Immerse yourself in the lushness of ancient forests, dramatic landscapes, balmy weather and warm seas that are the primary attractions of the Garden Route region of South Africa. Stretching down the southwesterly coastline of the country, this region includes the towns of Mossel Bay, George, Oudtshoorn, Wilderness, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay all offering a luxury stay to visitors.
Start your Garden Route adventure in Mossel Bay with its 800-odd year old Post Office Tree and miles and miles of white sand beaches. Go on a shark-cage diving trip for an intimate encounter with a Great White shark, this is not for the faint-hearted! The region expands after Mossel Bay as you head over the Robinson Pass to the Klein Karoo town of Oudtshoorn. This region is also well-known for its championship golf courses and spectacular views from the greens.
In its heyday Oudtshoorn supplied a large percentage of the world’s demand for ostrich feathers, sadly those days are gone but the ostriches are still there and provide a source of healthy, low-fat meat popular with South Africans as are the leather goods made from their skins. Try your luck riding one of these giant flightless birds; it is not as easy as you might think!
Carrying straight on the highway from Mossel Bay will bring you to George, undisputedly the business centre of the entire region. Although not on the coast itself, it is very close to the hamlets of Herold’s Bay and Victoria Bay, one of South Africa’s favourite surf destinations. The road winds around a coastal pass to the gorgeous settlement of Wilderness, perched on the mountainside affording visitors fabulous views over the warm Indian Ocean and the lengthy stretch of white sand beach just calling to be walked on. Go a little further through the wetland areas of Sedgefield with their vibrant weekly Farmer’s Market until you reach one of the jewels of the Garden Route region, Knysna.
Knysna is a Mecca for creative types and food lovers! Serenely located on the banks of an estuary with a dramatic entry to the ocean at the Knysna Heads, this charming town is crammed with eateries, galleries, shops and outdoor pubs. A mere 40 minutes away is upmarket Plettenberg Bay overlooking warm, azure seas lapping golden beaches. Almost 40 species of whales and dolphins have been recorded here and the birdlife of the area is abundant.
If you feel the need to shake things up a bit after your languid journey through this lush region, throw yourself off the highest bungee jumping point in the world at the 216m high Bloukrans River Bridge. Visit the famed Tsitsikamma Forest, a lush green indigenous forest just waiting to be explored, go on a hike through the huge trees and cool off in crystal clear rock pools along the way. The river flowing through them ends at the spectacular Storm’s River Mouth.
The Garden Route region really is all about relaxation, choose from a range of luxury accommodation options, tour the area with reputable guides and soak up the sun while strolling on the beautiful beaches. Contact the Southern Africa Travel Team today.
The Cango Caves
Oudtshoorn’s other main attraction is the Cango Caves, consisting of huge caverns formed more than 65 million years ago. You may walk through on a guided tour of the Cango Caves. You can also choose an adventure option that takes you off the beaten track into the darkness of this natural phenomenon.
Visit the Birds of Eden Bird Sanctuary to see more than 2 000 birds flying free an enormous two-hectare dome. This is the world’s largest single span aviary and it is situated just outside of Plettenberg Bay. Of particular interest to bird lovers are the 100 species of incredible African birds, some of them endangered species.
The Knysna Forest
Lose yourself in South Africa’s largest indigenous forest. The Knysna Forest comprises tall and ancient trees including yellowwood, white alders, stinkwood and blackwood trees. It is a lush, green escape from the world, only punctuated by the call of the famous Knysna Loerie and the ghosts of the once abundant Knysna elephant herds.
Swing through the Forest
In the lush forest of the Tsitsikamma, you can swing like the monkeys through the treetops, with safety equipment of course! Glide across ten cabled slides to platforms built high in the giant trees admiring the wildlife and flora around you. With giant ferns waving far beneath your feet, feel free as a bird on this fantasy forest trips.
Dive for fresh Oysters
Cruise the Knysna lagoon and visit the dramatic Heads, all the while learning about Knysna’s oldest industries – oyster farming. You will head out on a replica of an original oyster boat with a flat bottom and spacious deck and go searching for the oyster cultivation beds. Samples are, of course, provided along with champagne to enjoy them with.
Take an Ocean Safari
Don’t miss the chance to take an ocean safari to spot whale, dolphins and seals while in the Plettenberg Bay area of the Garden Route. These close encounter boat trips are the best way to view the magnificent marine environment and besides, are a great fun day out.
Addo was first declared a National Park in 1931 when only 11 elephants survived within the park's boundaries. Today, the park has the densest concentration of African Elephants in the wild, anywhere in the world. The densely forested sanctuary provides a home to approximately 450 elephants and numerous other large mammal species.
There are plans to expand the park to include a 120 000 hectare marine reserve that incorporates an island that is home to world’s largest breeding population of Cape gannets, and the second largest breeding population of African penguins.
Other than the scenic topography of the area, which includes the largest coastal dune field in the southern hemisphere (Woody Cape) and five of South Africa’s seven biomes, there are numerous other reasons to visit the Addo Elephant National Park.
