Events on the Garden Route and Little Karoo

With several exciting events coming up along theGarden Routeand Little Karoo over the coming months,Garden Routegoers will be wondering where to stay and what to do. Often, tailor-made tours and getaways are the best way to find fabulous places to stay. This tailored experience also means that extra-careful attention is paid to travel arrangements and all the add-ons that will personalise your trip.

Considered to be one ofSouth Africa’s best mountain bike races, the Talisman Herald Karoo to Coast 100km Mountain Bike Challenge takes place on 21 September 2008. With a route beginning atUniondale, proceeding via the one-and-only Prince Alfred’s Pass, and ending in Knysna, this is not a race for the fainthearted. It certainly is a good reason, though, to visit Knysna.

After the biking bonanza you can head forPlettenbergBay, which will be all abuzz with the Whiskey, Whales and All That Jazz Festival from 22-24 September 2008. There’s a great line-up of musical events featuringSouth Africa’s best jazz musicians, who will be performing at select venues inPlettenbergBay. There will also be a programme of special events for children throughout the festival. Whiskey and whales are the other two parts of the equation, so expect to delight all the senses at one ofSouth Africa’s most visited coastal playgrounds.

Foodies will be out in force from 24-28 September at Gastronomica 2008, an event in Knysna that will be jam-packed with demos, talks and workshops bySouth Africa’s fundis in the food and hospitality sphere. It’s not too soon to be sharpening teeth for this event.

The Eden Challenge comes up in October – an incredible race of endurance spanning about 260km in a period of 30 hours. Mountain biking, hiking and paddling skills will all be up for challenge during this exciting event.

Mountain bikers will be back on theGarden Routein December for the Great Outeniqua Mountain Bike Tour. This event will take place on 15 and 16 December and will see bikers braving theMontaguPassand travelling through the Little Karoo. A semi-arid valley in theWestern Capebounded by the Swartberg andLangebergMountains, the Little Karoo is well known for its friendly inhabitants, uniquely enchanting landscape, quality wines and small hamlets well worth visiting.

See the year out with the Kurland International Polo Test at Kurlandon 29 December. This test between South African and English players is the highlight of the polo season and undoubtedly the place to go to hobnob with celebrities. Kurland is a resplendent country homestead and world-class polo complex on the outskirts ofPlettenbergBay. Lavish accommodation, a luxury spa, and special provision for children in a serene setting of oaks, meadows and paddocks makeKurland an exclusiveGarden Route getaway for the whole family.

Thinking ahead to 2009, an event to diarise is the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival, which is scheduled to run between 4 and 11 April 2009. It’s a festival of Afrikaans arts and culture held in Oudtshoorn, with dazzling theatre events, music highlights ranging from the popular to the classical, and opportunities for all who like to get on the soapbox or do verbal combat on the controversial topics of the day.

Oudtshoorn is a town no-one should miss, picturesquely situated between the Outeniqua and Swartberg mountain ranges, rich in grand old architecture, acclaimed as the ostrich capital of the world, and home to the Cango Caves, one of the world’s greatest natural wonders.

Coming up on the gay calendar next year is the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras, a hugely vibrant extravaganza of non-stop entertainment and partying in Knysna. May will mark the month that this popular holiday town is to be painted thoroughly pink.

Knysna is a geat holiday spot on theGarden Route, shelteringSouth Africa’s largest indigenous forest, an oyster hatchery, and the placid Knysna lagoon. The Knysna Heads are an impressive geological feature forming a channel through which the sea washes into the lagoon.

Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa delivers a world-class experience on the Eastern Head of Knysna, with exquisite views of the ocean, lagoon andNoetzieBeach. It’s a great destination for nature-lovers who like to holiday in opulent luxury, with lots to do on the doorstep.

Alternatively, stay at the Phantom Forest Eco Reserve, a place of romance and sensual delight set high in an eco-reserve in Knysna, or base yourself beneath a forest canopy at the trendy Tsala Treetop Lodge between Knysna andPlettenbergBay. If you’re a lover of fine old country houses, Hunter’s Country House is another winning choice, also situated midway between Knysna andPlettenbergBay.

If staying inPlettenbergBay, check in at The Plettenberg, a superb ocean-facing hotel with fashionable exclusive-use options, or head forKurland.

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