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Surrounded by beautiful mountains, forests, rivers, lagoons and long sandy beaches, the Garden Route is one of the most stunning stretches of coastline in the world. And it’s list of things to do in the area is nearly endless.
Near Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, the heart of the Garden Route, there is a large collection of animal sanctuaries and hiking trails. There are also ocean safaris, world-class golf courses, tree canopy tours and a whopping 216-metre bungee jump all waiting for you. If you prefer less vigorous activities, then maybe a spot of wine tasting at one of the blossoming wine farms in the area is more your style.
After all that gallivanting, you’ll be eager to rest your head at some quality accommodation, which is bountiful in this pretty part of the world. There are amazing hotels, guest houses and lodges waiting to take you in, feed you and get you ready for the next stunning day. These, in no particular order, are our favourites…
1. Kanonkop Guest HouseKanonkop is a luxury guest house in Knysna with palatial rooms that have spectacular views over the forests, lagoon and Indian Ocean. Owned and operated by the Conyers family, you’ll feel like their personal guest as they fill your day with as many Knysna treats as possible. Use their boat for skiing or gentle sundowner cruises, hop on their kayak and paddle up the river, take their top-quality mountain bikes for a forest spin, or tackle up and go fishing.
2. Turbine HotelThe Turbine is a unique boutique hotel on Thesen Island in Knysna that was once a wood-fired power station. The Turbine Hotel now has a modern, industrial mystique that distinguishes it from other properties – not many hotels can say they used to be power stations! As you might imagine, it has adopted a slightly more luxurious feel along the way too. Guests can indulge in delicious cuisine at Tapas Bar, Island Café or Pool Deck, lounge in the inside courtyard, delve into a book from the library, browse the wine cellar, cool down in the rim flow pool or enjoy a treatment at the Amani Spa.
3. Tsala Treetop LodgeLying between Knysna and Plett, Tsala’s suites and villas are tucked away among the leaves, about six metres above the forest floor and interconnected by wooden walkways winding through the treetops. The suites are warmed in winter by a cosy, ceramic fireplace. Tsala welcomes children of 10 years and older, making the two-bedroomed Treetop Villas perfect for a family retreat. Both the suites and the villas feature a private deck with an infinity plunge pool overlooking the treetops and the valley below.
4. The PlettenbergThis boutique hotel with a view of Lookout Beach is home to its own exquisite restaurant, spa and swimming pools. Celebrated for its fine cuisine and high standards, The Plettenberg’s restaurant sustainably incorporates the flavours and natural ingredients of the Garden Route. Other highlights include the award-winning wine cellar, the trendy Sandbar cocktail lounge, two swimming pools with stunning views and the Fresh Wellness Spa.
5. KurlandKurland is a traditional Cape Dutch-style hotel set on a lush 700-hectare private polo estate and has all the wonderful trimmings you might expect in such a setting. This award-winning, 5-star hotel near Nature’s Valley has more dining areas than a luxury cruise ship. You can have your meals at either the library, the verandah, next to the pool, the courtyard, your private terrace, the Chef’s Table or the rose gardens. Guests can indulge in a friendly game of tennis, take a crack at horse riding, or go for a picnic. Or if you’re more adventurous, you can head out on the hiking trails, go mountain climbing or quad biking.
6. Hog HollowYou will not forget the first time you step onto the deck at Hog Hollow which overlooks the Tsitsikamma mountains and verdant indigenous forests reaching for the horizon. Hog Hollow is found 18 kilometres east of Plettenberg Bay, making it a perfect base from which to explore the surrounding treasures of the Garden Route. Enjoy a day of boating up the Keurbooms River, or take an extraordinary marine tour of Plettenberg Bay, take a glider flight or walk through pristine nature reserves.
7. Emily MoonEmily Moon is set on the banks of the Bitou river and has killer sunset views that attract people from around the world. The owners’ attention to detail is reflected in the décor of the 10 Lodge Rooms – African artwork, from as far afield as Somalia and Kenya, has all been personally collected and incorporated with precision. The stage is set for relaxation – a private balcony with uninterrupted views, coupled with the seclusion of your own lodge. Emily’s Restaurant is renowned for exceptional cuisine and Simon’s Bar, with its viewing deck, is the perfect place to take in the sunset and a glass or two before dining.
8. La PlumeThe owner-run La Plume Guesthouse is a 4-star 1902 Victorian homestead on a working ostrich and alfalfa farm in the Olifantsrivier Valley, Oudtshoorn. Tried and trusted, La Plume consistently delivers a high-quality experience. Guests can enjoy a hot air balloon flight or visit the only meerkat conservation program in the world. Tick witnessing an ostrich off your bucket list at a nearby ranch or discover the mystical hidden chambers of the Cango Caves.
9. Rosenhof Country HouseRosenhof Country House is a pretty and sophisticated hotel on the outskirts of Oudtshoorn. As the surrounding area is dry and barren, Rosenhof appears as a welcome oasis after a long drive. The original Victorian Homestead is where the lounges, bar and restaurants can be found. Traditional South African cuisine is served with gourmet flair and has won Rosenhof international acclaim. There is a wellness centre which includes a Jacuzzi, sauna, fully equipped gym, beauty clinic and private art collection.
If you’d like to find out how you could stay at one of these fine places, simply drop us a message and we’ll arrange it all for you and will be able to answer any questions you may have.
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Matt discovered a passion for writing in the six years he spent travelling abroad. He worked for a turtle sanctuary in Nicaragua, in an ice cream factory in Norway and on a camel safari in India. He was a door-to-door lightbulb-exchanger in Australia, a pub crawl guide in Amsterdam and a journalist in Colombia. Now, he writes and travels with us.
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