The Garden Route is one of the most popular destinations in South Africa. It covers over 180 miles and has something for everyone to do. We recently visited South Africa and Garden Route was one of our favorite destinations during this trip. Since it can be overwhelming to figure out what to do here, we compiled a list of top things to do on the Garden Route.
Garden Route is a glorious stretch of coastline from Mossel Bay to Storms River. There is something for everyone to do here – scenic drives, safari, hiking, beaches, bungee jumping, and many other adventures. This post will cover the top things to do on the Garden Route.
Where is Garden Route in South Africa
Garden Route starts in Mossel Bay and stretches along the beautiful coastline for 190 miles to Storms River. A lot like Patagonia, the borders around the Garden Route keep getting stretched out to different areas to attract more tourists.
It includes towns like Mossel Bay, George, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Wilderness.
Top Things to Do on the Garden Route
1. Robberg Nature Reserve – Point Circuit
Only 8 km from Plettenberg Bay, deep on the Garden Route, is the magnificent Robberg Nature Reserve. It sits on the peninsula where some rocks date back 120 million years.
The Point Circuit hike is one of our top 10 hikes of all time. It has everything, diverse scenery, and terrain, wildlife, it’s not too long, a 9.3-kilometer loop, but can be strenuous at times. It is a hiker’s dream.
Robberg Nature Reserve is home to Cape fur seals; sometimes, whales and dolphins can be spotted too.
2. Kayaking & Lilo Adventure in Tsitsikamma
Kayaking & lilo adventure in Tsitsikamma National Park are a fantastic way to explore the stunning beauty of the park’s coastal region. Tsitsikamma National Park is located on the Garden Route in South Africa and is known for its dramatic landscapes, lush forests, and pristine coastline.
A kayaking & lilo adventure in Tsitsikamma Park typically involves a guided tour that takes you along the Storms River mouth, where the river meets the Indian Ocean. The overall experience typically takes 2.5 to 3 hours. It is an adventure that should not be missed when on the Garden Route.
3. Gondwana Game Reserve
Gondwana Game Reserve, just outside Mossel Bay, is an amazing reserve for safari adventures. It is available to overnight guests only so it’s not as crowded as some reserves are and is a perfect location to see the Big 5.
With one night stay, two safari drives (night & morning) and all the meals are included.
4. Knysna Elephant Park
Knysna Elephant Park offers adventure where you get to walk amongst elephants and feed them fruits and vegetables.
This was the first facility in South Africa to house and care for orphaned elephants. Over the years they have housed over 40 elephants and currently only have 5. The guides were very caring and knowledgeable about these gentle giants.
The “Meet Our Herd” Experience leaves every 30 minutes. It starts with a short video, then you are transported to where the herd is hanging out at the time. You can purchase a snack bucket, a bucket full of fruits and vegetables, to feed the elephants and then walk amongst them without touching them.
Standing next to them and walking with them was a surreal experience.
5. Storms River Suspension Bridges
Storms River Suspension Bridges can be combined with Kayaking & Lilo Adventure in the Tsitsikamma or done separately. There are three suspension bridges over the Indian Ocean with the longest of them being 77 meters.
To get to the bridges you have to take a short hike through the forest, past waterfalls and stunning sea views. There are many other trails to hike in the National Park and overnight accommodations for those looking to spend more time here.
6. Cango Caves
Cango Caves are away from the coastal Garden Route, 29 km north of Oudtshoorn. It is a fascinating underground network of limestone caverns. The caves are full of dripstone caverns, and visitors can walk right up to them.
One of the rooms hosts concerts occasionally since it has excellent acoustics.
7. Knysna Gin Distillery
We stumbled upon Knysna Gin Distillery completely unexpectedly. It is a small, quaint family-owned distillery/brewery.
You can enjoy delicious cocktails, or a sample of different gin flavors with tonic and see what tastes the best to you. It’s only been around since 2018 and is definitely worth a visit.
8. Canopy Tour in Tsitsikamma
The Canopy Tour in Tsitsikamma involves zip-lining from one platform to another. There are 10 different zip-lining lines and the entire experience takes 2 – 2.5 hrs. It is a great way to spend a morning and get the adrenaline rushing.
9. Plettenberg Bay
Plettenberg Bay is a small beach town and a great place to stay while exploring the Garden Route. It is in a centralized location and it’s easy to get to all of the exciting adventures from here. Known for its pristine beaches, where you can relax sunbathing, swimming or even dolphin and whale watching.
The restaurants are plentiful, and the food is terrific. On the menus, you can find everything from seafood to game meat.
10. Bloukrans Bungee & Sky Walk
About 40 km outside of Plettenberg, on the way to Tsitsikamma National Park, is Bloukrans Bridge. The world’s highest bungy bridge. As exhilarating as that may sound to some, to us it’s a death sentence.
For those that are not up to bungy jumping, like us, you can still do Sky Walk and walk under the arch bridge, 216 meters above Bloukrans River.
Best Time to Visit the Garden Route
Garden Route, and South Africa, is a year-round destination. However, the best time to visit the Garden Route is December through April. January and February have the highest temperatures as it is the peak of summer and the most crowds. In March and April, the crowds start tapering off and the accommodation rates are usually lower.
The best time to visit the Garden Route to go whale watching is June. August, October and November are the rainiest months.
We visited in April and even though the weather was mostly overcast it was perfect for hiking and outdoor adventures.
How Long To Spend on The Garden Route
How long to spend on the Garden Route entirely depends on the things you would like to do. It is recommended to spend a minimum of 3 days on Garden Route. You can probably spend up to 2 weeks here and never get bored.
We spent 5 days and had plenty of time to do all the things mentioned above except the visit to Cango Caves. We stationed ourselves in Plettenberg Bays and traveled to all different adventures from there.
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