The Garden Route Holidays

Stretching just over 180 miles between Mossel Bay and Port Elizabeth, the Garden Route boasts one of the wildest and most staggeringly beautiful coastlines you will ever see. Discover also picturesque lagoons and lakes, lush forests, majestic mountains, stunning sandy beaches and seemingly millions of things to do and explore.

A drive along the Garden Route should ideally be spread out over four or five days, taking in some of the must-see towns and attractions.

An ideal starting point, Mossel Bay is a holiday hotspot with an expansive bay, safe swimming beaches and mountain backdrop. The town centre boasts historically-significant buildings, it’s a great spot for adrenalin sports or boat trips for a glimpse of Cape fur seals.

Easy-going George is the region’s biggest town and lies in a fertile valley watched over by the Outeniqua Mountains and with the Indian Ocean on its doorstep. Enjoy year-round outdoor adventure, as well as the historic centre with some magnificent landmarks and fascinating museums.

Inland is Oudtshoorn, the principal town of the Little Karoo region and ostrich capital of the world with around 400 farms. Nearby are the spectacular Cango Caves, Africa’s largest show cave system with multi-coloured stalactites and stalagmites in an amazing range of formations.

Lovely Knysna sits around a huge natural lagoon which is connected to the ocean by a narrow gap between two cliffs, called The Heads. From leisurely relaxation, high energy adventure and sporting activities to shopping, haute cuisine and renowned Knysna oysters paired with the locally brewed beer, visitors are spoilt for choice. Let’s not forget Featherbed Nature Reserve, an easy ferry ride from Knysna.

Upmarket Plettenberg Bay entices with golden sandy beaches and an array of activities including swimming with seals, cycling, sailing, fishing and scuba diving. At nearby Robberg Nature Reserve, there are a variety of walking trails in a gorgeous setting and sweeping vistas over the shoreline and sea. Also close by is stunning Tsitsikamma National Park, a hiking and sporting paradise, while this whole area is a top location for whale watching from land, particularly in the winter months.

The little town of Cape St Francis is all about the white sandy beaches and historic Seal Point Lighthouse, which has stood watch since the 1800s. It’s also an eco-lover’s destination thanks to an abundance of nature reserves and a fantasic coastline for surfing, windsurfing, canoeing and more.

Last and by no means least is Port Elizabeth, the country’s fifth largest city and superb value-for-money holiday base. Attractions include wide beaches, scenic parks, an impressive promenade, nature trails and historic heritage. From Port Elizabeth, it’s just a short hop to many of the Eastern Cape’s private game reserves.

Why visit The Garden Route?
  • Glorious natural scenery
  • Coastal walks & forest trails
  • Whale watching
  • Golden beaches
  • Charming seaside towns
Essential facts about The Garden Route
Local Time

GMT +2 hours

Currency

South African Rand

Travel information

The Garden Route is half a day’s drive from Cape Town. Alternatively, the town of George has an airport with internal flights available from Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.

Best time to go

The Garden Route has a Mediterranean Maritime climate, with moderately hot summers (November to March) and mild to chilly winters (June to August). It is one of the richest rainfall areas, most of which occurs in the winter months, brought by the humid sea-winds from the Indian Ocean. Any time of year is good for visiting the area, depending if you prefer a bustling summer holiday destination or peaceful retreat during the winter months.

Travelling with children

South Africa has relaxed its requirements for travelling with children under the age of 18. Visa exempt children (including UK Nationals visiting for tourism purposes) entering South Africa accompanied by an adult are required to present only a valid passport on arrival, regardless of whether the child is travelling with both parents, one parent, or an adult who is not a biological parent.

There are other requirements for children travelling unaccompanied. For more information, contact the South African High Commission www.southafricahouseuk.com or the South African Department of Home Affairs www.dha.gov.za.

Unmissable Experiences in The Garden Route
Featherbed Tour excursion
Featherbed Tour

This half day tour begins with a cruise on Knysna’s lagoon to the privately-owned Featherbed Nature Reserve. Here, enjoy a 4x4 Unimog and trailer ride to the top of Western Head. On the optional downhill guided walk pass through milkwood forests onto the steep sandstone cliffs, into ancient sea caves and along a scenic coastal path, whilst your guide informs you on the fauna and flora in the reserve.

From £29

Tsitsikamma excursion
Tsitsikamma

This full day tour from Knysna offers scenic beauty aplenty. Stroll through the famed Tsitsikamma Forest before admiring the sensational views of the adjacent Tsitsikamma Coastal Nature Reserve. Perhaps test your nerves at the world’s highest bungee jump (additional expense) before continuing to Monkeyland and cosmopolitan Plettenberg Bay.

From £99

Addo Elephant National Park excursion
Addo Elephant National Park

Depart Port Elizabeth for Addo Elephant Park which, arguably, has the best elephant viewing in South Africa. In addition, Addo’s wildlife population also includes rhino, buffalo, antelope and lion, not to mention a plethora of birds to excite even the most blasé twitcher. Frombee eaters to buffalo, this is a full day of what Africa does best, wildlife wonderfully!

From £110