Secrets of the Garden Route & Eastern Cape

It’s not often that an entire group of Giltedge Africa consultants go on a trip together. But last month, Nadine, Farah, Tamsin and Ntombi headed off on a whirlwind trip to South Africa’s Garden Route and the Eastern Cape.

We chatted to Tamsin, Product Manager of Giltedge Africa, about their exciting time.

Which places did you visit in the Garden Route & Eastern Cape?

We drove to the Garden Route and visited Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Port Elizabeth. We then headed to the Eastern Cape, and visited Founders Lodge, Lalibela Game Reserve and Kariega Game Reserve.

Eastern Cape

If you had to choose, what would be your top 5 properties?

  • Hog Hollow Country Lodge (The Crags, Plettenberg Bay)
  • No 5 by Mantis (Port Elizabeth, Garden Route)
  • Founders Lodge by Mantis (Eastern Cape)
  • Kariega Settler’s Drift (Eastern Cape)
  • Kanonkop House (Knysna, Garden Route)

What was your impression of Hog Hollow Country Lodge?

What really blew me away was the beautiful location of the lodge. So tranquil and serene. Hog Hollow has gorgeous views overlooking the lush valley right in front of the lodge and majestic mountain ranges in the distance.

The lodge makes the most of the views with a large deck where meals are served, and then further down there’s the impressive pool deck.

Eastern Cape

Most suites have expansive balconies – and it’s worth waking up early for the sunrise views! Of course, our stay was far too short to fully appreciate the comfort of our suites and try out the activities offered in the nature reserve, which the lodge is situated in.

The suites at Hog Hollow Country Lodge, and beautiful valley views

All suites are so beautiful. What’s worth mentioning are the two luxurious, double-storey villas, slightly more contemporary, but still in the same Hog Hollow style.

Eastern Cape
Luxurious double-story villas

What was your impression of No 5 by Mantis?

Slick, sophisticated and luxurious. Mantis No5 Boutique Art Hotel is filled with eclectic art pieces, which I’m sure becomes a great talking point for guests. I know we loved hearing some of the back stories relating to the art.

I loved the beautiful and spacious suites; as well as the amazing meal we had with our hostess, Tracy. The hotel has great features such as a spa, movie theatre, and a very romantic wine cellar, to name just a few.

The amazing artwork throughout the hotel, No 5 by Mantis
Eastern Cape
Outdoor area and pool, No 5 by Mantis

What did you think about Founders Lodge by Mantis?

We experienced incredible warm and kind hospitality during our stay at Founders Lodge. Nothing was too much trouble and our every need was catered to. We had beautiful meals and great service from the team – especially from the lodge managers, Mike and Leonie – and Freddy, our ranger. A lovely surprise worth mentioning is the rhino that came to the watering hole close to our suites!

From left to right: the team enjoying a delicious dinner; the suites are comfortable and modern; watching the sunrise from our suites; gorgeous meals served at Founders Lodge

What were your thoughts on Kariega Settlers Drift?

What stood out for me is the beautiful landscape – high peaks and deep valleys – with seemingly evergreen vegetation. Kariega Settlers Drift is sleek and contemporary; the suites are out of this world! At the same time, there’s an intimacy about the lodge and the incredible service that we received.

Eastern Cape

Jo (lodge manager) and Josh (game ranger) did their absolute best to fit in everything we asked for: site inspections at all their lodges, a delightful game experience, and river experience! As well as a lovely lie-in so that we could enjoy a peaceful morning in our suites… a rare treat on our whirlwind trip.

The morning river cruise on the Bushman River was the highlight of the whole trip! The river was so calm it mirrored the reeds on the banks, surrounding hills and the sky. Even a giraffe came up to the river as we were cruising by. So special!

Eastern Cape
We saw giraffes on our river cruise; calm waters of the Bushman River

What was your impression of Kanonkop House?

I would like to say that the 180-degree view of the Knysna lagoon did it for me! But only second to the amazing hospitality and hosting we received from the minute we arrived until we left. The suites are beautifully decorated with lots of attention to detail and personal touches. But the personal attention of the staff was really what stood out for me, and we saw it in the interaction with the other guests as well.

Lovely views over the Knysna lagoon, Kanonkop House

Where did you have your favourite game viewing experience?

We experienced amazing game viewing at Kariega Settlers Drift in the Eastern Cape on our afternoon game drive. The landscape is amazing up-close, and we clambered hills and descended into valleys in our 4×4. And of course, that Bushman’s River cruise was the highlight of my entire trip!

Kariega’s game drives and water cruise were spectacular!

What was the one magical moment that stood out to you?

Honestly… there were just too many!

Waking up to the sun rising over the Crags from our suite at Hog Hollow. Rhinos arriving at the watering hole in front of our suites, then later that evening a special dinner in the historic dining room at Founders Lodge. Cruising the Bushman’s River at Kariega Game Reserve. And lastly, waking up to the Knysna Lagoon view from our suite at Kanonkop House.

But what truly made it even more special is the personal and attentive service we experienced throughout our trip!

Thank you, Tamsin for sharing your trip with us! If you’d like to book an Eastern Cape or Garden Route safari, you can contact us directly.