As usual, I was able to get so much useful information off TA about a visit to an area I knew little about that I thought I'd write a trip report in the hope it will help others. All accommodation was prebooked and I'd planned a route to avoid arriving in the dark. Most places we planned to arrive around 3pm.
Sun am - arrived and collected rental car and drove to Atlantic Bay guest house in Camps Bay. We were originally going to stay in the city centre but are so glad we opted for Camps Bay, loved it, great views and fab to be beside the sea! Drove to Table Mountain (10 mins drive) and went up via the gondola spending a couple of hours walking around. If you have a car, stay in Camps Bay if it's summer!
Mon - drove via chapmans peak drive to boulders bay and saw the penguins. On to Cape Point, walked up to the lighthouse and spent a bit of time wandering around. Enjoyed seeing a family of baboons from the car. On to Muizenberg just to see the beach huts and a brief stop in Hout Bay on the way home. Stopped for countless pics of the stunning views!
Tues - Got the 'red' hop on, hop off open top bus tour from camps bay into cape town, stopping at V&A, castle of good hope, green market area and the Bo Kaap area. Back to camps bay via table mountain - gondola shut with the wind so grateful we went up on our first day! Bus trip good idea even if you have a car as there was running commentary in personal earphones and it gave hubby a day off!
Weds - drove to the winelands area, about 40 mins drive initially. Looked at Siedelberg then down towards Stellenbosch on R44 and stopped Delaire, just for the great views although I bet it's lovely for lunch if you were more dressed up than us! On to Franschoek then to Boschendal for some wine tasting. We loved the winelands area and the wonderful scenery and although we weren't overly bothered about wine tasting I'd thoroughly recommend it. Sitting under the huge oak tree at Boscendal with 5 samples of wine was a lovely way to spend an hour. Wished we had the time to spend a night in Franschoek or on a wine estate.
Thur - Drove to hermanus after stopping to see more penguins at Bettys Bay. More penguins here than Boulders and more 'rugged' but without the lovely beaches. We enjoyed both penguin colonys equally. No whales at Hermanus so drove the 40km to De Kelders which I'd fortunately researched, and spotted one as soon as we pulled up! There was a handful in the end and it was magical to see them from the coastline. Hermanus was a nice place to spend a night but we'd have only stayed longer to go shark cage diving. Alas not enough time!!
Fri - drove to Knysna arriving late afternoon. Enjoyed an early tea on the waterfront area at 34 South and had my first oyster!
Sat - drove to The Heads and went for a wander and to see the lovely views up there. Then to the Storms River area (about an hour away) stopping to look at the world's highest bungee on the way. Walked across the bridge and up the other side for great views. Think we saw dolpins in the distance. Called in at Monkeyland on the way back and did the hour tour. Thoroughly enjoyed being up close to the monkeys and the lemurs.
Sun - Drove to Plett. half an hour away and did a walk on the Robberg peninsula. It was very hot and we didn't have a lot of water on us so played safe and did the 2 hour walk. Ended up coming down a sand dune to a fabulous beach where 'die Island' is. Thoroughly recommend this walk even if you just walk the 10 mins to the viewpoint. Back to Knysna quays for some shopping and ice cream then drove to Brenton on Sea for a look at the beach there. Glad we stayed at Knysna for the duration rather than Plett. as we liked the quays area and there was some lovely restaurants.
Mon - drove to our safari at Schotia (about 4 hrs drive). Left the car and joined the safari the highlight being seeing lions so close! It was cold and raining but Schotia provided great waterproof capes and blankets and didn't stop us enjoying our safaris one bit. After a great meal we did an hour night safari and then went to our lodge which had a huge bath, no electricity just candles and a log burner. Magical listening to the lions from your room! Very impressed with Schotia.
Tues - an early morning safari - more lions so close up you could almost touch them - followed by breakfast . Then taken to Addo for a guided tour to see the elephants - again so close up and brilliant to see a whole family of them. Wished we had another day to do a self drive in Addo. After lunch, set off 2.30pm and drove to Plett. for the night.
Weds - Drove to Oudtshoorn via the Outeniqua pass. After a warm and friendly welcome from 88 BVR guesthouse we left armed with info. on what to do, all on the same road so really easy and time saving! We drove up the Swartberg pass to the top, soaking up amazing views and back down again. The road is unpaved but fine in a standard car, not too bumpy and there is 'turn around places' if you feel you don't want to continue. We wished we'd had time to drive all the way to Prince Albert. Managed to catch a 3pm Cango Caves tour for an hour and although we weren't overly bothered about seeing caves, having seen plenty in our lifetimes, we were glad we did as they're very impressive and the guide was entertaining as well as knowledgable. On to Cango Ostrich farm, again we weren't bothered about this but had a brilliant hour, holding 4 day old babies, getting a hug and a 'kiss' from an ostrich and watching others have a go at riding them! Our guide here was very informative and we thoroughly recommend it. Lastly, on to Buffelsdrift Lodge (free entry) for a drink and saw a family of hippos leave the watering hole! We were sorry not to have longer to spend in Oudtshoorn.
Thurs - met Devey from Meerkat adventures for a sunrise visit to see these magical creatures. We'd seen some on safari and my hubby did his best to get out of an early start but admits he loved the experience. Watching them wake up, greet each other, warm themselves up in the sun then head about their daily visit was probably the highlight of an amazing trip. Simply magical. After breakfast we went to Cango Wildlife Ranch, having a 15 min look around then an hour tour which was really enjoyable finished off with seeing white tiger cubs. I opted to go in to stroke the baby cheetahs and get a photo! Headed to Montagu around lunch time stopping at Ronnies Sex Shop (look this place up!) for a drink and snack. The place was full of Harley Davidsons and we could've sworn we were in western America!
Fri - reluctantly left our lovely guest house (Airlie's) and drove via the Franschoek pass to Franschoek for a light lunch then on to the airport, dropping the hire car around 4pm.
Notes: We considered doing a one way drive and flying back from PE but didn't regret driving back a slightly different route. We did around 1800 miles total. If you do a one way route, make sure you drive the route 62 as there's really not much along the N2 until you get to Mossel Bay. Route 62 and the little Karoo was outstandingly beautiful and so different to the UK and we preferred it to the much hyped garden route. We loved the diverse scenery of our trip, being by the ocean then a short distance away you're in the desert. Then a safari to top it all off!
We're veggies but I eat fish and enjoyed trying delicous different types. There was always a veggie choice in restaurants and the food and wine were truly outstanding, the best we've had in the world I think and at far less than UK prices. Usually we live off mexican in the states or pizza/pasta elsewhere but we had a great varied diet and didn't miss anything. When we did have pasta it was almost as good as in Italy.
Some fuel stations are accepting credit cards now (esso were in hermanus and some others that only advertised debit cards took my credit card) but make sure you have cash available for those that don't.
I have to admit were we were slightly concerned about safety in visiting South Africa even though Cape Town has interested us for years. We did think about doing excursions initially but are so glad we did our own thing, as we usually do. Driving is easy and quieter than the UK and provided you take the usual cautions as you would anywhere else in the world, we felt safe. We walked to and from restaurants/bars at night in every place we stayed. We were very lucky with the weather, it was 20-30 degrees and fine apart from our safari. Finally, we can't sleep on night flights but having no jet lag really made a world of difference! Great to feel refreshed after a busy holiday rather than worn out for a few days thanks to jet lag! Many thanks to everyone who helped me plan this amazing trip. Having travelled a fair bit, I highly recommend this fabulous country.