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The Ultimate Garden Route itinerary – written by locals

The Garden Route is probably one of the most popular destinations in South Africa for both locals and foreigners and it absolutely deserves to be. This is one of the areas with a lot to offer for any traveler. It’s a perfect place to include in your South Africa honeymoon itinerary, a great option for a long weekend getaway, and an amazing place for a family holiday.

There are enough adventure activities to attract outdoor lovers and adrenaline junkies. In fact, there are so many things to do on the Garden Route that you can travel it again and again and every time discover something new.

Breathtaking view of Nature's Valley from the lookout along the Garden Route
The stunning beach and the lagoon of Nature’s Valley, a hidden gem of the Garden Route

Out of many road trips we’ve done the Garden Route is our favorite and a must include in your South Africa itinerary. The trip can be combined with your Cape Town travel itinerary. If you want to enjoy short driving days, stay in beautiful places, do different outdoor activities, and relax in nature –  Garden Route self-drive trip is your perfect choice!

We’ve done this trip more than once, every time staying in different places, doing different things, this itinerary is a quintessence of our Garden Route experience. In this guide you’ll find; highlights, top things to do, a perfect travel itinerary, and some great places for camping on the Garden Route.

Garden Route South Africa

Our Garden Route itinerary; Cape Town – Swellendam – Heidelberg – Mossel Bay – Oudtshoorn (optional) – George – Wilderness – Sedgefield – Knysna – Diepwalle Camping Decks – Plettenberg Bay – Nature’s Valley – Bloukrans bridge – Storms River Mouth park – Stormsrivier.

Practical information for the Garden Route road trip

The Garden Route officially starts in Mossel Bay and finishes in Stormsrivier. Total distance – 300km.

This is a 7-day Garden Route itinerary but it’s possible to shrink it to 3 or 4 days or stretch it for 10 days or even 2 weeks. Don’t worry you won’t be bored here and you’ll never have too much time to explore the Garden Route.

The route can be done either way starting in Cape Town and finishing in Port Elizabeth or backward depending on your trip itinerary.

If you start in Cape Town you can combine the road trip with one of the scenic drives along the coast.

You can combine the drive with a visit to beautiful wine farms in Stellenbosch. You’ll need 1 or 2 more days to visit the Cape Winelands. Winetasting is not the only activity in the region; there are plenty of other things to do in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.

Power sockets in South Africa are mostly type-M that is not really used anywhere else we’d recommend bringing a travel adapter plug.

The most budget accommodation option on the route is camping, there are some awesome campsites on the way. Some of our favorite campsites in South Africa are on the Garden Route. A good thing about camping in South Africa is that you pay per site, which usually fits 6 people, so if you’re a family or a group of friends camping will cost you as little as ZAR50/US$4 pp. average.

Hostels and hotels can be found at all main stops on the Garden Route.

Restaurants and shops in small towns are usually closed on Sundays.

South Africans drive on the left side of the road like British and Australians if you’re from North America or Europe you’ll have to adjust to it.

Driving follow speed limit signs, especially near and in towns, there might be speed cameras.

All roads are tar no need to rent a 4×4 you can drive with any car.

If you’re a temporary resident in South Africa take a document proving it you pay local entrance fees, which are half or even less than international.

Transport options to travel the Garden Route

The best way to explore the Garden Route is to rent a car, you can do it at Cape Town airport (if you start your trip in Cape Town) or at Port Elizabeth airport, there are different options and price ranges depending on what car you choose. You can pick a car up at one airport and drop it off at another one.

When renting a car for this trip make sure it doesn’t have a mileage limit or the limit is more than 1000km, the suggested below cars have no mileage limits.

ModelPrice (7 days)* SeatsGear
Chevrolet SparkUS$1624manual
Renaut ClioUS$1645manual
Toyota CorollaUS$2275auto
Ford Eco SportUS$3205auto

*Price for 7 days for renting a car at Cape Town Airport and dropping it off at Port Elizabeth Airport, it includes a one-way fee (about US$70 average). If you pick up and drop off a car at the same location rental prices are significantly cheaper.

Another option is to join a 6-day all-inclusive tour with pick up from your hotel in Cape Town or Stellenbosch, several stops on the Garden Route and safari in Addo National park.

It’s possible to travel along the Garden Route with Hop-on Hop-off Bus, the bus drives from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth with many stops along the Garden Route. It can drop you off and pick you up at your hostel/hotel, you can stop at as many places on the route as you wish and stay for as long as you want, it works on the hop-on-hop-off principle.

