Interested in taking a Garden Route tour in South Africa? Or perhaps it’s the first time you’ve heard of this popular vacation destination? The Garden Route is a protected 300-kilometre stretch of coastline in southeastern South Africa. Beginning in Mossel Bay and ending at Storms River Mouth, it’s considered one of the top tourist attractions in the country. This route gets its name from the immaculate and diverse scenery encompassed in this part of the country. From dramatic wild beaches to evergreen forests and turquoise lagoons, it’s little wonder that Garden Route tours are extremely popular. A number of beautiful destinations are included in the route, ranging from the forests of Tsitsikamma to laid-back Knysna. If you love epic landscapes, you’ll love the Garden Route! Here are some of the highlights you can enjoy along the way:
Highlights of a Garden Route Tour
One of the most popular starting points for Garden Route tours is Oudtshoorn. Whilst the classic route often begins on the coast at Mossel Bay, some travelers prefer to begin from this rural town due to its huge population of ostriches! In fact, Oudtshoorn is home to the largest population of these flightless birds on earth! Famed for its ostrich feather industry, the town is nestled between the Swartberg and the Outeniqua Mountains. This pristine natural environment consists of a unique semi-arid landscape, home to beautiful rolling hills and flower meadows. Of course, no trip to Oudtshoorn would be complete without visiting one of its thriving ostrich farms.
Heading eastwards across the Cape, you’ll arrive in Knysna, a true treasure of the Garden Route. Surrounded by forests, mountains and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, Knysna is well-known for its outdoor activities and unspoilt beaches. In fact, several protected nature reserves provide ample choice for hiking enthusiasts, whilst the sheltered Knysna Lagoon, flanked by the sheer rock faces known as the ‘Knysna Heads’, is perfect for a peaceful boat ride. Furthermore, foodies love Knysna for its excellent seafood, cosmopolitan restaurants and thriving local wine scene. Indeed, the city is famed for its fresh oysters, cultivated in the Knysna Lagoon.
Tsitsikamma National Park
Within the protected Garden Route National Park, Tsitsikamma lies between Knysna and Storms River. Encompassing a variety of ecosystems, it’s the most popular spot for trail hiking and wildlife spotting. If you take a Garden Route tour, spending some time exploring Tsitsikamma National Park is a must! As well as stunning coastal scenery, the protected area also extends into the sea in the form of a marine reserve. Therefore, watersports, such as diving and snorkelling amongst the reef, can also be enjoyed here. Furthermore, dolphin and whale sightings are frequent and the Tsitsikamma National Park is also home to the endemic Cape clawless otter. Many choose to visit Tsitsikamma on a Garden Route tour to visit Storms River. This small town is a gateway to the national park and is home to a thrilling suspension bridge. Several trails, including the Otter Trail, begin at Storms River.
The final stop on a classic Garden Route tour is the thriving coastal city of Port Elizabeth. Set along the beautiful shores of Nelson Mandela Bay, Port Elizabeth is the ideal place to unwind after a few days of outdoor adventure! Excellent surf spots, golden stretches of sand and a dynamic urban life make Port Elizabeth one of South Africa’s most popular cities. Furthermore, the city boasts a rich historical legacy, seen in its numerous museums and colonial-era buildings. Ending your Garden Route tour in Port Elizabeth also gives you the chance to add on a safari adventure, as it’s the jumping-off point for wildlife excursions to the nearby Addo Elephant National Park and Amakhala Game Reserve.
Fancy experiencing the breathtaking landscapes and scenery of the Garden Route for yourself? Explore our latest trips to South Africa on our official website: