Stretching between the coastal towns of Mossel Bay and Nature's Valley in the Western Cape the Garden Route is named for its lush greenery and dense Tsitsikamma Forest. This picturesque stretch of coastline is a popular holiday destination and is well worth visiting with activities on offer to suit outdoor enthusiasts, adrenalin junkies and families or those simply looking to sit back and relax.
The Garden Route begins at Mossel Bay, and then journeys through George, Wilderness, Sedgefield, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay before ending at the beautiful Nature's Valley. Each of these small towns has its own charm and attractions and each has a wide variety of accommodation to choose from. The Garden Route region is ideal for a self-drive holiday and all of the towns are within easy driving distance of one another. Choose between having one base and making daily day trips to the nearby towns and attractions, or alternatively spend one or two nights in a few different towns.
Accommodation is varied from luxurious five-star hotels to guesthouses, B&B's, self-catering chalets and backpacker's lodges. Wining and dining is also a pleasure and you will find a host of restaurants, cafes and bars to choose from offering everything from ostrich to oysters - a Knysna speciality.
TIP: Drive from Cape Town and spend a few days exploring the Garden Route area. Then continue to Port Elizabeth and visit the Addo Elephant National Park before flying back to Cape Town or your next destination.
Towns in the Garden Route
Mossel Bay offers plentiful beaches on the shores of the mild Indian Ocean and is popular amongst families, locals and tourists. Bartholomew Diaz first founded the town in 1488 and it is now home to a Maritime Museum, Shell Museum and Aquarium. Mossel Bay also offers boat-based whale watching, hiking and walking and plenty of water and outdoor activities including golf.
George is one of the bigger towns of the area but still maintains its heritage and charm having initially been developed around a booming timber industry. For golf enthusiasts, George is home to two of South Africa's top golf courses both set in beautiful surroundings.
The nearby beaches of Herold's Bay and Victoria Bay are ideal for swimming, sunbathing and surfing.
Wilderness is a nature and outdoor enthusiasts delight. The area stretches from the Kaaimans River to the borders of the Goukamma Nature Reserve and includes the Wilderness National Park as well as rivers, lakes and long stretches of beach.
Spend your time walking, hiking, mountain biking or canoeing and keep an eye out for the elusive Knysna Loerie, the Cape clawless otter and bushbuck.
The small town of Sedgefield is situated alongside the Swartvlei Estuary and is rich in birdlife, flora and fynbos. Water-sports can be enjoyed on both the lagoon and in the ocean including fishing and diving. George and Knysna are both within easy driving distance for day trips.
The extremely popular town of Knysna is situated on the shores of the picturesque Knysna Lagoon. The lagoon is a protected area and is also home to the rare Knysna seahorse. Regular guided lagoon cruises will introduce you to the lagoon as well as the spectacular cliffs at the Knysna Heads which lead out to the Indian Ocean - sunset cruises with fresh oysters and champagne are also available.
Wander along the quaint main street and enjoy some shopping, sit out at one of the many cafes or enjoy outdoor activities from canoeing, hiking and horse riding to beach walks at Brenton-on-Sea or the romantic Noetzie Beach. As a popular holiday and tourist destination, Knysna has a wide range of accommodation to choose from as well as many excellent restaurants.
Plettenberg Bay is a popular holiday destination with many locals owning holiday homes in the area. The summer and school holiday period can be quite busy and crowded - but there is plenty of space for everyone on the miles of white sandy beaches. Surrounded by a backdrop of the majestic Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma Mountains, Plettenberg Bay offers beautiful beaches with clear, warm waters making them ideal for walking and swimming.
Outdoor activities include hiking and mountain biking as well as boat-based whale and dolphin watching trips. The warm evenings are perfect for enjoying a wide range of restaurants, cafes and beach bars catering to all ages. Within easy driving distance are a number of golf courses as well as Monkey Land and a selection of private game reserves.
Slightly off the beaten track, the secluded Nature's Valley is an area where time has stood still. One small café provides the essentials, but visitors to Nature's Valley are in search of peace and tranquillity - and that is what they find. Walk along the rugged beach, cool off in the lagoon and soak up the tranquillity and solitude. There isn't much accommodation available, but its well worth a day-trip.