5 Unmissable Garden Route Highlights
Are you planning a Garden Route itinerary and wondering which Garden Route highlights not to miss? If so, you’re in luck! In this guide, I’ll cover the best places to explore on the Garden Route and help you plan the perfect self-drive Garden Route trip.
The Garden Route is world-renowned as one of South Africa’s most spectacular drives. And for very good reason. Here, you are completely surrounded by natural beauty. With the cool waters of the Indian Ocean on the one side and the Outeniqua 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,
Make the most of your South African adventure by adding the Garden Route to your must-see list. To help you explore this diverse area, we’ve highlighted the best places to explore on the Garden Route here in this guide.
In a rush? Pin these Garden Route highlights for later.
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Garden Route Highlights: Best places to explore on the Garden Route
Storms River Mouth Nature Reserve
One of the most revered Garden Route highlights is undoubtedly the 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 are so many wonderful things to do at Storms River – from hiking, adventures sports or simply just relaxing.
The very first stop to make is at the beautiful little beach. Here you can watch the crashing waves, swim or snorkel. Those looking to get close with nature, can choose from several hiking trails ranging in length and skill level! Another great draw to the area is its
For those of you looking to experience the charms of the Tsitsikamma Forest sans the crowds, head over to the Garden Route’s best kept secret spot Natures Valley.
Opening hours: 7:30 am – 6 pm Monday to Sunday.
Entrance fee: Adults ZAR49 and children ZAR24, per day (SA citizens) | Adults ZAR196 (US$15) and children ZAR98 (US$7), per day (tourists)
Alternatively, spend a few nights here. The Storms River Mouth Rest Camp has a cozy camping area, as well as cute bungalows nestled in front of the ocean. For more information on accommodation types and the most accurate prices, be sure to visit the SAN Parks website.
If you want to get away from the crowds in Plettenberg Bay, Keurbooms Beach is a Garden Route must do. 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.
Robberg Nature Reserve
Just 8 kilometers south of Plettenberg Bay, hikers and nature lovers can also enjoy the beauty of the Robberg Nature Reserve nearby. 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. Moreover, it’s one of the best Garden Route attractions.
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, consider packing a picnic basket to bring along on your visit. Then, head down to the cute little beach, just behind The Gap, for a relaxing afternoon and a swim in the somewhat chilly waters.
Opening hours: 8 am – 5 pm Monday to Sunday.
Entrance fee: Adults ZAR40 (US$3) and children ZAR20 (US$1.50).
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. In fact, it’s one of our favorite Garden Route highlights. So, definitely try to add it to your list of Garden Route things to do list!
Here you can follow wooden boardwalks through the lush 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.
Opening hours: 8 am – 5 pm Monday to Sunday.
Entrance fee: Adults ZAR12 (US$0.70) and children ZAR7 (US$0.50). Visitors can enter the grounds after hours, for free.
The Knysna Heads
Visiting the Heads is a must for visitors planning a Garden Route itinerary. 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. Visitors here will be pleased to learn that the lookout point from the Eastern Head is open 24/7 and there is no entrance fee, making it ideal for budget travelers.
However, if you do want to visit the Heads at night, please remember to always be aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables safe. And as a matter of fact, we wouldn’t recommend you visit here after dark. South Africa has been struggling with high crime rates over the past few years, so just keep that in mind.
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.
Have we missed any of your favorite places to explore on the Garden Route? Do you have any other Garden Route highlights to add to this list? If you have any tips for travelers planning a Garden Route itinerary let me know if the comments below.
Head on over to our South Africa section of the blog to learn more about this rich and diverse country.
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