Garden Route, South Africa

Garden Route, South Africa
Garden Route, South Africa (1/29-2/6/2023)

South Africa’s Garden Route is one of the most scenic regions in the world offering breathtaking long sandy beaches, beautiful rugged coastline, lakes, lush forests, scenic rocky mountains, friendly people, and fun activities for everyone. It has a year-round temperate climate and mostly warm ocean water of the Indian Ocean. 

Excellent Roads Garden Route South Africa
Excellent Roads - Garden Route
Traveling along good highways (see photo), the Garden Route (N2) is 190-mile long running through the southeastern coast of South Africa between Mossel Bay and Storms River and gets its name from the abundance of lush flora growing along the route. You don’t have to do the whole length to enjoy some of the best things to do like we did.

Map - Garden Route, South Africa
The Garden Route tourism infrastructure is first-world level. Everyone speaks English, the roads and trails are well-marked and in excellent condition, upscale lifestyle is affordable, the food quality is impressive, people are friendly, and fun and exciting activities are plentiful.

Beautiful Beaches Garden Route South Africa
Beautiful Beaches - Garden Route, South Africa
The Garden Route is gorgeous all year round. It is at its best between November and April. Summer (November to April) is a wonderful time to visit South Africa’s Garden Route. It is warm to hot during the day and it is wise to wear light clothing, a hat, and sunscreen during the day and a light sweater may be required at night. Winter (July to September) is generally warm during the day, cool to cold at night. Wear layers of clothing which are easily removed during the day and a warm coat at night.

Lush Forests Garden Route South Africa
Lush Forests
Because the Garden Route is a popular holiday for South Africans, it is advisable to avoid local school holidays usually from early December to mid-January and from late March through Easter.

Good Seafood - Garden Route
Located about half hour from each another, we chose to stay in beautiful Plettenberg Bay and Knysna, a couple of the Garden Route’s best known travel destinations providing a good base for enjoying much the Garden Route has to offer. About 220 miles from Cape Town - click here to view, they have a rich history, friendly people, gourmet restaurants, and wonderful scenic outdoor attractions that can be enjoyed staying in either one, or both like we did.

Plettenberg Bay

Plettenberg Bay - Garden Route
Plettenberg Bay
(nicknamed Plett - see photo) is a premier Garden Route holiday resort destination (see photo) with long picturesque golden beaches with gentle waves and warm Indian Ocean water, the spectacular Robberg Peninsula, beautiful lagoons and estuaries, indigenous forests, and wineries (wine estates). This upscale town gets busy during the Summer and homes sell here for $Millions.

Central Beach Plettenberg Bay Garden Route South Africa
Central Beach - Plettenberg Bay
Plettenberg Bay has some of the most beautiful pristine beaches in South Africa. One of the busiest and located in town, Central Beach (see photo), is a family beach with restaurants, bars, public toilets, and lounge chairs and umbrella rentals. The marine adventure companies here are ready to take you on whale watching and swim with the seals. 

Robberg 5 Beach Robberg Peninsula Garden Route South Africa
Robberg 5 Beach from Robberg Peninsula
Close by Lookout Beach is a popular beach and you can have a meal at the Grand Lookout Deck restaurant on the beach. Robberg 5 Beach (see photo), accessed on Beachy Head Drive, is a beautiful beach with lifeguards and public toilets. Follow the directions when swimming in the Garden Route to ensure your safety.

Bramon Wine Estate restaurant
Many fine restaurants are located in Plettenberg Bay. For a fun beach lunch, we enjoyed the casual beach restaurant Moby’s overlooking Central Beach. Located close to Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route is the highly recommended Bramon Wine Estate restaurant (see photo) set in the vineyards overlooking the Tsitsikamma Mountains.

Storms River Mouth Tsitsikamma National Park Garden Route South Africa
Storms River Mouth - Tsitsikamma
The Tsitsikamma National Park is Africa's oldest, largest, and most beautiful Marine Reserve making it a prime Garden Route EcoTourism destination. Adventure seekers will love the diverse range of activities. Alternatively, visitors may simply relax and unwind for a day or two in a supremely tranquil and pristine wonderland of forest, mountain, and sea.

