Travel Guide to the Garden Route

Clear sky, blue ocean and Mountains in the Garden Route of South Africa

“Follow the fresh scent of the forest, the taste of the Ocean, and the thrill of adventure, and you will eventually discover why the Garden Route is one of the best road trips in South Africa. After our magnificent journey in the Eastern Cape, we continued our Eastern Cape Road Trip Campervan, following the Garden Route map. With its epic coastlines and idyllic landscapes, the Garden Route of South Africa stretches over 300 kilometres from Storms River in the Eastern Cape to Mossel Bay. Here, I share our Eastern Cape Journey, the Garden Route self-drive itinerary, and the best things to do on the Garden Route.

With its epic coastlines and idyllic landscapes barred by breathtaking passes and gorges, the Garden Route of South Africa stretches over 300 kilometres from Stormsriver in the Eastern Cape to Mossel Bay. Here, I share our 7-day Garden Route Self-drive Itinerary with the best things to do on the Garden Route.

Our South Africa Garden Route Itinerary

Dashuri looking on our road trip travelling the map of the Garden Route

As we departed from Oyster Bay, the weather was cloudy and rainy. The scenic route from Humansdorp to Stormsriver is around 94.2km long and takes approximately an hour and 20 minutes, depending on our speed and the number of stops we make.

One of the best things about a Garden Route safari road trip is that we can stop whenever and wherever we want and travel at our own pace. Additionally, Dashuri can join us on our Garden Route road trip.

Our Map of the Garden route includes Storms River – Nature Valley – Plettenberg Bay – Knysna – Sedgefield – Wilderness – Glentana, and Mossel Bay. We returned to Gauteng via Oudtshoorn – De Rust – Beaufort West and Bloemfontein.

Storms River

From the Eastern Cape, our first stop was at Africa’s highest Storms River bridge, standing 216 meters above the Storms River.

Before the Stormsriver Bridge was built, the Paul Sauer Bridge was the highest concrete arch in Africa, with a maximum height of 120 meters (394 ft).

Don’t miss the scenic Storms River village in the heart of the Tsitsikamma Forest. Stormsriver is a small village and the gateway to the Tsitsikamma National Park, where most Tsitsikamma Adventures occur.

Stormsriver Village has many good restaurants, some cosy shops, a postal agency, and a liquor store. There are many accommodation options.

Travelling map of the Garden Route Bridge Stormsriver adventures Storms river bridge

The Best Time to Tour the Garden Route

The best time to take a South Africa Garden Route tour is during Spring and summer, between September and April. The days are mostly warm and sunny during these months, and there are fewer chances of rain.

Farmstall on map of the Garden Route

Springtime, however, is best for flowers. Garden Route Weather is unpredictable, and one can experience four seasons in one day. Therefore, it is best to dress in layers due to different coastal climates.

Not far from the Storms River bridge, we stopped at a cute Farmstall next to The Shoppe at Mel’s on the Garden route. Mel’s was initially started to assist residents in earning an income by selling their products, such as wood, charcoal, milk, bread, and even meat. They also rent out bikes to explore the region.

Best Garden Route Attractions

Here are the best Garden Route attractions for a 5-day Garden Route Itinerary. On what is the best things to do, visit the list of the Best Adventure Activities on the Garden Route.

Storms River Mouth

Visit the Storms River Mouth and Storms River Camp in Tsitsikamma National Park. There is a large restaurant overlooking the Ocean, from where we saw a whale in the deeper waters on our last visit. After that, explore the Storms River suspension bridge and enjoy a meal at the restaurant overlooking the Ocean. On our last visit, we were lucky to spot a whale. I recommend their tasty hamburgers and crispy chips.

Visit the Wildlife Sanctuaries

Wolf Sanctuary Garden Route

Visit the Tsitsikamma Wolf Sanctuary. This non-profit organization provides a haven for abused and abandoned wolves.

They have many support options available for volunteering at the Wolf Sanctuary Tsitsikamma.

One can even volunteer by staying in and getting to work with wolves. They are at Lot 510 Wolf Sanctuary, Elandshoogte, Witelsbos, Tsitsikamma. +27-82-956-4175.

Wild Wolf Sanctuary Garden Route

Tenikwa Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre

Look closely at lions, leopards, cheetahs, and other animals such as meerkats and penguins. Learn more about Wildlife rehabilitation and take the most amazing pictures with wild cats at the Tenikwa Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre at The Crags in Plettenberg Bay. Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness and Rehabilitation Centre also offers tours focusing on indigenous wild Cats and local wildlife. To book your spot, visit the EcoKidz Family Challenge Wildlife Tour.

