The Garden Route, South Africa

The Garden Route begins about four hours outside Cape Town, and includes one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline, the starting point of which is constantly contested as towns such as Witsand, Stilbaai and Albertinia join the route that winds its way for some 200 km via George, Wilderness, Sedgefield and Knysna on to Plettenberg Bay culminating in the Tstisikamma Forest - a fairyland of giant trees, ferns and bird life.

Did you know? The Garden Route provides a coastline of some 300 km between Mossel Bay and Plettenberg Bay, and is one of South Africa’s most popular holiday destinations.

Mountains crowd close to a shoreline dotted with beaches and bays, and vividly coloured wild flowers delight the eye. Between Heidelberg and Storms River, the Garden Route runs parallel to a coastline featuring lakes, mountains, tall indigenous forests, amber -coloured rivers and golden beaches.

Meandering trails are followed by hikers, the forests invite long, leisurely drives, and the lakes and rivers lend themselves to swimming boating and fishing. A wide range of leisure options, spectacular scenery and a mild climate guarantee an unforgettable holiday experience when visiting the Garden Route in South Africa.

The region provides a stirring study in contrasts. The delightful town of George, known as "The Gateway to the Garden Route", graces a coastal plateau in a fertile area of lush greenery at the foot of the Outeniqua Mountains. Oudtshoorn, "Capital of the Klein Karoo", is set in a semi-arid valley, providing the ideal habitat for ostriches which are farmed here on a grand scale.

The Garden Route stretches on the southern coast from Heidelberg to the Tsitsikamma Forest and Storms River. It’s a nook of the country that offers inspiration to writers and artists whose presence gives the Garden Route a trendy flavour. It is also a top priority of many a foreign visitor. The coastal drive links a series of charming towns interspersed with natural beauty.

Did you know? Once you've booked your hotels or Garden Route accommodation, explore the destination pages for info on attractions, activities and things to do when you visit the gorgeous Garden Route on your travels in South Africa.

Along the way, every kind of adventure activity is possible; scuba diving, abseiling, fishing and more. The Tsitsikamma National Park, perched on a tumultuous Indian Ocean shore is one of South Africa’s most dramatic protected areas, combining marine and land attractions. Its indigenous forests are a haven for birdlife. One of the most geologically interesting parts of South Africa is the Klein Karoo, with its towering mountains and sheer gorges.

An important geological feature is the Cango Caves, a series of caverns and chambers naturally hewn out of limestone, situated outside the city of Oudtshoorn. The Cango Caves are among the top ten most visited South African attractions.

Oudtshoorn itself, the heart of the ostrich feather industry when it was in its hey day the late 1800s and early 1900s, is well worth a visit. The grandiose, old feather palaces are still to be seen, while ostrich farms, now involved in the commercial production of meat, leather, eggs and feathers, can be toured, with the possibility of riding an ostrich.

The Garden Route as a destination

Must See in the Garden Route

Game Reserves

Gondwana Private Game Reserve

Along the Garden Route of South Africa just 4 hours from Cape Town you will find 11 000 hectares of indigenous fynbos and free roaming big 5 game, home to the lion, black rhinoceros, eland, red hartebeest, endangered Cape Mountain Zebra, springbok, kudu, ...

Mountain Passes

Bloukrans Pass

Bloukrans River Bridge, just beyond Nature's Valley in the Western Cape, is famous for its bungi jump, reputed to be the highest commercial bungi in the world at 216 metres. But the Bloukrans Pass is one of several passes found in the Tsitsikamma. These ...

National Parks

Tsitsikamma National Park

The Tsitsikamma National Park is situated at the heart of the picturesque tourist region known as the Garden Route, found in the Southern Cape of South Africa. Tsitsikamma is a Khoisan word meaning, “place of much water". The Park incorporates 80 km of ...

National Parks

Garden Route National Park

The Garden Route National Park, established by SANParks and also known as GRNP, spans an impressive 121 000 hectares and includes the existing Wilderness and Tsitsikamma national parks, the Knysna Lakes area and roughly 52 000 hectares of newly ...

Nature Reserves

Robberg Nature Reserve

Just outside Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route is a beautiful, remote rocky peninsula touted as the most popular walking destination in and around Plettenberg Bay. Robberg Nature Reserve is a charged booster of outdoor living - incredible scenery, ...

Landmarks / Natural Wonders

Knysna Heads

The Heads are a stunning sight to enjoy from a number of restaurants, and provide the perfect backdrop for those indulging in water sports nearby. The East Head is the more accessible one, and visitors need only head to Leisure Isle and then follow the ...

Miscellaneous / Whale Route / Activities

Whale Watching in Garden Route

Whilst the Garden Route, between Mossel Bay and Storm's River, does not get landbased whale watching in quite the same way as Hermanus, Witsand and De Hoop, whales are still very much in evidence in the more secluded bays particularly around Mossel Bay, ...

Beaches / Lakes / Dams / Landmarks

Knysna Lagoon

The breath-taking blue of the Knysna Lagoon imbues the coastal town of Knysna with an allure that is quite irresistible. This lagoon opens between two massive cliffs, known as The Heads. These stand tall, acting as ...

Landmarks / Natural Wonders

Pinnacle Point Caves

On the small headland that juts into the Indian Ocean at the very tip of Mossel Bay is a collection of caves that are not only intriguing to explore with awe-inspiring views of the ocean, but are also historically relevant to ...

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