorn, home to the fantastical Cango Caves and yet another favourite activity: a mountain bike cycle down the Swartberg Pass. We continue our trip along the Cape to Knysna and the verdant splendour of the Garden Route, through the forests of Tsitsikamma and on to Kariega: home of the Big 5. Grahamstown with its olde-worlde charm is your furthest point down, thereafter we head inland into the Karoo to Graaff-Reinet to enjoy panoramic views of the Valley of Desolation in the Camdeboo National Park. Get enchanted by a little Karoo town forgotten by the passing of time: Nieu-Bethesda, where everything is still done as they were fifty to one hundred years ago. We head for a game drive in Beaufort West before ending our tour in the winelands of Franschhoek and Cape Town.
The Smiley Face Cape-Karoo-Return Tour includes:
– accommodation x20 nights, breakfast x20, lunch x14, dinner x14 (for 6 evenings you have the freedom to make your own dinner plans), we pick you up and drop you off at the airport
– 1x Cape Town City Cycle tour, entrance to the Boulders Beach penguin colony, entrance to the Cape of Good Hope, 1x Robben Island tour, 1x whale boat trip, entrance to the Oudtshoorn Ostrich Show Farm, entrance to the Cango Caves, 1x Swartberg Pass mountainbike tour, entrance to the Tsitsikamma National Park, 2x game drives at Kariega Game Reserve, 1 hour guided walk through Grahamstown, entrance to Camdeboo National Park, 1x entrance to the Owl House and 1x fossil walk in Nieu-Bethesda, 1x game drive in Beaufort West – all transport and a guide during the scheduled tour.
Group size: 4 – 20
Fly to Cape Town, your guide meets you at Cape Town International Airport and transfers you to your first night accommodation.
We start our tour with a cycle through Cape Town’s colorful 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. We continue our 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.
Cape Town is a favourite tourist destination. Besides our visit to the Boulders Beach penguin colony and Cape Point you can also enjoy a night out in Long Street, shop at the V&A Waterfront, enjoy some fine local cuisine and take in the views from Table Mountain.
If its whale season (from May to December) we take a boat trip to spot the breathtaking Southern Right Whales, otherwise we drive to Africa’s most southern point in Cape Agulhas. We overnight in Hermanus and continue to drive along the beautiful Route 62.
In Oudtshoorn we 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 trip as a highlight of their holiday. During your downhill cycle we 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!).
Stop and shop in pretty little Knysna, a town with warm weather the whole year round, a quaint harbour and stunning sights like the Knysna Heads and lagoon. We move on to the Tsitsikamma National Park for a hike through the forest and Storms River Village where adventure tourism is key. If you’re keen you can try bungee jumping of the Bloukrans Bridge, enjoy a zip line canopy tour over a waterfall and even whizz around off-road on a Segway.
It’s time to relax now during two guided drives in the Big 5 game reserve Kariega. Many travellers come to South Africa simply to experience a game drive in the bushveld of the Eastern Cape where abundant wildlife shyly pose for the astute photographer. You are quite likely to come quite close to the Big 5 (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino) and you are guaranteed to see plenty of antelope, warthog, zebra and giraffe. You are unlikely to tire of the spectacular sight of giraffe drifting through the greenery, and the warthog families enchant with their strange, quirky behaviour, running as they do, with their tails high in the air like antennae.
In quaint little Grahamstown, known for its place in Settler history and for its contribution to present-day University education, a local guide walks us through the main sights. Grahamstown was the fastest growing city in the early 1800’s but experienced a mass exodus of its population when diamonds were discovered. This exodus halted progress, leaving the town much as it was. Part of the walking tour is a visit to the Observatory Museum that holds one of only 4 working Victorian camera obscura’s in the world.
Next up is the stark beauty of the Valley of Desolation in the Camdeboo National Park on our way to 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!
Then we venture into the Great Karoo, Beaufort West, for a night under the stars and more game viewing. Get to experience the feeling of large open spaces, a landscape painted with minimalist beauty, dotted only with desert animals for company.
From the Karoo it is on to Franschhoek where the tour ends in a final frisson of fun as you taste and savour the fruits of the winelands where some of the best wines of the world are produced. You’ll find yourself back in our Mother City, reminiscing about all your adventures during a last night in the hustle and bustle of Cape Town.