The Garden Route is South Africa’s most impressive road trip, a stunning coastal drive that runs for 190 miles (300 kilometers), from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape Province to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. This spectacular route also links some of the south coast’s popular attractions. Here are some highlights.
For those driving the Garden Route from Cape Town, Mossel Bay is the first stop. This port town is the starting point for whale-watching cruises and trips to Seal Island. There are also four blue-flag beaches with plenty of options for swimming and surfing.
Wilderness National Park
Stretching along the coast just east of George, the Wilderness National Park is a scenic expanse of lagoons, wetlands, and beaches. Beachside walks and nature trails are the main attraction, with bird sightings including Knysna turaco, giant kingfisher, yellow-throated woodland warbler, and Cape robin.
Between George and Plettenberg Bay, Knysna is another top choice for wildlife enthusiasts. Head to the Knysna Elephant Park to see free-roaming herds of rescued African elephants, cruise out to the Featherbed Nature Reserve, or take a hike in the Knysna Forest.
Along the Western Cape, Plettenberg Bay has sandy beaches with great surf, sea cliff walks at the Robberg Nature Reserve, and the Nelson Bay Caves. Animal lovers can spot the Big Five in the Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve or visit the Birds of Eden bird sanctuary.
The desert-like landscapes of Oudtshoorn are famous for their ostrich farms, which make a fun detour for travelers. Nearby, an underground tour of the Cango Caves is another must-do.
Tsitsikamma National Park
The Tsitsikamma National Park provides plenty of opportunities to venture off the beaten path, with beaches, mountains, fynbos bushlands, and waterfalls to explore. Adventurous travelers can enjoy ziplining, kayaking, and dolphin-watching cruises, while the Otter Trail takes hikers all the way to Nature’s Valley. The biggest thrill is the Bloukrans Bridge bungy jump, the highest of its kind in the world.
Addo National Park
Although not technically part of the Garden Route, Addo National Park lies just north of Port Elizabeth and is often included on Garden Route tours. One of South Africa’s biggest national parks, it’s home to large populations of elephant, antelope, zebra, and cape buffalo, while other possible sightings include lions, spotted hyena, leopard, and black rhinoceros.