The Garden Route: The Where to Go

Our plan for three days on the beach was for some down time before the early starts on safari. On route we stopped in Swellendam which I’m not going to cover here as there is little to say. If you’re taking the inland route then there are many places you could stop to break the journey (Oudtshoorn is another possible, famous for it’s Ostritch farms and caves,) but we totally fell for the Hotel we stayed at Shoone Oordt which was a definite highlight. Swellendam provided the perfect place to do nothing, without feeling guilty that we were missing things that we should see.

We arrived in Plettenberg Bay in the late afternoon and after checking in to The Grand and taking some comedy snaps of me, princess-and-the-pea style on the huge bed, we headed down to see the beach. Plett is a beach resort through and through but is also a great stopping off point to explore the nature orientated area surrounding Plett, Knysna and Wilderness, in the heart of the garden route. We originally planned 2 nights in Knysna and 2 in Wilderness but you can easily drive between them all and I think that Plett is best located Beach wise too, although all of them have lagoons and coastal spaces.

After a walk on the beach we went to The Table for a chilled out dinner of Pizza cooked in their huge wood fired oven and then spent the rest of the evening totally chilled on the sofa with a DVD.

The one thing I wanted to do in Plett was to visit Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness centre. I had found out from seeing Pete’s cousins honeymon photo’s that you could visit the centre and participate in a sunset or sunrise Cheetah walk. Being a huge cat lover this was beyond exciting for me and I had been looking forward to it all holiday so we decided to book in on our first afternoon for the Sunset walk.

After a morning on the beach we headed to the centre. The Cheetah Walk and Wildcat combo costs R660, by far the most expensive thing we did whilst there, (about £50) for three hours. We arrived at three for a guided tour around the cats and animals that live there, rescued from various places and sadly unable to return to the wild. We saw a Leopard, Serval, Caracal, African Wild Cats, Baboons, Honey Badger and of course, the Cheetah’s! I wasn’t expecting it but they take you inside some of the enclosures as you walk around and I found it quite nerve wracking with even some of the smaller cats; they are after all wild animals.

When we came to the Cheetah enclosure they seemed huge and as the ranger entered the enclosure they swarmed around him purring loudly – both thrilling and terrifying all at once. He turned and motioned us to come in one at a time and I almost died. I don’t know how I thought it was different walking a cheetah on a harness and being amongst them without one, but I was terrified, almost too scared to enjoy it.

After the tour we headed back to the information centre for a safety briefing and then back out to meet our Cheetah, a beautiful boy called Dhosa before we headed out on the walk. It was pretty much, ‘the cheetah’s walk you’ and we almost jogged along to keep up with his unrelenting padding pace as he patrolled his territory. It was completely breathtaking, awe inspiring, humbling, exhilarating and terrifying, all at once but about half an hour in I managed to start relaxing and really enjoy it.

Pete even sat down with him and we got some incredible pictures. I loved every second, despite being such a scaredy cat. That night we ate in the hotel restaurant The Grand Cafe and poured over our photo’s marvelling at what an incredible experience we had just had.

For our final day we took it really easy, staying by the hotel plunge pool in the morning, having a massage with our complimentary spa credit and spent more time on the beach where we stayed to enjoy the stunning sunset and moonrise before dinner.

We ate at the beachside cafe, Lookout Deck, sharing a huge seafood platter and enjoyed eating outside in sight of the ocean and lapped up the beachside vibe.

Our final day in the area was on route to Tsala and we wanted to make the most of our night there so planned to get there shortly after check in. There’s so much to do in the area however that we decided to visit Birds of Eden and Monkeyland. For less than £20 you get entry to both (next door to each other) and can join a guided tour of the 10 different species, including Apes, primates, lima’s and even tortoises. I’m a bit scared of monkeys after getting rushed at by them in the past but they were busty getting on with tree-life so it was great to watch them. It was Pete that wanted to see the birds – housed in a gigantic free flight netted aviary and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it – we saw so many beautiful birds with amazing colours, including my favourite flamingo’s!

Our afternoon was spent absorbing our incredible treetop room at Tsala and chilling by the plunge pool then enjoying dinner at Zinzi, the hotel restaurant ready for our Safari experience yet to come, which I am saving for next week.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures folks 🙂

Love,
Rebecca
xo

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