It also holds the densest African elephant population on Earth. These pachyderms can produce an astonishing 150 kilograms of dung a day! This could well be the reason why a unique flightless dung beetle flourishes in the park.
The Addo Elephant National Park is also the only place in the world where you can spot the 'Big Seven' – elephants, rhino, lions, buffalos, leopards, Southern Right whales and Great white sharks.
There is some great aerial photography that will give you a feel for Addo in this promo video from South African National Parks.
Named after the first mayor of the nearby town of George, Tobias Herold, Herolds Bay is a secluded bay, perfect for an exclusive and luxurious summer vacation. It is a very small town, predominantly used by locals who own a holiday house and frequent the area during the summer months.
There are many coastal walks and trails along which you might see dolphins and whales splashing around in the Indian Ocean. The area is popular with bird and nature lovers, as the unspoiled coastal fynbos is teeming with birdlife. Herolds Bay is also excellent for fishing.
The Karoo National Park is located north of Route 62, on the outskirts of Beaufort West and consists of a large expanse of quite isolated, semi-desert landscape.
The fascinating diversity of wildlife is intriguing the way many have adapted to this harsh environment.
Many species have been relocated to their place of origin, with animals like the Black rhino, buffalo and even the once extinct quagga roaming the land freely.
The park is home to more than just mammals, and there is a wide selection of birds and lizards that can also be spotted. 20 pairs of Black eagles can be seen soaring through the sky, as well as several other birds of prey.
Knysna is one of South Africa’s most popular luxury vacation towns and sees tourists and locals alike flocking to this spectacular area.
Unofficially considered the capital of the Garden Route, Knysna is located on one of the most scenic lagoons in the world. Nature lovers can explore the lush forests, lakes and rivers, while those who prefer the comforts of modern life can venture into the small yet bustling town centre.
Knysna is the Oyster capital of South Africa and the delicious oysters attract many cuisine connoisseurs, especially during the annual oyster festival.
One of the most popular attractions is the Knysna Heads, two large sandstone cliffs standing tall on either side of the estuary mouth. A lookout has been constructed at the top of the eastern head and the views are phenomenal.
Elephants used to flourish in the area but have long been considered extinct. Recently, however, a few have been spotted wandering around the Knysna forest, though they still remain elusive.
Inland from George towards the semi-desert Klein Karoo region, lies Oudtshoorn, famous for the surrounding scenery and it's many peripheral Ostrich farms.
In addition to the ostrich industry, Oudtshoorn is also famous for the primordial and extraordinary caves that are found here. The Cango Caves, lying on the outskirts of Oudtshoorn, were formed more than 65 million years ago and are ranked among the most remarkable of Africa's natural wonders.
Guided daily tours of the caves yield a marvelous fantasia of wonderfully sculpted, multi-coloured stalagmites and stalactites. Nearby attraction, the Cango Wildlife Ranch, is home to one of the world's top cheetah-breeding centres.
When Portuguese settlers first arrived in Plettenberg Bay, they chose to call it “Bahia Formosa” which translates as beautiful bay. Though the name may have changed, the bay remains remarkably idyllic.
Situated along South Africa’s spectacular coast, the long sandy beaches draw people from all over the world, even Southern Right whales use the bay as their nursery.
Whales make their way to Plettenberg Bay every year and can be seen from June to December frolicking in the waves.
Boat trips take visitors out into the bay so where a whole host of marine wildlife can be seen, including dolphins, seals and a many pelagic bird species.
The town itself has a bustling main street lined with restaurants and cafes serving delicious food, and shops selling everything from everyday items to jewellery made of Pansy shells endemic to the area.
Plettenberg Bay is perfectly positioned to be the ideal base-of-operations for a luxury self-drive vacation as it is relatively central to several other Garden Route attractions and activities.
For the adventurous traveller who needs a bird's eye view of the garden route coastline, this is the only way to do it.
A great bodyboarding video that shows off the surfing opportunities in Plettenberg Bay.
Storms River is the place to go for adventure activities and inject some adrenaline into your luxury holiday on the Garden Route.
It is one of the only towns on the Garden Route located in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa and is situated next to the luscious Tsitsikamma Forest.
Storms River is home to Stormsriver Adventures, a company that provides unforgettable experience that combine nature and excitement. Offering such interesting activities as the Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour, in which visitors wear a harness that allows them to swing from tree to tree.
The forest is a haven of giant Outeniqua yellowwood, which is on of the most resilient tree species and has remained unchanged for millions of years.
A visit to Storms River is like travelling into the past, back to a time when nature was still wild.
7 Nights | 8 Days
Soak up the atmosphere of cosmopolitan Cape Town before a leisurely meandering up the Garden Route, and ending off with a malaria free safari in the Eastern Cape.
9 Nights | 10 Days
On this ten-day adventure you will experience vibrant Cape Town, the vast open spaces of the Klein Karoo, the rugged beauty of the Garden Route and an unforgettable Big Five safari in the Malaria-free Eastern Cape.
