South Africa is next only to Australia and the United States when it comes to road trip culture. Lots of South Africans drive out from the big cities into the countryside for staying in idyllic nature reserves and beachside resorts. The southern coast of South Africa has the full package in its laid-back coastal towns. The 300 km stretch from Mossel Bay in the west to the Storms River in the east is called Garden Route. The name fits very well since you feel like you are driving through South Africa’s lush backyard by the ocean. Today, it is one of the most popular travel itineraries in Africa not only because of its natural beauties but also wildlife and adventure sports. If you have extra time after exploring Cape Town, here is what you need to know about Garden Route.
The Best Time To Visit
Garden Route has a typical climate that resembles the Mediterranean, with mild winters and hot summers. Winter lasts from June till September and is the time of maximum rainfall. Summers are dry, especially in the Western Cape, where the absence of rain leads to drought. December and January are not only the hottest months but also the busiest. Because of the school holidays, campsites and hotels will be booked out weeks in advance.
We recommend visiting in the transition periods- either fall or spring. Fall is the beginning of the whale season, while spring is the time of the blooming wildflowers. The advantage of both seasons is the absence of crowds, giving a heightened sense of tranquility.
The highway N2 starts in Cape Town, goes through the Garden Route, and continues towards Durban, Swaziland, and Mozambique. The Garden Route stretch is in decent condition, and most of the towns are either nestled around the highway or very close to it.
You can also take Baz Bus, a bus company that aims to transfer tourists between main tourist destinations. Buying a Baz Bus ticket, you can hop on – hop off as many times as you want for the length of your pass. The passes range from 7 days to a month.
Things To Do:
If you want to nickname the town, you could call it the Ostrich Land because of the abundance of these lovely creatures all around the farms in the town. The guided tours take you through the farmlands where you can touch, feed, or even get a neck massage from them.
The nearby Cango Caves offers adventure tours, where you crawl through narrow tunnels to see limestone stalactite and stalagmites.
Don’t forget to visit the South African city with the highest quality of living. The city offers various activities, from museums depicting the prominent timber industry to strawberry farms where you can pick as much as you want.
George is less than half an hour from pristine beaches like Glentana and Heralds Bay that are ideal for surfing and swimming.
The small coastal village offers a range of activities, such as canoeing, fishing, hiking, and water sports. It also features a picturesque spot called the Map Of Africa, where Kaaimans River Gorge carves through a valley and creates a shape like Southern Africa.
Built around the Knysna Lagoon, the affluent coastal town offers some of the most breathtaking views of South Africa. Its small Waterfront contains numerous restaurants and shops, as well as the Mill House depicting the history of the gold mining in the area.
Remember to visit the Knysna Elephant Park, one of the best wildlife conservation projects in South Africa. In your spare time, head out for the secluded beaches in Buffels Bay and Knoetzie.
The Robberg Nature Reserve features a coastal hike through dramatic cliffs and caves that were home to indigenous people during the Stone Age. The 9.2 km trail is full of sandboarding, swimming, and surfing opportunities. The blue-flagged Plettenberg Bay is a heaven for food-lovers due to the freshly-caught seafood.
With a height 216 meters above sea level, Bloukrans Bridge is the highest bungee-jumping bridge in the world. The guided tours of the adventure sports company Face Adrenaline offer an unforgettable experience while ensuring your safety.
The valley on the western tip of Tsitsikamma National Park is one of the most peaceful locations in Garden Route. It is also ideal for bird watching, sailing, and canoeing.
Tsitsikamma National Park
The word Tsitsikamma means the place of abundant sparkling water, so you can expect a lot of water-related activities here. These include rafting and canyoning in Storms River, waterfall hikes, and swimming. There are numerous hiking trails in the area. While most of them are short, the famous Otter Trail is a 44 km long hike through the coast of Garden Route. The place also has a reputation as a dolphin and whale viewing point.
Ranked as number 2 on CNN’s Best Surfing Destinations List, Jeffrey’s Bay is the surf capital of Africa. It is even home to the World Surf League, where you can see the competition between surfers from all around the world.
Addo Elephant Park
Paying a visit to the third biggest park in South Africa, you can encounter all the members of Big Five, especially elephants. The park aims to bring back the elephant population that once disappeared after hunting and poaching, and it seems that they have been very successful since there are more than 500 elephants in the park today. There are also large herds of zebra, cheetah, wild dogs, and Hyena.
Tips And Things You Might Need To Know
- The area is malaria-free
- You don’t need a 4×4 to drive in Garden Route
- Safety is a big concern in South Africa. Although Garden Route is one of the safest areas in the country, you should still avoid staying outside private campsites and national parks.