Developing an instant attraction for this wondrous strip of coastline is far too easy. Celebrated for its dramatic natural beauty, the Garden Route is the Western Cape's verdant oasis, striking a path of breath-taking scenery from Mossel Bay to Storms River Mouth. Acting as the main passage between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, the Garden Route is flanked by mountain ranges and dotted with lush forests and sandy beaches. The fantastic N2, which links the two cities, can subtract from the area's beauty if you speed right through it. Taking time to absorb all the Route has to offer is the best idea: stay in the hotspots and enjoy their incredible attractions, or enjoy the route as part of a South Africa safari.
One of the Garden Route's best loved destinations is the pretty town of Knysna. While you'll find plenty of attractive waterfront hotels and addictive small town charm, Knysna Lagoon and the Featherbed Nature Reserve are the real stars of the show. Take a cruise on the Lagoon and explore the private reserve, home to rare Blue Duiker. Knysna Elephant Park is also a main draw, with the chance to meet and feed one of the gentle giants.
For the beach experience travel further along the coastline to Plettenberg Bay, a stunning seaside town with a lively bustle, safe swimming beaches and superb hotels and guesthouses. The area is perhaps best known for whale watching, with southern right whales passing through between June and October. Relax on the stunning Robberg Beach to take in the spectacle, or enjoy cliff-top hikes at Robberg Marine and Nature Reserve.
Only around an hour from Plettenberg Bay you'll find the Tsitsikamma National Park, a sprawling expanse of rocky coastline, dense forests and plunging river gorges. From here, explore with challenging hikes and an underwater snorkelling trail. While it may lie past the official end of the Garden Route, a visit to Jeffery's Bay is an excellent stop-off point, only 75km west of Port Elizabeth. For ardent surfers this will be the highlight of your trip with the Bay considered one of the best places in the world to catch a wave.
Travelling inland from the coast opens up an entirely different side to holidays to the Garden Route, one which boasts some curious attractions and stunning sights. Traverse the legendary Route 62 to discover the semi-desert Little Karoo before beating a path towards Oudtshoorn, renowned as the Ostrich Capital of the World and the perfect base to explore the Cango Caves.
Enjoy small town charm, explore the Featherbed Nature Reserve and meet elephants at Knysna Elephant Park.
The ostrich capital of the world, visit ostrich farms, go underground at the Cango Caves and take-in the Groenfontein Valley.
A pretty stretch of coastline with white sandy beaches and spectacular whale sightings between June and October.
Set in the heart of South Africa's Little Karoo, this is a magnificent reserve home to a wide variety of wildlife and luxury lodges.
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