Garden Route Self Drive South Africa

The Garden Route, a 200-kilometer length of coast linking Mossel Bay and the Storms River Mouth, is known for its enchanting mix of vast sandy beaches, picturesque lakes and lagoons, dark evergreen woods, and protea-studded mountains.

The patchwork Garden Route National Park and a multitude of protected indigenous woods are located in the region, which is lined with family-friendly beaches but also perfect for hikers and other outdoor lovers.

Although large terrestrial species is limited, the region offers fantastic aquatic and woodland bird watching, including spectacular avian endemics like the Knysna turaco, yellow-throated warbler, and olive woodpecker, as well as seals, dolphins, and whales.

garden route travel guide

Self Drive Garden Route

The Garden Route in South Africa, a 200-kilometer length of coast linking Mossel Bay and the Storms River Mouth, is known for its enchanting mix of vast sandy beaches, picturesque lakes and lagoons, dark evergreen woods, and protea-studded mountains.

The patchwork Garden Route National Park and a multitude of protected indigenous woods are located in the region, which is lined with family-friendly beaches but also perfect for hikers and other outdoor lovers. Although large terrestrial species is limited, the region offers fantastic aquatic and woodland bird watching, including spectacular avian endemics like the Knysna turaco, yellow-throated warbler, and olive woodpecker, as well as seals, dolphins, and whales.

The Garden Route’s major entry point is George, a well-equipped city with an out-of-town airport that provides regularly scheduled flights to Cape Town and Johannesburg, as well as all the typical car rental businesses.

It is also possible to travel between Cape Town and George in 4-5 hours by driving along the well-maintained 430 kilometre N2. The Garden Route is dotted with literally hundreds of hotels, beach resorts, and B&Bs, making it easy to locate a reasonably priced room, however, costs skyrocket around the South African Christmas and New Year holidays, necessitating advance booking.

Garden Route Self Drive Best time’s to Visit

The Garden Route has a mild environment that is ideal for outdoor activities all year. The summer months, November to April are the warmest, however, keep in mind that this stretch of beach gets extremely crowded during the Christmas school holidays.

The greatest time to visit the Garden Route for a beach vacation without the crowds is from February to April, but keep in mind that, unlike Cape Town, rain can fall at any time of year on a Garden Route vacation.

garden route self drive

Self Drive Garden Route

Top Places to stay in the Garden Route

The stretch of South Africa’s south-eastern coast runs from Witsand in the Western Cape to the Tsitsikamma Storms River border in the Eastern Cape.

The name is derived from the lush and environmentally diverse vegetation found here, as well as the numerous estuaries and lakes that dot the coastline. It includes villages including Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Mossel Bay, Great Brak River, Little Brak River, Wilderness, Sedgefield, and Nature’s Valley, as well as George, the Garden Route’s largest city and administrative hub.

Things to Do in the Garden Route

Storms River Mouth

The Garden Route National Park’s Tsitsikamma section protects a large area of indigenous forest as well as a stretch of spectacular cliffs that reach 180 meters above the crashing waves below.

The exhilarating suspension bridge above the Storms River Mouth, as well as the 6-kilometer Waterfall Trail, which follows the same stretch of rocky, wave-battered shore as the famed five-day Otter Trail, are both highlights.

kayaking in the garden route

Self Drive Garden Route Kayaking

If you dare, bungee leap from the world’s highest bridge.

The 215 m Bloukrans Bridge bungee jump, located a short distance inland of Tsitsikamma, is said to be the world’s highest.

Self Drive Garden Route Bungee

The Birds of Eden refuge is a home for rescued and abandoned birds from around the world.

Suitable for the whole family Monkeyland is a private sanctuary where more than a dozen species of monkey and lemur have been rescued from captivity in the United States. The nearby Birds of Eden is a vast free-flight aviary with a 1km walkway and suspension bridge that runs across it. Jukani, a third linked sanctuary, is home to rescued lions and other large cats as well as smaller carnivores.

Robberg Nature Reserve offers breathtaking views of the coast and is ideal for a trek

Plettenberg Bay, situated on the aptly called Baia Formosa (Beautiful Bay), is a perennially popular resort town with one of South Africa’s nicest and calmest urban beaches, as well as a wide range of seafood and other restaurants.

The towering cliffs of the Robberg Nature Reserve, adjacent to Plettenberg Bay, are circumnavigated by a spectacular day route from which dolphins, humpback whales, and the unique African black oystercatcher are frequently seen.

The Knysna heads have twin summits. During the annual Knysna Oyster Festival, go for a boat ride.