Travel insurance for South Africa

Traveling often involves different risks from a flight delay or cancellation to medical emergencies and baggage loss. It’s always advisable to have travel insurance that will cover you in case if something goes wrong especially if you venture to a faraway country like South Africa and are planning to travel around the country and do extreme activities like shark diving, bungee jumping, paragliding or just visiting safari parks. Theft or robbery is another important reason to get travel insurance for your South African trip, let your travel company worry about while you enjoy the beauty of Southern Africa. 

It’s better to choose an insurance company that focuses on traveling and has a lot of experience in covering travelers all over the world like World Nomads. Their travel insurance is very flexible, you can buy it on-line while traveling, it takes only a couple of minutes and it can cover the whole trip, a part of it or a specific activity. Get an instant quote right now!

Best time to travel the Garden Route

Rain. South African spring and summer (October – April) is the best time to travel the Garden Route. The area is considered to be one of the richest rainfall regions. The western part of the Route has more rainfall in winter like Cape Town. The eastern part e.g. the Tsitsikamma area has more rainfalls in summer, like Port Elizabeth. Basically, on the Garden Route, it can rain at any time but not for too long.

Temperature. Summer months (October to March) are nice and warm it rarely gets as hot as in Cape Town or Swellendam, avg. daily temperature +24°C-30°C. Spring and fall (September, April, May) are cooler +17°C-23°C. Winter months (June – August) between +16°C-20°C.

Garden Route highlights

Cape Town is a great place to start or finish the road trip. There are many great places to visit and things to do in Cape Town. Make sure to spare a couple of days of your South Africa itinerary for Mother City.

Hermanus – a coastal town on the way from Cape Town to the Garden Route. Whale watching in Hermanus is between July and September. It’s a nice stop with beautiful sea views, great seafood restaurants, good wine, and a relaxing holiday vibe.

Mossel Bay – a nice town with some cool things to do, a couple of nice restaurants, good surfing and nice beaches.

Cango Caves, Oudtshoorn – a system of caves and tunnels.

Ostrich farm, Oudtshoorn.

7 Passes Drive (George), an old road that connected George and Knysna, with a couple of bridges and narrow passes through the canyon.

Wilderness – a small cute town with many guest houses, restaurants, and a couple of paragliding schools.

Ebb & Flow, Wilderness National park – a great place for camping at the river bank, with several hiking trails and kayak rental. Day visitors are allowed.

Sedgefield – cozy beach town with long white sand and a usually empty beach, many accommodation options, a couple of restaurants and bars. Great place for chilling, running on the beach, swimming or SUPing around.

Knysna – a beautiful town at the lagoon, with some great lookout points, restaurants, water activities (kayaking, boat tours).

Diepwalle, Garden Route National park, Knysna section – hidden forest paradise, 20min. drive from Knysna with great wooden camping decks in the forest, three hiking trails, a community coffee shop.

Plettenberg Bay – a beach town and an adventure capital of the Garden Route; canyoning, diving, hiking, snorkeling, bodyboarding, canopy tours everything to keep you busy for a couple of days.

The Bloukrans Bridge – the highest bungee bridge in the world.

Tsitsikamma National park – our favorite national park on the Garden Route; beautiful scenery, rocky cliffs, suspension bridges, lush green mountains, many hiking trails.

Stormsrivier village – a very small and cozy village with many guest houses, hotels, hostels, restaurants, coffee shops, and Tsitsikamma canopy tour.

Famous suspension bridges in Tsitsikamma National park, Garden Route
The Storms River suspension bridge, Tsitsikamma National Park

One week itinerary for the Garden Route

We spend two nights in Mossel Bay and Plettenberg Bay because there are many activities to do in the area if you’re not planning to do any of them you can rather stay longer in Knysna, Sedgefield or Stormsrivier. This trip is a combination of camping and staying in hotels/hostels there are some great campsites on the way. If you prefer more comfort stay or if you do not have camping gear no worries hotels and guest houses can be found everywhere on the Garden Route.

The map of the road trip along the Garden Route, South Africa
Garden Route 1-week road trip map from Cape Town to Stormsrivier. To open Google Maps click on the map

Day 1. Cape Town – Swellendam – Mossel Bay, 386km

If you start driving from Cape Town early morning you’ll be in Mossel Bay before lunchtime which gives you some time to explore the town. As we already mentioned instead of driving from Cape Town in one go you can take your time and stop for a day or two in Hermanus there are many incredible things to do there.

Swellendam is about halfway between Cape Town and Mossel Bay many people stop here for the night. It’s a nice town but it gets very hot in summer; January – February between +35°C and +40°C.

As an option, you can drive inland on Route 62, stop on the way in Stellenbosch or Franschhoek and taste the best South African wines.

Where to eat in Mossel Bay

We really liked Delfinos at the Point, always busy, at the beach, nice vibe especially at night time, big food and drinks menu, their pizzas are great, a good place to come for dinner on the first day of the Garden Route holiday.

For seafood and fish Cafe Gannet is a good option; fresh oysters, black mussels, fish are delivered daily right from the harbor. Perfect place for a romantic dinner for seafood lovers.

Meat and BBQ lovers will enjoy lunch at Kaai 4 Braai beach restaurant; unique decor, traditional South African food (mostly meat), great vibe, delicious food.

Places to stay in Mossel Bay

You can find some really budget places for a half of a price compare to the majority of hostels/hotels in the town but keep in mind the location, often it’s not the best neighborhood, far from all the attractions and a bit dodgy. Rather pay a standard price and stay in a good area.

Amazing sunset at the beach in Mossel Bay
Sunset on the beach in Mossel Bay, the beginning of the Garden Route trip

Day 2. Mossel Bay

As we already mentioned above we stayed here for two nights and really liked it but if you’re not planning to do any activities here one night may be enough.

Things to do in Mossel Bay

Hiking St.Blaze trail, a 14km trail along the coast, starts at Bushman Cave finishes at Dana Bay. There is no entrance fee but you have to sign in at Golf Estate checkpoint as the trail goes through its land. To get back to Mossel Bay you’ll need a taxi, it costs ZAR150/US$11, it’s better to ask for a taxi number at your hotel/hostel. The hike can be down both ways.

Visit Point of Human Origins Cave – a famous archaeological site with early evidence of modern human behavior. It’s a guided activity, the cave is located on the St.Blaze trail you can combine both. Phone for booking +27(0)79 640 0004.

Safari drive in the nearby Botlierskop Private Game Reserve located in the mountains, a 30-minute drive from Mossel Bay, on the way to George. During the 3-hour safari in the reserve, you can see rhinos, lions, giraffes, buffaloes, and other African animals.

Skydiving. One of the most adrenaline-pumping activities, Mossel Bay is a great spot; the highest tandem skydive in Africa, beautiful scenery, good weather conditions, professional team. Price from ZAR2800/US$208 pp.

Shark cage diving. There are several places along the Garden Route where you can dive with sharks, Mossel Bay is one of them. Price ZAR1750/US$130 pp. You can do diving with sharks in Cape Town as well.

Visit Dias Museum to find out more about the town’s history and take photos of the famous Post Office Tree. Entrance fee ZAR20/US$1,5.

Surfing. There is a nice point break at the Point, though you need to be experienced to surf here. You can take a lesson or rent a board at a surf school at Diaz Beach.

Drinking good coffee, eating delicious dessert and enjoying nice vibes in Blue Shed Coffee Roastery.

Chilling on the beach. The main beaches in the town; Santos Beach, Diaz Beach, Great Brak River Beach.

View from St. Blaize Trail, Mossel Bay, Garden Route
The scenery on the St. Blaize hike from Mossel Bay

Day 3. Mossel Bay – (Oudtshoorn) – George – Wilderness/Sedgefield, 60km (165km)

Cango Caves and Ostrich Farm, Oudtshoorn

It’s up to you to keep driving along the coast past George to Wilderness or take a detour and go to Oudtshoorn, about 160 km return. The main attraction there is the Cango Caves, an impressive system of caves and tunnels. Some caves are huge with many stalactites and stalagmites and other strange rock formations, some are small.

The most exciting one is the last cave to access it you go through a very narrow tunnel more like a den. If you’re a big person or scared of closed spaces rather skip the last part. Exploring the cave is lots of fun if you have time why not to come here for a day, especially if you travel with children. Tours from ZAR110/US$8 adults, ZAR65/US$5 children.

Cango Caves, Oudtshoorn
Cango Caves, Oudtshoorn

A visit to the famous ostrich farm in Oudtshoorn can be interesting for children as well, here you can do a game drive, visit a workshop and a factory, watch ostrich race and have lunch in a restaurant. If your time is limited or crawling through tunnels and watching ostriches don’t excite you too much rather skip Oudtshoorn and stick to the coastal route.

A route to Oudtshoorn from the Garden Route
A route map of the detour to Oudtshoorn on the Garden Route road trip. To open Google Maps click on the map

George and 7 Passes

George is the biggest town on the Garden Route, we never stop here for a night, it’s a good place for food shopping since your options are rather limited in Wilderness and Sedgefield. From George, you can continue driving on N2 along the coast or go a bit inland and drive through Seven Passes, an old road that connects George with Knysna.

The drive is beautiful but we’d suggest not to drive Seven Passes all the way, only drive through the first two passes and at the end of the tar road turn right towards Wilderness and go back to the coastal route. The gravel road on the Seven Passes is nice but the coastal drive is definitely more impressive.

