The spectacular scenic beauty of the Garden Route has brought this area to the attention of the entire world. Many international visitors visit the area annually and many have also bought homes here. This is truly a region that caters to a wide variety of tastes.
The Garden Route comprises a narrow coastal plateau stretching from Helderberg in the West to the Storms River in the East. The Langeberg, Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma Mountains frame it in the north and the lovely beaches run into the Indian Ocean in the south. The region has its own unique climate, described as temperate coastal – warm summers and cool winters with year-round rainfall.
The lush tapestry of indigenous forests, lakes, lagoons, waterways and rivers is bordered by a rugged coastline with magnificent beaches washed by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. The area boasts some of the richest variety of vegetation south of the Limpopo River and has the largest natural forest complex in South Africa.
The appearance of the Garden Route region was shaped over many years by the powerful forces of nature. Over five million years ago, when the sea level was 200 m higher than it is at present, the waves worked on the bottom plateau and when the level dropped, the result was a landscape of sandy beaches, alluvial flat-lands and lakes. As time went by, the rivers formed valleys and made them even wider and deeper, sculpting the lagoons and lakes of today.
The Garden Route is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South Africa. The seaside resorts are surrounded by lush indigenous rainforests and towering mountain peaks. It is one of the few places in the world where one can travel less than an hour and find oneself in a
completely different type of landscape. Hikers often explore the mountains and fields of protea-rich fynbos and can choose between day walks or longer hiking trails.
Many animals such as bushbuck, duikers, vervet monkeys and bush pigs roam the area. Other typical Garden Route inhabitants are butterflies, lizards and a rich variety of bird life. The secretive Knysna loerie, yellow-throated warbler, olive woodpecker, chorister robin and African goshawk have made their home here.
Over the years, many legends and stories have been woven around the Knysna Forest elephants, so much so that their existence took on a mythical quality. Over 200 years ago, the southern coast was the territory of great herds of elephants. However, as more and more people came to the area, hunters depleted their numbers to such an extent that they became an endangered species. The last seven elephants retreated into the depths of the thick Knysna Forests and adapted well to the forest conditions. In fact, they adapted so well that many at one time believed that they had all been killed. Sadly, although they are still there, the future of the herd is still not secure.
The Garden Route presents us with so many wondrous sights that many even call it “A Taste of Eden” and quite rightly so.