The Garden Route
The stretch of coast between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, the Garden Route, is one of the most popular destinations in South Africa – in particular the section between Mossel Bay and Tsitsikamma.
The Garden Route has wonderful scenery, and it certainly lives up to it.
- Tangled forests extend up into the heights of purple mountains.
- Dramatic cliffs fall straight to the sea and
- In other places, long lovely beaches stretch for miles.
Literally speaking you can get into the Garden Route area with only a 4 to 5 hr drive from Cape Town.
However we don’t want you to do that as its to rushed….we want you to meander and experience.
4 ways to tour the Garden Route:
1) There are a variety of tours that include the Garden Route. Some are self drive, others guided.
They all can be modified to have a guide do the driving for part of the trip, or we can create a trip as you want it to be.
2) As a Self Drive Garden Route Holiday.
Since the Cape Town and the Garden Route are so close together they work well together. The Cape Town to Garden Route section is one of the countries top self drive areas.
3) A privately guided tour:
We will design a Garden Route trip for you with your private guide who will drive and escort you. This can be as a Cape Town departure, or we can fly you into the Garden Route, and a guide will meet you there, or it can be done from Port Elizabeth.
4) As a Escorted Garden Route Tour
These operates on a set departure. A set schedule is a preset itinerary departing on a certain day. They usually will depart with a minimum of 2 persons, and can be up as many 44 in a bus. This depends on how many people book the tours you choose, and its not possible to guarantee a number.
Garden route lodging and activities:
The Garden Route has many different types of lodging. Staying in Knysna, staying closer to the beach in Plettenberg Bay or staying in the forest. We also have a plant based vegan nature resort and a luxury lodge/villa located on top of part of the Knysna heads.
The top choice depending on the season is lying on the white sanded beach’s and swimming in the Indian ocean.
Half or full or multi day combinations, all privately guided.
About the Garden Route
Due to the easy proximity from Cape Town or travelling to Cape Town, a tour of the Garden Route fits seamlessly into a South Africa Tour.
As well the Garden Route is very close to the Malaria free Eastern Cape Safaris areas.
For those who want to experience the rural cultural, people to people aspects of South Africa as part of your South Africa tour, and along with that fantastic scenery, our guided Eastern Cape tours flow easy into the Garden Route.
How about our unique South Africa Tour called Eastern Seaboard Adventure ie Cape Town, Garden Route, Eastern Cape, Kwa Zulu, Swaziland, Kruger and Mozambique.
This make for a uniquely diverse South Africa Tour experience. It can be designed in both directions as well.
The stretch of southern coastline between the town of Mossel Bay and the Tstsikamma National Park makes up South Africa’s well-travelled ‘Garden Route’, scattered with popular resort towns.
The coastal plain is backed by spectacular mountain ranges offering scenic lakes, indigenous forests, golden beaches and secluded bays.
The main town on the route is George which is a bustling commercial center with some good hotels making it a good central point from which to explore the coastal region.
From George it is also a short drive inland over the Outeniqua Mountains to Oudtshoorn, site of the world-renowned Cango Caves and home to several ostrich farms that welcome visitors to enjoy their entertaining and educational tours.
Attractions along the Garden Route encompass a wide variety from historic sites to scenic vistas and beaches to nature reserves.
To make the most of the area one needs to stray from the national N2 highway and explore the towns, villages and resorts en route
There are also great recreational opportunities to enthrall active holidaymakers, from bungee jumping and water sports to hiking trails.
Tsitsikamma National Park
Tsitsikamma is the word of the indigenous Khoi-San people meaning ‘place of many waters’, which accurately describes the naturally beautiful thin 50-mile (80km) stretch of coastline that makes up the Tsitsikamma National Park,Africa’s oldest and largest marine reserve.
The park boasts many attractions, including a giant Outeniqua yellowwood tree that is hundreds of years old. he region is criss-crossed by hiking trails, including the world-renowned Otter Trail starting at Storm’s River and running along 25 miles (41km) of spectacular coastline to Nature’s Valley.
A number of private operators offer numerous adventure activities in the area such as black-water rafting and abseiling, mountain bike tours and fishing trips.
A particularly exciting diversion is to undertake a ‘canopy tour’ of the forest, gliding across the treetops on steel cables strung between platforms.
The rather industrialized town of Mossel Bay, about 250 miles (400km) east of Cape Town, is traditionally regarded as the gateway to the Garden Route and is famed for being the spot where the first European set foot in South Africa.
The Portuguese explorer, Bartholomew Dias, came ashore here seeking water after battling a fearsome storm at sea in 1488. The town now commemorates this event with the Bartholomew Dias Museum complex in Market Street, which houses a Maritime Museum and a life-sized replica of the caravel in which Dias sailed.
Mossel Bay has some good beaches and all the trappings of a seaside holiday town, with cruises available from the small harbour to view seals, whales and dolphins, and shark cage-diving adventures. The nearby village of Albertinia sports the only Aloe factory in South Africa, and visitors can call in to sample medicinal and skincare products made from this indigenous plant.
