The Spectacular Garden Route in South Africa
There is an amazing tourist route along the South-Western coast of South Africa, filled with lakes, forests, mountains and lagoons, all bordering on the Indian Ocean.
It is called the Garden Route because someone years ago, likened the area to the “Garden of Eden” and the name stuck.
This three-hundred-kilometer route begins at Mossel Bay and continues East ending at Storms River. There are many small towns in this area that are intertwined with the Garden Route National Park. The challenge, over the past 2 decades, has been trying to balance population growth in areas that are tightly surrounded by forest or National Parks land.
The climate is mild throughout the year. Warmer and humid in late Summer, and cool to cold in mid-winter. Rain is more frequent in Spring and Summer but you can expect a few showers in all the months of the year, which is why the area is so GREEN!
As you are drive along this route, you will find yourself stopping at a number of the pristine sandy beaches.
The main towns along the Garden Route include Mossel Bay (which has it’s own casino), Knysna, (the centre of boating and watersports in the area), Plettenberg Bay (SA’s #1 beach resort town), and Oudtshoorn ( Ostrich Capital of the World). The city of George has an airport which will allow you to fly direct from Johannesburg , Durban or Cape Town. George is considered the Golfing Capital of the Garden Route.
For those of you who like hiking, you need to make sure you visit the Robberg Nature Reserve but there are many hiking options in the forests of the Tsitsikamma, in Nature’s Valley, Bloukrans and in the areas surrounding Knysna.
We suggest you book a cruise on the Knysna Lagoon, which is probably the best way of seeing the sandstone cliffs known as the “Knysna Heads” that are guard the entrance to the Lagoon.
The famous Cango Caves are situated just outside of Oudtshoorn, in an area known as the Klein Karoo which is often considered an extension to the Garden Route. These limestone caves are impressive even for the most well-travelled individuals. Apart from the standard tour, which allows you to wander around inside the various chambers, there is an adventure tour for those who are not scared to slide through cave holes on their stomachs and squeeze between cracks.
At the end of the Garden Route as you head back to Cape Town, you should stop for a night and visit the southern-most point of Africa – a place called Cape Agulhas. They have an impressive old lighthouse there, that is worth a visit. In fact, you can climb right to the very top of the lighthouse to get great views of the surrounding landscape and the village of Agulhas. There is also a monument near there which “defines” the meeting place of the Two Oceans – the Atlantic and the Indian.
There is so much to do and see along the Garden Route, so you will want to plan your itinerary carefully or you will not have enough time to complete everything on your list. We have omitted talking about all the animal parks, and extreme sports like Bungy Jumping, because there are literally HUNDREDS of things to do in the area.