Garden Route Holiday
Rocky mountain outcrops, blue hills covered in Fynbos, coastal lakes, wetlands, deep mossy forests, breathtaking beaches, and dramatic river gorges.
The Garden route stretches through 200 kilometers in the Western Cape. It is one of the most diverse of the provinces, covering both the Garden Route and The Wild Coast.
The Garden Route is one of South Africa’s most popular tourist destinations. Flanked by the Outeniqua Mountains to the north and the Indian Ocean to the south, the Garden Route is a bright emerald on an otherwise arid stretch of land.
The climate is mild all year round, with moderate rainfall during the winter months between June and August. The best way by far to explore the area is by car.
Selected Garden Route Hotels
Where is the Garden Route?
Your arrival will depend on where your trip to the Garden Route will start. Leaving Cape Town, the N2 highway curves for some 500 kilometers towards the Garden Route. When traveling from Cape Town, be sure to take some time to explore the wine route and world-famous wines.
Departing from Port Elizabeth, the official Eastern end of the Garden Route will now be your starting point, heading towards Cape Town. Enjoy the smaller coastal towns and hidden lagoons; the official Garden Route will take you through the following main places of interest.
Plettenberg Bay is one of the busy tourist cities on the Garden Route, and one of the highlights of the route. Long beaches, great golf courses and packed with marine life, you will not be disappointed.
There are lots of things to discover just outside of Plettenberg. The Elephant Sanctuary, Monkeyland, and Birds of Eden must be on your list if you love wildlife. Monkeyland is a multi-species sanctuary where primates roam freely. Guided walks can be arranged to meet the species up close and personal.
Though it has no claim on the Garden Route, only a couple of miles inland you will find the Little Karoo, the start of a dusty desert, and Oudtshoorn. Oudtshoorn is a small town and is a stark contrast to the coastal enclaves.
If you fancy a ride on an ostrich, here is your chance. Ostrich farms are a dime a dozen here. The Congo Caves is another highlight of this area. Oudtshoorn is also synonymous with the Little Karoo National Arts Festival.
Considered as the official starting point of the Garden Route, Mosselbay has fantastic beaches. If history is your thing, Mosselbay has a few interesting museums as well as the location of the famous Postal Tree. For the adventure junkies and more adventurous spirit, this is also the place to go cage diving with Great White sharks or go for a bungee jump. The highest bridge swing in the world is just outside of Mosselbay.
Another historical town, George, is slightly smaller than Mosselbay but is surrounded by the most beautiful pristine forest which is wonderful for hikes and picnics. Whale watching can be done from one of the many viewpoints. Be sure not to miss Victoria Bay, a small little bay where you can spend a lazy afternoon walking on the pier, or hiking up the mountain passes.
Leaving George behind, the name Wilderness should say it all. You should stop here for a day or two. Unspoiled beaches stretch endlessly, and the little town is cozy and intimate. The ocean full of wildlife, including dolphins and whales in abundance. It is also ideal for bird watchers.
Between the mountain pass of Wilderness and Knysna, don’t forget to stop at Big Tree. It is a little off the beaten track, so ask around, but well worth the detour. Big Tree is 31-meter tall Yellowwood and is well over 800 years old.
The moment you approach Knysna, the first thing you will notice is the lagoon. Even more impressive is the Knysna Heads – two huge sandstone towers that guard the ocean inlet. Walk towards the heads for one of the best restaurants and get-together hot spots in town. Build in the inlet; you have a panoramic view of Knysna, the mountains and the ocean. This is also the place to be if you are looking for a night on the town. You will be spoiled for choice. The center is lively and bustling with activity.
If you are in the area, be sure not to miss the annual oyster festival in late June.
Years ago, elephants still roamed freely in the dense forest here. Today, Tsitsikamma is a national park and one of South Africa’s oldest marine reserves. Hikers from all over the world come here to experience the environment and trails. Bloukrantz, between Knysna and Tsitsikamma, is also worth a mention. It is the highest bungee jump in the Southern hemisphere. If death-defying leaps leave you cold, the Canopy Tours offer a less strenuous experience. You get to zip along cables from platform to platform, high up in the treetops.
Golf on the Garden Route
Another top-rated tourist attraction in this part of South Africa is golf. With world-class golf courses along the entire route, set against backdrops of breathtaking beauty, your only limitations are the number of holes you can physically play in one vacation.
Whether you like playing with a view of the ocean, amongst rolling hills or in the shadows of mountains, there’s a course for you. You don’t even have to plan your holiday around the courses you wish to play; you can we arrange a golf tour package holiday that plans your holiday excursions around your golf!
There are so many options available to golfers that you’ll wonder why you didn’t plan a golf holiday like this before, especially considering the quality of courses available, including those designed by Ernie Els and Jack Nicklaus.
Who Should Go?
The Garden Route caters for the hardiest of adrenaline junkies, to the most tranquil nature lover. If you are more culturally inclined, there are township tours, old buildings to explore, museums, craft markets, and art galleries. It’s the golfer and hiker’s dream destination. Discover new tastes. Try the local cuisine. Have some ostrich meat. Indulge in some of the best wines. The environmental variation and activities is so vast on the Garden Route that there is something in it for everyone.
There is a word of precaution though. If you wish to spend your days swimming and lazing on sunny beaches sipping cocktails, perhaps then the Garden Route is not for you. The water is quite cold, and certain areas, especially George, get misty early mornings and afternoons.
People visit the Garden Route to experience the variation without having to travel vast distances.