South African Shoestring: The Garden Route P1

After a very long drive from Johannesburg, we finally arrived on the beautiful Sunshine Coast, famous for its great surf beaches, people, stunning natural landscapes and plethora of activities. There is a lot to do!

When you find yourself at the Sunday's River in the northern reaches of the Sunshine Coast in South Africa, make sure you pay Karl a visit! 

This wonderful guy will not only give you an amazing experience on a cruise along the river, a exhilarating ride on the steep dunes with a sand board, but he will show you around his home, his workplace and the house boat. If you are very lucky he may also pick you a few delicious strawberries from his garden. 

The sand boarding is awesome; exciting and relatively easy so anyone can do it. The views of Addo park from the top of the dunes should be enough to take you there. 

Addo Elephant Park is a huge reserve, famous for the great population of elephants that live there. People from all over the world visit to meet the Big 5 face-to-face. If you are on a budget, instead of the safari, pay the entry fees and ask the staff to show you a map of where animals have most recently been spotted. Copy the information on to a map they will provide you with and go off searching! Make sure to add your sightings to their list!

We saw 3 of the Big 5 during our 2 hour ride around the park, but you can take as long as you want.

Port Elizabeth is like many of the cities along the South African coast. Plenty of backpackers all offering a smorgasbord of activities, almost all of which are based outside Port Elizabeth. Not much to do here unless you want to check out some shopping, restaurants or nightlife. 

We stopped at Angelos Walmer where we had a fancy lunch for a very budget price, very highly recommended!

From there we headed to Jeffrey's bay. This beautiful little town vibrates with great music and better surf. Young faces roam the street in board shorts and bikinis whether the sun is out, or not. The factory shops of many renowned brands are a major attraction, especially the huge billabong one. We had to check it out, but I guess we were not exactly the target, 400 Rand for a t shirt still seemed really expensive to us, so we walked out with the best deal we could: diving gloves for only 180 Rand

Surf beaches line the coast giving this town a great reputation with wave riders! The busy strip behind the beach has a great selection of restaurants so take your pick! At night, music fills the air and smiles are contagious. 

Tsitsikamma national park at Stormsriver mouth, has to be on your list of things to do. This incredible space is home to stunning views of the ocean as it dances about the coastline. 

There are activities for everyone: hiking, walking over the suspension bridges, diving and snorkeling. We decided to go for their most famous tour: kayak and lilo in the storms river mouth. The tour was around 430 rand and it took around 3 h. Even though the scenery and the guides are amazing, we felt that this tour did not offer the best value for money. The ride was too short, both in the kayaks and on the lilos, we would have liked a bit more action and movement instead of playing around in the river. Nevertheless it was a good experience, and the scenery is still quite amazing. 

On our way to Plettenberg we made a few stops that we couldn't miss. So many people told us to visit Monkeyland and Birds of Eden that we had to see what the fuss was about. We bought a triple ticket that included the mentioned sanctuaries with Jukani big cat sanctuary as an extra one. 

The sizes of the cages look surprisingly small after experiencing Kruger, and this gave us flashbacks of Lion Park. We passed a corner and saw a beautiful white tiger pacing around his small enclosure, and we immediately approached the member of the staff standing by him. She was able to give us the answers to the questions we had!

These animals are ALL rescued from zoos, circuses, trophy shooting reserves and many other places. Their white tiger had been rescued from an Asian organisation breeding tigers to farm their bones. The demand for which comes from the twisted idea that this works as an aphrodisiac. Read our poaching blog where we discuss rhino horn when it is published in the coming weeks.

Jukani may not gave the biggest spaces, but they truly care for these creatures and they are offering them a better alternative (as releasing them to the wild would be condemning them to death).

Birds of Eden is essentially an enormous net over a large covering of forest. The birds fly freely around their area and seem very happy. They too are all rescued from less attractive alternatives. There is an amazing range of animals and there are beautiful pathways around the sanctuary, allowing visitors to become a part of the environment.

Monkeyland has species who have been rescued from all around the world, this is a truly educational experience. A guide is necessary here to avoid monkeys taking advantage of us being in their homes and stealing everything shiny! Huge limas inhabit this sanctuary as well so keep an eye out for them too, they like souvenirs!

Be sure to stop off at Bloukrans bridge, the highest commercial bungee jump in the world. At 200 meters, this is an experience to make you shake in your boots. Everything is part of the experience: The sound of dancehall reggae blasting from under the bridge and the music vibrates through everything, including all the employees whose every movement is in rhythmic timing. When it is your turn to jump, you have no choice, dive forward, jump and let go! As you soar into the valley take in the beautiful panorama, albeit upside down, and wait for the cord to sling you back up! Can't miss this one!

As you can see this coast is filled with things to do. It has Animals, beaches,  surf, adrenaline playgrounds, incredible views and amazing people. It is impossible to do it all so we had to leave a few things out, but what we did do, we LOVED. 

This blog is part one of two parts. To continue further, read PART 2 here.

Plettenburg  is our next stop! 

If you have any suggestions or questions just contact us! We are always here for any traveller, brother and sister.