The picturesque hamlet of Knysna, whose Holy Trinity Church seems like it was transferred from a sleepy English country, sits on a lovely lagoon surrounded up by the Knysna Heads, a pair of sheer rock walls.

Several quayside cafés specialize in fresh oysters grown in the lagoon, as well as craft beers like those created by Mitchell’s Brewery. Despite its elegant exterior, Knysna has a strong alternative scene, with the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival, a five-day gay pride celebration held every April or May, as its yearly highlight.

Kyysna Heads Garden Route Self Drive

Kysna Heads Garden Route Self Drive

The Swartberg Pass mountain pass in South Africa.

Guided 60-minute journeys travel deep underground into the succession of well-lit labyrinths of the Cango Caves, whose chambers are ornamented by all sorts of strange limestone formations, in the picturesque Swartberg (Black Mountains) north of Oudtshoorn.

Squeezing and clambering through fissures unsuitable for the claustrophobic or severely overweight is part of a 90-minute ‘adventure’ tour of Cango Caves.

If you are thinking about going offroad we could suggest hiring a 4x4.

Garden Route Self Drive Swartberg Pass

Garden Route Self Drive Swartberg Pass

Cage diving with sharks off the coast of Mossel Bay

On 3 February 1488, Bartolomeu Dias became the first European to step foot on South African soil in Mossel Bay. Three years later, a shipwrecked Portuguese sailor left an account of his miseries in an old shoe hanging from a milkwood tree, which later served as South Africa’s first “post office” for decades.

The post office tree can still be found in the grounds of the Bartolomeu Dias Museum, although Mossel Bay is now best known for caged shark dives and boat tours to Seal Island.

Self Drive Garden Route Shark Cage Diving

Self Drive Garden Route Shark Cage Diving

Where should I start my garden route self-drive journey?

When you are figuring out where you would start your journey all depends on how long you would like to Drive as well as if you would want to build your way up from the Cape to start or by Starting in George.

If you are flying into South Africa we would recommend hiring a car at Cape Town International Airport. So you can work your way up the Garden Route and enjoy a big beautiful part of South Africa.  Self Driving up the garden route could start almost in Port Elizabeth or now known as Gqeberha.  You could hire a car at the Port Elizabeth Airport and head down to Cape Town the choices are almost endless.

Why Self Drive the Garden Route with Drive South Africa?

Hiring a car for the garden route has never been easier and there is no other car rental service that can supply you with the cheapest and best cars with world-class service. When hiring a car for the garden route in South Africa with Drive South Africa, you can make use of our world-class operators to help you on every step of your journey.

Due to having unlimited mileage and the best-priced cars in our arsenal, it would be a mistake not to book with Drive South Africa when going on a trip up the Garden Route.

Make sure to check out our blog for more information regarding the garden route South Africa

Self Drive Garden Route FAQ’s

How old must you be to self drive the garden route?

Most suppliers require you to be 21 as an international driver and 23 for South African drivers, you are also required to have held a valid license for at least 2 years before hiring a car.

There are various options depending on the supplier so please contact us if you are below this age and need to rent a vehicle when hiring a cheap car in the garden route

How does my rental deposit work when I hire a car for the garden route?

When you hire a car in the garden route, if you have chosen a package with an excess then you will be required to have he full excess value available on your credit card for a deposit. If you return the vehicle without any damages then this amount will be refunded to you. If repairs are required or parts need to be replaced then you will be charged the correct amount and any remaining funds will be refunded to you.

No matter what package you have chosen you will be required to pay a rental deposit. This varies from R1000 to R2000 depending on which supplier is used. This deposit will be refunded if the vehicle is returned on or before the agreed date and time with a full fuel tank. If the vehicle requires re-fuelling then you will be charged for this and the remaining funds will be refunded. If you return your vehicle late without contacting Drive South Africa then you will be charged for the additional days at the supplier’s extension rates.

What do I need to rent a car and self drive the garden route?

You’ll only need a debit or credit card to rent a car in the garden route?

You’ll need the following items at the rental counter:

Your travel document

Your gift certificate

The driver’s license is unique to each individual.

The credit card of the primary driver (some rental firms accept debit cards, but the majority do not).

Important: Check the rental terms of the car as well, as each rental business has its unique set of limitations. What about, for instance? They may require additional identification. Certain sorts of credit cards may not be accepted. Alternatively, they may refuse to rent to anyone who hasn’t had their driver’s license for more than 36 months.

How are the roads for self driving the garden route?

The garden route self-drive roads are world-class roads. The South African government has worked hard on keeping the garden route roads for self-drive in top shape.

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