The Garden Route is a mix of modern golf courses, ancient forests, secluded artists' communities, retirement estates, modern malls, craft centres, mountain hideaways and beach holidays. A large number of interesting and creative people are drawn to this magnificent stretch of coastline and many of them now call it home.
The main highway through The Garden Route, a highlight on most visitors' itineraries, is the N2 stretch running from Heidelberg in the Southern Cape to Storms River Village on the Eastern Cape border.
While the scenery is enough to make you stop and stare, it’s the hidden gems that can be found on the sides of the roads that are the real allure of the Garden Route.
Over time ancient woodcutter clans, fishermen, artists, businessmen and top chefs have all found their niches along the Garden Route in the Western Cape. The latest addition of which is the Bramon Wine Farm just outside Plettenberg Bay. This empowerment project is bringing wine-making, and all of its economic benefits, to the region. It doesn’t just do good, it tastes good too!
The Garden Route lies between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, both of which have airports. Or you could just fly into the middle, to the town of George.
Self-drive is the best option if you want to make the best of the scenery.
The Knysna Oyster Festival (annual: July)
Tourism Bureau in Plettenberg Bay
Tel: +27 44 533 4065
Tel: +27 44 382 5510
The Garden Route has various accommodation options to suit all budgets.
Knysna specialises in oysters, and there's an entire festival dedicated to these molluscs in July.
There is no bad time to visit the Garden Route. Bear in mind, though, that this is a favourite destination over Easter and the December holidays, so it will be much busier then.
Plan to meander along this route for at least four days.
Oudtshoorn (the ostrich capital of the world) also calls the Garden Route home and, for those who are interested in history, both early inhabitants and elephants have been crossing the Outeniqua Mountains, from Oudtshoorn to the coast, for many centuries.
Other surrounding towns well worth visiting include Calitzdorp, Sedgefield, The Wilderness, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.
The Garden Route National Park, which connects the existing Tsitsikamma National Park's ancient forests and wild coastline with the Wilderness National Park via a chain of lakes and preserved sections of Fynbos, is a fascinating and enchanting mix of ecosystems. This park is also famous for its secluded little bays and its year-round holiday frame-of-mind, and it's conveniently accessible from Cape Town.
While you’re exploring all the nooks and crannies of the Garden Route, don't forget to cast an eye out to sea where you could see the Southern Right and Humpback whales, Bottlenose and common dolphins and even Killer whales that have been known to frolic close to the shore, especially near Plettenberg Bay.
Whatever your pleasure is, you’ll find what you’re looking on the Garden Route…even if it’s just to lose yourself in one of the most beautiful parts of South Africa, if not the world.
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