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TThe Garden Route is a mix of modern golf courses, ancient forests, secluded artists' communities, retirement estates, modern malls, craft centres, mountain hideaways and beach holidays. A large number of interesting and creative people are drawn to this magnificent stretch of coastline and many of them now call it home.
The main highway through the Garden Route, a highlight on most visitors' itineraries, is the N2 stretch running from Mossel Bay in the southern Cape to Storms River Village on the Eastern Cape border. Three hundred kilometres of breath-taking natural scenery.
While the scenery is enough to make you stop and stare, it’s the hidden gems that can be found on the sides of the roads that are the real allure of the Garden Route.
Over time ancient woodcutter clans, fishermen, artists, businessmen and top chefs have all found their niches along the Garden Route in the Western Cape.
Oudtshoorn (the ostrich capital of the world) also calls the Garden Route home and, for those who are interested in history, both early inhabitants and elephants have been crossing the Outeniqua mountains, from Oudtshoorn to the coast, for many centuries.
The Garden Route National Park which connects 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 and enchanting mix of ecosystems. This park is also famous for its secluded little bays and its year-round holiday frame-of-mind, and it's conveniently accessible from Cape Town.
While you’re exploring all the nooks and crannies of the Garden Route, don't forget to cast an eye out to sea where you could see the southern right and humpback whales, bottlenose and common dolphins and even killer whales that have been known to frolic close to the shore, especially near Plettenberg Bay.
Whatever your pleasure is, you’ll find what you’re looking on the Garden Route… even if it’s just to lose yourself in one of the most beautiful parts of South Africa, if not the world.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Plettenberg Bay Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)44 533 4065
Tel: +27 (0)44 382 5510
How to get here
The Garden Route is on the N2 highway starting in Mossel Bay, south of the Western Cape, and going north to Storms River on the Eastern Cape border. 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 it will be much busier then.
Things to do
The Garden Route is all about scenic drives, hiking, whale watching, bungee jumping, paragliding, visiting small picturesque towns, good food and chilling. The Knysna Oyster Festival takes place every year in July.
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.