Monkeyland, Birds of Eden & Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary

I hate sad stories but love happy endings. At Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary, you’ll experience happy endings and rejoice with them. Monkeyland, Birds of Eden, and Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary are Plettenberg Bay-based sanctuaries that are the final forever homes for animals misplaced or mistreated by humans. You can support them by visiting Jukani Sanctuary, Monkeyland, and Birds of Eden, which are on their mission to help those who can’t help themselves.

The animals at Jukani’s Wildlife Sanctuary Plettenberg Bay are all rescued animals that humans mistreat. The enclosures are specifically built to suit each animal’s needs. At Jukani, you will find Predators such as Lions, Tigers, Jaguars, Leopards, and Spotted hyenas. Located off the N2, The Crags, Western Cape, South Africa, Tel: +27 (0) 44 534 8409

Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary

They are one of the World’s first multi-species primate sanctuaries where ex-captive primates roam freely. Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary is on 12 hectares of indigenous forest and is home to more than 550 primates. Monkeyland Plett also hosts howlers, vervets, langurs, sakis, capuchins, and spider monkeys. Furthermore, squirrel monkeys and the endangered black and white ruffed and ring-tailed lemurs are also present. To experience these beautiful creatures, visit Monkeyland and Birds of Eden.

Knysna Forest Loerie

Birds of Eden Plettenberg Bay

Experience the largest single-span free-flight aviary globally, encompassing 2.3 hectares of forest waterways. On the 1.2 km walkways, admire the environment and bird species.

Amongst the 3500 birds are about 200 species of previously caged birds, including parrots, turaco, waterfowl, finches, cranes, and hornbills.

Monkeyland, Jukani and Birds of Eden are located at Animal Alley. Coming from the N2, take the Kurland Village turn-off, The Crags, +27 44 534 8906

Top activities in Plettenberg Bay:

Knysna, the Pearl of the Garden Route, sits between George and Plettenberg Bay and is a must on any Garden Route South Africa Itinerary.

Where to stay in Plettenberg Bay

Best things to do in Knysna

Visit Knysna Heads

The Knysna River, which feeds the Knysna lagoon, is primarily built on the northern shore of a large estuary. You can explore the Knysna Estuary alone or take a Knysna Heads boat trip by using a Garden route map.

The Heads Knysna is an expansive estuary that offers beautiful cliffs, historical caves, marine life, and abundant fauna and flora.

Featherbed Nature Reserve

Board a ferry crossing the Knysna Lagoon to the privately-owned Featherbed Nature Reserve. Situated on the Western Head of Knysna, the Reserve is only accessible by ferry on guided tours to protect the splendour of the natural beauty.

Explore the Knysna Heads and estuary on a 45-minute adventure cruise. Learn about the history of Knysna and encounter with birdlife and seals that inhabit the estuary. To secure your place, book with Knysna Heads and Estuary Boat Adventure.

The Heads Knysna travel map of the Garden Route

Venture out for a magical sail in Knysna on a luxury catamaran to the Featherbed Nature Reserve. Keep an eye out for dolphins while you laze in the sun with an ice-cold beverage and enjoy a delicious complimentary Captain’s barbeque. To not miss out and secure your place on this amazing experience, visit Luxury Knysna Sunset Cruise

Knysna Elephant Sanctuary

You can encounter these little giants at the Knysna Elephant Park, the first facility to care for orphaned African elephants in South Africa. Although they are rarely seen in the forest, they do exist.

Whale Watching 

There are tours along the Garden Route coastline to look for the migratory giants Knysna Whale Watching, including humpback and southern right whales. Also, Whale watching Mossel Bay tours. The ideal time for Whale watching on the Garden Route is June to November. For a lifetime experience, book a 2-hour whale-watching adventure along the Plettenberg Bay coast at Plettenberg Bay Whale Watching Boat Cruise

Thesen Island Knysna

Linked by a causeway and bridge, Thesen Island is within walking distance of the waterfront. The multi-award-winning marina comprises 19 artificial islands related to 25ha of tidal waterways with 21 arched bridges. Besides exploring the Thesen Island Knysna shops and scenery, the Thesen Island Waterways offers various watersports like stand-up Paddling on the lagoon. Whatever the celebration or for a romantic sunset, board a luxury cruiser and sail around the Knysna Lagoon with the backdrop of the breathtaking Outeniqua mountains. To book, visit Knysna Thesen Island Lagoon Cruise.

