The Garden Route winds an enchanting spell along the southern coast of South Africa, a delightful stretch of indigenous forest, sublime beaches, quaint towns, and dramatic nature. We love its accessibility and ease, although we're cautious of the Garden Route's nickname as Africa for beginners. We think it's a piece of Africa that will charm everyone.
Where is it?
Officially the Garden Route stretches from Mossel Bay to the Garden Route National Park, although great experiences fill the entire coastline from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. Both these cities have airports and a one-way self-drive trip is a great way to explore the 500 miles of coast. Most destinations straddle the perfectly-sealed N2 highway, making it really easy to hop along from place to place, without spending too long on the road. Keep your camera to hand though as the scenic contrasts make this one of Africa's great travel routes.
Things to do along the Garden Route.
Ever-popular Knysna is continually voted South Africa's prettiest town. Plettenberg Bay is as relaxed as it comes, while the town of Wilderness aptly reflects its name. Dramatic indigenous forest drops straight into the ocean in the Garden Route National Park, a place of excellent hiking trails and tranquil afternoons watching the passing dolphins. Take the coastal road and there are over a dozen villages and towns with great beaches. Drive the inland route over the mountain passes and you explore the scenic splendour of the Karoo, where ostrich roam besides vineyards.
What will you see during your journey?
Tucked away across the Garden Route are small private game reserves, giving you an easy safari experience. Most feature the full big five and like everything on the Garden Route, there's a focus on luxury accommodation and connecting with nature. This area has always been a getaway and the tourist infrastructure is amongst the best on the continent. While it's one of Africa's most popular regions, the diversity and profusion of destinations ensures that nowhere feels crowded; take a drive here and you'll soon learn that Africa and Europe have very different definitions of space.
This is a fantastic place to explore if you're keen on the freedom of having your own wheels. It's safe, there's almost too much to see and do, and we love the little hideaways we can tell you about along the Garden Route.