Occupying arguably the most beautiful stretch of South Africa’s Indian Ocean coastline, the Garden Route extends for 186 miles from Witsand, just four hours east of Cape Town by road, to the Storms River.
But whether you decide to travel its entire length, or simply stop by some of its quaintest and most welcoming towns, you’ll soon discover exactly why this area got its horticultural name, with a diversity of plant life it’s difficult to rival.
This diversity largely comes from the range of geographic features situated within the Garden Route. Driving it takes in wondrous coastline known for its beautiful beaches and annual whale sightings, but also oceanic mountains, bird-rich river estuaries, lush forest, shimmering lakes, and even sections of desert.
Nor do you have to stay stuck behind the wheel of your rental vehicle or in the seats of your tour bus. The Garden Route is perfect for getting out into South Africa’s wild spaces, be that on a whale watching tour, kayaking along Knysna Lagoon, hiking among the canyons of Wilderness National Park, or sipping on an al fresco afternoon tea in Swellendam.
Along the way, be sure to stop at Oudtshoorn, known as the ostrich capital of South Africa. Then delve into the depths of Cango Caves, famed for their incredible stalactite and stalagmite formations, alongside precious examples of prehistoric rock art.
However, the most popular stop along the Garden Route is probably Plettenberg Bay. A town of vacation homes overlooking a beauty stretch of sand, it’s possibly the ultimate way to soak up all the Garden Route has to offer.