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Garden Route in South Africa - All information & highlights at a glance

The Garden Route in South Africa is probably the busiest road in the whole country. But who is also surprised, after all, countless cool places and highlights await you on this route. For us, the Garden Route in South Africa is a unique natural paradise, which is hard to beat in terms of diversity and variety. But the best is yet to come: From Cape Town you can easily explore the entire route or just part of the South Africa Garden Route by rental car. Even if you only have a few days.

The Garden Route in South Africa "officially" extends from the east of the Tsitsikamma National Park to Mossel Bay. Here, however, the opinions differ somewhat. But hey ... actually it doesn't matter, because as soon as you leave Cape Town one of the most exciting and varied sections along the coast to Addo Elephant Park begins. Today we're telling you our top highlights and lots of travel tips for the Garden Route in South Africa. ♡

Note: This post was created in January 2017. We update this post for you at very regular intervals. So far this article has been read almost 200,000. Crazy, right? If you have any new tips and suggestions for this post, please let us know.


What else you should know


Table of Contents


1. Duration Garden Route

The coast of South Africa is just wonderful and you can certainly spend many weeks on the Garden Route. However, many rush off and try to see as much as possible in the shortest possible time. Just don't stress yourself and take your time. For the 700 kilometers from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth you should plan at least 7 days, with the way back 10-14 days. The more time you have, the better.

Spend more time in a few places rather than rushing from one place to the next. We recommend at least 14 days for this region to experience the Garden Route in South Africa in a relaxed and intense way. Plus, it's always good to be flexible. So you can stay a day longer in a place that you like. The weather can also be semi-optimal and so you still have a day's buffer in an "emergency".



2. Recommendation for the route

It depends a little on where you start. Should youstart in Cape Town, you can explore the Garden Route andto Port Elizabeth drive. If you drive back to Cape Town, we recommend the R62 (Wine Route). This tour takes you through the "interior". So you don't have to go back the same route again. The R62 takes you through the Karoo, past Oudtshoorn and Barrydale, over beautiful passes to Paarl.

Some tourists come from Kruger Park, the Wild Coast or the Drakensberg and fly or drive as far as Durban. Another flight is often taken from there. We can cover the route between Durban and P.E. Definitely recommend, as the so-called Wild Coast is really beautiful. But of course that depends on how much time you have in total. Combine your trip, for example, with the north and explore the Kruger National Park, the Panorama Route and Johannesburg.


Some options for your route:


3. Our Garden Route highlights

But now we are finally on the legendary Garden Route in South Africa. As already mentioned at the beginning, this route begins in the area around Mossel Bay and extends to Port Elizabeth. Fantastically beautiful stretches of coast, lots of action and beautiful landscapes are waiting for you. So get in the car and off you go. We start the journey together with you in Cape Town and in this post we will bring you to the Addo Elephant Park. Have fun on our Garden Route road trip.


3.1. Explore Cape Town

Cape Town is one for usof the most beautiful metropolises in the world. Hardly any other big city has so far been able to cast a spell over us. But how should we describe it? Cape Town is lively, modern, colorful, culturally diverse, historical but also wild, sexy and somehow so “cool urban”. And the best thing about the city: You could probably always do something different 365 days a year, because there is definitely no shortage of the variety of activities! Especially in the outdoor area you can have a lot of fun and experience adventures. And often you don't even have to shell out a lot of money for it! Here are our top Cape Town sights.



As soon as you leave Cape Town, Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles behind you, you always meander along the coast. And it doesn't take long until you reach the legendary Chapman’s Peak Drive. For us this is one of the most beautiful panoramic roads in the whole world. During the trip along the South Africa Garden Route, a visit to the “Cape of Good Hope” should of course not be missed.

This legendary cape was discovered by the European Bartolomeu Diaz in 1488 when he was looking for a sea route to Asia. At that time he got caught in a storm, which is why he also called the Cape "Cape of Storms". Even today, terms such as “southernmost point of Africa” or “where two oceans meet” are still common, but these are more likely to apply to Cape Agulhas.


Cool places to stay in Cape Town


3.2. Surfing in Muizenberg

What a casual surfer oasis! We spent a lot of time in Muizenberg, and part of our South Africa travel guide was written there. Muizenberg is a small, charming and cozy place on the coast off Cape Town. Here you can sit relaxed in the café, watch the waves and hop on the board yourself. You can simply rent equipment for surfing directly on the beach promenade. The famous colorful wooden houses are also located here on the beach. Incidentally, these are also in St. James, which you can easily reach via the St. James Coastal Walk.


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Tip: Take a walk along the St. James Coastal Walks, enjoy the sea air and photograph the rustic, colorful wooden houses. In St. James you can also go swimming on the small sandy beach. Incidentally, the is not that far from Muizenberg Boulders Beach with the cute little ones Penguins. Entry R160 (as of 05/2020). You can also visit the penguins as part of the guided Cape Peninsula tour * (prices from € 46).



Cool accommodations in Muizenberg


3.3. Detour to the Winelands

Before you head towards Mossel Bay, you should make a detour to the Winelands around Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. This region is only 60 minutes by car from Cape Town. Countless wineries, great hotels and restaurants await you here, where you can try one or two drops. On our last trip we visited some wonderful wineries, which we can recommend without reservation. Click here for the article: Our top 5 wineries & tours.



We particularly liked the magical landscapes of the Winelands. Surrounded by mountains, lakes and lush green meadows and grapevines, it was great to relax and enjoy. Recommended starting points are Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl as well as, according to travel guides, Worcester, Tulbagh, Robertson and Swellendam. Wine tastings are usually quite cheap. The prices for this are on average around € 3 to € 6. In addition, many wineries also offer tours, picnics, guided tours or other activities.


