The third stop on our sixteen day Garden Route itinerary was probably my favourite place of all. Plettenberg Bay ended up being more amazing that I could have ever imagined, and for reasons that I would never have guessed. After coming home from the trip, I was reading through my correspondence with Andre from The Safari Expert who we booked through and funnily enough I actually tried to cut our stay here down to one night, but he urged me to stay for two and ‘trust him’ – and I’m very glad that we did!
We arrived to here from our stay at Amakhala Game Reserve by Grahamstown meaning we had a 3.5 hour drive to get from A to B. This is a bit of a tiring drive, but very straight forward and definitely worth it considering Plettenberg is your final destination.
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed in Starfish Guest Lodge – these own a number of lodges in the area, but I can’t imagine any of them being nicer than Starfish. With a room opening directly out into the pool area and a stunning, open communal area you will not be disappointed. The service is excellent also – as we were served breakfast roughly 45 minutes earlier than their usual due to an early start on our first day and they were more than happy to accomodate this.
WHAT TO DO
What will first look like a quiet area will end up surprising you in terms of how much there is to do in the area. Here are some of the activities that we got up to during our two night stay in Plettenberg.
Robberg Island Nature Reserve
It doesn’t sound like much, but Robberg Island is one of the most beautiful places I have spent an evening. We arrived here quiet late due to our long drive so we couldn’t do the longest hike as the tide comes in. There are three hikes that you can do at the Nature Reserve. The Gap which is 2.1km, The Witsand which is 5.5km and The Point which is 9.2km. We did the Witsand hike and it was beautiful from start to finish. We began walking along the cliff edge with a view of Hermanus in the distance which then turned to the most perfect beach that continued down a slope to a tombolo.
This is not just a regularly hike either. Although you are without a doubt in the presence of some of the most amazing views you may ever experience, there is a tonne of wildlife to observe here. Along the cliff face you can hear the cape fur seals bark before you even see them! These along with dassies and a range of birds inhabit the cliff edge and nature reserve, providing an even greater sense of entertainment along the way.
Entrance to the Robberg Nature & Marine Protected area is R40 per adult, R20 per children 3-12 per day and payable at the entrance gate.
I found a leaflet for offshore adventures in our guest house and I’m so glad that I did! They are a water adventure company based in Hermanus and they run a number of different activities such as snorkelling with seals, free dive marine safaris and more.
I chose to swim with the seals because they are one of my favourite animals. It lasts about 80 minutes from start to finish and costs R800pp which is roughly €48. If you are with someone who does not want to take part, you can pay to observe and stay in the boat for only R440pp which is roughly €26. They bring you out on a boat to Robberg Island, home to thousands of cape fur seals and will find the best place to park up the boat. From here you can hop on and off the boat as you please and swim around with the little guys! The seals are incredibly friendly and there is no reason to be scared around them, once you don’t invade their personal space or try and give them a pat on the head (like I really, really wanted to do!). All in all, this was my favourite activity of the entire trip so I couldn’t recommend it more!
Tsitsikamma National Park
Tsitsikamma National Park is about a 45 minute drive from Plettenberg bay going towards Port Elizabeth. There are a wide range of different activities available to do within the park, and you can even choose to stay within there if you wish. You can go hiking, swimming, or even try your hand at the worlds highest bungee jump off the Bloukrans Bridge! This was something that I had wanted to do but unfortunately I didn’t book in advance and there were no slots available. If it is something you are interested in I would recommend booking in advance, especially in the Summer months.
During our visit to the national park we decided to do a Kayak and Lilo excursion with Untouched Adventures. The activity lasts between 2-3 hours and costs R600pp which is €36. You can pay additionally for a wetsuit and boots which we opted for, simply so we wouldn’t get burned! The activity starts by kayaking down the mouth of Storms River between the canyon and the views are just wow. Then you switch to lilos which is more laid back, and you have the choice to cliff jump too if you wish. It’s a brilliant activity to do and our guide Stan was very sweet.
There are several hikes to choose from within the National Park, the most popular being across their famous suspension bridge. You need a decent level of fitness to complete this but the views are worth it if you can manage it.
Tenikwa Wildlife Centre
Tenikwa is a wildlife centre located in the rural suburb known as ‘The Crags’ just outside Plettenberg Bay. You might see another sanctuary being advertised called ‘Jukani’ in the area but according to what we were told, they are not fair trade certified so while they may do good work, it’s hard to know how much of it is just for the sake of monetary benefit.
Tenikwa offers a range of different activities, one of the most popular being their ‘Cheetah Walk’ where you can enter the cage with the cats during their feeding time and observe them. We opted to do the ‘Wild Cat Experience’ for R245pp (only €15!). This experience led us around the sanctuary where we got to see Leopards, Caracals and Lions within their confines and then we were allowed to enter the cage of the African Wildcat, Serval and Cheetah. Some of the big cats are most docile than others, meaning you can get quite close without danger. These are the cats that they have no hope of releasing back into the wild for one reason or another, and any cats that they have in rehabilitation are not shown to the public during these tours. At the end you can spend time walking around their bird area, the meerkat cages and their beautiful little water mongoose called ‘honey’!.
If you love animals, I would recommend taking time out of your day to come here and see these wonderful animals up closer than you will ever see before and in an environment where you know they are well treated.
All in all…..
Plettenberg was my favourite town that we visited during our Garden Route drive. I felt like it had the most to offer with such a wide range of activities on the table to do. I’m happy that we had this much time to spend here as these activities were such a big highlight to our trip and really helped keep our Safari blues at bay. If you are looking for a nice dinner spot while you are there be sure to check out The Fat Fish! It will be one of the nicest, value for money dinner in a nice setting you will ever have!
Are these activities that you would do if you did the Garden Route? Or are there others that you have done in this area? Let me know!