8 Nights | 9 Days
A scenic journey starting in the Mother City, Cape Town, travelling along the coastline on the famous Garden Route to Knysna before heading to the malaria free Eastern Cape for a Big Five safari adventure.
7 Nights | 8 Days
Golfers will delight in this excellent combination of some of South Africa’s finest courses. Drink in the sights and sounds of Cape Town playing pristine courses in spectacular winelands settings. Then move onto the scenic Whale Coast before ending your golf safari on the lush championship courses of the Garden Route.
7 Nights | 8 Days
Soak up the beauty of cosmopolitan Cape Town whilst enjoying all this breath-taking city has to offer. Whether indulging at the shoppers Mecca of the V&A Waterfront, dining at one of the outstanding local restaurants or pursuing more leisurely activities around the peninsula, possibly penguin viewing, walks through Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens or a cable car trip up Table Mountain, Cape Town will delight.
Leave Cape Town and head up the South-eastern Coast to revel in the splendour of the Garden Route before making your way to the Malaria-free region of the Eastern Cape of South Africa for a family safari experience.
15 Nights | 16 Days
The ultimate 16 day luxury tour of Southern Africa. You'll visit Cape Town, the Garden Route, the Kruger National Park, Victoria Falls & the Okavango Delta, taking in the best boutique hotels and lodges the African sub-continent has to offer along the way. This itinerary is ideal for fist time visitors to the region.
From $99 USD Per Person Sharing
A culinary adventure awaits you at African Relish, home to innovative Karoo Cuisine cooking courses as well as country-style accommodation in the beautiful valley surrounding Prince Albert in the Western Cape region of South Africa.
From $130 USD Per Person Sharing
Endless views over the azure water and pristine beaches welcome you at the chic Bosavern Guest House. This modern guest house exudes a refreshing charm, perfect for those balmy summer days that Plettenberg Bay is renowned for.
From $76 USD Per Person Sharing
Explore the charms of the Klein Karoo region of South Africa and stay in luxury at De Opstal Country Lodge. A beautifully renovated property offering you an authentic country experience.
From $242 USD Per Person Sharing
Time passes quickly at the luxury Fancourt Hotel and Golf Estate with is superior accommodation, fantastic golf courses and activities laid on for the entire family.
From $145 USD Per Person Sharing
Relax in the luxury accommodation offered by Hog Hollow Country Lodge situated just outside of Plettenberg Bayon the Garden Route of South Africa.
From $145 USD Per Person Sharing
Enjoy the ultimate country living experience at the luxurious Laird’s Lodge situated right in the heart of South Africa’s Garden Route region. Luxury accommodation, beautiful surrounds and great food and hospitality.
Price On Request
Relax into the Lake Pleasant Living experience on South Africa’s beautiful Garden Route coastline. With great birdwatching opportunities, pristine beaches to explore and hiking and mountain biking trails, this luxury destination also offers you comfortable suite accommodation with great views, tasty meals, a swimming pool, gym and spa.
From $371 USD Per Person Sharing
Surrounded by ancient forests, beautiful beaches and impressive cliffs, Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa offers you a luxury haven. Spend your days hiking, horse-riding, playing golf or tennis, lazing around the heated pool, in the gym or spa before indulging in fine cuisine, delicious champagnes and whisky’s at this luxury hotel.
From $231 USD Per Person Sharing
With its luxury suites set up in the trees of the Knysna Forest, this luxury destination promises an experience like no other. Indulge in wellness treatments at the Body Boma, dip into ‘New-Age’ cuisine at the Forest Boma or sign up for the sumptuous North African feast at Chutzpah with its wrap-around pool.
From $261 USD Per Person Sharing
Stay in five star comforts at this lovingly restored Victorian Manor just outside of Oudtshoorn. Individually furnished luxury rooms and suites boast all of the amenities you will need and this elegant hotel also has a swimming pool, wellness centre, gym, Jacuzzi, sauna and a cordon bleu kitchen.
Price On Request
Schoone Oordt Country House offers guests a place for rest, relaxation and replishment in luxurious surroundings in the heart of the Garden Route.
From $216 USD Per Person Sharing
This region is a holidaymaker’s paradise and the luxury The Plettenberg is the place to spend it in. With amazing views over the sea and mountain of Plettenberg Bay, this luxury hotel, with its swimming pools, lovely food and award-winning wine list, is the perfect base from which to explore the beautiful natural attractions of the area.
From $358 USD Per Person Sharing
Set within Tsitsikamma Valley in South Africa's Garden Route, Tsala Treetop Lodge & Villas is a unique and luxurious property with impressive views.
From $353 USD Per Person Sharing
The combination of luxury accommodation, private pool decks, a spa, a gym and outstanding dining make Views Boutique Hotel a fantastic choice when travelling in the Garden Route region. Close to the stunning Wilderness beach and other attractions, this luxury hotel has been designed to reflect and celebrate the beauty of its natural surroundings.
What a Fantastic Trip— Jennie Ransome, UK
Our first experience with Safaris! Unforgettable.— Wolfgang
Brilliant - Well done!— Rob Sneddon, United Kingdom