The Garden Route, a scenic stretch of land and sea between Cape Town and Plettenberg Bay, is often best viewed from the sky. Various airborne tours are on offer in this region, including charter flights, helicopter tours and hot-air balloon rides.

Did you know?

The first flight in South Africa took off from East London in 1909.

The Garden Route is home to some of South Africa’s finest coastal scenery, marine wildlife and forests. While this route has been driven by millions of travellers, it is those who have explored it from the air who have enjoyed the broadest views.

There are a number of airfields along the Garden Route region, including Mossel Bay Airfield, George Airport and Plettenberg Bay Airport, to name a few. A number of tour operators offer charter flights from these airports throughout the year.

Tours for South Africa, a company based in the town of George, is one company that offers a range of charter flights. Brothers Mario and Giuseppe, former airline employees, moved into charter tours in 2004 and have been flying folk around the Garden Route ever since. Their flights offer great views of coastal, farming and forestry areas.

If you prefer helicopters tours to planes, customised trips along the coastline can be arranged with Capri Helicopters, which operate between Mossel Bay Airfield, the Garden Route Mall in George and Simola Golf Estate in Knysna.

These helicopter tours take place during daylight hours, seven days a week. The helicopters fly over the Indian Ocean and passengers are likely to see whales, dolphins and great white sharks.

Another great way to see the Garden Route from the air and watch a sunrise is a hot-air balloon ride with Oudtshoorn Ballooning, with one-hour tours that depart in the early morning. Launch sites are based at Kleinplaas in Oudtshoorn and at Redstone Hills in Calitzdorp.

Seeing the Garden Route from the sky is a memorable experience, well worth the money you spend on it. Get in touch with a tour operator today and book a flight.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Tours for South Africa
Tel: +27 (0)44 873 5700

Capri Helicopters
Tel: + 27 (0)44 695 0693

Oudtshoorn Ballooning
Tel: +27 (0)82 784 8539

How to get here

The Garden Route lies on the N2 between Cape Town and Plettenberg Bay.

Around the area

Garden Route National Park protects a string of natural jewels along its south-eastern coast and there's lots to indulge your sense of adventure, from hiking to surfing, loafing on beaches or paddling the many lakes. Walking the Garden Route Trail is the best way to see this beautiful region of South Africa, with spectacular scenery ranging from ancient forests to memorable seascapes.

Tours to do

Try the 6km Dune Mole Rat Trail, which meanders through a wetland area in a Ramsar Heritage site. You’ll see birds galore; or choose the popular and unforgettable three-hour Moonlight Meander and Starlight Stroll; there's even an Elephant Walk along former elephant trails in the Diepvalle forest.

Get around

Hiring your own vehicle is best, as it will give you the opportunity to explore all the Garden Route's stunning nooks and crannies in between flights.

What will it cost

Prices vary according to the mode of transport, the duration of the journey and number of people.

What to pack

Binoculars and a camera are two essential items for air tours in the Garden Route region.

Where to stay

There is a wide variety of accommodation available along the Garden Route in towns with airfields, namely Mossel Bay, George and Plettenberg Bay.

What to eat

If you're around Knysna in July, don't miss the annual Knysna Oyster Festival.

Best buys

At Wilderness Heights above the breathtaking Wilderness Beach, there's a local craft market where you'll find unique culturally inspired goods made by people from the surrounding communities.

Related articles