Beginning the Garden Route

I booked a ticket with the Baz Bus, a hop on hop off bus stopping at all the best locations between Cape Town and Johannesburg. As a solo traveler it’s one of the easiest ways to travel the garden route, especially because they pick you up and drop you off at a select few hostels in each town. I’ve not known such luxury on a bus even in the western world, each seat has a set of USB ports to charge your devices as well as wifi for the duration of your journey, making what could be a waste of time the perfect opportunity to plan your trip and get caught up on any admin stuff – or just stream Netflix and enjoy taking a couple of hours to relax.

My first stop was Hermanus, a beautiful small beach town known for its wineries (surprisingly not why I chose to go there). The journey from Cape Town was only an hour or so, and the scenery along the way meant that I didn’t get much planning done. My hostel was like a big house, nice and cosy and with a few pets for added comfort. A beautiful area but with not much to do, I was keen to enjoy a relaxing 24 hours there. Starting with the cliff walk which I started from my hostel, the halfway point, I walked along the boardwalk taking me through trees and bushes all the while watching the ocean next to me. In the right season, I would’ve seen plenty of whales as this is the spot for it, but unfortunately I’ve come at the wrong time of year. I passed a few people, including a couple of security guards which made me feel more safe but made me question my safety as well, wondering why they needed to be there at all. But I was essentially on my own for the 2 hours or so that it took me to arrive at the final stop of the walk, the beach. Not prepared at all I simply sat and watched the waves before having a small lunch at the cafe I was next to while waiting for a taxi to drive me back to town, unwilling to walk back the way I’d come and make it a 5 hour walk. The town was quite cute, all you’d expect of a small city situated along the garden route, with a few cafes, boutique stores and restaurants, and a fair few bed and breakfasts that I noticed on my walk back to the hostel.

Arriving back I decided to do some trip planning and made a friend with a very similar plan to mine, including the duration of her trip and unwillingness to go home for quite a while. Our garden route ideas were the same and we made plans to meet up at our next destinations where our timings were already different, and would then plan the rest of it together. The idea of solo travel is amazing, but realistically you have to meet some people along the way and stick with them when you can, especially if you’re fairly extroverted like myself.

We walked along the ocean into town to have dinner at a Tapas place where we had vouchers for free drinks and there was to be live music. Enjoying our drinks even more so because they were free we chatted for hours and stopped to enjoy the band every now and then, with a few classic hits covers in there that even we could appreciate. Walking home was not the best idea, expecting the light from town to continue but stopping on our long street home. Thinking that the place was safer than most, but used to being in Cape Town we sped up our walking and kept checking behind us, only fueling our fear but thankfully making us laugh at ourselves and what we were doing. When we got back we were told it’s a safe place so we were fine, but we decided maybe not to do that in future.

The next morning (Saturday) I packed up my gear, something I’m still not quite as quick at as I hoped, before getting on the Baz Bus en route to Mossel Bay, a place I’d heard mixed things about but the only place that could book me accommodation on such short notice given the public holiday in South Africa and the end of school holidays. Another town with not much to do (something I’m starting to expect of the garden route but I’m quite looking forward to) I walked through town towards the beach. The place was empty and gave off an eerie vibe. Not super keen to spend two nights there I made plans to properly relax, catch up on some Netflix, do some planning and maybe even open my untouched book. Half my plans changed as I realised how bad the wifi was in my hostel but was thankful for the movies I already had downloaded.  

On Sunday my mood improved when I was invited by the girls in my dorm to do the lighthouse walk. It was a beautiful day to do it and the view was incredible once we got to the top, treating me to four dolphins swimming underneath the wave before one jumped out, none of them surfacing again. We ate lunch in an antique style cafe with an old car yard out front which looked over the harbour and enjoyed the chance to sit down before heading home.

Monday came and brought with it the most rain I’ve seen in a while, halting my plans of walking to get groceries and forcing me inside with the bad wifi. The roof in my dorm room started leaking straight on to my bed as soon as the rain started, making me thankful I was already awake and packed so it was easy to move out of the way. By 11 the rain had almost stopped and I grabbed my jacket to make a dash for it and grab breakfast and dinner supplies for my next stop, determined to save a bit of money and make some home cooked meals.

Arriving back I waited for the Baz Bus where I would depart Mossel Bay and head to Wilderness, my next stop along the garden route.

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