The Garden Route, Accommodation and Tours
Naturally blessed with spectacular lush mountain scenery and dramatic coastlines filled with crisp sea air and action-filled activities for everyone it’s easy to see why the South Africa Garden Route is a firm favorite among camping and self-drive camper enthusiasts alike.
But with so much to delight the senses, deciding on an itinerary and plan for a Garden Route tour can be difficult. So we at Drive South Africa thought we would help you out with a few ideas to get you inspired for your Garden Route camper getaway.
Photograph by Ingy the Wingy
Four hours from Cape Town, George begins the Garden Route off with a bang. The magnificent scenery of the Outeniqua Mountains, breathtaking stretches of unspoiled beach and the fresh air of the dramatic mountain passes are both enchanting and filled with delicate beauty and splendor.
Historically built around the timber industry, George’ s preserved railway systems and gravel mountain passes are the perfect opportunity for outdoor explorers and will reward adventurers with a multitude of spectacular natural views. Motor and locomotive enthusiast should visit the fascinating exhibits at the transport museum and book a trip on the Outeniqua Tjoe-Choo train which travels daily along the coast to Mossel Bay.
George also offers a host of activities for the more leisurely traveler with a number of world famous golf courses such as The Hyatt and The Fancourt Golfing Estate, designed by Gary Player. Food connoisseurs can take advantage of a variety of cheeses at the Silver Lily Cheese Farm or even pick their own delectable strawberries at the local Red Berry Farm.
To find out more about George visit The George Tourism Page on and its various attractions or for a list of Garden Route accommodation including camping sites in the area, you can visit Essential Travel Info.
Nestled between the beautiful and cool Kaaimans River, Outeniqua Mountains and white sandy beaches is the rustic little town of Wilderness. It is famous for its incredible panoramic views of the Kaaimans River Valley, and tranquil coastline best appreciated from the ‘Map of Africa’ and ‘Dolphins’ viewpoints.
The Goukamma Nature Reserve, surrounding estuaries and hidden lakes and lagoons offer up some well-deserved respite from the fast pace of daily life as you lose yourself in uninhabited valleys of lush vegetation filled with the calls of diverse birdlife and a small buck. For the more adventurous there are opportunities to paraglide, kite-surf or enjoy brisk hikes through the valley.
Known as the unofficial capital of the Garden Route, Knysna is a fantastic mixture of natural splendor, delectable food and exciting outdoor activities.
The pristine towering Yellowwood and Stinkwood forests are home to some of the most ancient and colossal trees in South Africa as well as the elusive Knysna elephants. The winding cliff trails up to the Knysna Heads are popular with Garden Route travelers and offer up some gorgeous views of the channel and coastline especially bathed in the kaleidoscopic light of sunset.
The waterfront and quays are one of the most popular attractions in Knysna and the along Garden Route. They are ideal for food fundies and art appreciators alike, whilst the annual Knysna Oyster Festival in July offers a treat for the refined palate and attracts hundreds of visitors each year.
For more information and a list of Garden Route accommodation in Knysna including Knysna camping sites, you can visit The Knysna Information Page.
Another fantastic gem for sun-worshippers and nature lovers alike is the charming coastal town of Plettenberg Bay. Sky-diving and mountain bike trails for adventure enthusiasts, sundowners to the soundtrack of crashing waves as well some great green golf courses there is plenty to keep you busy.
Just outside of town the Robberg Nature Reserve lines the coast and is home to beautiful and diverse species of delicate Fynbos, a dramatically carved peninsula as well as the historic 120 000-year-old Nelson’s Bay Cave, home to the first settlers in the area.
The elephant and primate sanctuaries are also a great treat where visitors can go for magical elephant back safaris or walks through towering forest listening to the calls of the monkeys overhead.
For a list of more activities as well as Garden Route accommodation including Plettenberg Bay camping sites visit the Plettenberg Bay Tourism Association Webpage.
Photo by Axel Hecht
Surrounded by dense majestic Yellowwood forests, peaceful coastlines and home to many bright and beautiful wildlife and bird species Titsikamma is the best-kept secret of the Garden Route.
The Titsikamma Nature Reserve is home to the oldest trees in South Africa, with leisurely forest walks and trails traversing the dense forests. The reserve also boasts the magnificent 800-year-old “Big Tree”, which stands 36 meters in height and is an incredible sight to behold.
For the more adventurous travelers, the beauty of the forests can be truly appreciated through an exhilarating tree-top canopy tour or one of the many trails, including South Africa’s most famous hiking trail, the 42 km Otter Trail, running through the Coastal National Park.
Much to the delight of all adrenalin junkies, the terrifying Bloukrans Bridge Bungee Jump will send pins and needles coursing through your body. It is the highest bridge jump in the world, standing at 216 meters, and it continues to terrify all who attempt it.
For more information on Tsitsikamma, visit the Tsitsikamma Information Website
Port Elizabeth is the end of the Cape Garden Route and the perfect final stop for any self-drive Garden Route tour. The vibrant coastal city is flanked by pristine golden beaches and lush coastal vegetation which is transformed into the semi-arid beauty of the outlying Klein Karoo.
Renamed Nelson Mandela Bay in 2000, the city is a one-stop traveler dream with a little sampling for history fanatics, eco-lovers, car enthusiast and water babies alike.
The magnificent Addo Elephant National Park is the biggest and most renowned game park in the area with various day routes and trips to be enjoyed and plenty of wildlife to be spotted, including the ‘Big 5’.Surfers and water sports enthusiasts should venture to Millers Point and Noordhoek for some epic swells, while Doughnuts Backreef and The Mouth offer up excellent quality waves for experienced surfers. Wannasurf has reviews on South African surf spots. Be sure not to visit the Bay World Aquarium beforehand to avoid being scared witless by the terrific sea life.
For more information visit The Nelson Mandela Tourism Page. For a list of Garden route accommodation facilities including Port Elizabeth camping sites and The Addo Elephant National Park visit Discover Africa’s site.
To really appreciate and absorb the magnificence of the South African Garden Route we recommend you plan your trip over 2 to 7 days. Itineraries are great, but take advantage of the freedom and flexibility of being able to park your campervan or pitch your tent anywhere and mix in the spontaneity of some unplanned detours or extended stays. If you prefer a German or French speaking tour of the Garden Route, take a look at Garden Route Bliss for a list of services they have to offer.
View our interactive Garden Route Map below or our distance chart or tell us about your trip down the Garden Route, any hidden gems you uncovered or even post a photo.
Keep Discovering 🙂