THE GARDEN ROUTE
Hailed as one of South Africa’s most beautiful coastlines, the Garden Route stretches for 200 kilometres, beginning just outside Cape Town, and ending loosely before the Eastern Cape town of Port Elizabeth. It traverses through rocky coastal towns, river mouths, shady forests and popular seaside towns.
Whether you are seeking pristine, uncrowded white-sand beaches, world-class golf courses, ancient forests, top-notch surf spots, extraordinary nature reserves, excellent hiking opportunities or exhilarating outdoor adventures such as bungee jumping or ziplining, the Garden Route has it all.
For the road trippers, the Garden Route is ideal for a family or romantic getaway. Hop in a rental and discover why this stretch of South Africa is so famous. The roads are easily navigated, well-designed and offers views of the Western Cape that cannot be beat.
The seaside town of Hermanus is a wonderful summer vacation spot for Cape Townians who prefer to holiday closer to the city. It is, however, equally as visited during winter and spring, when the annual Hermanus Whale Festival takes place. As the only ecomarine festival in South Africa, this event raises awareness of South Africa’s treasured marine life, and the need to preserve our giant marine visitors.
Hermanus is known as the best land-based whale watching spots in the world; simply because you can easily see Southern rights and humpbacks right from the shores of the harbour. There is even a dedicated whale crier, a guide who indicates to the public where you can see the whales up close, using a horn made from dried kelp.
Credit: Grootbos Private Nature Reserve
Land-based whale watching is not the only way to observe whales; there are plenty of tour operators that offer sea excursions, as well as helicopter rides over the ocean. It is important to choose a tour operator that has a valid license, or one that belongs to a local marine conservation organisation. Some operators promise that feeding, touching and swimming with whales is possible. This is an unlawful practise, so report any suspicious operators that offer these unethical encounters.
Gansbaai is shark-cage diving central. Known for its rich marine life, a stop over here is a must. Here you’ll meet the world’s rarest ocean creatures, but the highlight is arguably shark cage diving. Meet the ocean’s most ferocious fish from the safety of a cage. This is a great way to understand a little bit more about this elusive and often misunderstood master of the sea.
Sandwiched between the towering Outeniqua Mountains and the Indian Ocean, Knysna is known as the ‘Garden of Eden’. It is surrounded by world-renowned forests, lovely lagoons and pristine beaches. Visitors can look forward to an array of markets offering delicious food and organic locally-made goods, explore the town’s picturesque waterfront and quaint streets, adventure through the lush forest, skip over streams and catch a glimpse of the multicoloured Knysna Loerie, take a ferry trip to the famed Knysna Heads and sample the local oysters. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of exciting activities including: surfing, swimming, yachting, jet skiing, boating, fishing, and golfing. Join locals from far and wide at the annual Knysna Oyster Festival, a celebration of the fresh bounty of South Africa’s ocean.
The coastal town of Plettenberg Bay is a popular holiday destination. The Portuguese explorers called it the 'Beautiful Bay', and it’s easy to see why – Plettenberg Bay is a picturesque, charming town with endless pristine beaches, tranquil lagoons, clean rivers, indigenous forests and a dramatic rocky peninsula. Playground to the wealthy, beach mansions overlook the Indian Ocean, often dotted with luxury yachts, while leisure time is given over to polo and golf, among other things. However, all kinds of visitors will feel at peace here as simply swimming in the warm water on a safe beach is a great way to experience the beauty of Plettenberg Bay. The area becomes quite busy during the summer school holidays (December), so if you want to avoid the crowds, then ask us about when to go for a more intimate experience.
Tsitsikamma National Park
Tsitsikamma National Park is known for its ancient forest, pristine coastline and magnificent rivers. The Tsitsikamma National Park falls within the Garden Route National Park and encompasses a marine conservation belt which stretches five kilometres out into the ocean. It is home to diverse fauna and flora including over 9000 species of indigenous fynbos. Visitors can look forward to hiking to the Big Tree, an ancient yellowwood; and going on an exhilarating kayaking trip at Storms River Mouth, as well as a number of other activities including: cycling, swimming, zip lining, camping, snorkelling, diving, mountain biking, and sailing.
A visit to the Garden route is not complete without a bungy jumping experience at the Bloukrans Bridge. Known as the highest commercial jump in the world, it takes a lot of guts to plunge over the bridge into the awaiting abyss. For those who prefer not to jump, there is a skybridge below, where the courageous can walk over the gaping valley below and stunning views.
IE Travel Group is a member of Travel Trust Association (TTA) and has an ATOL license, which provides complete financial protection to our clients as well as stronger buying power to the company, thus enabling us to offer competitive rates to our clients.
We have partnered up with Responsible Tourism to ensure that we support community-based, sustainable and kind-to-the-planet travel.
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