The Garden Route is a beautiful stretch of coastline located in the Western Cape province. This 300-kilometre route spans from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to Storms River in the Eastern Cape and is considered one of the most scenic drives in the world. The Garden Route is known for its pristine beaches, ancient forests, rugged mountains, and charming towns, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
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The Garden Route is easily accessible by car or bus, and there are numerous car rental companies available at major airports such as Cape Town and George. The N2 highway runs along the Garden Route, and there are several smaller roads that lead off the highway and into the towns and villages along the route.
Things to Do
There are countless activities to enjoy along the Garden Route, ranging from outdoor adventures to cultural experiences. Here are just a few of the top things to do:
- Explore the Cango Caves – The Cango Caves are a series of limestone caverns located near Oudtshoorn, a town on the outskirts of the Garden Route. Visitors can take a guided tour through the caves and marvel at the intricate stalactites and stalagmites that decorate the caverns.
- Go on a safari – The Garden Route is home to several game reserves, including the Gondwana Game Reserve and the Shamwari Game Reserve. Visitors can go on a safari and see a variety of African wildlife, including lions, elephants, and giraffes.
- Visit the Knysna Heads – The Knysna Heads are two dramatic sandstone cliffs that mark the entrance to the Knysna Lagoon. Visitors can take a boat tour of the lagoon and see the Heads up close, or hike to the top of one of the cliffs for a panoramic view of the coastline.
- Go hiking – The Garden Route is a hiker’s paradise, with numerous trails winding through forests, mountains, and along the coastline. The Otter Trail is one of the most popular hikes in the area, but there are plenty of other options for hikers of all skill levels.
- Visit the towns and villages – The Garden Route is dotted with charming towns and villages, each with its own unique character and attractions. Some of the most popular towns along the route include Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, and Wilderness.
- Go whale watching – During the winter months, southern right and humpback whales migrate along the coastline of the Garden Route. Visitors can go on a whale-watching tour and see these magnificent creatures up close.
- Visit the Tsitsikamma National Park – The Tsitsikamma National Park is a protected area along the Garden Route that encompasses both coastal and forest environments. Visitors can hike through the park, go ziplining, or take a kayak tour of the Storms River gorge.
Where to Stay
There are plenty of accommodation options along the Garden Route, ranging from luxury hotels to budget-friendly guesthouses. Here are a few recommendations:
- The Plettenberg Hotel – The Plettenberg Hotel is a luxurious hotel located in the town of Plettenberg Bay. The hotel offers stunning views of the coastline and has a range of amenities including a spa, swimming pool, and on-site restaurant.
Phone: 044 533 2030
- The Turbine Boutique Hotel and Spa – The Turbine Boutique Hotel and Spa is a unique hotel located in the town of Knysna. The hotel is built in an old power station and features industrial-chic decor and modern amenities like a spa, swimming pool, and bar.
Phone: 044 050 3500
- The Wilderness Beach Hotel – The Wilderness Beach Hotel is a beachfront hotel located in the town of Wilderness. The hotel offers direct access to the beach and has a range of rooms and suites to choose from, as well as an on-site restaurant and bar.
Phone: 044 877 0104
- Backpacker hostels – For budget-friendly accommodation, there are several backpacker hostels along the Garden Route, including Island Vibe Backpackers in Knysna and Amakaya Backpackers in Plettenberg Bay.
Where to Eat
There are plenty of dining options along the Garden Route, ranging from fine dining to casual cafes. Here are a few recommendations:
- Nguni Restaurant and Wine Bar – Nguni Restaurant and Wine Bar is located in the town of Plettenberg Bay and offers a range of South African-inspired dishes made with local, seasonal ingredients. The restaurant also has an extensive wine list featuring some of the best wines from the region.
- The Fat Fish – The Fat Fish is a seafood restaurant located in the town of Plettenberg Bay. The restaurant has a relaxed, beachy vibe and offers a range of fresh seafood dishes like grilled prawns and fish tacos.
- East Head Cafe – East Head Cafe is a popular cafe located in the town of Knysna. The cafe has a prime location overlooking the Knysna Heads and serves a range of breakfast and lunch dishes like eggs Benedict and gourmet sandwiches.
- The Table Restaurant – The Table Restaurant is located in the town of Plettenberg Bay and offers a fine dining experience with a focus on local, seasonal ingredients. The restaurant has a set menu that changes regularly and also offers a wine pairing option.
Tips for Travelers
Here are a few tips for travellers visiting the Garden Route:
- Plan your route in advance – There are plenty of things to see and do along the Garden Route, so it’s important to plan your route in advance to make sure you don’t miss anything. Consider how much time you have available and what activities you’re most interested in.
- Pack for all weather conditions – The weather along the Garden Route can be unpredictable, so it’s important to pack for all weather conditions. Make sure to bring sunscreen, a hat, and comfortable shoes for hiking.
- Rent a car – Renting a car is the best way to explore the Garden Route, as public transportation is limited. Make sure to book your rental car in advance, especially during the peak travel season.
- Be respectful of the environment – The Garden Route is home to many protected areas and sensitive ecosystems, so it’s important to be respectful of the environment. Make sure to follow all rules and regulations, and avoid littering or disturbing wildlife.
The Garden Route is a stunning stretch of coastline that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or simply relaxing on the beach, the Garden Route is sure to impress. With its charming towns, beautiful scenery, and friendly locals, it’s no wonder that the Garden Route is considered one of the top travel destinations in South Africa.