Garden Route

About Garden Route

Garden Route is a 300-km colourful stretch of coastline across the southwest tip of South African Shores buzzing with hidden treasures and natural beauty. Every corner, from the deep forests of Tsitsikamma to the calm tranquil sands of Mossel Bay, is a fairytale yet untold.

If you crave a real adventure and are in love with nature’s magic, Garden Route Tours are just perfect for you. It’s a beautiful trail where the sea meets the forest and displays an ideal combination of chill and thrill.

On a Garden Route Road Trip, you can spot whales breaching in the distance or explore caves that whisper tales of the past. This exotic route is a highlight of South African Safaris and helps to mix the sensual beauty of the water and the wildness of the safari.

Garden Route Tours & Safaris

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Best time to visit

The Garden Route is a delightful place to visit year-round thanks to its mild weather. For those who love the sun without the crowds, February to April is the Best Time to Visit the Garden Route. Summer months from November to April are warm, perfect for beachgoers but you may see a lot more people. Whale watchers should aim for July to October, with September being prime time. From June to August, winter is cooler yet cosy, and you can catch the colourful Knysna Festival.


With the finest Garden Route Wildlife on display, the viewing experiences remain unmatched. Whales breaching off Hermanus’ coast can be seen between June and December while playful dolphins can be spotted at Plettenberg Bay any day of the calendar. Over 264 species of birds, including the magnificent Knysna turaco, may be admired in Knysna. In Boulder Beach, you can meet African penguins. Moreover, The Garden Route National Park is the ultimate nature attraction in the area, offering close-up encounters with elephants and several distinct habitats to explore.

What To Experience

Travel Guide For Garden Route

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Garden Route Map

Exploring the Garden Route offers a glorious journey along South Africa's coast. It stretches over 300 kilometres from Mossel Bay to Storms River and is renowned for its vibrant coastal forests and pristine sandy beaches.

The Garden Route Map below is an essential guide for nature lovers and adventurers. It shows all the major Garden Route Attractions including charming towns like George, Knysna, and Plettenberg Bay while driving across the route.

Ideal for those starting their journey from Cape Town towards Port Elizabeth, the map serves as a perfect planner for adding a safari adventure in the Eastern Cape or beyond to the itinerary.  

How To Get To Garden Route?

The Garden Route officially begins from Mossel Bay but almost all travellers arrive at Cape Town on their South Africa Travel. Mossel Bay is only 400 km/250 mi or a 5-hour drive from the city. Below we have mentioned several ways to Get to Garden Route from Cape Town:

  • Fly directly to George: Catch a flight from Cape Town and pick up a rental car at George Airport. This option offers convenience and speed, allowing you to start your journey along the Garden Route almost immediately.
  • Drive along the N2 national highway: This scenic drive takes you through quaint towns and notable spots:
    • Hermanus, known for whale watching
    • Swellendam and De Hoop Nature Reserve, for a touch of nature
  • Take the inland route via the N1, switching to R62: Perfect for those who enjoy wineries and historic towns:
    • Explore the Cape Winelands
    • Visit Oudtshoorn, known for its ostrich farms
    • Experience breathtaking mountain passes before joining the N2
  • Hire a private guide: For a more tailored experience, a private guide can design a route based on your interests, be it art galleries, gourmet spots, or nature havens.

Irrespective of how you reach the Garden Route, the experience you get from Garden Route Tours will undoubtedly be rich. Here, you can go on a self-drive trip and live in inexpensive B&Bs to save money or spend on flights between destinations. In any case, your journey to the Garden Route and the experiences you want to have been incredibly varied in opportunities.

Garden Route Weather And Climate

The Garden Route boasts a climate as diverse and inviting as its landscapes. With a Mediterranean Maritime vibe, you're in for moderately hot summers and mild winters - a balance that's just right for exploring any time of the year.

  • Summers (November to March): Enjoy warm days with temperatures between 24-30ºC. Perfect for beach adventures and outdoor activities.
  • Winters (June to August): Experience cooler days and chilly evenings. It's the rainiest season, thanks to the sea winds from the Indian Ocean, but the showers mostly come at night, keeping the scenery lush and green.

The weather patterns along the Garden Route can vary:

  • Western Cape: Expect the most rainfall during winter, similar to Cape Town.
  • Eastern Cape: Heading towards Port Elizabeth, summer rains are more common, making the weather a bit unpredictable.

Despite this, the Garden Route's climate is one of the mildest in the world, offering a comfortable setting for holidays year-round.

