From Coast to Mountain Crest – The Ultimate South African Getaway Package

Spend four unforgettable days exploring and experiencing the splendors of beaches and mountains in the Garden Route of South Africa.  This special package includes two nights at Sandpiper Cottages, the hosts of the famous Oystercatcher Trail, situated in the quaint fishing village of Boggomsbaai.  The package also includes two nights at the four Star Eight Bells Mountain Inn situated at the foot of the Robinson Pass.  Daily breakfasts and free use of all outdoor facilities including swimming, tennis, squash, bowls, walking trails in the mountains and on the beach and so much more!  Two children under twelve sharing with adults also stay absolutely free.

This is the perfect add on to any Southern Africa Safari Holiday.  Extra experiences like a guided hike on the Dolphin Trail or Oystercatcher Trail plus a beach lunch at Fransmanshoek with snorkeling or a guided outride on horseback in the mountains through forests and Fynbos can be added.  Whether you are visiting Africa with your family, or on a romantic getaway, a honeymoon, as a bucket list safari, or visiting just for the hell of it, a few extra days in the Garden Route of South Africa will most definitely enhance your experience.

The Garden Route is a very popular stretch of the southeastern coast of South Africa.  The name comes from the verdant and ecologically diverse vegetation encountered and the numerous lagoons and lakes dotted along the coast.  Some of the better-known towns include Mossel Bay, George, Knysna, Oudtshoorn, Plettenberg Bay and Nature’s Valley.  It has the mildest climate in South Africa and the second mildest climate in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records.  The Garden Route is sandwiched between the Tsitsikamma Mountains and the Indian Ocean.

Boggomsbaai is situated close to Mossel Bay, and is one of the best-kept secrets on the Garden Route.  No one is really sure where Boggomsbaai got its name, but its most likely the “boggom” or the bark of the baboons in the area.  You can hike along the beach and look for the elusive “pansy” shell.  Hikers can walk along the coast to Vleesbaai or Dana bay.  While hiking you may spot some Cape pheasant, steenbok, or bushbuck.

Imagine a safe golden beach with whales and dolphins at play in the surf, romantic thatch roof cottages, fireplaces and candlelight dinners.  Red wine, starry nights, beach walks, a full moon and lasting memories…  This you could experience at Sandpiper Cottages in Boggomsbaai, this is as close as you could possibly get to your dream of a holiday in paradise.  The Sandpiper cottages are rustic but luxurious, and you could choose the self-catering or bed and breakfast option.

The Oystercatcher Coastal Hiking Trail is a fantastic eco-adventure.  And is rated as one of the top slack packing trails in the world.  You can discover ancient stone-age caves, dolphins, whales, remote dunes, rare fynbos, Oystercatchers, Sandpipers, Wild Oysters and marine rich rocky pools.  The trail is fully and professionally guided.  On this five day, 4 night hiking trail you will hike from Cape St Blaize Cave in Mossel Bay to the Gourits River.  Whilst enjoying the natural wonders, you can also swim in small safe bays, experience brilliant stargazing nights and sunny days.  You only have to carry a small bag, as your luggage is shuttled for you.  You will fondly remember he tasty traditional meals.  On your hike you will also learn more about the habits and plight of the endangered African Black Oystercatcher.  You will enjoy a total ecological encounter with marine species, wonderful beaches, dynamic dunes, rare plants and wide variety of birds and mammals.  This is a truly eye opening educational experience.

The Eight Bells Mountain Inn is situated in the Ruiterbos Valley region at the foot of the Robinson Pass between Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn.  This quaint inn was established more than eighty years ago and is renowned for its hospitality, great service and huge variety of recreational facilities set in breathtaking mountain scenery.  You have a choice of tastefully decorated accommodation, from log cabins and thatched rondavels set in lovely enchanting gardens with an abundance of bird life.  The Inn is located close to the green coastal belt of the Garden Route as well as the Little Karoo, making it easy to explore the many natural wonders, diverse activities and Scenic Mountain passes in this area.  On the 400-acre estate itself you can enjoy horse riding, walking trails and excellent birding.

