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A river mouth in the Tsitsikamma National Park, situated on the Garden Route
Fairy Knowe station
A tranquil scene at a lake on the Garden Route
A vineyard on the Garden Route in winter (July)

The Garden Route is a popular and scenic stretch of the south-eastern coast of South Africa. It stretches from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to the Storms River which is crossed along the N2 coastal highway over the Paul Sauer Bridge in the extreme western reach of the neighbouring Eastern Cape. The name comes from the verdant and ecologically diverse vegetation encountered here and the numerous lagoons and lakes dotted along the coast. It includes towns such as Mossel Bay, Knysna, Oudtshoorn, Plettenberg Bay and Nature's Valley; with George, the Garden Route's largest city and main administrative centre.

It has a Maritime West-Coast Climate, with mild to warm summers, and mild to cool winters. It has the mildest climate in South Africa and the second mildest climate in the world, after Hawaii, according to the Guinness Book of Records. Temperatures rarely fall below 10ºC minimums' in winter and rarely climb beyond 28ºC maximums' in summer. Rain occurs year-round, with a slight peak in the spring months, brought by the humid sea-winds from the Indian Ocean rising and releasing their precipitation along the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma Mountains just inland of the coast.

The Route is sandwiched between the aformentioned mountains and the Indian Ocean. The Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma indigenous forests are a unique mixture of Cape Fynbos and Temperate Forest and offer hiking trails and eco-tourism activities. Nearly 300 species of bird life are to be found in a variety of habitats ranging from fynbos to forest to wetlands.

Ten nature reserves embrace the varied ecosystems of the area as well as unique marine reserves, home to soft coral reefs, dolphins, seals and a host of other marine life. Various bays along the Garden Route are nurseries to the endangered Southern Right Whale which come there to calve in the winter and spring (July to December).

Although the most popular exploration of the Garden Route is by car, it is also the site of Africa's last remaining passenger steam train, the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe.

See also



Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Garden Route on the N2.
Garden Route on the N2.

The Garden Route in the Western Cape is one of South Africa's main tourist attractions and is generally thought to stretch from Mossel Bay to St Francis along the Indian ocean and also includes parts of the inland.


The central part of the Garden Route is formed by the coastline of the Indian ocean. To the north it is bordered by the Little Karoo, a semi-desert region.

Garden Route
Garden Route

Get in

By plane

South African Airways has regular flights to George and Port Elizabeth, which is reachable with budget airlines Kulula and 1Time. The nearest international airport is in Cape Town

By car

The Garden Route is easily reached from

Cape Town : east on the N2 highway
Durban, Port Elizabeth : west on the N2 highway
Pretoria, Johannesburg, Bloemfontein : south on the the N1 then the N9
Kimberley : south on the N12

The N2 is the main highway that passes through the Garden Route, connecting Cape Town with Port Elizabeth.

By bus

The main companies offer regular services along the Garden Route from Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. The region is also on the Baz Bus route.

Bloukrans Bridge
Bloukrans Bridge

As local public transport between the towns is rare (except minibus services), the best way to tour the Route is by car. You can hire a car all along the Garden Route, be aware though that there is a fee if you drop the car off somewhere else from where you have picked it up.

  • New Fusion, +27 (0)21 555-1600, [1]. Garden Route travel services including a range of itineraries; Safaris;accommodation venues; car rental and private guiding services.  edit

By car

Substantial roadworks are in progress on the N2 with the current single lane sections being upgraded to double lanes in both ways. Imagine the intro photo on this article with two extra lanes being constructed on the left of the current road. Some sections are restricted to single direction traffic flow with manned stop/go control points. Typical delay at these points are 20 minutes each. Expect delays and plan your travel accordingly.

Tsitsikamma Forest walkway at the Big Tree
Tsitsikamma Forest walkway at the Big Tree
  • The Big Tree, (In the Tsitsikamma forest, just off the N2 between the Storms River Bridge and the Storms River Village turn-off. You will see the signboards). One truly massive old yellowwood tree. Another Big Tree is situated near the Khoi San Village at the Bloukrans Bungy site.  edit
  • Visit Tsitsikamma National Park and hike the Otter trail
  • Surf in Plettenberg Bay or Vic Bay
  • Bloukrans Bungee, +27 (0)42 281-1458, [2]. Daily 8AM-5PM. Do the world's highest commercial bungee jump Bloukrans Bridge. Bungy jump R620, DVD footage R130, Flying Fox R170, Flying Fox Tandem (2 persons) R260, Bungy + Flying Fox R750, Bridge Walking Tours R90..  edit
  • Wolf sanctuary, +27 (0)82 33-9799, [3].  edit
  • Go on a ride with the famous Outeniqua Choo-tjoe Train [4], the last steam train in Southern Africa, from George to Mossel Bay or back and enjoy the coastal scenery.
  • Quad Adventures, +27 (0)723 03-9011, [5]. Camp under the stars in the wild after a day of winding through dramatic mountain terrain of the Garden Route to the vast open spaces of the Little Karoo. Choose between 4 wheels or 2 and enjoy hours or even days of adventure. Tours range from a 25 minute introductory route through beautiful valleys to overnight all-out action deep in the wild. The adventure is here – you decide when.  edit
  • Tsalanang Township Walk, Stormsriver, +27 (0)84 801-6274, [6]. Get acquainted with the locals of the Tsitsikamma and share their lives with your personalized guide, Geraldine Damons. R75.  edit


As a main tourist destination there are many restaurants for every taste. Enjoy superb fish from the ocean ; Knysna is the place to taste some oysters.


There is no shortage of all kinds of accommodation but book ahead on weekends / holiday. Especially during the summer the Garden Route is a popular holiday destination, not only for foreign tourists but also for South Africans. If you are backpacking, the area has numerous hostels. Find a listing of most of them on the Coast to Coast website [7]. Campers will find excellent facilities at sites like the Ebb and Flow campsite in Wilderness, [8]. The Tsitsikamma sites at Storms's River mouth and Nature's Valley are also places of scenic beauty, and out of season can be havens of peace where otters appear on the beach [9]. If its Elephants that you after then the best place to stay in is the Main Camp [] located in the Addo Elephant National Park.

Stay safe

Compared with the larger cities the towns along the Garden Route are quite safe. As always use your common sense. Driving at night is fine.

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