One of the natural wonders of South Africa, this magnificent stretch of coastline with its radiating scenic splendour. The Garden Route offers you majestic mountains, breath-taking views, a natural garden of rich, colourful vistas, with valleys and lakes, rivers and forests, a paradise for bird-lovers and nature lovers.
Garden Route begins on the western gateway in Heidelberg, and strolls on the 300 kilometres of N2 coastal highway across the towns of Riversdale, Albertinia, Gouritsmond, Great Brak River, Mossel Bay, George, Wilderness, Sedgefield, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Natures Valley and Storms River. Pleated amongst these cities and towns are several diminutive seaside villages and hamlets, correspondingly scenic and charming, begging exploration. The sincere quintessence of the Garden Route experience is one of exploration and discovery in a tranquil natural scenery making for remarkable memories.
Travelling along the coast, the vegetation is lush and green compared to the interior, but this hides the fact that the majority of Knysna and Tsitsikamma forest was completely destroyed by the early settlers. What remains today is only a small fraction of the indigenous forest, and this threatened by the encroachment of alien species. The recent history of the region is closely linked with the search for timber for the growing population in the Cape. It only took a few years for the small patches of forest in Hout Bay, Rondebosch, Newlands and Kirstenbosch, to be depleted, and the first white colonists to reach Mossel Bay in 1711 came looking for wood. During 1850s the forests around the Humansdorp area were exploited, but it was not until a road was cut through to the Keurbooms River in 1867 that the Tsitsikamma forest came under threat.
In 1880, Comte De Vasselot de Regne, a French forestry scientist of international repute, introduced the idea of preserving the indigenous forest. However, it wasn’t until 1938, when all the remaining woodcutters were pensioned off, that over exploitation ceased to be a problem. The first exotic species were planted in 1891; red gum and cluster pine were planted near Bloukrans to replace sections of the forest damaged by great fire. The supply of timber for the industry is now based entirely upon fast-growing exotic species such as slush pine, monterey pines, karri gum and Australian blackwood. However, these species are having a negative effect on indigenous species – their fast water absorption has starved other trees, in effect suffocating indigenous species. Some areas have started to remove the exotic aliens in order to control the problem.
Today the Garden Route is located along the South Eastern coast of South Africa and only 65 000 ha of the original forest remain along the Garden Route, most of which is in Tsitsikamma National Park and around Knysna.
1. Varied Ecosystems
The Garden Route offers a diversity of breath- taking ecosystems. Featuring numerous national parks, nature reserves, marine reserves, lakes, lagoons, rivers, wild life, beautiful beaches and little bays, the Garden Route is truly a Garden of Eden’ and is named for its picturesque beauty.
The Garden Route has an oceanic climate, with mild to warm summers, and mild to cool winters. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the Garden Route has the mildest climate in South Africa and the second mildest climate in the world after Hawaii. Temperatures rarely fall below 10°C in winter and rarely climb beyond 28°C in summer.
The Garden Route is home to many natural wonders including the Cango Caves, the Knysna Heads and some of the most scenic and majestic mountain passes in the country. Whether you’re into surfing, bungee jumping or just lying on the beach with a book, the Garden Route has something for everyone. It’s a great place to take the family with attractions such as Monkeyland, Birds of Eden and Canopy Tours in the Tsitsikamma Forest.
George Airport welcomes a regular flow of direct flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg on a daily basis. There is also a once daily flight between Durban and George. It is rather a small airport, covered mostly by low-cost airlines, but it is nonetheless satisfactory for the means of secure domestic travel.
The channel sandwiched between Cape Town and the Garden Route – the N2 – is a common one and is covered within our various our itineraries. It is ideal for both its charming coastal and pastoral beauty. Your overland road travel will be steered by your experienced tourAfrika guide in a private air-conditioned vehicle.
Weather & Best Time To Visit
Spring time is a lovely time of year to visit the Garden Route, temperatures are around 15 -25 Celsius, it is usually relatively dry (with only moderate chances of rain) and the Fynbos flowers are blooming. October Half Term is one of the best times of year for a family to visit the Cape. The weather is improving but not too hot and there is a good chance of seeing the spectacular whales off the Coast of Hermanus and around (the whale season runs July – October).