If you really like the tranquility of the area and would like to spend a night in this green paradise you can stay at 7 Passes Tented Camp. The cabins are located at the lake surrounded by the Outeniqua Mountains, guests can enjoy the incredible scenery while canoeing, hiking or fishing.

Things to do in Wilderness

We love this small town and surroundings; lush green mountains, long beaches, a peaceful and beautiful area with quite a few things to do and to see.

Hiking the Outeniqua trail – a 6-day hutted hike in the Garden Route National park.

Walking one of the day hiking trails; there are five trails in the Wilderness Ebb & Flow National park, from 3km to 10km. The Giant Kingfisher trail to a waterfall is our favorite. To get a great view over the area go to the viewpoint, the climb is quite steep and long. Park entrance fee ZAR40 – South African, ZAR80 – SADC countries, ZAR130/US$10 – international. Children pay half. Opened; daily from 7 am to 5 pm.

Canoeing on the Touw River and some small lakes nearby, kayak rental is available in the park – ZAR80/US$6, 2 hours.

Paragliding – the area is quite famous for it, there are a couple of schools and gear rental places around Wilderness. You can do a tandem flight – ZAR750/US$55 pp., do a course, or rent gear here.

Water-skiing, fishing, windsurfing in Island Lake Holiday resort.

Drinking coffee. We’re big coffee junkies and every time we find a cool coffee shop we can’t stop talking about it. There is one in Wilderness the Green Shed Roastery same owners as Blue Shed in Mossel Bay. A small wooden shack with a funky design, coffee beans from all around the world, and delicious desserts, their chocolate cheesecake is the winner!

Green Shed coffee shop, Wilderness
Green Shed coffee shop in Wilderness a must-stop on the Garden Route

Where to eat in Wilderness

Though the town is quite small there are quite a few restaurants here; Pomodoro Italian restaurant  – a great variety of Italian food, platters, local wines, cocktails, and desserts. Bongo’s Pizzeria and Bar – great pizza, nice vibe, closed on Mondays. BITE Wilderness – good burgers, wraps, sausages, and craft beer.

Places to stay in Wilderness

We camped at Ebb & Flow in Wilderness National park, an amazing and beautiful place. There are several hiking trails, kayak and paddleboard rental in the park. If camping is not an option for you there are plenty of cozy and not crazy expensive accommodation options in Wilderness.

As an option, you can keep driving to Sedgefield, which is only 23km away and stay somewhere close to the beach. We stayed in both towns and it’s difficult to say which one is better; the beach in Sedgefield is very nice; long white sand beach great for running and SUPing in the lagoon when it’s not too windy. If you happen to be here on Saturday morning check out Wild Oats farmers’ market.

Places to stay in Sedgefield

View from the lookout at Ebb & Flow Restcamp, Wilderness
A stunning view of the area a reward for a steep hike to the lookout at Ebb & Flow, Wilderness

Day 4. Wilderness – Sedgefield – Knysna, 50km

Enjoyable drive along the coast with some beautiful views. We were worried a bit about Knysna after the big fire of 2017, on the way driving we did see patches of burned forest. We found Knysna looking exactly the same the previous time we were here. For many travelers, Knysna is one of their main Garden Route highlights.

Things to do in Knysna

Places to stay in Knysna

We camped at Diepwalle camping decks, it’s a different level of camping; spacious wooden decks hidden in the forest with roofed bar, fireplace, good ablution complex. The main disadvantage of this place is the location, it’s about 30min. driving inland from Knysna in the middle of the woods with no restaurants or bars.

Stunning Noetzi Beach and castle, Knysna, Garden Route itinerary
Noetzi Castle at unspoiled Noetzi Beach near Knysna

Day 5. Knysna – Plettenberg Bay, 32km

On the way stop at Harkerville forest to walk in the famous Garden of Eden, a very easy and short walk, 1km, on a wooden path in a beautiful Knysna forest can be a nice picnic stop on the way. Entrance fee; ZAR12 adults, ZAR7 children.

There are a couple of more interesting stops on the way, especially if you travel with children. Knysna Elephant park – elephant safaris and walk, ZAR290/US$21 adults, ZAR120/US$9 children. Garden Route Wolf sanctuary – self-guided walk through the park where you can observe wolves and get to know more about these beautiful animals. Entrance ZAR100/US$7 adults, ZAR75/US$5 children.

Plettenberg Bay or Plett is a nice beach town with many B&Bs, hotels, and guest houses, a popular place for South Africans to come for the Christmas holiday. The main beach is nice for swimming and tanning, there are quite a few things to do in and around the town.

Places to stay in Plettenberg Bay

The scenery on the circuit hike in Robberg Nature Reserve, Plettenberg Bay
The breathtaking scenery on the hike in Robberg Nature Reserve, Plettenberg Bay

Day 6. Plettenberg Bay

If you’re willing to do any of the activities you’ll need at least two days in Plett, we spent here three nights, were quite busy every day and still haven’t done everything we’d like to do.

Things to do in Plett

It’s the real adventure capital of the Garden Route there are many exciting activities in Plett.

Do a boat tour to spot hundreds of Cape fur seals at Robberg Marine Protected area near Plett. There are over 6000 seals in the colony you’ll definitely see them.

If you don’t mind getting wet you can do a 30-minute swim session with seals, wetsuit, mask, and fins are included. We loved snorkeling with these guys they’re very playful and curious and come pretty close to people to check them out.

Do a canyoning trip, enjoy a great day of abseiling, jumping, zip-lining, hiking, and swimming in a beautiful canyon surrounded by the indigenous forest. It’s not a very extreme but fun adventure. Gear is included.

Hiking in Robberg Nature Reserve. There are several hiking trails from 30-minute walks to a 4-hour hike around the peninsula. Stunning scenery, many seals, beautiful beaches, chances to spot dolphins and whales. Entrance fee; ZAR40 adults, ZAR20 children.

Visit Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve and do a 2-hour game drive to spot magnificent African animals like elephants, buffalo, rhinos, leopards, giraffes, zebras, and crocodiles.

Join a whale-watching boat tour. Don’t miss a chance to encounter these beautiful giants. The best time to see Southern Right Whales in the area is from mid-July to mid-September. Dolphins and seals can be seen all year round.

Go to Keurbooms beach, the best and less crowded beach in Plett, swim, walk around, have a drink in one of the local bars.

If you’re a wild-life photography enthusiast you will enjoy the Tenikwa Wildlife Photography Adventure in the Tenikwa Wildlife Center. Learn about indigenous big cats, take stunning photos, and enjoy a light picnic in the Fynbos.

For travelers with children, Adventure Land is a great outdoor place; swimming pools, slides, super tubes on a 24-hectare area. Entrance fee ZAR145/US$11 pp.

Day 7. Plettenberg Bay – The Crags – Nature’s Valley – Bloukrans bridge – Storms River Mouth National park/Stormsrivier, 75km

This is one of our favorite drive days on the Garden Route road trip. You drive through a couple of stunning bridges over the narrow deep canyons, including the famous Bloukrans bridge with the highest bridge bungee jump in the world.

A couple of nice beach towns on the way: Keurboomstrand and Nature’s Valley. If you turn from N2 to R102 that leads to Nature’s Valley you drive through the beautiful Grootrivier Pass.

Just outside Plettenberg Bay, there are three interesting animal sanctuaries Monkeyland, Birds of Eden, Jukani Wildlife. You can buy a single entrance ticket and visit all three of them, they located next to each other. In just a couple of hours, you’ll get to see 11 different species of free-roaming monkeys, 200 species of birds, and see big cats like lions, leopards, cheetahs, Siberian tigers, pumas, and more. All the animals at Jukani are rescued it’s not a zoo, they don’t sell or buy animals.

Bloukrans bridge bungee jump

It’s 100% worth of money, it’s one of the most adrenaline-pumping activities you can do on the Garden Route with incredible scenery. The free fall is quite fast, 3 sec. max but it’s enough to make you super excited and agitated. I’m sure you can do it over and over and every time your heart will beat like crazy. Book now your Tsitsikamma Bungee Jump with Zipline and Sky Walk tour.

The Bloukrans Bridges, Garden Route, South Africa
The famous Bloukrans Bridge, a bungee jumping from here is a must-do on the Garden Route trip for adrenaline junkies

Things to do in the Tsitsikamma National Park

Tsitsikamma National Park is a popular tourist attraction on the Garden Route. Many people coming every day through the main parking area gets very busy if you go a bit further you’ll find almost no people. Tsitsikamma Park is one of our favorite Garden Route attractions; it’s a wonderful place with a lot to do. Entrance fee; South Africans and residents – ZAR54, SADC countries – ZAR108, foreigners – ZAR216/US$16. Children pay half price. Opened daily from 6 am to 7.30 pm.

Hiking the Otter trail – a 5-day hike along the coast, considered to be one of the most scenic hikes in the world. Though you need to book it quite beforehand to check availability on arrival you might be lucky to get an open spot in a day or two, as we were.

Tsitsikamma trail – a 6-day hike, unlike the Otter trail this trail goes inland through a mountainous area with a couple of natural pools and waterfalls on the way. We haven’t done this one yet but are aiming to do it in the nearest future.

Storms River kayak and lilo tour is rather a relaxing activity with no rapids or strong currents that allows you to enjoy the stunning and peaceful Storms River canyon. It’s the only way you can see it there is no road or hiking path along the canyon.

The suspension bridges – a short hike to two beautiful bridges across the river mouth with great views of the canyon.

The Viewpoint – after the last suspension bridge there is a trail that climbs up all the way to the top of the mountain. The views from there are stunning but the trail is quite challenging, especially the way up, it takes about 1.5 hours to go up and down to the bridge.

The Waterfall hike – the trail starts at the caravan park, goes along the coast to the waterfall and the pool. It takes about 2-3h return. The route involves some rock hopping and a little bit of climbing, not suitable for hiking with small children.

Snorkeling trail – it used to be marked not anymore, it starts at office and continues along the coast towards suspension bridges. Keep in mind water can be quite cold. We saw a lot of fish, starfish, one shy shark, and one sand shark while snorkeling here. Advisable to do only when the sea is calm.

Whale and dolphin watching – the season for Southern Right whales between September and December, dolphins can be spotted all year around.

There is a big restaurant inside the park, a shop and braai places for day visitors you can have lunch by the sea or BBQ your own meat.

View of the Storms River and the ocean from the lookout at Tsitsikamma National park
The incredible view of Tsitsikamma National park from the view-point at the end of the Suspension bridge trail

Things to do in Stormsrivier

If you want to explore the indigenous forest from a different perspective Tsitsikamma zipline canopy tour might be a great option. The platforms are located in giant Outeniqua Yellowwood trees, you’ll be able to enjoy the magnificent scenery and the diverse birdlife.

A guided hike in the Tsitsikamma forest is another option for nature lovers who want to explore the forest, spend a couple of hours outdoors, and learn more about the area and its inhabitants.

If walking and ziplining through the forest don’t sound too exciting for you, joining a quad bike tour through the forest – might be a great alternative.

Places to stay in Stormsrivier

We camped at Storms River Mouth and at De Vasselot campsite in Nature’s Valley, both places are great though the first one is right at the sea, the second is at the river bank. If you prefer to stay in a hotel or hostel there are plenty of options in Stormsrivier.

It’s a little bit sad but the Garden Route officially finishes here. You can continue the trip along the coast towards Port Elizabeth and further or drive back to Cape Town.

Garden Route travel cost

Accommodation. Camping – from ZAR200/US$15 per site (6 people); a bed in a dormitory – from ZAR170/US$12 pp; double room – from ZAR500/US$37.

Petrol. Depending on how many detours you take +/- ZAR600/US$44 only for the Garden Route stretch (300km), from Mossel Bay to Stormsrivier.

Car rental. We drove in our own car so it wasn’t a part of our expenses. For this trip you don’t need a 4×4, any car will be fine. The cheapest option is to rent a small car like Kia Picanto it’ll cost you US$75 for 7 days or just over US$10 per day. For a more comfortable and spacious ride, I’d recommend renting Volkswagen Polo Toyota Corolla,  etc. one of these will cost about US$100 for a week.

Entrance fees. Cango Caves; from ZAR110/US$8 pp for a tour. Wilderness National park; ZAR40 – South African, ZAR80 – SADC countries, ZAR130/US$10 – international. Garden Route National park (Knysna section); ZAR32 – South Africans, ZAR64 – SADC countries, ZAR138/US$10 – foreigners. Robberg Nature Reserve; ZAR40/US$3 – for everybody. Storms River Mouth National park; ZAR54 – South Africans, ZAR108 – SADC countries, ZAR216/US$16 – foreigners. Fees for children (7 years+) are half price.

Food. If you camp or stay in hostels cooking is the cheapest option, can get away for as little as ZAR150/US$11 pp. per day, unless you braai (BBQ) a lot then it gets more expensive. Eating out anything from ZAR34/US$2,5 for breakfast (eggs & bacon) with coffee at Spur; ZAR80-90/US$6 for pizza or burger with chips to ZAR200/US$15 pp. for a meal in a nice restaurant.

Activities. We’d suggest saving on other things and spending more on these, they are the memories that will stay with you for a long time. Sky diving in Mossel Bay – ZAR2500/US$186; shark cage diving in Mossel Bay – ZAR1750/US$130; tandem paragliding in Wilderness – ZAR750/US$55; diving with seals in Plettenberg Bay – ZAR550/US$40; canyoning in Plett – ZAR750/US$55; Whale watching in Plett – ZAR750/US$55 adults, ZAR400/US$30 children; Bloukrans bungee jump – ZAR950/US$70;  lilo and kayaking in Storms River – ZAR550/US$40; Tsitsikamma canopy tour – ZAR650/US$48.

