Garden Route Itinerary – The Ultimate South African Road Trip

Garden Route, South Africa is one of the most beautiful areas in the world. You’ll be surrounded by diverse nature, stop at charming towns, and look out over phenomenal landscapes. It’s one of our favourite family holiday destinations in South Africa and well worth a road trip as the drive itself is beautiful.

As South Africa is now in Lockdown Level 2 and inter-provincial travel is once again permitted, it’s the perfect time to head off on a lovely local getaway – and where better than the Garden Route!?

Image by Robert Pastryk from Pixabay

 

The best way to start your Garden Route road trip is from Cape Town. The mother city is a tourist hub for South Africans and foreigners alike, making it the perfect jumping-off point. You can rent a car in Cape Town, and head off on your journey.

The Garden Route can be done in 5 days or a month – it depends on how long you want to spend at each stop. This itinerary, however, is for 7 days. Use it as you will!

Things To Do In The Garden Route

These are a few things that make the Garden Route extra special. Tick them off as you go along, and enjoy.

 

  • Indulge in wine tasting – The Garden Route has some world-class wineries. Tick off as many as you can and make this a wine tour. Or just stop at one or two and get the folks back home the gift of great wine.

 

  • Go on a game drive – There are so many game lodges and safaris along the route, you’ll definitely want to stop at one or two. South Africa is, after all, home to the famous Big 5.

 

  • Visit a local market – Want to try local cuisines, not in a restaurant but homemade, from stalls? Or do you want to find the perfect reminder of your Garden Route trip? Spending a few hours at the local markets is idyllic.

 

  • Spend a night under the stars – Camping the Garden Route is one of the best ways to experience the area. You can stay on the outskirts of each stop, surrounded by the nature that makes this trip so popular. If you’re visiting in summer, you can even go without a tent.

 

7-day Garden Route Road Trip

Without any further ado, let’s jump into your dreamy week-long itinerary in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Day 1: Cape Town – Mossel Bay

Image by igormattio from Pixabay

 

Day one is dedicated to the route from Cape Town to Mossel Bay. Technically, the Garden Route only starts in Mossel Bay. But the drive here takes you through charming little towns, gorgeous mountain passes, and wine country! It’s a stunning trip even just getting to the starting line. 

Be sure to leave Cape Town early, as the drive will take you 5-6 hours. You also want to give yourself time to stop and take in the sights. Maybe grab a few bottles of wine.

You can then spend your afternoon exploring the coastal town of Mossel Bay, catching some rays. In the evening, try the local cuisine with a view over the harbour at one of the many coastal restaurants.

Day 2: Mossel Bay & Oudtshoorn

Image by alkemade from Pixabay

 

On your second day, spend the morning learning about South Africa’s complex history at Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex. Then head out to Oudtshoorn. This small town is actually in the semi-desert Little Karoo. But it’s a fantastic detour.

Oudtshoorn is the proud ostrich capital of the world. Here, you can visit an ostrich show farm and learn about the strange dinosaur-like birds. More importantly, though, Oudtshoorn is home to the Cango Caves. This cave complex, a short drive from town, is an incredible place to see the formation of stalactites and stalagmites. It’s also quite an adventure. 

Day 3: Wilderness 

Spend the night in one of Oudtshoorn’s many quaint BnBs, before making the drive to Wilderness. You can also stop at George, but it’s more of a typical city and less pretty than the other stops on this list. Besides, you’ll want to dedicate a full day to Wilderness activities.

Spend a few hours exploring Wilderness National Park. It’s a coastal park with lakes, waterfalls, and wonderful views. It also has some fantastic hiking trails for you to stretch your legs.

Watch the sunset at the iconic Map of Africa View Point. Here you’ll see Kaaimans River looping around and forming the shape of Africa.

Day 4: Sedgefield

After a 20-minute drive through lush vegetation along the coast, you’ll find yourself in Sedgefield. If you can plan your trip right, it’s best to be here on Saturday. The Wild Oats Community Farmers’ Market which takes place every Saturday morning 8 am – 12 pm is well worth a visit. You can spend hours here, finding local trinkets and indulging in some truly delicious food. Try the cheesecake, it’s phenomenal. 

For the afternoon, relax on the beach, or explore Goukamma Nature Reserve. Another popular activity here is paragliding – and what better way to see the area.

Day 5: Knysna

Image by Ron Porter from Pixabay

 

Another 20-minutes away is the marshy town of Knysna. Spend the night camping in the reserves between the two towns, or near the famously beautiful Knysna Heads. 

Have a laid-back morning lounging on the beach and exploring Knysna Lagoon. You can also join a sailing cruise and see the area from the ocean. If you’re making this trip during whale watching season (September – October), this is a must-do. 

If you don’t want to spend all day on the beach (no judgement if you do), head to Knysna Elephant Park. This wonderful park is home to orphaned, rescued and relocated elephants from around Africa. They’re given full freedom within the park, so you can see them in a natural habitat.

Day 6: Plettenberg Bay – Tsitsikamma National Park

30 minutes from Knysna is Plettenberg Bay. A sandy beach town with great surfing conditions, it’s a lovely place to spend your morning. There’s lots of fun activities in Plettenberg Bay. But if you only have a day, you don’t want to stay too long – your main day’s itinerary is spent at Tsitsikamma National Park.

This park has a lot to fill the day. It’s an hour’s drive from Plettenberg Bay, so don’t leave too late in the morning. 

Wander the hiking trails, go kayaking or tubing down the river, or snorkel along the coast. There are even tree-top tours and kloofing offered in the area, so you won’t be bored for a moment. In fact, you may want to spend a whole week here before moving on, if you have the time to spare. 

If you don’t want to travel all the way back to your last stop, stay at the traditional Tsitsikamma Village Inn

Day 7: Tsitsikamma – Port Elizabeth

Image by falco from Pixabay

 

On the final leg of your Garden Route road trip, make your way to Port Elizabeth. This city on Algoa Bay has plenty of white sand beaches, chic restaurants, and fun activities. As well as the stunning Kragga Kamma Game Park, for those still looking for more adventure. 

It’s metropolitan and close to nature, the perfect end to your Garden Route itinerary.

So this is my ultimate Garden Route road trip.

It’s filled with nature and beauty, and charming stops that will feed your memory bank.

Have I missed any Garden Route highlights that you love?

 

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Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for over 9 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

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