We make the journey from Cape Town up to our mill in Plettenberg Bay (and back) so many times a year that we’ve come to consider ourselves experts on it, and on all the good things to look out or stop for along the way.
That’s why we’ve put together this laundry list of all the best places, views and points of interest we think you should know about for when you next find yourself heading up the Garden Route…
SIR LOWRY’S PASS
Our guide begins with simply appreciating a few beautiful views. After some sharp twists and turns, you finally summit of Sir Lowry’s Pass with a sigh of relief. Now is the time to take in the epic receding view of Cape Town as it finally sinks in that this is the beginning of a road trip. So start that playlist and get settled into your seat!
Arguably the best known and most beloved stop along the first stretch of the Garden Route journey, Grabouw’s Peregrine is almost always busy and booming with people passing by on their way to or from destinations. This place is known for its pies and its apple juice – the perfect first roadside snack. You can chow down while sitting out on the beautiful wooden deck and watch kids play on the jungle gym, or even get your literature fix from the trailer of books nearby just waiting to be cracked open by passing travellers.
Dassiesfontein (near Caledon) is a great stop to make if you’ve got kids travelling with you. They can stretch their legs on the jungle gym and cuddle the donkeys outside while you browse through this treasure trove of a shop and café. With an eclectic mix of old fashioned homewares, obscure trinkets and delicious homemade treats on offer, this is a truly unique spot – with one very charming resident cat.
Peregrine pies might be delicious, but the Ou Meul pies in Riviersonderend are famous. They have every kind imaginable in an assortment of different sizes (stock up on the small ones and keep ’em in the freezer for dinner party snacks!), as well as delicious Bootlegger coffee and a big shop full of beautiful food goods and homeware items. Plus, they have a wide range of Mungo stock on their shelves – so be sure to check us out while you’re there.
Spotting the letters spelling out ‘Blue Crane’ on the corrugated roof of this little pad stal (Afrikaans for ‘road stall’, for any foreigners reading this) just past Heidelberg is truly an exciting moment on our road trip, as it marks exactly halfway between Cape Town and Plettenberg Bay. And if you’re in the market for any legitimately South African, homemade jams, baked goods, dried fruits or biltong, this is definitely a pitstop you’re going to want to make.
‘SLEEPING BEAUTY’ MOUNTAIN
This is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it point of interest for any eagle-eyed travellers (i.e. not the ones catching flies in the backseat) as you are travelling through Riversdale. A well known group of peaks in the Langeberg Mountains is dubbed the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ trail because of its resemblance to a snoozing woman. Can you make out her eyelashes? Her nose? Her feminine form? First one to spot it gets to use the next restroom before anyone else in the car…
Time to stretch your legs and appreciate the beautiful view from a steep cliff overlooking the stretch of beach and town that is Wilderness! Even if you’re not lucky enough to spot a pod of dolphins jumping through the waves, this is a truly breathtaking view and well worth pulling the car over to take in.
ÎLE DE PAÏN
Arguably the best known eating spot along the Garden Route, Île de Païn (‘island of bread’) was conceived of and opened in 2002 by chef Liezie Mulder and master baker Markus Färbinger on Thesen Island, Knysna. After a fire devastated the building in 2015, the restaurant was renovated and reopened in 2016 with a beautiful interior mixing industrial elements and rustic charm. Here you will find an incredible array of artisanal breads baked fresh in the early hours of the morning, as well as a selection of sweet treats that will make it impossible to choose just one. And be sure to look out for our Vadoek cloths making a statement as part of the decor…
OLD NICK VILLAGE
Are we there yet? Well yes, actually! This is the final stop on our road trip as Old Nick Village is the Garden Route shopping destination that is also home to our Mungo Mill and Plettenberg Bay retail store. Here you will find a collective of interesting shops ranging from a ‘psychedelicatessen’ of soaps & body products to an emporium of pots & ceramics, as well as a curated collection of African art, souvenirs & artefacts. If you’re lucky enough to arrive there on a Wednesday, be sure to explore the midweek market. And don’t forget to go and take a look around our mill any day of the week to learn all about our production process and check out our beautiful antique looms.
Here’s a useful Google map to help you plan your drive up the Garden Route. Maybe you’ll stop at one or two of these or maybe you’ll stop at all of them. Whatever you choose to do, travel safe and let us know how your adventure pans out.