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The Garden Route – South Africa’s unique coastal route

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Garden route

Rugged coastline, wonderful golden beaches, fantastic hiking trails, charming towns and countless scenic experiences.

This and much more besides are to be found along South Africa’s Garden Route –  one of the world’s most scenic stretches of coastline.

Considering visiting the Garden Route?

Read about the impressive coastal route and learn more about everything you can experience.

What is the Garden Route?

Mountain road on garden route

The official Garden Route is a 300-km-long coastal route on the south coast of South Africa between Mossel Bay (Western Cape) and Storms River (Eastern Cape).

The name “Garden Route” stems from a particularly effective marketing campaign. However, rather than gardens, the route’s main draw is a mix of a rugged coastline, lush forests and mountains.

The Garden Route can be driven in a few hours, but that would be a shame.

Both before and after this scenic coastal route, along Route 62 and N2, there are countless beautiful and interesting sights you simply must not miss.

When is the best time to visit the Garden Route?

garden route in south africa

There is no simple answer as to the best time to visit the Garden Route.

The Garden Route can be visited all year round.

So, the best time to visit depends on what you’d like to experience.

It’s summer in South Africa when it’s winter here. If you’d like to experience it at its hottest, you should travel there when it’s winter in the UK. However, if you’re not afraid of cooler, albeit mild temperatures, you can also travel there during the British summer months, when there are fewer visitors at all the attractions along the route.

No matter what time of the year you travel, there’s always a risk of rain. On the other hand, you might also enjoy sunny weather for two weeks straight without seeing a drop of water.

Selected highlights on the Garden Route

The Garden Route offers a wealth of fascinating experiences before, after and on the official stretch of the Garden Route.

With magnificent scenery, dramatic mountains, unspoilt beaches, scenic vineyards and cosy little towns, the Garden Route offers many areas you simply have to explore.

Read about selected highlights along the Garden Route here:



The town of Oudtshoorn is known as the ostrich capital of the world and is definitely a detour worth making. Experience a genuine South African ostrich farm and learn more about how Oudtshoorn ended up becoming the global mecca for ostriches.

Oudtshoorn is also home to the Cango Caves, dripstone caves which are more than 20 million years old. The natural dripstone caves are impressive enough in their own right, but the lighting that beautifully illuminates them creates a very special, magical atmosphere.


Lagoonn in Knysna South Africa

Knysna (pronounced “nize-na”) is a pleasant small town in the Western Cape province.

The town enjoys a unique location around the breathtaking, scenic lagoon, and is also blessed with lush forest areas and the fascinating Featherbed Nature Reserve.

The town offers a vibrant waterfront, with shops, hotels and lots of restaurants. Try 34 degree South, a shop and restaurant all in one – where you can enjoy delicious fish and shellfish dishes. Knysna is also the host of an oyster festival every year in early July.

The lagoon is without doubt one of the town’s main attractions, and you can go on a great boat trip to the Featherbed Nature Reserve. The nature reserve has fantastic vegetation, and you can look forward to enjoying the many scenic viewpoints it has to offer.

Plettenberg Bay and Monkeyland

Bloukrans Bridge in Plettenberg Bay

Not far from Knysna are Plettenberg Bay and the Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary.

Plettenberg Bay (the Plett) is known for having one of the world’s highest bungee jump bridges: Bloukrans Bridge Standing 216 m tall, Bloukrans Bridge is not for wimps. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you can throw yourself over the edge tied to a piece of elastic – otherwise you can, of course, also just watch the bold bungeeists.

At the Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary, you have the opportunity to explore one of the world’s largest sanctuaries for monkeys. Some 550 monkeys live in the wild in the rainforest here, having been rescued from captivity. You come right up high, close to the monkeys’ natural habit when you cross the rainforest’s 128-metre-long hanging bridge – a unique and authentic experience.


Whale safari in Hermanus

Situated at the northern end of Walker Bay is the town of Hermanus, which is known as the whale capital of South Africa.

Every year between June and November, the Southern Right Whale comes to the coast at Walker Bay to mate and raise its calves, making it a wonderful time to see the whales.

The town itself has a nice little centre with shops, markets, restaurants and a few museums, as well as a ton of whale spots, where you can keep an eye out for these majestic animals.

  • If you come during the whale season, you can go on a whale safari from Hermanus. You sail out to look for the Southern Right Whale, among others, which can grow to a length of 18 m and a weight of 80 tonnes. By comparison, the African elephant weighs between 2.5 and 7 tonnes. If you’re lucky, you may see other whales, such as humpback whales and orcas.
  • If you come here during the peak whale season, from August to October, you’re also in with an excellent chance of seeing the whales from the coast as they enter the bay. Walk along the coast between Grotto Beach and into town through the Cliff Path, a 5-6-km hike featuring lots of whale spots where you can sit and look out for the whales.

If you come here outside whale season, the town has some beautiful walks in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve to tempt you. One option is a 4.5-km route, which takes you to the top of a small mountain where, weather permitting, you can enjoy a great view of Hermanus. The reserve is full of Fynbos (South African heather) and is home to a wide range of bird species, such as sunbirds and sugarbirds.

Fancy visiting South Africa and the Garden Route?

The Garden Route offers you countless, marvellous, exciting and diverse experiences.

Look forward to experiencing South Africa’s magnificent coastal route and take some incredible memories home with you.

The Garden Route has so much to offer that it can be difficult to experience it all in just one trip. That’s also one of the things that makes the Garden Route so fantastic. There are so many reasons to come back.

Experience the Garden Route: