The Garden Route: The ultimate South African road trip
South Africa’s gorgeous Garden Route, stretching from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, is the perfect place to take a once in a lifetime road trip. 300km of coastal beauty awaits drivers as they set out to enjoy one of the most scenic places in the world.
Dotted with seaside towns, nature reserves, wine estates and even a monkey sanctuary along the way, the Garden Route has something for all ages. Here are just some of the top places to stop when you take the ultimate South African road trip.
Tsitsikamma National Park
Roughly three hours from Port Elizabeth is the Tsitsikamma National Park. Boasting over 80km of pure, unspoiled land, the park is one of the most visited spots in South Africa. With an indigenous forest, mountains and stunning coastal views, it is a must visit for anyone travelling the Garden Route.
Inside the forest, you will find the famous yellowwood trees, which are believed to be between 600 and 800-years-old. The Otter Trail is a hiking trail which starts from the mouth of the Storms River and goes all the way to Nature’s Valley. The full hike takes five days and is perfect for anyone looking to stretch their legs after a long drive. Alternatively, relax on one of the sandy beaches and watch the dolphins play in the waves.
A short distance up the coast is the gorgeous seaside town of Plettenberg, also known as Plett. There are lots of things to do here, making it a great place to stop along your road trip. There are two main beaches, Central Beach and Lookout Beach, both attracting surfers all year round. There are also lots of local fishermen available to take you out on a South African fishing trip.
Plett is a popular destination with South Africans when they want to escape the city life, and it’s easy to understand why. Sandy beaches, tropical views and a wide selection of restaurants make this town an ideal spot for anyone looking to go on holiday.
For fine dining, make sure you visit SeaFood at The Plettenberg, where the outdoor terrace is one of the best places to catch the sunset in Plett. For something more casual, Lookout Deck serves a mussel pot that will have your mouth watering.
Monkeyland is a free-roaming primate sanctuary, with multiple different species calling it home. Over 700 primates live in the natural habitats here, from spider monkeys to ringtail lemurs. There are lots of beautiful creatures to see, just remember that the park has a strict no-touch policy.
The park is very child friendly, and also has a restaurant with an impressive menu. Keep things healthy with a veggie falafel burger, or give into temptation and enjoy some tasty Cajun calamari strips. Keep an eye on your food though, some of the smaller monkeys like to hang out here to see what’s on offer.
Situated right in the heart of the Garden Route, is the town of Knysna. It is the perfect place to base yourself for a few days while you explore the surrounding area. The town has many luxury accommodation options as well as several camping parks, depending on the type of adventure you are on.
For activities, taking a cruise along the lagoon to the Knysna Heads is top of the list of things to do here. Climb on board a double-decker floating restaurant, The John Benn, and enjoy a wonderful meal surrounded by crystal blue water.
If you fancy something more adventurous on the water, then try a kayaking tour or go a little further out for some whale watching.
Our final stop is the town of Oudtshoorn, which is well known for its large ostrich population. Safari Ostrich Farm is a working farm that offers tours and a chance to see these magnificent birds up close. You can also pick up an ornamental ostrich egg in the quirky gift store, as a memento of your trip.
Perhaps one of the most jaw-dropping sites to visit along the Garden Route are the Cango Caves. These stunning limestone formations create a series of dark and eerie tunnels. They are becoming more and more popular amongst visitors each year, so be sure to book your trip in advance.
For those who aren’t afraid of heights, a drive through the Swartberg Pass will be one to remember. Considered one of the most scenic routes in the world, the road winds around cliff edges and carves its way through rock and mountain. Pick up some local South African treats before you set off, and enjoy a picnic at one of the many look out points along the way.
Sound like the perfect trip for you? Fly to Cape Town via Istanbul with TK and hire a car for this epic road trip.