The Garden Route is a beautiful stretch of coastline between Mossel Bay and Cape St Francis, offering a variety of spectacular sceneries:
Plunging shoreline cliffs intersperse with sandy beaches where ocean waves crash and gentle lagoons glisten.
Meandering rivers cut steep-sided gorges into mountains with lush forests and indigenous fynbos.
Charming coastal towns like Knysna and Plettenburg Bay offer many attractions as well as inviting guest houses and hotels.
All this combines to make the Garden Route a paradise for tourists visiting South Africa.
Our tour takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery South Africa has to offer, beginning with a drive through wine country, then on to the Little Karoo and reaching the Indian Ocean, where the Garden Route really begins.
Photo courtesy of Cape Town Tourism and Grootbos Nature Reserve
Hermanus Option during Whale Season
During the Whale season ( July to November) we usually make a detour and include an extra day travelling to Hermanus. Here you may view the Southern Right Whales that come in close to the shore. This picturesque little town, is regarded as the best land-based whale watching spot in the world.
You may also be lucky enough to spot some seals and dolphins if you take a boat ride into the expansive Walker Bay, on which Hermanus is situated.
A typical Garden Route tour could run as follows:
Depart Cape Town and head northwards over the spectacular Du Toit's Kloof Mountain pass en route to Worcester. From Worcester we continue on Route 62 through the lovely wine region of Robertson and the quaint historic town of Montagu.
Our lunch stop may be in Barrydale which offers many a quirky eatery with a variety of menu options.
In the afternoon, changing scenery from lush farmland to semi-desert areas of the Little Karoo, makes this a day full of surprises.
Our overnight destination is Oudtshoorn, where we arrive in the late afternoon.
Oudtshoorn is the so called "ostrich capital" of the world. These enormous birds are farmed in great numbers and the region produces the best feathers, leather products and ostrich meat world-wide. But the world’s biggest bird is just one of several attractions in this area of interesting contrasts.
This small town is the commercial hub of the greater Klein Karoo region and is situated in a beautiful valley between the Outeniqua and Swartberg Mountain ranges.
Overnight at Oudtshoorn on an Ostrich Farm.
Awake the next day to the crispness of the Karoo air. After breakfast enjoy a tour of an Ostrich Farm to learn some fascinating facts about these curious creatures.
This is followed by a guided tour of the world famous Cango Caves.
The afternoon takes us over the 800m Outeniqua Pass towards the Indian Ocean, via George, Wilderness and Sedgefield to well-known town of Knysna.
For the first time it’s clear why this area is known as the Garden Route. As you drive over the summit of the Outiniqua pass, lush green vegetation awaits you. Descending to the coast, you will see why this region is also called the Lake District of South Africa.
The town Knysna (pronounced Nice Na), a Khoi San word for "place of wood", rests on the north side of a Lagoon which is the tidal estuary of the Knysna River and is one of the highlights of this region.
Experience a relaxing day in Knysna with a walk on a nearby beach and a drive to the high cliff top of the Eastern Headland from where there are spectacular Indian Ocean views, the Knysna Estuary and the surrounding mountains.
Alternatively, we highly recommend the Eco-Experience on the Featherbed Nature Reserve, situated on the Western Head in Knysna. The 4-hour trip includes the following:
Return ferry trip on the Knysna Lagoon to the Western Head
A trailer ride takes you up the headland onto the Reserve, stopping at viewpoints along the way to enjoy panoramic views of the lagoon, Indian Ocean and the surrounding cliffs and mountains.
There is a guided downhill 2.2km walk through coastal forest and fynbos, bypassing ancient sea caves, dramatic rock formations and ending with a stroll along the shores of the lagoon.
Enjoy a buffet lunch at an outdoor restaurant under a canopy of Milkwood trees.
On return there will be time to explore and enjoy the town of Knysna with its Waterfront and picturesque islands.
The next day, we continue along the Garden Route towards Port Elizabeth.
Our short stop at Plettenberg Bay includes views of the place the Portuguese called “Bay of the Lagoons”. This is indeed an apt description, as 3 large rivers flow into this bay to create extensive lagoons.
Next stop is at the coastal Storms River Mouth which is part of the Tsitsikamma National Park.
The highlight of this day is a walk through dense indigenous forest to a 77m-long suspension bridge, across the mouth of the Storms River.
“Tsitsikamma” means “place of abundant water” and forms part of the Garden Route National Park. The heartland of the park stretches some 5km to the sea, protecting a wonderland of inter-tidal life, reef and deep-sea fish.
Here we enjoy lunch overlooking the rugged coastline and forests before continuing our journey.
Further Family Fun Options:
Visit the Elephant Sanctuary and enjoy the "Trunk in Hand" Experience.
Birds of Eden is a Beautiful Bird Park where birds fly around freely as you meander through on the many boardwalks.
Monkeyland - join a guided walk through the forest to meet many unusual and often comical creatures
We may spend another night in this beautiful area or travel to Port Elizabeth.
Optional is to end the tour here and fly out from Port Elizabeth Airport.
The Safari Begins:
We head towards Addo Elephant National Park, a one and a half hour drive from Port Elizabeth.
Enjoy a game drive exploring the Park. It is a 28,000 hectare National Park with over 450 elephant and some Cape buffalo, lion, black rhino, warthog, zebra, eland, kudu, hartebeest and many more animals.
We spend the best part of the day exploring this reserve. One of the highlights of this day is stopping at a water hole to observe the numerous elephants who come to play, swim and drink there.
Private Game Reserve:
A further option would be to stay at one of the many Private Game Reserves in this malaria free area. Examples would be Kariega, Amakhala or Pumba Game Reserves. Here you may stay in a rustic, luxurious private lodge and be driven around the Reserve in an open game drive vehicle, with your own private safari guide.