Planning a road trip along the Garden Route in South Africa? We don’t blame you. This 800-kilometre coastline that fringes the Garden Route National Park is one of the most popular places to enjoy a driving holiday – and for good reason. Not only does it greet you with incredible coastal scenery, it’s also sprinkled with pretty seaside towns, wildlife-rich nature reserves and cool places to stay.
One of its key draws is that it’s really easy to navigate too – the N2 motorway handily connects the region and runs all the way from the eastern to the Western Cape of South Africa. If you’re considering a self-drive holiday along the Garden Route, search for flights and great car hire deals (yep, we’re not just flying experts) on Cheapflights.co.za. And if you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some top do’s and don’ts to ensure you get the most out of your trip.Search for flights
Don’t travel without your swimsuit
The Garden Route is blessed with gorgeous beaches and endless opportunities to paddle in the sea. There is, however, another way to take a dip with Mother Nature. The Garden Route is home to some beautiful places for wild swimming. Check out the Touw River Rock pools and cool off in the waterfalls and swimming holes of Jubilee Creek Nature Reserve.
Do take a hike
Nature abounds on the Garden Route and it would be sacrilege not to bring your hiking boots and explore its bounty of hiking trails. The just-mentioned Jubilee Creek, near Knysna, is home to trickling streams and indigenous fynbos. Serious ramblers may consider the 42-kilometre-long Otter Trail. In the Tsitsikamma Forest, check out the cloud-piercing ‘Big Tree’ – a Yellowwood that’s thought to be more than 600 years old. To fully appreciate the height of the forest, book onto a canopy tour.
Don’t miss the chance to try Knysna’s oysters
Every July, the pretty waterfront town of Knysna hosts the Oyster Festival and even if you’re not into these slippery molluscs, it’s worth visiting as it provides all sorts of live music, oyster shucking competitions and traditional braais. If you’re into seafood, don’t miss the chance to dine in one of Knysna’s many waterfront restaurants such as 34 Degrees South, Tapas & Oysters and the Drydock Food Co.
Don’t forget to visit a farmer’s market
We South Africans excel in quality farmer’s markets and you’ll find some great examples along the Garden Route – including Outeniqua Farmer’s Market in George and Wild Oats Community Farmer’s Market in Sedgefield. Find stalls selling artisanal produce, gifts and local specialities such as samoosas and biltong. When you’re done shopping, pull up a hay bale and sip on a cold glass of South African wine.
Do explore the marine life
Hermanus, in the Western Cape, may be the whale-watching capital of South Africa, but there are a few locations along the Garden Route where you’ll also spot some of the region’s greatest marine life. Head to the beachfront of Plettenberg Bay and you may well spot the odd leaping dolphin and – if you’re lucky – perhaps the dorsal fin of a breaching Southern Right, Humpback or Minke whale. From the steep cliffs of the Robberg National Park peninsula you’ll also see huge colonies of seals – and perhaps even sharks – in the water below. For the best whale-watching in South Africa, visit between July and December.
Don’t skip the outdoor pursuits
Don’t miss the chance to get active and enjoy the abundance of outdoor pursuits along the Garden Route. Storms River Canyon and Touw River are favourite spots for kayaking while Offshore Adventures in Plettenberg Bay offer a range of snorkelling trips. You’ll also find plenty of places offering Stand Up Paddle Boarding, hydrofoiling, wakeboarding, kitesurfing and even Blackwater Tubing.
Do take a detour to the Klein Karoo
Ask a local and they will no doubt tell you to factor in a drive to the Klein Karoo when you’re road tripping along the Garden Route – so take their advice. This intriguing semi-desert region is less than an hour’s drive from George and is home to the town of Oudtshoorn, the unofficial ‘Ostrich capital of the world’. Stay overnight here and explore the ostrich farms, the impressive Cango Caves and – if your car tires are up to it – the hair-raising Swartberg Pass.
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