The Garden Route

The coastal corridor that stretches along the south-eastern shore of South Africa is known as the Garden Route; aptly named according to its lush green surroundings that pulse with bountiful beauty. The strip stretching from Mossel Bay to Storm’s River is a popular area, which every train tour of South Africa should explore. This once treacherous terrain has since been thoroughly tamed, yet retains rustic nuances that reverberate across the landscape.

It has only been 40 years since the Garden Route became more easily navigable; before then the dangerous environment made visits to the region extremely time consuming. Its precarious geographical positioning, between the small winter rainfall zone of the Western Cape and the large summer rainfall zone of the rest of the country, ensures that the strip receives rain plentifully. This has resulted in multiple rivers and deep valleys spanning the vicinity.

For centuries, this area was dominated by towering, primeval forestry and, over the decades, numerous varieties of yellowwood and stinkwood have evolved, growing to titanic heights of over 100 metres tall. Within the eastern section of the Garden Route is the Tsitsikamma Forest; a protected and unsullied space that attests to the region’s magnificent flora. This touch of wilderness permeates the area and seeps through the numerous captivating towns which are peppered along the coast.

Today, however, the area is far easier to traverse and is also the site of a few man-made marvels which help to facilitate travellers in their exploration of the landscape. The 191 metre long Storms River Bridge towers 130 metres above the river and showcases traditional Roman and Italian influences in design, while the Bloukrans River Bridge rises 216 metres above the river and stretches for 451 metres, making it the largest concrete bridge in Africa.

Travellers passing through the Garden Route, revelling in polished, five-star luxury train travel, will delight in the beauty and history of the area, which continues to enthral with its ethereal charm.