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Garden Route

The southern coast of South Africa is separated from the interior by a range of 5,000-foot mountains. To their north lies the arid and treeless region of the Karoo, while a lush strip along the Indian Ocean enjoys a mild, Mediterranean climate of occasional ...

The southern coast of South Africa is separated from the interior by a range of 5,000-foot mountains. To their north lies the arid and treeless region of the Karoo, while a lush strip along the Indian Ocean enjoys a mild, Mediterranean climate of occasional rainfall and abundant sunshine. Eastward from the Cape, the coastal zone is covered by a carpet of low evergreen shrubland known as fynbos, which shelters a huge variety of spectacular flowers, including the national emblem -- the dramatic, reddish-orange King Protea. The most popular stretch of the Garden Route extends for about 125 miles, from Heidelberg to Tsitsikamma. The road is excellent, and it is quite possible to drive its entire length in a few hours. Most visitors, however, pause in one of the coastal towns, such as George, Knysna or Plettenberg Bay. These are tranquil, picturesque places with numerous excellent restaurants.

Understandably, the area is very popular with the South Africans themselves, and during school holidays, it is virtually impossible to find a place to stay. At Christmas in particular, affluent Johannesburg descends en masse on Plettenberg Bay. The inhabitants of Cape Town also arrive in force, as, unlike the frigid Atlantic, the Indian Ocean here is much warmer and suitable for swimming. The relatively mild water temperature also attracts hundreds of right whales, which, from June to September, can be seen swimming close to shore to calve. 

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