The Big Tree

It is situated on the N2, just east of the entrance to Storms River Village. The Knysna big tree Tsitsikamma Storms River is what it claims to be, as the name doesn’t leave much to your imagination.

A giant Outeniqua Yellowwood (Podocarpus Falcatus) is 1,000 years old and about 45 metres high. It is the largest known Outeniqua Yellowwood. The trunk has nearly nine metres, and the canopy boasts a spread of 33 metres.

Ratel Nature Walk: Two walking trails started at the Big Tree. One can opt for the 2.6km or the longer 4.2km trail.

Goukamma Nature Reserve Knysna

Located on the Garden Route between the seaside towns of Sedgefield and Knysna, Goukamma Nature Reserve is an Isolated marine protected area.

Although relatively small, its diverse habitats are home to many marine species and the secretive Cape Otters.

The Big tree Knysna Knysna Forest

Places to Stay in Knysna

Bottlenose and humpback dolphins are frequently seen throughout the year, while Southern Right and Humpback whales are often seen during wintertime. In addition, the Reserve is rich in birdlife, with about 220 bird species. Amongst them are Kingfishers, Fish eagles and the green-and-red Knysna turaco.

Charming Lake Pleasant Hotel and Spa is situated on the edge of a natural freshwater lake and is a serene retreat in the tranquil Goukamma Nature and Marine Reserve.

Brenton Blue Butterfly Reserve

The Brenton Blue Butterfly Reserve is home to one of the rarest butterflies in the World, which has been evident from late October until December. If you can’t find them on your MMap of the Garden Route, a single signpost marks them.

Sedgefield

Sandwiched between the Wilderness and Knysna on the Garden Route of South Africa lies the beautiful Village of Sedgefield. Sedgefield is home to the pet-friendly Lake Pleasant Resort, which offers fully equipped self-catering timber cottages and a spacious Caravan park with clan ablutions. Lake Pleasant has been owned by the same family since 1962 and boasts the only camping resort along a bass fishing lake in the Southern Cape. In addition, the resort features a squash court, a restaurant, a pub, a convenience store, and safe swimming pools.

Wildflower shop at Timberlake Village

Charming Timberlake Village

Hidden among the fynbos in a natural environment lies Timberlake Village. Home to 17 small local businesses in unique cabins, the Village feels like a hidden Gem.

Besides the extensive playing area with lots to keep children entertained, there are a few restaurants.

Timberlake Village has a Coffee Roastery, a boutique wine store, and a Coffee Roastery.

Other shops on the Map of the Garden route include a Deli, the famous Oyster Bar, an art- and leather shop, a pottery studio and a driftwood sculptor.

The Oyster Shack Sedgefield
The Oyster Shack Sedgefield

Best Seafood and Fish on the Garden Route

We had the most delicious fresh fish, Calamari and Chips at Mr Kaai. It was so good we had to go back. You can visit the popular Mr Kaai Fish restaurant in Sedgefield. Their scrumptious Fish, Calamari and Chips were our best during our Eastern Cape Road trip. Nothing formal; you can even go in your beachwear. In Sedgefield on Kingfisher & Uil Road, Mr Kaai offers the best takeaway meals on the garden Route map. Their contact number is 074 756 8103.

Golf in the Garden Route

Known as the Golfing Mecca of South Africa, there are 12 golf courses on the Garden Route of South Africa.

Map of the Garden Route Safaris

Plettenberg Bay Game Reserves Garden Route

There are a few Game Reserves on the Garden Route. The incredible Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve is home to the Big Five and other free-roaming safari animals. One gets close to the wildlife on the 2-hour guided Garden Route Safari and Game drive. With a knowledgeable game ranger who knows precisely where to look each time of the day, you can guarantee a fantastic experience. To get to the Reserve, take the R340 Road 12 Kms from N2 and 20 km from Plettenberg Bay, 6600

Victoria bay beach Garden Route

Located on the scenic Garden Route of South Africa, between Wilderness and George, the Map of the Garden Route leads us to beautiful Victoria Bay.

Victoria Bay is not pet-friendly like most parts of the Western Cape. Unfortunately, we couldn’t enjoy Victoria as Bay as Dashuri wasn’t allowed near the beach. The Victoria Bay campsites overlook the Ocean.

