The Garden Route

South Africa's coastal playground
The Garden Route is a mix of modern golf courses, ancient forests, secluded artist communities, retirement estates, modern malls, craft centres, mountain hideaways and beach holidays. A large number of interesting and creative people have come to live down here, drawn to this magnificent stretch of coastline.

Did you know?

There's a large Rastafarian community outside Knysna at a place called Judah Square.

The main arterial highway of the Garden Route in South Africa - a highlight on most visitors' itineraries - is the N2 stretch running from Heidelberg in the southern Cape to Storms River Village on the Eastern Cape border.

While the Garden Route road is extremely scenic, it is the hidden destinations on its side roads that are the secret of this region.

That's probably how Oudtshoorn - the ostrich capital of the world - has found its way onto the Garden Route. In reality, both early inhabitants and elephants have been crossing the Outeniqua Mountains from Oudtshoorn to the coast for many centuries.

Other towns well worth visiting include Calitzdorp, Sedgefield, The Wilderness, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.

A classic example of a new addition to the area is the Bramon wine Farm just outside Plettenberg Bay, an empowerment project bringing wine making to this new region. But over the ages old woodcutter clans, fishermen, artists, businessmen and top chefs have all found their niches along the Garden Route in the Western Cape.

The Garden Route is famous for its hardy fynbos floral kingdom, its secluded little bays and its year-round holiday frame of mind. And it's conveniently accessible from Cape Town.

Don't forget to look seawards for the Southern Right whales, the humpback, bottlenose and common dolphins, and even killer whales that frolic close to shore, especially near Plettenberg Bay.

The Garden Route National Park, which weaves together the existing Tsitsikamma National Park's ancient forests and wild coastline with the Wilderness National Park via a chain of lakes and preserved sections of fynbos, is a fascinating mix of ecosystems. And don't forget to look out for the raucous cry and vivid scarlet wings of the Knysna turaco.

Travel tips & PlanningĀ info

Who to contact

Western Cape Tourism

Tel: +27 21 405 4500
Email: info@tourismcapetown.co.za

Tourism Bureau in Plettenberg Bay

Tel: +27 (0)44 533-4065
Fax: +27 (0)44 533-4066
Email: info@plettenbergbay.co.za

How to get here

The Garden Route lies between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, both of which have airports. Or you could just fly into the middle, to the town of George.

Best time to visit

There is no bad time to visit the Garden Route. Bear in mind, though, that this is a favourite destination over Easter and the December holidays, so there will be many more people at those times.

Tours to do

Feather Bed Tour (Knysna), Tstitsikamma Forest Tour and the Bramon Wine Tour. 

How to get around

Self-drive is the best option.

Length of stay

Plan to meander along this route for 4 or more days.

What to pack

Your binoculars if you're a birder. Your camera, and perhaps a raincoat (there's no specific rain season here - it happens any time of year). Bring your swimming costume too.

Where to stay

The Garden Route has various accommodation options to suit all budgets.

What to eat

Knysna specialises in oysters, and there's an entire festival dedicated to these molluscs in July.

What's happening

Events in the area include: The Knysna Oyster Festival (annual: July), the Grahamstown Arts Festival (annual: July) and Bathurst Ox Braai (annual: December).