OUR GUIDE TO THE GARDEN ROUTE
by Richard and Jackie
Just wanted to let you know that we have returned safely from our adventure, to sum up the trip is easy as it was fantastic from start to finish with all arrangements working perfectly and the choice of venues was spot on.
To give you a little feedback I hope the following may be helpful to you.
Firstly, collecting the hire car at Capetown airport is very easy and just a short walk from arrivals, there was a bit of a queue but not too bad, they claimed the car was in perfect condition but Jackie spotted quite a few marks on it which they were happy to note on the paperwork so there would be no problem later on, also we got a free car upgrade to a 4x4 so very happy.
Its an easy drive to Winchester Mansions, great place, we would definitely stay there again. The jazz brunch was fantastic, so much food!! We also ate a few times in their restaurant in the evening, their food was excellent and much better than we would have expected and such great value. We got up Table Mountain on our first day, pre-booking the tickets is a must as long queues, we did not get there as early as you recommended but parking was still easy. Lucky we did it then as all our other days in Cape Town the top was covered in cloud (tablecloth). We drove down to the Cape for a great day out, the Two Oceans is good for lunch, and came back via the Penguins at Boulders Beach.
Next we were off to Franschhoek, what a highlight this little town and surrounding area were!!! We must thank you for booking us into the Avondrood Guest House, probably our best accommodation after Pumba. Justin the owner is full of friendly info and will book any restaurants you need. We did the wine tram which is such a nice way to see the area and sample its delights, lunch at Holden Manz vineyard was superb. We also lunched at La Petite Ferme which was our best meal of the entire trip with views of the valley to be amazed at, however it's full every day so booking is essential. I could also give a good report of a dentist in Franschhoek but that's another story but one that Justin at Avondrood helped with!!
All the other guest houses were good in their own ways, Ballinderry for its evening meal, I understand you are visiting them in April, and Knysna for its views. The area around Knysna is spectacular with a drive up to the Head a must. Thesen Island is good place to visit and we had a splendid meal at the Turbine hotel, its far more relaxed there than at the waterfront.
Finally we arrived at Pumba and were amazed, we were in the bush lodge and were very glad, the water lodge did not look as nice to us. If we do return it's the Bush Lodge for us as you get animals right outside your window, one morning about 6 foot from a group of Giraffe. The game drives were good fun and we got some great photos and the ranger sets up a small bar and serves drinks from the back of the Land Rover in the middle of the bush. However you did not tell us that it might rain!!! We arrived at Pumba in sunshine and also left that way but the 2 days in between was like a monsoon. Everyone on the Land Rover got soaked every time we went out but somehow it seemed to add to the fun, pictures to follow.
From here it's an easy drive back to the airport at Port Elizabeth to drop off the car, it's worth giving yourself 30 minutes to do this and get the final bill from the office rather than the drop and run that they want you to do, that way we knew they could not charge you for any extras after you had gone. A final piece of luck we were upgraded to Business Class for the flight to Johannesburg.
Our final thought is that we must go back next year as there are so many other places we would like to visit and many we want to return to.
Richard & Jackie
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No, I'm not a Travel Guru, but I have loved travelling since I was five years old, and more than love travel... I love to share my experiences... and show you our Wonderful World through my eyes!