Where to Stay in Victoria Bay

Glentana

Halfway between the towns of Mosselbaai and George lies the tiny seaside Village of Glentana. We camped at the secluded and peaceful prime Caravan Park. The ablutions are fantastic, and one is so close to nature, watching birdlife all over the Camp. We can recommend Glentana to anyone who wants to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. We planned to stay longer, but the weather got so bad, with predicted wind storms and cold coming, we decided to hit the road.

Places to Stay in Glentana

Glentana Restaurants

Where to eat at Glentana? On the beach at Glentana is the famous Visgraat restaurant overlooking Glentana beach. At the Visgraat restaurant, one can sit outside or outside while enjoying breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Another popular restaurant in the area is De Vette Mossel Groot Brak, but I suggest you read their latest reviews before visiting De Vette Mossel Restaurant.

What to do in Mossel Bay

The beautiful seaside town of Mossel Bay is situated on the Garden Route in the Western Cape of South Africa. It was also the last town on our Garden Route map. Die Punt Campsite in Mossel Bay is not pet-friendly. This was a blessing in disguise, as we noticed the campsite was utterly overloaded even during the low season. We decided to head back to Glentana, where we camped for three days.

Book a 3-hour Botlierskop Game Drive in the Private Game Reserve. Here, you can experience close encounters with rhinos, lions, giraffes, buffalo, and 26 wildlife species. Situated in spectacular mountains near Mossel Bay, the Reserve boasts a diversity of habitats.

Places to stay in Mossel Bay

Places to stay on the Garden Route.

For the best accommodation options on the Garden Route, check out Tsitsikamma National Park. For more and other options, visit the Wilderness Garden Route National Park.

Camping on the Map of the Garden Route, visit Pet-Friendly Campsites on the Garden Route.

Camping along the Garden Route

Lake Pleasant Resort in Sedgefield is Pet-friendly and offers a campsite and various other types of accommodation on the Garden route. After a few nights in Sedgefield, we continued our road trip. Glentana Caravan Park was our next overnight camping destination and a recommended Campsite, the Garden Route Südafrika.

Eastern Cape Road Trip back to Gauteng

Glentana to George to Oudtshoorn

The scenery from George to Oudtshoorn is beautiful. We stopped at the impressive Elvis Brew Farmstall outside George.

Besides the strong wind, the exorbitant prices at the Farmstall put us back on the road in no time. 

If you’re short on time and can’t spend a few days in Oudtshoorn, you must at least stop by the Smitswinkel in Oudtshoorn town.

Farmhouse in the Mountains between Oudsthoorn and De Rust

Oudtshoorn Tourist Attractions

Smitswinkel Oudtshoorn restaurant and shop
Smitswinkel Oudtshoorn

Smitswinkel Oudshoorn

The unique Smitswinkel is centrally located on Langenhoven Rd, Oudtshoorn. Whatever you do, don’t miss a stop at the Smitswinkel in Oudshoorn. Their unique decor, collections, and atmosphere are worth experiencing.

Smitswinkel sells various quality items, snacks, and gifts. Sit down for a tasty meal or Coffee and Cake. You don’t have to worry about the kids; they have a children’s play area with birds and other farm animals. The 34.7 km drive from Oudtshoorn to de Rust is very scenic.

where to stay in Oudtshoorn

De Rust Town

The charming Victorian town of De Rust is known as the gateway to the Klein Karoo and is located only 12 minutes from the breathtaking Meiringspoort. De Rust is an impressive little town with heartwarming people—the cosy shops with exciting things, arty stuff, and antiques.

The charming town of De Rust has a few cosy restaurants and guest houses. We spent some time at The Grumpy Bar De Rust, a fun place to visit. The 60-meter Meiringspoort Waterfall is a great picnic spot to relax, swim, and admire the view. On the Picturesque Route 62, between the Swartberg and Kammanassie Mountains, there is much to experience.

Next time we visit the small town of de Rust, we’ll stay over for two or more nights. De Rust is one of those bucket list places you cannot afford to miss and the perfect place to stay overnight.

Where to Stay in De Rust

The Shed Farmstall in The Karoo

Beaufort West

Springbokkie Private Game Reserve

The beautiful private Game reserve Steenbokkie is 12 Kilometres outside Beaufort West. Although there are wildlife, horses, and farm animals, they allow pets. Their camping site and facilities are some of the best and are highly recommended. Springbokkie Game Reserve has beautiful Campsites and other accommodations. For hotels, visit Beaufort Wes Hotels.

Springbokkie Private Game Reserve Beaufort West
Springbokkie Private Game Reserve

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