The village of Wilderness, set on the Touws River estuary, is fast developing with a plethora of luxury holiday homes lining the cliffs and hills along the long sandy beach and river.
It is, however, a pretty spot surrounded by a chain of fresh-water lakes, and encompassing the Wilderness National Park with about nine miles (15km) of inland waterways.
There are some wonderful hiking trails and canoe trips offered through the Park wardens, and numerous accommodation facilities are available.
The upmarket holiday Mecca of Plettenberg Bay, about 380 miles (600km) from Cape Town and 125 miles (200km) from Port Elizabeth, was originally called ‘Bahia Formosa’ (Beautiful Bay) by the early Portuguese explorers, and it is still possible to see why, despite explosive development of luxury homes, hotels and a thriving town center.
The town is a favorite holiday destination for South Africans and foreigners with its unspoilt golden beaches, year round Mediterranean climate, dramatic rocky Robberg Peninsula, and vibrant nightlife.
The bay is a nursery for the endangered Southern Right Whales, which arrive in winter and spring to calve.
Overview: The upmarket holiday Mecca of Plettenberg Bay, about 380 miles (600km) from Cape Town and 125 miles (200km) from Port Elizabeth, was originally called ‘Bahia Formosa’ (Beautiful Bay) by the early Portuguese explorers, and it is still possible to see why, despite explosive development of luxury homes, hotels and a thriving town center.
Shopping: Shopping malls and a variety of shops provide everything that is needed by holidaymakers and shoppers, including clothing and specialty goods at several boutiques, arts, crafts, and antiques.
Restaurants: There are plenty of dining opportunities, from beach pubs, bistros and deli’s to five star cuisine and award-winning a la carte menus. Foodies will find Thai, Italian, fresh seafood, steak and a variety of other choices on offer.
Nightlife: Although Plett is a small town, nightlife is fairly lively, yet laidback, however the choices are somewhat limited. In summer most action takes place on or near the beach, beginning with sundowners in typical South African style at one of the beach bars, but there are a few vibrant pubs and clubs for later evening entertainment with pool tables, live music and dancing.
Activities: The surroundings of Plettenberg Bay provide a playground for sports enthusiasts and the list of activities is almost endless.
The lagoon and the bay itself are perfect for all sorts of watersports and activities including boat cruises and sailing, paddling, fishing, swimming and scuba diving, while the beaches allow for long solitary walks. Between July and December the bay is home to Southern Right Whales that come to calve in the protected waters.
The mountains and forests offer a variety of trails for hikers, mountain bikers and horseriders. Plett’s golf courses are also highly regarded and provide plenty of challenges.
The town of Knysna, clustered around a vast tidal lagoon which opens to the sea through a narrow inlet guarded by two sandstone cliffs known as ‘The Heads’, is the hub of the Garden Route, drawing more visitors than it can cope with, particularly during the peak summer holiday season.
The town has an interesting history, having started as a point of export for timber cut from the surrounding dense forests (which have been badly denuded as a result). In the early 19th century the town was almost solely owned by the enigmatic character George Rex, who was believed to be the illegitimate son of King George III of England. Rex fathered 13 children and is a legend in the Knysna area.
The town features some quaint Victorian houses, a modern commercial waterfront development, a lovely sandy beach at Leisure Island on the east side of the lagoon, and some good shopping for local arts and crafts in the crowded town center.
There are some lovely scenic drives through the remaining indigenous forests in the area, and sampling Knysna oysters and locally brewed Mitchell’s beer is highly recommended.
Shopping: Three shopping malls have a variety of shops, and there are numerous local art, craft and curio shops in and around the town center.
Restaurants: In and around Knysna one will find a selection of fine restaurants, seafood taverns, pubs, coffee shops and eateries. The waterfront has a variety of restaurants, serving food like oysters and seafood at 34 Degrees South to traditional South African fare at JJ’s Restaurant. For fine dining there are special places like Glenshiel at Parkes Restaurant, while international fare includes Mexican, Italian, Moroccan and Asian.
Nightlife: For late night entertainment, Al’s Dance Club is Knysna’s hotspot and THE place to be, with five different venues with bars, pool tables, dancing and live music. Situated on the lagoon, Crab’s Creek is another favorite with a range of draught beer on tap and a laid back atmosphere. Chili Groove is a Mexican restaurant and a cocktail lounge that has music.
Activities: Knysna’s location on the lagoon, near to forests, the sea and mountains, means that there are a range of activities on offer, from paddling to hiking, mountain biking and horse-riding. The Heads Adventure Centre specializes in a variety of activities including abseiling and scuba diving.
Negatives: The peak summer holiday season gets very crowded and accommodation is difficult to find. The national highway N2 passes through the center of town and traffic jams are common.
We design your Africa experience as you want it.