Picture white sand beaches, dramatic rugged mountains running straight into the ocean and pristine lagoons in sprawling forests. This is the Garden Route. A trip to South Africa is not complete without driving this world-famous stretch of land.
We have driven the Garden Route numerous times and each time it is just as beautiful and impressive as it was before. In December we will be spending two full weeks driving the Garden Route and the Wild Coast. Realistically we know that most travelers don’t have a full two weeks to spare, but we do recommend taking at least 5-7 days to make the drive, as you won’t want to feel rushed.
There is so much to do on the Garden Route it’s hard to figure out where to start, so we’ve put together a sample itinerary for you.
Day 1: Cape Town to Swellendam to Oudtshoorn (5hrs)
Get an early start leaving Cape Town so you can fit some activities in during your drive. Head toward Oudtshoorn. If you want to break up the drive, stop in Swellendam, the third oldest town in South Africa. There isn’t a whole lot to do there, but it’s a nice stop, 2.5 hours from Cape Town. Get out of the car, stretch your legs and have a look around. Continue to Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of the world. Crawl through the Cango Caves. After the caves, you have a few options. If you are an animal-lover looking to get up close and personal with some creatures, you must check out the Cango Wildlife Ranch. Here you can pet cheetahs, hold snakes or cage dive with some crocs.
Given that Oudtshoorn is the ostrich capital of the world, you may want to learn more about this funky-looking, flightless, bird. Visit Safari Ostrich Farm to find out more about these animals. You’ll even get to feed some!
Many travelers will choose to spend the night in Oudtshoorn, but we recommend you take the hour drive to Wilderness and spend the night by the beach.
Budget: Wilderness Beach House
Mid-range: Dune Guest Lodge
Luxury: Views Boutique Hotel and Spa
Day 2: Wilderness to Knysna (40 minutes)
Wake up early and take a nice morning stroll down Wilderness Beach. For a unique experience, continue along the train tracks to “Clifford’s Cave” where you will meet Clifford the “caveman” who has been living in a cave for years. It’s not just any cave, it’s a massive multi-room compound completely decorated with hanging shells, driftwood and other beach objects. People either find it incredibly interesting or slightly creepy, we’ll let you choose. Regardless, it is perfectly safe and certainly will be an exciting experience. Read More about Clifford’s cave by clicking here.
After you have met Clifford, continue to Knysna, just 40 minutes up the road. Now it’s time to get out on the water and go check out the Knysna Heads. We recommend booking a tour with Knysna Charters or The Featherbed Company.
After you get out on the water, take some time to relax. Sit by Knysna Lagoon or Head to Buffalo Bay.
Budget: Brenton on Sea Cottages
Mid-range: Amanzi Island Lodge
Luxury: Villa Paradisa Guest House
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If you have limited time to drive the Garden Route, today it’s time to turn around. But don’t worry, there is still lots to see on the way home.
For those of you continuing on the Garden Route, you’ll want to head towards Port Elizabeth. If time allows, venture all the way to the Wild Coast.
After you have had your surfing fix in Jefferys Bay, it’s time to head back towards Cape Town. The first stop on your way home should be Tsitsikamma National Park or the Garden Route National Park. Spend the day hiking (otter trail), biking, abseiling, tubing or kloofing! Also, we highly recommend taking a canopy tour.
After a full day of activities, you will sleep well!
Hopefully, you aren’t too sore from a day full of activities in the parks. There is certainly more to do in the area so it doesn’t hurt to keep exploring in the morning.
After you have gotten your adventure fix in, head west for two and a half hours to Mossel Bay. For those of you looking for more adventure experiences, you can go shark diving, sky diving or sand boarding.
Or, you can just lie on the beach all day and take in the beauty and peace of the Garden Route.
Budget: Oceans Hotel
Midrange: African Oceans Manor on the Beach
Luxury: Botlierskop Private Game Reserve
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