Credited in its name, the Garden Route is one of the most lush and incredible regions to immerse yourself in the nature and outdoors. From the coastline with its surf spots and blue-flag beaches, to the ever-green nature reserves and hikes on offer, there is so much to see. For all the must-try places, here is our suggested location list:
Packing a surfboard, SUP or boogie board is a good idea. This corner of the country has a number of great surf spots dotted along its beautiful and varied shoreline. Many are suitable for more advanced surfers, but there are quite a few, smaller fun waves to be enjoyed the less-experienced too. These are some of the best-known spots:
- Mossel Bay
- Victoria Bay
- Buffalo Bay
- Plettenberg Bay
Read more about each of these spots here.
Known as one of the most lush regions of the Western Cape, the Garden Route is laced with trails through the valleys, up the mountains and along the coast. Apart from being a great way to get those 10,000 steps, these hikes allow you to see the region from new perspectives and enjoy the nature is has to offer. Here are some of the must-try hikes:
- Goukamma, Buffels Bay
- Gamkaberg, Oudtshoorn
- Diepwalle, Knysna
- Harkerville, Knysna
- Circles in a Forest, Rheenendal
- Pioneer Trail, Gondwana
- Otter Trail
Read more about each of these trails here.
The Garden Route is blessed with many sublime beaches dotted along its varied shoreline. Ranging from deserted, wide-open stretches to tiny coves, there are beaches for all tastes. Many of have been awarded Blue Flag status, specifically, 17 meet these criteria, which is more than any other region in South Africa.
- Stilbaai Wes, Stilbaai
- Lappiesbaai, Stilbaai
- Preekstoel, Stilbaai
- Santos, Mossel Bay
- De Bakke, Mossel Bay
- Hartenbos, Mossel Bay
- Little Brak, Mossel Bay
- Robberg, Plettenberg Bay
- Lookout, Plettenberg Bay
- Keurboomstrand, Plettenberg Bay
- The Dunes, Plettenberg Bay
- Singing Kettle, Plettenberg Bay
- Nature’s Valley
Read more about each of these beaches here.
ADVENTURES & ADRENALINE ACTIVITIES:
The Garden Route and Klein Karoo is widely considered the adventure capital of the Western Cape, with tons of thrills to try! From jumping off the highest bungee from a bridge in the world, to diving into the depths with some of the largest sharks, there is so much to do. This list offers a variety of activities to try:
- Zipline over the ocean in Mossel Bay
- Abseil from new heights in Wilderness
- Bungee off the Bloukrans Bridge in Plett
- Zipline across a gorge in Knysna
- Skydive over Robberg in Plett
- Shark Cage dive in Mossel Bay
- Tandem Paraglide over Sedgefield
- Speed Boat Tour from Knysna's Waterfront
- Kayak through the Knysna Estuary and River
- Walk with the Elephants in the Knysna Elephant Park
- Horse-riding Safari in Mossel Bay
Read more about each of these activities here.
The Garden Route is not traditionally associated with great wines, but that’s all changing fast. The cool, wet winters and temperate summers along the coast are good for the cultivation of red, white and rosé wines, with the Plettenberg Bay area specializing in some rather classy sparkling wines.
- Jakkalsvlei Private Cellar
- Kay and Monty Vineyards
- Grundheim Wines
Read more about each of these wine estates here.
CULTURE & HERITAGE:
Explore the sites and paths that tell the story of the Garden Route and its past. Whether you are exploring by foot, by rail, by road or by view - there are some many ways to learn about the history and heritage of the region. These are some of the must-try sites:
- Railway journey from the Outeniqua Transport Museum
- Judah Square Tour in Knysna
- Point of Human Origins
- Cango Caves
- The Swartberg Pass sunset trips
- Kobus se gat - Swartberg Mountain Biking
- Ostrich Tractor Safari
- Star-gazing in the Klein Karoo
- Bosch Luys Kloof guided walks
- Meerkat Safari at Buffelsdrift
Read more about each of these heritage sites here.
The region is home to breathtaking natural sights, be it dramatic oceanside cliffs, ancient forests, or semi-arid deserts. Take advantage to see as much as possible by visiting a few of the many nature reserves. Stay over, embark on an epic hike, or simply pop in for a quick visit to take in the scenery. There is an extensive list but here are a few options for you to consider, as you begin your exploration:
- Garden Route National Park
- Robberg Nature Reserve
- Outeniqua Nature Reserve
- Gamkaberg Nature Reserve
- Brackenburn Private Nature Reserve
- Bobbejaanskloof Private Nature Reserve
- Karoo National Park
- Swartberg Nature Reserve
Read more about each of the reserves here.