Best campsites on the Garden Route

The area is a real paradise for camping lovers, awesome campsites are one of the reasons we enjoyed the Garden Route self-drive trip so much. Here are our top Garden Route campsites.

Ebb & Flow campsite, Wilderness. Beautiful camping spots inside Wilderness National park, at the riverbank, grassy area, great facilities, safe and well-maintained, a great place for family and group camping. Activities; kayaking, hiking, swimming, fishing, SUPing. Price from ZAR200/US$15 per site. 6 people max. Cabins and chalets are available.

  • Hot water shower – yes
  • Flush toilets – yes
  • Electricity – yes
  • Power outlets – yes, at more expensive sites. 
  • Braai place – yes
  • Cell phone reception – yes
  • Other – kitchen with water boiler and electric stove, washing machines.

Diepwalle camping decks, Garden Route National park, Knysna section, Wooden decks built in the forest with fireplace, covered bar area, ablution blocks. Not opt for group camping more for a family or romantic holiday, an absolutely beautiful and peaceful place. At night time there are many fireflies in the forest. Price ZAR200/US$15 per site, 4 people max. Tented decks and chalets are available.

  • Hot water shower – yes.
  • Flush toilets – yes.
  • Electricity – yes.
  • Power outlets – yes. 
  • Braai place – yes.
  • Cell phone reception – yes, week signal at ablution complex.
  • Other – kitchenette, washing lines.
Diepwalle camping decks, Knysna, Garden Route trip
Campbell reading his book on our deck-campsite in Diepwalle, Knysna

De Vasselot campsite, Nature’s Valley. Very quiet place in the forest, at the riverbank, 10min. walk from Nature’s Valley beach and the sea. The river is nice for swimming, kayaks are available at the campsite, there are several short hiking trails. The only not nice thing about this place is monkeys, they are terrible when they see food. Price from ZAR205/US$15 per site, max 6 people. Forest huts are available.

  • Hot water shower – yes.
  • Flush toilets – yes.
  • Electricity – yes.
  • Power outlets – no. 
  • Braai place – yes.
  • Cell phone reception – yes.
  • Other – kitchenette, washing machines.

Storms River Mouth rest camp, Tsitsikamma. Camping at the sea, eat dinner enjoying beautiful sunsets, spotting whales, and dolphins while having breakfast. Great location, good facilities, a great place for camping with friends and family. Many things to do around; hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming. Price from ZAR300/US$22 per site, 6 people max. Chalets are available.

  • Hot water shower – yes.
  • Flush toilets – yes.
  • Electricity – yes.
  • Power outlets – yes, at more expensive sites. 
  • Braai place – yes.
  • Cell phone reception – yes.
  • Other – kitchen with water boiler and electric stove, washing machines.

Useful items to pack for the Garden Route

Recommended books and guidebooks

Garden Route trip planning resources


Garden Route itinerary pin
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Wednesday 10th of March 2021

The article was really informative and helpful with making our plans. We are planning a trip in August and was wondering what you recommend as we have four nights to get from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. We would like to go swim with sharks in Gansbaai but wanted to know where we should stop and what to do to maximise our time?

Stingy Nomads

Thursday 11th of March 2021

Hello, George! Thank you for the comment! You don't swim with sharks in Gansbaai you do cage diving with great whites. You can do the same in Plettenberg Bay too. In Plettenberg, you can go snorkeling with seals and do a boat tour to see Southen Right whales, August is the peak season for it. Plettenberg is definitely a must-stop for you if you want to do any of these water activities. Sedgefield is a very small place with beautiful long sandy beaches if you want to relax on a beach for a day it's probably the best place to stop on the Garden Route. Knysna is a beautiful place to stop to see Knysna Heads and the Lagoon. Tsitsikamma National Park is a must-stop it's a stunning place with beautiful hiking trails, suspension bridges, and great look-out points. If you have time you can include a day safari in Addo National Park near Port Elizabeth in your itinerary. I hope it helps. Cheers!