Contact us at Road Travel Africa to assist you in adding this package to your South African Trip – the Garden Route really is exquisite, and should not be missed.  You could choose to do the hike first, or at the end of your holiday – you may even decide just to spend a few lazy days at Boggomsbaai or in the Ruiterbos Valley – the choice is yours!  We look forward to hearing from you.

Hogsback in the mist with berries

On the western end of the Amatola Mountains lies a village, overlooked by mountains and surrounded by indigenous forests that are centuries old, called Hogsback. It lies only an hour-and-a-half’s journey from Grahamstown, yet Hogsback may as well be in another world.  The village is magnificently sited on the slopes of mountains, overlooking the rivers and fertile plains of the Tyume Valley.  The name Hogs Back was referred to by Thomas Baines, the famous painter, on his travels in the interior in 1848.  The name is a term for a geographical feature, although some think it was named after Captain Hogg, commander of Fort Michel near TorDoone or even after the hog’s (pig’s) shape of the three peaks.  The mystery of the name forms part of the romance of this beautiful place of mist-wreathed forests and fantasy.

The beauty of the surrounds is said to have inspired J.R.R Tolkien to write his Lord of the Rings trilogy, so imagine if you can the dramatic splendour of the place.  The peace and quiet of the little village of Hogsback, the lower regions of which sometimes lie encased in snow during winter, are broken only by the intermittent call of the Knysna Lourie and the chatter of Samango monkeys; and if the forests don’t tempt you, the gardens of Hogsback will.  Among the early settlers was Thomas Summerton, a market gardener from Oxford, and his attempts to re-create the English countryside can still be seen in apple orchards, avenues lined with hazelnut, berry fruits and the flowering plants that have spread throughout the area.

The earliest inhabitants were the nomadic San peoples.  Their paintings captured the events of their lives and their spiritual awareness.  The paintings on Lowestoffe farm and further afield indicate that they were in this area.  Tribes of the Amaxhosa moved into the region from the 16th to the 18th century.  The San peoples were absorbed into the Xhosa culture or driven into Namaqualand.  In the middle of the 19th century English travelers passed through, mission stations opened and, during and after the frontier wars, burgers and settlers farmed.

The Xhosa people of the Tyume valley called it Bhukazana as described by Basil Holt: “The glories of the Tyhume region in scenery and story could be described adequately only in a book of poetry… Here the great curve of the Amatole Range holds in its embrace a valley of grace and beauty, equalled in few other places and excelled in none in South Africa…. Across the valley was the strange mountain the Xhosa called “Bhukazana”, with its three peaks of serrated ridges; and, between these and the Juanasberg, the Hogsback, but which the Xhosa called “Belekazana”, from its fancied resemblance, when seen from the Mnyameni valley, to a woman with a child on her back.”

The number of residents has increased and they organize events like the Xmas in July, Hogsback Arts Festival and the Garden Club’s Spring Festival.  Those who are privileged to reside in this heavenly citadel, are aware of their responsibility to care for this natural realm.  Although the village has grown there is a permanence about the place that makes it unique.  Many try to protect the streams, the indigenous forests, the simple style of life and nature in all its abundance and beauty.

Hogsback is so beautiful that one can forget the other perspective of the paradox of the place.  Major poverty and inequality are challenges for the future.  There is a huge contrast between the forested mountain and the grassland valley.  Hogsback is a mountain citadel with restorative powers that draws out the good in people through its simple, natural way of life, the outdoor exercise, the joy of growing plants, the freedom of having time; all these help to capture its timelessness.

Hogsback is home to several accomplished artists, including painters, potters, poets, musicians, singers, and photographers.  Hogsback offers so much to those who want to break away from the rush of city life – walking, mountain biking, horse riding, bird watching, trout fishing, and mountain climbing.  Or simply relaxing, enjoying an aromatherapy massage, Indian head and shoulders massage, reflexology, or just enjoying a good book.

Hogsback is one of the few areas in the country where berries grow well.  Red, white and black currants, black berries, raspberries, logan berries, strawberries and English gooseberries all thrive in the region, and some local entrepreneurs are bottling and marketing these with great success.  An historic local landmark, the Hogsback Inn, in co-operation with the Department of Forestry, provides a useful service for walkers and others wishing to explore the area.  Contact Road Travel for more details and bookings.