The Garden Route is world renowned as one of South Africa’s most spectacular drives. For good reason. Here, you are surrounded by natural beauty. With the cool waters of the Indian Ocean on the one side and the Outiniqua and Tsitsikamma mountain ranges on the other, this unique 300-kilometer stretch of road is simply stunning. The Route, which stretches from Mosselbay in the Western Cape to Storms River in the Eastern Cape, is home to ten nature reserves with varied ecosystems, excellent beaches and numerous outdoor activities.
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Make the most of your South African adventure by adding the Garden Route to your must-see list. We’ve highlighted our top 5 picks to explore along this picturesque stretch here in 5 Amazing places to explore on the Garden Route.
1. Storms River Mouth Nature Reserve
One of the most beautiful places to visit on the Garden Route, is Storms River Mouth Nature Reserve. The reserve lies in the heart of the Tsitsikamma National Park and boasts with fynbos, lush forest vegetation, rugged rock formations and spectacular ocean views. There is a small beach where you can swim or snorkel and a couple of hiking trails for the more adventurous. Also, don’t forget to head over to the suspension bridge for amazing views of the river mouth.
7:30am – 6pm Monday to Sunday
SA Citizens: Adults ZAR49 and children ZAR24, per day
Tourists: Adults ZAR196 (US$15) and children ZAR98 (US$7), per day
You can also spend a few nights at the Storms River Mouth Rest Camp if you wish. For more information on accommodation types and the most accurate prices, be sure to visit the SAN Parks website.
2. Keurbooms Beach
If you want to get away from the crowds in Plettenberg Bay, Keurbooms Beach is the perfect place to do so. The area boasts with white sandy beaches stretching as far as the eye can see and is a playground for boating, windsurfing and fishing enthusiasts. If luck is on your side, you might even spot dolphins playing in the water or whales during whale season.
One of our favorite things to do after meandering on the beach, is to pop in at Enrico’s. This amazing little restaurant is an absolute must visit if you are in the area. They serve mouth-watering seafood and excellent cocktails, accompanied by gorgeous ocean views.
3. Robberg Nature Reserve
Just 8 kilometers south of Plettenberg Bay, hikers and nature lovers can enjoy the beauty of the Robberg Nature Reserve. Recognized as a World Heritage Site, the reserve is home to a unique variety of fauna and flora, and an ideal place to spot Cape Fur seals, dolphins, whales and even the rare blue duiker. There are 3 trail options, ranging in length and difficulty allowing visitors to experience the beauty of the reserve at their own pace and skill level. If you aren’t much of a hiker, why not pack a picnic basket? Head down to the pretty little beach, just behind The Gap, for a relaxing afternoon and a swim.
8am – 5pm Monday to Sunday
Adults ZAR40 (US$3) and children ZAR20 (US$1.50)
4. Garden of Eden
The Garden of Eden is a unique wet forest situated between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna. It forms part of the lush Tsitsikamma forest and is a great place to take a relaxing stroll. Here you can follow wooden board walks through thick forest filled with stinkwood and other forest types and bridges over streams. The walk is entirely wheelchair friendly and because it only runs for 1km, both young and old can enjoy the gorgeous forestry here.
8am – 5pm Monday to Sunday
Adults ZAR12 (US$0.70) and children ZAR7 (US$0.50). Visitors can enter the grounds after hours, for free.
5. The Knysna Heads
Visiting the Heads is a must for visitors exploring the Garden Route. Two cliffs line the entrance of the Knysna Lagoon entering the Indian Ocean. The Eastern Head offers terrific views of the lagoon, Leisure Isle and Knysna. The lookout point from the Eastern Head is open 24/7 and there is no entrance fee.
If you would like to visit the Featherbed Private Nature Reserve on the Western Head, tours depart daily from the Knysna Waterfront and the trip takes around 4 hours. For more information, visit the reserve’s website, here.
Did we miss any of your favourite spots on the Garden Route? We’d love to hear about other gems in the area, so please feel free to comment below. Also, head on over to our South Africa section of the blog to learn more about this rich and diverse country.
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