Thursday 27th of February 2020

HI - My husband and myself are planning a trip to Cape Town from Canada from Sept 21 to Oct 6 this year. We are thinking of spending a week doing the Garden Route and wondering if you can give some advise on the best way to break it up. If we are returning back to Cape Town is there an alternative route going back to see different places or take the same route? We were thinking of going to Port Elizabeth and back but not necessary if there was no real reason to go that far. Any advise you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

Stingy Nomads

Sunday 1st of March 2020

Hello, Valerie! Thank you for the comment! There are several options. The first option, you can drop a rental car in Port Elizabeth and fly back to Cape Town, this way you'll have more time to spend in places along the Garden Route and less time driving. You can check in the post for estimated car rental prices for one week. The second option, drive along the coast to PE and take Route 62 on the way back, it's an inland route that links PE with Cape Town. It's more off the beaten track route with many wheat fields, small towns and some vineries in the Worcester-Paarl area. The scenery on this route is very different from the Garden Route. The third option is to drive to and back on the Garden Route and stop in different places on the way to and back, e.g. Mossel Bay - Knysna - Storms River on the way to and Cape Agulhas - Plettenberg Bay - Wilderness/Sedgefield - Hermanus on the way back. We, personally love the coastal drive along the Garden Route and the drive between Hermanus and Strand. There are some nice wine estates in Hermanus. As for going all the way to Port Elizabeth, the main reason would be to visit Addo Elephant National park but there are several private game reserves on the Garden Route where you can do a day drive and see many African animals including lions, cheetahs, elephants, rhinos etc. You can find recommended game reserves in the post. Unless you decide to drop your car in PE it's not worth driving that far you can turn around at Storms River. I hope it helps! Cheers!


Tuesday 11th of February 2020

Hello! This post is really informative n helpful, thank you! We re planning to visit SA from 26th July till 7th august. Intend to spend the first few days in Cape Town n the start the garden route tour from the 1st aug from Cape Town , finishing on 6th in port Elizabeth. I quite like ur itinerary above but we might make a few changes. We re traveling with 2 young kids so would like to avoid long distances of driving ( planning to self drive). The areas we d like to stop at are hermanus for whale watching , cape agulas to see the tip of AFRICA, Mosel bay, oudtshoorn, wilderness, kynsna, pletenberg n storms river n finally PE. Can you pls suggest where u think we should make overnight stops . Also there seem to be several winery’s throughout the route . Which one do you recommend we should visit? In Cape Town we intend to visit the table Mountains, penguins at boulder beach, robben island and VA waterfront. Is there anything else you d recommend that a 5 n 8 year old would enjoy? Thanks in advance


Sunday 26th of January 2020

Thank you for your blog, it is really inspiring! You easily managed to convince me and my family to to squeeze our Cape Town sightseeing and take a short (unfortunately) Garden Route trip during our stay in SA in February... I wanted to share with you our initial itinerary idea and ask for your experience to criticize anything or suggest any changes... first 3 full days in CT and then day 1 CPT to Struisbaai, day 2 Struisbaai to Wilderness, day 3 Widerness to Tsitsikamma Nat Park, day 4 Tsitsikamma to Mossel Bay and finally next day Mossel Bay to CPT (possibly visiting Gendenday on the way back) and the next day noon back to Europe. BTW we are family of 4 with 2 older teenage daughters.

Thanks for your feedback, Rafal

Stingy Nomads

Tuesday 28th of January 2020

Hello, Rafal! Thank you for the comment! Your itinerary looks good, you'll have to drive quite a bit but I think you'll have enough time to do some sightseeing on the Garden Route. On your first day, I'd suggest taking a longer route to Struisbaai along the coast past Hermanus, it's a very beautiful drive. On the way, you can stop at Betty's Bay if you don't have time to see penguins at Boulder's Beach you can do it at Stony Point Nature reserve there are fewer people and more penguins there. Here is our post on that drive Just before Wilderness make sure to stop at Map of Africa viewpoint. Don't miss Knysna Heads on a nice day the scenery is spectacular. If you have time and not going to do any safari drive from Cape Town I would recommend doing it on the Garden Route there are several safari parks where you can do a game drive for a couple of hours and see African animals like elephants, lions, rhinos, etc. I hope you'll enjoy your trip! Safe travels!


Sunday 29th of September 2019

Its simple wow!! a beautifully detailed plan. I have a small question regarding my trip. We (hubby, me and 4 year old son) are planning to visit SA in Nov 2019 (Nov 1 to Nov 9), we will reach SA on 31st oct. We want to do cape town for 2 days for Nov 1st and 2nd and then do the garden route till Port Elizabeth. We will take a flight from PE to J.Berg and want to visit the Pilanesberg NP for 3 days 2 nights. Would like your suggestions regarding the planning of cape town and garden route plan.

Stingy Nomads

Sunday 29th of September 2019

Hello, Sushma! Thank you for the comment! For two days in Cape Town, I can suggest Table Mountain, Boulder's Beach, V&A Waterfront, Cape Point, Konstantia wine farms. As for the Garden Route, this whole post is pretty much about what to see and to do in the area so you can choose what you would like to see yourself. Safe travels!

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