The Garden Route is a scenic route that stretches along the south-eastern coast of South Africa. Characterised by beautiful coastlines, endless views of greenery and towering rows of mountains, it’s easy to understand why this route is considered South Africa’s ‘gem’. Although the route officially stretches from Mossel Bay to Tsitsikamma, we prefer to start the trip in Cape Town and meander through to Port Elizabeth, stopping off at a variety of towns and cities along the way. We also like to complement our Garden Route journeys with a three to four night safari in the Eastern Cape at the end of the trip.
Cape Town is the perfect starting point, a melting pot of cultures, activities, attractions and scenic beauty. There’s no better way to start the trip than in one of the liveliest cities in the country! The next stop is Franschhoek. Surrounded by striking mountains and green vineyards, Franschhoek is a postcard-pretty town and the Food and Wine Capital of South Africa. Move on to Hermanus, renowned for its whale watching and boasting one of the highest plant diversity levels in the world. The next destination is Mossel Bay, a harbour town with a great beachfront and warm, dry weather. Oudtshoorn, known as the Ostrich Capital of the World, is the next stop. Located inland in the semi-desert region of the Little Karoo, Oudtshoorn is home to the famous Cango Caves.
Wilderness is next on the list. The seaside town is a popular destination for beach-lovers and is renowned for its long, white sand beach and fresh lagoons. From there, head to Knysna, with the famous Knysna Heads, a flowing lagoon and the lovely Knysna Quays Waterfront. Just a short way away is Plettenberg Bay, and aside from having a great beachfront Plett also boasts a number of exciting activities and parks that can be enjoyed nearby. Move on to Tsitsikamma and you’ll discover a quaint forested town with a small micro-brewery, great outdoor activities and a picturesque National Park. The final stop along the route is Port Elizabeth, with its gorgeous beaches, warm Indian Ocean and year-round sunny, pleasant weather. Nick-named the Friendly City, you won’t feel more welcome in South Africa than in Port Elizabeth!
Why We Love The Garden Route
Travelling along the famed Garden Route is the easiest way to see and experience the most sought-after areas and attractions of South Africa – from Cape Town’s Table Mountain and the winelands in Franschhoek, to spotting Southern Wright whales in Hermanus, exploring the forest wilderness of Tsitsikamma and relaxing on the beach in Port Elizabeth. It’s a charming route that offers endless views of the coast, mountains, forests, deserts, cliffs and farming fields. The route is very flexible and versatile, allowing visitors to pick and choose which destinations they want to overnight in, which they fancy for a day-visit, and which ones they would rather skip. With a variety of accommodation and enough activities to keep even the most energetic satisfied, the Garden Route is easily our favourite route in Southern Africa, and our self-confessed specialty trip.
Top Tip: We suggest at least 10 days to travel the Garden Route. This allows enough time to see most of the areas and enjoy the different attractions. Pair your Garden Route trip with a 3 night safari at an Eastern Cape Game Reserve. Our favourites are Pumba Private Game Reserve and Addo Elephant National Park.
Getting There and About
The Garden Route is best done as a self-drive trip, which allows visitors to meander the route at their own leisure. Fly in to Cape Town International Airport and hire a car. Join the N2 and let this road be your beaten track as you drive along the coast, stopping off at the various towns and cities as you please.
Accommodation and Activities
The accommodation available along the Garden Route is nothing less than superb. Ranging from three- to five-star guest houses, boutique hotels and self-catering apartments, the large variety of accommodation caters for all budgets, group sizes and personal tastes. The route also features a plethora of outdoor activities, exciting attractions and fun adventure trips. Relax on the beach and soak up some sun; go on a thrilling nature walk in Tsitsikamma National Park; be amazed by the Cango Caves; enjoy wine-tasting aboard the Wine Tram in Franschhoek; do a cycle tour of the Cape Peninsula in Cape Town, and the list goes on.
Bar-t-Nique, Mossel Bay: This four-star guest house is ideally located on a hillside, offering panoramic views of Mossel Bay’s bustling harbour and the distant Outeniqua Mountain Range. The ten rooms are all sea-facing with a private balcony, and include a family room, penthouse suite and self-catering unit.
Lord Charles Hotel, Cape Town: The hotel is located on a nine hectare estate of manicured gardens, two swimming pools, three tennis courts, fitness centre, and two restaurants serving world-class cuisine. Lord Charles offers accommodation in a choice of 188 well-appointed rooms, including standard and superior rooms, and suites.
Segway Tour, Tsitsikamma: Embark on a one or two hour Segway tour of Tsitsikamma Village, Tsitskiamma Forest and the Big Tree as you whizz through the town on a two-wheeled Segway. A tour costs between R350 and R500 and includes a 15 minute training session.
Monkeyland & Birds of Eden, Plettenberg Bay: See some amazing animals at these two parks. Monkeyland is the World’s first free roaming multi-specie primate sanctuary, while Birds of Eden is unique two hectare dome (the World’s largest) that spans over a gorge of indigenous forest.
We consider the Garden Route to be our specialty trip, and we offer a number of variations of the route so no single trip will be the same. Each of our trips can be tailor-made to fit any budget, time-frame, needs and interests. We can easily adapt any Garden Route package to fit a honeymoon, family holiday or business trip.
16 Day Garden Route and Safari: From ZAR 22 900
Our 16 Day Package includes overnight stays in Cape Town, Franschhoek, Oudtshoorn, Knysna, Tsitsikamma, Port Elizabeth and Pumba Game Reserve.
Included: Accommodation on a B&B basis along the Garden Route + accommodation, all meals, select drinks and daily game activities at Pumba.
28 Day Garden Route and Safari: From ZAR 50 000
Our 28 Day Package visits Cape Town, Knysna, Port Elizabeth, Addo National Park, Pumba Game Reserve, Outdshoorn, Route 62 and Franschhoek.
Included: Accommodation on a B&B basis along the Garden Route + accommodation, all meals, select drinks and daily game activities at game reserves + car hire.
Visit our Garden Route webpage to browse our tried-and-tested itineraries and our recommended accommodation, or simply contact one of our South African specialist consultants for assistance with planning the perfect holiday.