For my first educational I was privileged to be part of the Axis Marketing Garden Route Educational! They really went out of their way to make it as special as they can when they heard it was my first one! Thanks to Robyn for being a great tour leader!!I was making myself ready for a cold weekend in the Garden Route. But as we all know……the weather in the Garden Route can change in seconds and indeed it did!
We arrived at Lagoon Beach Hotel where we had some muffins, scones, and coffee with a spectacular view of Table Mountain. As we could not see the rooms we only did a short site inspection of the rest of the hotel. This is a great breakaway when you are on Business in Cape Town.Onwards towards Oudtshoorn via Route 62 also known as the Mountain Route.
This is the shorter alternative scenic route to the N2 highway.With the vast different mountain ranges, cliffs, crystal clear springs and an open road, it is indeed one of the most beautiful roads to drive on.You will have to make some time when you are travelling this route as there are so many little towns you just have to stop and have a cup of coffee. Montagu is beautiful with the majestic mountain ranges in the backdrop.
We stopped in Barrydale; what a cute town. Did a bit of a detour and stopped at Diesel & Crème for lunch. You will have to either have a big stomach OR just take the unhealthy option and skip lunch and go straight for the Gourmet Milkshakes they have… definitely worth it. This small establishment is unique in its own way, from very old posters to old coke fridges and barbershop chairs.Back on the road again. We had a stopover at the oddest pub in Africa -Ronnies Sex Shop. (what an amazing experience) Read the story about the name and you will understand it. The graffiti on the walls and the underwear hanging from the ceiling gives this pub its own uniqueness. This pub has had visitors from all over the world; you can either have beer, pub lunch or have a braai with your mates.
We continued to Oudtshoorn, our destination De Denne Guest House. Now this is one of my favourite places after I have visited it. We were welcomed by friendly faces and a bit of local Hanepoot. After we had our welcome, we were shown the rooms and each one got their own room. De Denne Country Guest House has 5 deluxe suites in the main house each one with a cosy romantic feel to it, but still very spacious. They then have 4 luxury garden suites overlooking the breathtaking view, they also cater for families with 5 family suites.
We were spoilt with some amazing sunset views and the great Company of Johan and Louise, the owners of De Denne. De Denne is great for people that love the nature and peacefulness of the Klein Karoo.
Unfortunately, we could not do the star gazing that they normally do at De Denne because of the weather, but I heard it is absolutely amazing. After some relaxing time, we head towards the restaurant and while in Oudtshoorn, what else do you eat than ostrich?! The in-house restaurant serves one of the best ostrich fillets I have ever tasted.The next morning, we had a lovely breakfast buffet and try to take some photos with Cadbury, the ostrich that makes lion sounds!
After that breakfast, we went to visit Highgate Ostrich Farm. It is right next door to De Denne and Johan. As soon as you arrive you are greeted with a big smile from Ben van der Merwe. He has been working at Highgate for the last 24 years. If someone is passionate about their work you can see that in the way Ben tells us about the farm.We did a short version of the tour that visitors to the farm do. From the incubators to the chicks and I even did the whole riding an ostrich.What an experience! This farm is full of exciting activities. We had to be careful or someone would “chicknap” one of the ostrich babies, they were absolutely adorable. After a very informative tour, we left for Knysna.
As the Garden Route is known for the weather change, as soon as we got into Knysna, from a sunny Oudtshoorn to a sunny but oh so windy Knysna.At St James of Knysna Guest House, we had a light lunch with a beautiful view of the Knysna Lagoon and majestic Knysna Heads. You can sit there and enjoy the peacefulness.
In the Manor House, you will find the George Rex and Lady Anne Suites, both with balconies overlooking the dramatic Knysna Heads. They have 2 garden suites in the Manor House as well. In the courtyard, they have 4 superior, 3 deluxe and 2 junior suites.The rooms are all very spacious and the décor is individually selected for each room. The hotel is perfect for a quick getaway to Knysna if you like the quite quiet and not to be in the hustle and bustle of it all and also like luxury.
Then on towards the last stop for this trip; Blackwaters River Lodge, which is located between Knysna and Sedgefield, just over the bridge in Knysna.We were welcomed with smiles, champagne, coffee, hanepoot, sherry and canapés. Greeted by Paul and Elmay, two of the most interesting people I have ever met. Paul told us a bit more about the history of the lodge and what they have done since taking over the management.
Blackwaters River Lodge has 7 garden view rooms, 5 Forest view, and 5 River view rooms, some of them have an extra kitchenette and all of them have balconies. I was fortunate enough to stay in one of the River View rooms. Absolutely amazing views looking straight into the forest overlooking the river. With this peacefulness of the forest, you can sit on your small patio and just enjoy the quietness and the serenity of the forest.They have a few activities for young and old. From golf on the mashie golf course, canoeing, hiking and biking trails. They have a few activities for young and old. From golf on the mashie golf course, canoeing, hiking and biking trails.
Do yourself a favour and go for a treatment at the Spa. They know what they are doing. They have one treatment room and this can be pre-booked at the reception.
After some pampering at the Spa and relaxing with the view, we had a chance to do some Forest Drumming. What an interesting, exhilarating and fun activity to do. We had a bonfire going and laughed and enjoyed ourselves so much.
With supporting the local market, we did some beer tasting. Redbridge Brewery is a local craft beer being made in Knysna. Also a story worth reading up about.
Blackwaters River Lodge can definitely pat their chef and kitchen staff on the back for some outstanding dining experience. Most of us had the beef and “stout” pot pie. (We have re-named this as the “naughty pot pie” as me, as an Afrikaans girl completely misread the name and that made for some interesting laughs and jokes).
Then next morning we had a feast of a buffet breakfast before heading into Knysna for the whale watching trip. Ocean Odyssey is a supplier in Knysna that takes you out with skippers that really know what they are doing. The channel through the Knysna Heads looks very placid when viewed from the heads and no one would think that the entrance is one of the most dangerous to a port anywhere in the world. Knysna Heads is the second most dangerous harbor entrance to go through in the world. I am fortunate enough to say that I have done this.
We had a more of an adventurous whale watching ride than anything else. But it was a great adventure and I would not recommend this to someone that gets sea sick easy. We had some rough weather but this has been a completely different experience. It depends on the weather.
We had such a wonderful and great time exploring the Garden Route, Route 62 and everything it has to offer. I would recommend anyone of these places to anybody. It is definitely a trip that can be fun for the family as well as individuals.
Author: Ms Marié Venter
SW Africa Destination Management.