Secret Season on the Garden Route

While the Western Cape should be celebrated for its beauty and allure all year-round, winter through spring doesn’t get nearly enough attention. It’s a wonderful time of year, especially on the Garden Route, with its collection of bright sunny days, winter storms, quiet beaches and breathtaking scenery. You’ll need to pack your winter woolies and summer Ts, because the weather can be changeable, but there’s nothing quite like exploring the Garden Route during ‘secret season’ – and here are just a few reasons why:

1. It’s actually quite mild
The Garden Route, believe it or not, boasts one of the world’s mildest climates (second only to Hawaii) with mild to warm summers, and mild to cool winters. With an average winter temperature of 18 °C (considered balmy in many parts of the world), you can get out and about during the day – and curl up in front of a roaring fire come sunset. For a cozy, intimate stay in the foothills of the (sometimes snow-topped) Outeniqua Mountains, we’d recommend a stay at The Manor House.

Enjoy a glass of wine in the bar, or curl up in the library – its shelves brimming with books gifted by previous visitors – as a fire crackles in the grate. The Manor House has plenty of nooks and crannies in which to relax, and gaze out at the gardens beyond.

Even better? The Manor House at Fancourt has just been nominated in the categories of Africa’s Leading Boutique Hotel 2020, South Africa’s Leading Boutique Hotel 2020 and South Africa’s Leading Country House Hotel 2020 in the annual World Travel Awards. We’re incredibly proud of this achievement and we’re looking forward to welcoming guests again soon – be it spring, summer or secret season 2021!

2. The game-spotting is excellent
Visitors to the Garden Route are spoilt for choice when it comes to malaria-free, Big 5 safari adventures. Not only does a winter endeavor mean you’ll dodge the bustling crowds, but it’s an ideal time for game viewing as the days are cooler and the animals are not taking cover from the heat. The area’s rich fynbos also attracts a host of different bird species, making this season a true delight for enthusiastic twitchers!

The leisure team at Fancourt is always happy to book your game drives and excursions – or you could consider one of our hand-picked, combo itineraries, which give you the best bush, beach or winelands itineraries in the Western Cape!

3. Enjoy whale-watching at its finest
The Garden Route’s coastal stretch is one of the world’s favourite whale watching stops. With over 35 unique species of dolphin and whale, it’s no wonder that The harbour of Stilbaai, Dolphin Point in Wilderness, The Robberg Peninsula, and the Lookout Beach in Plettenberg Bay have become hotspots for whale sightings – and it only gets better in secret season! From June through November, the majestic, yet elusive southern right whales migrate to the Indian Ocean to escape the cold Antarctic waters, providing exceptional sightings of these grand behemoths. Keep your eyes peeled, because you may just spot humpback whales and the notorious orca (killer whale) too.

4. Hiking
If you thought that days of traversing panoramic trails and storybook terrain was the preserve of summery months, you’d be surprised. In truth, many of the Garden Routes trails flourish in winter, offering up lush, forested walking paths, hidden streams and waterfalls, ancient trees and panoramic views. The Robberg Hiking Trail in Plettenberg Bay remains a favourite, with its circular trail along the striking Robberg peninsula, Cape fur seals and dancing whales this 2.2 – 9.2 km endeavor is one for the books.

5. There are always winter specials to be had
Secret season often comes with a few winter specials to warm the cockles of your heart – and Fancourt is no different. Keep an eye on our offers page and see if we can tempt you up the Garden Route. Although South Africa’s COVID-19 lockdown means we’ve missed most of 2020’s ‘secret season’, the splendour of spring is just around the corner, and there is no place we’d rather be.