BOOK A COOL TOUR
Book the ingenious hop-on / hop-off tour from Franschhoek * with the legendary Wine Tram. Explore breathtaking landscapes and enjoy your time on the various wineries with fine wines and delicious dishes. Price: 32 €.



In the Winelands you can not only drink wine but also explore nature. The beautiful landscapes are ideal for numerous outdoor activities, such as hiking, mountain biking, safari, cooking, scooter tours or city tours. How about, for example, an e-bike tour * through the picturesque landscapes including wineries? Sounds varied, doesn't it?

A hike in the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, which we would have liked to have done, should also be really cool. The community also gave tips on driving over the Du Toitskloof Pass, exploring the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve or strolling through the Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden. There is a lot to discover in the Winelands of South Africa!


Cool accommodations in the Winelands


3.4. Whales in Hermanus

Hermanus - theWorld capital of whale watchers! This city is a very nice place right on the coast. Here you will find numerous accommodations, many bars and restaurants as well as supermarkets, small boutiques and shops. Everything seems so cozy, like a health resort by the sea. The blue-green Atlantic, the clear blue sky, the rugged coast and the fresh breeze that rushes around your ears - welcome to Hermanus. If you are in the right place at the right time (June to November), you can go whale watching in the bay from land. We were lucky and saw some. Madness!



The Whale watching tours usually last 2 to 3 hours and in addition to whales, seals and dolphins can also be seen. But remember: Nobody can give you a guarantee that you will discover the giants of the seas. We watched the whales from the coast. Since they often come very far into the bay, you can also sit on the bench with the binoculars and watch the spectacle.



In addition to the unique whale watching, there is also a beautiful trail along the coast, the so-called "Cliff Path Trail". This picturesque path meanders along the sea for around 10 kilometers. Again and again you see meter-high waves crashing against the rocky coast. On the way you will pass Grotto Beach, one of the most popular beaches among the locals.

The. Also takes place on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Hermanus Country Market instead of. In addition to handicraft stalls, you will also find a lot of food, delicious wines, clothes and much more here. Research tip: at the end of September / beginning of October the popular "Hermanus Whale Festival" instead of. The return of the southern right whales will be celebrated. With live music, art exhibitions, colorful stands and lots of goodies, it is definitely a really cool event. More information at www.hermanuswhalefestival.co.za.


Cool places to stay in Hermanus


3.5. Southernmost point | Cape Agulhas

Why do all vacationers and travelers always come here? Very easily! In Cape Agulhas is the well-known "Southernmost Point", the southernmost point of Africa. This is where the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean meet. And if you stroll a few hundred meters further along the coast from this point, you will come across some shipwrecks in the sea.

Reader's tip: Another highlight in Cape Agulhas (Struisbaai) are the huge "stingrays" (stingrays) in the harbor. In the evening the fishermen return and dump their fish waste into the sea in the harbor. Of course, some rays do not miss this. Update 02/2020: The rays were recently seen in the water again by a reader.


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If you don't necessarily want to drive alone and prefer to take a tour, there are a few different providers. Among other things, private day tours from Cape Town * are also offered. You don't have to plan too much time for this area either. The way from the lighthouse to the point mentioned takes around 20 minutes. If you want to see the lighthouse yourself, as well as the shipwreck, you should plan a total of about 2 hours for Cape Agulhas.


Cool places to stay in Cape Agulhas



3.6. Sand dunes in De Hoop Nature Reserve

For us this is De Hoop Nature Reserve definitely one of the most beautiful places on the coast of South Africa and also the most beautiful sandpit in the whole country. Here you will meet the huge white sand dunes, which together with the turquoise blue sea form a beautiful backdrop. The reserve also offers the best conditions for spotting whales. We were lucky again and were able to watch a whale romp around for almost half an hour. It was definitely a magical moment for both of us. You can find detailed information in our article about the reserve: All highlights and information about De Hoop Nature Reserve.



In the reserve itself you can go on various hikes or the unique one Wetland "De Hoop Vlei" visit. According to statements from the “Cape Nature” website, over 260 species of birds await you here. The approach to De Hoop is unfortunately a bit bumpy and takes a long time over the gravel road. But it's worth it! Don't miss out on this sandpit! Entry is only R40 per person (€ 2.40). The park is always open from Saturday to Thursday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Fridays the gates are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Cool accommodations in and around De Hoop


3.7. Cool cafe in Mossel Bay

Mossel Bay is right on the coast and is a popular resort in South Africa. And did you know that you have the second best climate in the world after Hawaii? According to climate tables on the net, the climate is pleasant all year round and so you can actually stop here at any time of the year.Mossel Bay lies between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town - pretty much in the middle and forms the official start of the South Africa Garden Route. Lots of people don't like the place (“ugly duckling”), but we've discovered a few cool spots here.



It is also not far from here to De Hoop Nature Reserve, which you should definitely not miss! Our tips: Santos Express Train * (overnight stay on a train), the Blue Shed Coffee Roastery, a walk to the lighthouse and the wonderful St. Blaize Hiking Trail, which leads directly along the water. With a bit of luck you will also see a few dolphins and whales in the sea. For us, Mossel Bay was the perfect stop for an overnight stay by the sea (okay, we were even here for a full 5 days and we are a bit sunk).



We did some research and found out that around Mossel Bay there is also the possibility of discovering the Big 5 on a safari. In addition to the Garden Route Game Lodge * (20 km), there is also the Botlierskop Private Game Reserve * (20 km). Both reserves offer day tours. You can also book a shark cage tour * in Mossel Bay and experience 100% adrenaline. As you can see, this city is versatile and offers the perfect mix of beach, adventure and enjoyment.


Cool accommodations in Mossel Bay