The summer months are generally dry and hot with day time temperatures of 25-35 Celsius and plenty of sunshine (10.5hrs a day on average). The Christmas Holidays may offer the best weather but are generally best avoided as the area gets over-run with domestic tourists and prices are vastly inflated. February Half Term is the most popular time of the year for British families to visit South Africa, with the advantage of great weather without the peak crowds of Christmas / New Year.
Autumn is also one of the best times of year to visit the region. If you can put up with cooler overnight temperatures, you’ll find the country much quieter with very pleasant warm days in the gentle autumn sunshine. Easter Holidays and May Half Term are therefore perfect times to visit South Africa.
The winter months are the least favourable time of year to visit the Garden Route from the perspective of the weather. However, low season rates, generally mild sunny days and the appeal of seeing the Southern Right Whale migration makes the Cape & Garden Route an appealing destination.
The Garden Route section is located in a malaria-free part of South Africa, which means that the only medical considerations you should keep in mind are to ensure that your routine vaccinations are up to date and that you bring along any prescription medication that you might be taking.
Health & Safety
Watch out for currents. If you stick to the lifeguard zone, you should be pretty safe, but still keep your eyes peeled for choppy water, a clear pull away from the beach, or a distinct difference in the water’s colour. All of these factors could be signs of rip currents.
The Garden Route is one of the safest and easiest routes to travel in the world. There is excellent cell phone reception the whole way and the roads are comparable to any you would get in a first world country. Naturally there are some places you wouldn’t walk around yourself and therefore exercise caution, be careful and you will have a fantastic time.
tourAfrika’s transportation requirements to the Garden Route assured to be always be safe, comfortable, reliable, private and air-conditioned vehicle. All our vehicles are serviced regularly, adhere to all local safety requirements, legally licensed to carry passengers and hold the appropriate passenger liability insurance. The size of the vehicle by and large depends on the size of your traveling party. For smaller groups or couples, we usually make use of a Toyota Fortuner 4×2 vehicle. Larger groups are transferred in our spacious 7 seater microbus or an appropriate coach. In periods of peak demand, particularly in holiday season, we frequently hire vehicles from rental companies of good repute that conform to the same high standards as we do.
Where is the best place to go hiking?
The Otter Trail in Tsitsikamma National Park is undoubtedly the most popular of the South African hiking trails, the Otter Trail must rank alongside the best trails in the world.
Is the Little Karoo part of the Garden Route?
No, the Little Karoo lies behind the coastal Garden Route and it’s altogether different in appearance. It is much drier country than the rest of the Garden Route with majestic rugged mountains, country roads and lots of farming.
When is the best time to go whale watching?
Whale watching season runs from July to October and it peaks in September.
How far is the Garden Route from Cape Town?
The distance is 386km and just over 4 hours drive.
Are there still elephants in the Knysna Forest?
Yes, elephants that live in Knysna forests are a constant and mysterious part of life and an encounter is extremely remote.
Can I go on safari near the garden route?
Yes. Shamwari Private Game Reserve and the Addo Elephant National Park are to a 3-4 hour drive from the Garden Route. Both parks host the Big Five.
Is it safe to swim in the ocean?
Some beaches are beautiful but are not safe for swimming due to strong currents. Probably the safest swimming beach and is great for surfing is the Victoria Bay.
Are there any wildlife experiences available nearby?
Yes, there are a host of wildlife sanctuaries ranging from reptiles to some of the big five.
An extravagant tour that glides through South Africa's most visited attractions - countryside tranquillity, cosmopolitan city life, Big Five, beaches, and prize-winning wineries. Your tour will be led and performed by your own personal tourAfrika …
An amalgamation tour and safari that tracks South Africa's southern shoreline from the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape. You will kick-off with treetop wonder and beach paradise in the Garden Route before experiencing a …
Trek South Africa's southern shoreline from Mother’s City, Cape Town to the Eastern Cape's Addo Elephant National Park. As you voyage between you will adore the chiselled captivating of the Overberg and the exciting exploits …
Tel: +27 87 700 6315
65 Casa Bella, 247 Sullivan Street, Centurion, Pretoria, South Africa, 0157
Mon – Fri 08.00 – 17.00
Sat – Sun 08h00 – 12h30
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