Stairs Storms River Mouth Bridge Trail Garden Route South Africa
Stairs Storms River Mouth Bridge Trail
One of the best things to do in the Garden Route is the Tsitsikamma National Park taking the Storms River Mouth Bridge Trail on a boardwalk (see photo) hike through a lush green forest along the unspoiled rocky coastline from the Storms River Mouth Rest Camp to the famous Storms River Suspension Bridge (see photo). There is a degree of fitness required due to the numerous stairs. You can take your time sitting on benches along the way to enjoy the views.

Storms River Suspension Bridge Tsitsikamma National Park Garden Route South Africa
Storms River Suspension Bridge
This spectacular Garden Route walk is well worth the magnificent views. Hanging just over 23 feet above the red-brown waters of the Storms River Mouth, the suspension bridge is 254 feet long. There are also two smaller suspension bridges. A conservation fee for entering Tsitsikamma National Park is about $13/person. Multi-day hikes can be made on the Tsisikamma Trail and Otter Trail.

Big Tree Hiking Trail
While in the Storms River area do enjoy the beautiful 30-minute-round-trip flat-boardwalk hike The Big Tree Hiking Trail (see photo) through a lush forest taking you to the famous 800-year-old Big Tree Tsitsikamma, standing 122 feet high with a 30-foot circumference. Longer trails exist in this Garden Route area if you would like to continue hiking. For a unique experience, drop into the Storms River Village to enjoy lunch at Marilyn’s 60’s Diner.

Robberg Peninsula Nature Reserve Garden Route South Africa
Robberg Peninsula Nature Reserve
Located near
Plettenberg Bay, the Garden Route’s world-heritage Robberg Peninsula Nature Reserve (see photo) offers visitors the chance to hike some exciting trails witnessing seals, birds, and coastal vegetation. The three circular routes available vary in terms of distance and difficulty and range of time from 30 minutes to a four-hour hike. All offer fantastic views, brisk sea air, and sightings of birds. There are rocky steps along the way that require some sense of balance as well as some elevation changes. We took the shortest 30-minute Gap Circuit Trail. Permits may be purchased at the reserve office at the entrance.

Garden of Eden Trail
For an easy short hike, the Garden of Eden Trail (see photo) is located between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. It is a level boardwalk hike through the beautiful fern covered indigenous forest. So nice!

Birds of Eden Aviary Garden Route South Africa
Birds of Eden Aviary - Garden Route
The Birds of Eden is the largest single-dome free flight aviary in the world with natural forests, streams, and dams (see photo). Garden Route visitors can observe almost 3,500 previously captive birds of over 200 different species flying free and living natural lives among 100’s of different plant and tree species. There are giant fruit bats, golden-handed tamarins, and the smallest of the antelopes, blue duikers. Visits to Birds of Eden are self-guided and you are free to wander for as long as you wish at your own pace.

Bloukrans Bridge

Garden Route adrenaline sports around Plettenberg Bay include zip-lining through the forest canopy or bungee jumping from the world’s highest commercial bungee jump (713 feet) at the Bloukrans Bridge (see photo).

Whale - Plettenberg Bay
Whales can be seen in the Garden Route at Plettenberg Bay from mid May to February with the southern right whales around from June to November, the migratory humpback whales arrive with their calves early November and stay until the end of February and seen again during May and June. Robberg Peninsula Nature Reserve is a good place to see them and you can book whale boat tours.

We enjoyed our Garden Route stay in Plettenberg Bay at the Periwinkle Guest Lodge with sweeping views of break-taking Robberg 5 Beach. The staff makes a custom breakfast for you and the service is great.


Knysna Waterfront Restaurants Drydock Garden Route South Africa
Knysna's Waterfront Restaurants
With its beautiful lagoon surrounded by forests and mountain backdrop, the beautiful Garden Route gem Knysna (pronounced ‘ny-znah’) has a laid-back feel with great waterfront shops and seafood restaurants. We enjoyed a combination seafood lunch at the Drydock and dinner at 34 South at the waterfront (see photo). Sirocco is very nice. 

East Head Cafe Knysna Garden Route South Africa
East Head Cafe

A Garden Route restaurant not to be missed is the East Head Cafe (see photo), located on the Knysna's East Head, for its incredible views from its outdoor deck overlooking the lagoon and ocean (see photo). 

The Heads Knysna River Mouth Garden Route South Africa
The Heads - Knysna River Mouth
Also not to be missed is the beautiful The Heads (see photo) at the Knysna River Mouth of the Knysna Lagoon (Knysna River Estuary). Beautiful rocky cliffs border the Knysna Lagoon and the Indian Ocean. The Knysna Lagoon is a bird estuary along the Garden Route coastline popular with water sports enthusiasts including fishermen. 