Towns like Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, and Wilderness stay vibrant and welcoming because of their gentle climate. So, irrespective of whether it's spring in the air by late August or a mixed October leading into the warm days of summer, the Garden Route is stunning in any season.

Best Places To Eat In The Garden Route

On the Garden Route, every meal is a relishing journey. This beautiful stretch of South Africa is home to a variety of places to eat, each offering something special. Here’s a quick guide to some spots you won't want to miss.

  • In Hermanus, you can dine right by the ocean at Birkenhead House or The Marine, where the views are as breathtaking as the food. It’s the perfect spot for spotting whales while you eat.
  • Over in Stanford, the Mosaic Farm Lagoon Lodge is known for its delicious breakfasts and dinners, all made with fresh, local ingredients. It’s a feast for your taste buds and your eyes.
  • Montagu has a treat for picnic lovers at Jan Harmsgat Country House. Imagine relaxing among orchards while enjoying local dishes.
  • Knysna offers a mix of vibes. Noah’s Champagne Bar & Lounge and Café Z at Pezula Resort serve great snacks and meals with beautiful views of gardens and golf courses.
  • Plettenberg Bay shines with The Plettenberg and Emily Moon River Lodge, where the settings are as unique as the menus. Whether you’re looking for beachfront dining or a riverside spot, you’re in for a treat.

As you travel the Garden Route, make sure to explore these culinary highlights. Each place adds a flavorful touch to your Garden Route South Africa tour, blending delicious dishes with enchanting views

Things To Do In The Garden Route

Exploring the Garden Route offers a diverse range of activities for every kind of traveller. So, whether you're setting out from Cape Town or diving deep into the route's heart, there's no shortage of wonders to explore. We have listed some of the best Things to Do in Garden Route below:

  • Start your journey with a stop at Sir Lowry’s Pass to soak in the breathtaking views of the ocean and distant mountains, a beautiful goodbye to Cape Town.
  • Animal lovers will delight in visiting Stony Point to see a colony of endangered African penguins, offering a more intimate experience than the more crowded spots.
  • Whale watching in Hermanus is world-renowned, offering both shore-based and boat excursions to see these magnificent creatures up close.
  • While in the area, don't miss out on wine tasting along the Hermanus Wine Route, showcasing unique vineyards influenced by the coastal climate.
  • For those seeking adventure, the Garden Route doesn't disappoint. Sandboarding on the Dragon Dune in Mossel Bay provides thrills, while Oudtshoorn invites visitors to marvel at ostriches at Mooiplaas.
  • If you're up for a drive, the Swartberg Pass offers breathtaking vistas and engineering marvels.
  • Not to be overlooked, the Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn offer an underground wonderland of stalactites and stalagmites, with guided tours through this ancient cave system.

Each of these Garden Route Activities enriches your South Africa itinerary, blending natural beauty, wildlife encounters, and the thrill of discovery into an enchanting adventure.

Tips for Driving in Garden Route South Africa

Hitting the road for a Garden Route Tour? Here are some handy tips to make your drive smooth and enjoyable.

  • In South Africa, people drive on the left side of the road, and the driver’s seat is on the right.
  • If you're renting a car, you'll find both automatic and manual options available, but remember, locals mostly drive stick-shift.
  • At petrol stations, let the attendants fill up your tank; they'll also offer to check your oil, and water, and clean your windshield. A small tip of around R10 is appreciated.
  • While driving, especially on highways, stick to the left and overtake on the right.
  • Be mindful of hitchhikers, it's best not to pick them up.
  • Keep an eye out for pedestrians and animals like dogs, cattle, and even baboons or tortoises. Using your phone while driving is a no-go.
  • Also, if you're parking somewhere, you might meet a 'car guard' who'll watch over your car for a small tip of R5 to R10.

By following the above tips, enjoy your journey through one of South Africa's most beautiful Garden Route, with well-maintained roads and scenic stops along the way.

Best Month to Visit Garden Route

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Garden Route in January

January on the Garden Route is summer at its peak, with temperatures soaring to 25-30°C. It's a paradise for beach lovers as towns like Plettenberg Bay and Knysna buzz with festive vibes and events. Remember, it's the peak tourist season, so book your stay early to enjoy Garden Route Tours amidst the vibrant atmosphere.

Garden Route in February

February offers more of the splendid warm and sunny weather, perfect for outdoor adventures and soaking in the coastal beauty. As the holiday crowd thins, it's an excellent time for those seeking a quieter experience of the Garden Route’s stunning landscapes without the peak season rush.

