The Garden Route is probably the most spoken about area to travel in South Africa besides the iconic Kruger National Park. It really is an amazing sight to see for yourself and is a traveller's dream. Running from Mossel Bay all the way up to Port Elizabeth, the Garden Route stetches 300 kilometres and crosses two of South Africa's provinces.
I will be writing about 3 particular things that you may need to start planning your vacation: when to visit, where to stay and what activities to do. There are a few websites which have very comprehensive guides to browse through on towns to visit and things to do but I found these to contain too much information. My aim is to provide a lighter version of this that you may use as a template when planning your own Garden Route tour.
This is definitely an all year round destination but it should be noted that Christmas time (summer in the Southern Hemisphere) is much busier than other months of the year. Spring (September to November) would be a great time to visit the region as the flowers of the Cape Fynbos is a sight to behold. However, you would be safe in going to the Garden Route in any other month.
Most blogs or sites recommend that you begin in Mossel Bay but if you are flying into Cape Town, this makes an excellent place to start as well. Cape Town is not part of the Garden Route but it worth a drive through or stop-over (if you have the time). The roads after Cape Town are quite easy to navigate and there are plenty of places to stop for leg-stretching, refueling your car and grabbing a bite to eat.
From there, I would recommend a stop in Hermanus. This is a great historical town with fantastic ocean views and boasts as being one of the 12 best whale watching spots in the world! If you are making your trip from September to November, you may even see the whales themselves.
Mossel Bay is also a good place to start or a second stop on your trip and maybe even a stay-over. My next suggestion would be to stop and stay in Wilderness. It is only 44 minutes away from Mossel Bay and comes highly reccomended.
If you stay over in Wilderness, it would be worth your while to stop off in Knysna, have a lunch and explore this beautiful small town. From there, Plettenberg Bay is a stone's throw away (30 minutes) and makes a lovely destination to stay at.
Tsitsikamma National Park would be my preference for a next stop and is an hour away. It is a beautiful place to visit and Africa's oldest and largest marine reserve. From here on, it would be 2 hours away to Port Elizabeth. I would really advise a stop at the famous Jeffrey's Bay as it is one of the most famous surfing spots in the world!
There are so, so many things to do. Beach time would certainly take up the majority of your time if you are in South African from November to March. From national parks to Blue Flag beaches, you would be spoilt for choice. Speaking of national parks or reserves, safaris are a must in South Africa. You can drive yourself or take the traditonal game drive with a guide. Try a boat-based Whale Watching tour in Mossel Bay, Elephant Back Riding in the Crags or Seal Viewing in Plettenberg Bay. There is much more in the Garden Route collection here.
Taking a small food tour of the different towns would also be a fantastic idea. Seafood is the obvious choice because of the coastline but I would encourage you to look out for quaint coffee shops, delis and farmstalls. Look out for koeksisters, vetkoek, snoek and bobotie. This is all aunthentically South African cuisine. Did I mention milk tart? This is a definitely South African must-eat!
\Well, that's all my advice for now. This is a tour I would love to do. If you want to do a 4, 5, or 6 Day Garden Route tour and have no time to plan one, see the Garden Route section for 3 excellent options!
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