Heads Explorer Catamaran Boat Ride Knysna Lagoon Garden Route South Africa
Heads Explorer Catamaran Boat Ride
Boats and canoes can be hired to explore the Garden Route Knysna Lagoon and The Heads as well as the beaches and bays along the way. From the Waterfront, we had a fun relaxing time taking the Heads Explorer large catamaran for a lagoon boat ride to The Heads (see photo).

Benton-on-Sea Beach Knysna Garden Route South Africa
Beach - Benton-on-Sea

A beautiful white-sandy Blue Flag beach is located at Benton-on-Sea (see photo), a short drive from Knysna, with the ocean on the one side and fynbos-covered dunes on the other. This Garden Route beach is safe to swim in certain areas - be careful of rip currents.


Map - Knysna & Lagoon
The westernmost headland is a private nature reserve, called Featherbed, and can be reached by a short ferry ride across the lagoon. We also enjoyed driving around Knysna's quiet residential suburb Leisure Isle (also known as Leisure Island). It is surrounded by the Knysna Lagoon and ringed by a chain of picturesque hills. Sitting on Bollard Bay beach was lovely with stunning views to The Heads. Leisure Island is linked to the mainland by a narrow causeway.

Knysna Elephant Park - Garden Route
The Knysna Elephant Park offers guests the unique opportunity to interact with the elephants up close and personal (see photo) and even have a sleepover with them while visiting the Garden Route. It was the first facility in South Africa to house and care for orphaned African elephants.

View from Villa Afrikana Guest Suites Knysna Garden Route South Africa
View from Villa Afrikana Guest Suites - Knysna
We found it fabulous staying at the Villa Afrikana Guest Suites in Knysna (see photo). The beautiful rooms have fabulous panoramic views of the Lagoon and Heads (see photo). Breakfast in the morning served on your balcony or your room is some of the best we have ever had. Their service is over the top and the complimentary afternoon tea and happy hour is wonderful. This is the affordable luxury B&B you are looking for while visiting the Garden Route.

Click on this excellent link for attractions, restaurants, and other information in the Garden Route around Plettenberg Bay and Knysna provided by Villa Africana Guest Suites where we stayed. Do have a look.

Driving is on the left-hand side of the road and 10% tipping in Garden Route restaurants.

South Africa Flag
A word about ‘Load Sharing’ in South Africa…
periodically electricity is lost randomly day and night in the Garden Route. Hotels, restaurants, attractions, etc. are prepared for this because it happens daily. Commonly there is a light powered by a battery that you can turn on (we could read with it) and some places.have backup generators. It would be good to bring a small flashlight to use at night.

While visiting South Africa’s Garden Route, do enjoy the many things to do in this area including others not included in this post. HAVE FUN!

Click on these links to view other places we visited in Southern Africa...

Cape Town, South Africa

Stellenbosch Cape Winelands Wine Region, South Africa

Port Elizabeth & Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa - A Safari Day Trip

Richards Bay and Hluhluve Game Reserve, South Africa - A Safari Day Trip

Durban and uShaka Marine World, South Africa 

Oudtshoorn & Cango Caves, South Africa

Hermanus, South Africa

Chobe National Park, Botswana - A Safari Day Trip

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe & Zambia

Walvis Bay, Namibia 

Please enjoy 250+ wonderful places around the world, with award-winning photos, from our BLOG ARCHIVE on the right ----> 

Travel for half the cost for all levels of travel from budget to luxury and 100's of other unique travel tips! From a former Economic professor, experienced traveler (106 countries), award-winning travel photojournalist/blogger, featured speaker at large travel shows, host of the travel TV show Plan Your Escape® TV aired on the CW network, and travel columnist for the Huffington Post, our popular 5-star customer rated groundbreaking and comprehensive how-to world travel book Plan Your Escape, Secrets of Traveling the World for Less Than the Cost of Living at Home reveals secrets how you can travel and see more for half the cost for all trips from weekend getaways to longer vacations and trips, experience more adventure and romance, safely realize your travel dreams with comprehensive planning tools and checklists, travel the world for less than $100/day for a couple, and much more!
Buy this popular book on (also available as Ebook for $9.99), CLICK HERE

No comments:

Post a Comment

We love to hear from you!