Here is some feedback on a Garden Route self drive we organised for my UK family.
It seems an age since we saw you all for that delicious dinner at your parents, with the bobotie and wonderful wine, when we were just about to start our trip round the Garden Route and up into the Klein Karoo. It was as good as we could have expected apart from being so cold and wet in Knysna and Plett. The accommodation in both places was first rate, and we certainly recommend Under Milkwood (which of course you know well from your parents’ stay). The room we had was the best as it had 2 decks and was right on the waterfront. But if they want to let it in winter, they really should do something about heating it better. It had just been renovated and extended, so hadn’t been used for a while and was very cold, with one tiny electric oil radiator for the whole chalet of sitting/dining room, 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms! Luckily we had the beanbags for the microwave which your mum gave us. It would be easy for them to provide a couple of small fan heaters in winter for any chalet they let.
We loved Knysna, thought it had a great buzz, and is in a wonderful setting. It was a shame it was raining and grey and we couldn’t get out for a walk on the other side of the lagoon as we had hoped to do. The restaurant 34º South was fun and inexpensive, Limani Blue had nice fish, and the oysters in The Oyster Company were delicious (but very expensive compared with France – a surprise as everything else is so well priced for us, including the consistently excellent wine).
Little Sanctuary you probably know about too from Bev and Ampie who have stayed there. It is also very comfortable with lovely views over the bay, and a nice terrace to sit on for breakfast and during the day. In fact they will serve breakfast there any day it isn’t raining – we had it outside as soon as the sun appeared on the second morning even though it was only 11ºC on the thermometer! We found several nice places to eat in spite of there being a strike of workers from the township (Fushi and The Med).
Plett is wonderful for just walking and lots to see in the vicinity, but the path to Storms River mouth suspension bridge was closed because of a fire and then erosion to the path after it rained, something they don’t tell you until you get to the visitor centre. I’d been looking forward to running over it at speed!
We loved the drive up to Prince Albert through Meeringspoort, and the journey the next day over Swartberg and then past Red Rock was even more dramatic. A memorable drive we’d love to do again. Prince Albert is definitely an established B&B town for one or two nights, and we would recommend Onse Rus – as Bev and Ampie have since stayed there they will be able to tell you how it compares with other B&Bs. It was very friendly, comfortable, nice garden with a small pool, big wood-burning stove in the thatched main living/dining room. They had booked all their guests into a small restaurant called the Olive Branch, which only opens a couple of evenings a week, and was open that day. They suggest you phone well in advance to tell them when you are coming, and then I think they phone round all the local B&Bs to fill up their tables. It’s worth booking. Imaginative menu, superbly cooked fixed-price menu with choice of 3 or 4 starters, about 5 main courses, and 3 desserts. We would happily eat there once a week if it were a bit closer to home.
Moira had been a bit reluctant about the safari part of our holiday but I am pleased to report is a total convert now she has experienced it, and we both long to spend more time in a game lodge next time – 3 nights gave us a good taste, but 5 would be ideal. Your endorsement of Djuma Bush Lodge was well founded. It was exactly what we were looking for, comfortable, unpretentious, well-run with a staff who would multi-task and cover for each other seamlessly, well-cooked meals with plenty of food, extremely friendly, and with first-class guides and trackers. It was very well organized, lots to do with 2 drives a day plus a walk if you wanted it, nice places to sit and watch the animals wandering around. We saw lot of everything except cheetah, and the ranger on our vehicle was superb at getting right up close to the lions with cubs, following leopards, and being just 3 or 4 metres away from elephants and rhinos. It was quite an experience for us. Our ranger/guide was I think first class and knowledgeable. He has spent several years in Djuma.
Love and best wishes