Garden Route in March

With the arrival of autumn in March, the Garden Route begins to cool down, presenting a perfect escape with fewer crowds. This month is ideal for hiking and exploring the natural wonders at a leisurely pace, offering more serene and accessible Garden Route Tours.

Garden Route in April

April's mild weather and the start of autumn foliage make the Garden Route especially picturesque. Outdoor activities are still in full swing, with the added beauty of changing leaves. It’s a quieter month, perfect for nature lovers wanting to experience the Garden Route without the summer crowd.

Garden Route in May

May brings cooler temperatures but the autumn charm continues. Outdoor activities remain enjoyable, and the beaches still invite, albeit with a chillier air. It's a transitional time on the Garden Route, offering a peaceful backdrop for exploration before the winter sets in.

Garden Route in June

June marks winter's start, introducing cooler evenings but also the beginning of whale watching season, a highlight for visitors. The waters are welcoming for surfing, thanks to the warmer Indian Ocean currents along the Garden Route. It's a unique time for wildlife enthusiasts to visit.

Garden Route in July

July continues the mild winter, with daytime temperatures around 13-18°C. It's dryer compared to summer, offering a break from rain and a quieter, intimate Garden Route experience. With fewer tourists, it’s a season of tranquillity and discovery, perfect for those seeking peace.

Garden Route in August

In August, winter persists, yet it never gets too cold, preserving the green, lush landscapes. Wildlife activities and quiet explorations define the Garden Route now, making it ideal for visitors looking for a calm retreat amidst nature’s untouched beauty.

Garden Route in September

Spring blooms in September, painting the Garden Route with vibrant colours and mild temperatures. It's a fantastic month for outdoor activities as the flora revives, offering splendid scenes for hikers and birdwatchers alike. The awakening of nature makes it a picturesque time for a Garden Route Tour.

Garden Route in October

October's late spring brings pleasant weather and a slow-paced atmosphere, perfect for exploring diverse landscapes before the summer crowds. It offers a sweet spot of good weather and manageable visitor numbers, making it one of the best times for a Garden Route exploration.

Garden Route in November

As summer begins to peak in November, the Garden Route slowly bustles into life, yet without the peak season's intensity. It's a time when you can still enjoy a relatively quiet holiday, exploring coastal towns and natural attractions before the full tourist wave hits.

Garden Route in December

December welcomes full summer with warm temperatures and long days, marking the busiest time on the Garden Route. It's a social, vibrant period filled with festivals and events. Despite the crowds, it remains the best time for an action-packed Garden Route Holiday, teeming with life and activities

Frequently Asked Questions

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The Garden Route, a stunning stretch of road known for its natural beauty, starts in Mossel Bay and ends in Storms River. This journey covers some of the most beautiful landscapes in South Africa, making it a must-visit for anyone looking to explore the country's scenic vistas.

Travelling the Garden Route offers an opportunity to see some of South Africa's most picturesque locations, including Plettenberg Bay, Wilderness, George, and Knysna. These highlights showcase the diverse landscapes, from coastal towns to lush forests, making it a central part of Garden Route attractions.

Yes, self-driving the Garden Route is considered safe due to well-maintained roads. For added peace of mind, hiring a car from Falcon Safaris and possibly booking a self-drive Garden Route Tour Package can offer additional support, ensuring you have help available if needed.

For a comprehensive experience, planning at least 7 days for your Garden Route tour is advisable. This duration allows you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty and activities available. However, if you're short on time, a minimum of 3 to 4 days can still provide a memorable journey.

The Garden Route is celebrated for its extensive 300km coastline featuring diverse vegetation, enchanting forests, serene lakes, and stunning beaches. This area is a quintessential representation of South Africa's natural beauty, making it a significant destination for travellers worldwide.

The best time to visit the Garden Route is during the spring and autumn months when the weather is mild and pleasant, perfect for exploring the outdoors. This timing helps you avoid the peak tourist seasons, ensuring a more relaxed experience of the Garden Route's South Africa attractions.

Absolutely Yes! Combining a Garden Route South Africa tour with a South African Safari provides the perfect blend of scenic landscapes and wildlife adventures. This combination allows you to experience the diverse beauty of South Africa, from its stunning coastlines to its rich animal life.

Along the Garden Route, you can find a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to cosy bed and breakfasts. These accommodation options are designed to suit every traveller’s needs.

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