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Garden Route

The Garden Route is a popular and scenic stretch of the southern coast of South Africa.

It stretches some 200 kilometers from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to the Storms River which is crossed along the N2 coastal highway over the Paul Sauer Bridge in the extreme eastern reach of the Western Cape.

It includes towns such as Mossel Bay, George, Knysna, Oudtshoorn, Plettenberg Bay and Nature's Valley.

It has a moderate coastal climate, with warm summers, and mild to chilly winters. It is one of the nicest all-year-round rainfall areas in South Africa, most rain falling in the winter months, brought by the humid sea-winds from the Indian Ocean rising and releasing their precipitation along the high mountain ranges just inland of the coast.

The Route is sandwiched between the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma mountains and the Indian Ocean. The Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma indigenous forests are a unique mixture of Cape Fynbos and temperate forest and offer hiking trails and eco-tourism activities. Nearly 300 species of birdlife are to be found in a variety of habitats ranging from fynbos to forest to wetlands.

Ten nature reserves embrace the varied ecosystems of the area as well as unique marine reserves, home to soft coral reefs, dolphins, seals and a host of other marine life. Various bays along the Garden Route are nurseries to the endangered Southern Right Whale which come there to calve in the winter and spring (July to December).

Although the most popular exploration of the Garden Route is by car, it is also the site of Africa's last remaining passenger steam train, the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe. However, due to floods a few years ago, it now only runs between Mossel Bay and George.

Accommdation is varied along the Garden Route with some stunning 5* properties and good 4* boutique hotels, lodges and guest houses.