Heading Along Africa’s Most Scenic Drive – The Garden Route
Spanning two provinces, the Garden Route is named for its lush environment, vast forests and tranquil atmosphere. It’s a destination for the nature lover, adventure sports enthusiast and those who want to spend time as a family.
You can start your trip with cheap domestic flights to Cape Town, Port Elizabeth or George. Whichever airport you land at; it’s highly recommended that you head out on the N2 national Highway to take advantage of this scenic environment when visiting the Western or Eastern Cape.
Mossel Bay and Interior
Travelling to Mossel Bay from Cape Town detour along the cliff hugging R44 which clings to the edges of the Hottentots Holland Mountains. You will enjoy elevated views over the ocean and rocks before heading back to the highway en route to Mossel Bay.
After a few hours on the road, spend your first night on the tracks at De Santos train hotel. This enigmatic stopover is parked just 30m from the sea and offers comfortable accommodation, excellent ablutions and a great breakfast to send you on your way the next morning.
Enthusiasts may want to exercise their expertise on an early-morning deep-sea fishing excursion to capture kabeljou and cob before continuing the journey.
Take some time to explore this historic centre of the Garden Route. A trip on the Diaz Express to Great Brak River is a novel way to see the coast. Try wine tasting at one of the beautiful nearby vineyards or head out on day trips to see the ostriches, Cango caves, cheetahs and crocodiles at Outeniqua.
The Karoo has a charm all of its own with vast semi-arid landscapes and craggy rocks to admire. Small towns, country stores and incredible bird and animal life complete the picture.
George to Knysna
A little down the route, you’ll come across the tiny seaside town of George and its neighbour Knysna, famed for its exquisite oysters and other seafood options. Stop in for lunch to dine on the catch of the day after exploring the nearby forests of Wilderness National Park on foot, by bike, in a kayak or on horseback.
George itself is a foodie paradise with farm stalls, restaurants and even strawberry picking to take advantage of. Herolds Bay is a wonderful sheltered cove with a pale beach which is perfect for surfing, fishing and swimming.
In between the two towns you’ll discover delightful Sedgefield, with its beautiful lakes and rivers where fishermen can haul out large specimens of stompneus, steenbras, kabeljou, grunter, garrick and mullet. Meandering hiking trails take you over hill and dale, affording opportunities to enjoy delicate fynbos, ocean views and temperate weather.
Next up is Plettenberg Bay, long-time holiday destination of South Africa’s upper crust, with its smooth golden beaches, bird and monkey sanctuaries, and excellent waves for surfing. You’ll find no shortage of accommodation along this stretch of the road, so take your time to lap up the loveliness and explore the many things to see and do along the way.
Tsitsikamma National Park
You’ll reach the figurative end of the road at Bloukrans Bridge which spans the Storms River at Tsitsikamma National Park. This is the site of Africa’s highest bridge swing. If you don’t have the courage to dangle 200m down from this structure, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy yourself in this neck of the woods.
Tsitsikamma is the stuff picture postcards are made of with mountains, oceans and forests for snap-happy travellers to capture. This magnificent piece of terrain is awash with opportunities to explore, such as the famous 6-day hiking trail which ends here.
Those who are less committed will be happy with the excellent opportunities for kayaking, biking, horse riding or shorter walks in the area.
Apart from immersing yourself in nature or dangling from a bridge, Tsitsikamma provides opportunities for shopping at craft stalls, sampling seafood at intimate mountain and sea-facing restaurants or browsing local artworks.
However careful your planning, you are sure to leave the Garden Route disappointed that you didn’t book a longer stay.
Add a few extra days to your itinerary for discovering little-known hideaways or extra relaxation when you head for this gorgeous part of the world. Start planning now by checking our cheap domestic flights to Cape Town or Port Elizabeth.