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 any traveler; it’s a perfect place for a South African honeymoon trip, a great option for a long weekend getaway, 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.
Out of many road trips we’ve done the Garden Route is our favorite and a must include in your South Africa 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 holiday
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 best way to explore the Garden Route and Cape Town area is to rent a car, you can do it at Cape Town airport, there are different options and price ranges depending on the car you choose.
It’s possible to travel it by regular Intercape buses or Baz Bus, the second option is safer and more convenient the bus drops you off and picks up right 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 hop-on-hop-off principle. For a more comfortable way of exploring the route 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.
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 can be found at all main stops on the Garden Route.
Driving follow speed limit signs, especially near and in towns, there might be speed cameras.
Restaurants and shops in small towns are usually closed on Sundays.
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.
All roads are tarred no need to rent a 4×4 you can drive with any car.
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 far away 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.
Suggested South Africa tours and activities
Garden Route 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 to save on other things and to spend 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 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, Tsitsikamma area has more rainfalls in summer, like Port Elizabeth. Basically, on the Garden Route, it can rain at any time.
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
Hermanus – a coastal town on the way from Cape Town to the Garden Route, a nice stop; beautiful sea views, nice seafood restaurants, a relaxed vibe, and several water activities.
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, body boarding, canopy tours everything to keep you busy for a couple of days.
Storms River 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.
Top things to do on the Garden Route
There are many activities in every single town and park, these are only the best and most highly recommended activities on the Garden Route. We’ve done all of them except Canopy Tour in Stormsrivier, skydiving in Mossel Bay and horse riding in Plettenberg Bay, these are still on our list.
Marine Big 5 safari in Gansbaai (Hermanus) – kick off your Garden Route trip with observing incredible marine life of the region; whales sharks, seals, penguins, dolphins, and many seabirds.
Shark cage diving in Gansbaai (Hermanus) – an unforgettable experience of watching sharks (including the great white) from close by.
Hiking the St.Blaze trail in Mossel Bay. A beautiful 14km hike (one way) along the coast from St.Blaze Cave to Dana Bay.
Tandem paragliding in Wilderness. Great experience with stunning views.
Canyoning in Wilderness, a fun adventure day in a stunningly beautiful place.
Sailing to the Heads in Knysna. Go out on a cruise along rigged coast to get closer to the caves and bays of Knysna Heads.
Explore Knysna on the electric bike, enjoy this town while riding this effortless and environmentally friendly bike.
Harkerville Coastal Trail hike near Knysna. Explore the beautiful coastal line of the Garden Route during the 2-day hike, stay in forest huts and enjoy the tranquility of the area.
Diving with seals with Pro Dive in Plettenberg Bay. An incredible experience, we’ve never seen so many seals playing in the water before, it was very exciting.
Shark and seal adventure in Robberg Nature Reserve, Plettenberg Bay.
Freediving marine safari near Plettenberg Bay, during the trip you get a chance to snorkel or free dive to spot dolphins, seals, and other marine animals.
Hiking in Robberg Nature reserve, Plettenberg Bay. Several hiking trails from 2km to 9km. Absolutely beautiful area, stunning views, here you can see seals, dolphins and in season (September – December) even Southern Right whales.
3-hour horse riding tour through the forest, vineyards and tea plantations at the foot of the Tsitsikamma Mountains with stunning scenery.
Whale watching boat tour, Plettenberg Bay. Great chance to see Southern Right whales from close by. You can do a 4-day Cape Town – Plettenberg Bay whale watching tour with several stops at the best whale watching spots in the area.
Canyoning, cliff jumping and zip lining in the Crags, Plettenberg Bay. A fun 4-hour tour through the beautiful canyon exciting but not hectic.
Safari in the game reserve, Plettenberg Bay. Spot the African Big 5 (elephant, rhino, lion, leopard, and buffalo) and many other animals (giraffe, zebra, hippo, crocodiles, etc.) during a 2-hour game drive.
Visit cheetahs in Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre, the Crags. During the tour, you’ll get a chance to see cheetahs, do a guided tour through the indigenous forest, get to know about South African wild cats and to learn about the work of the rehabilitation center.
Bloukrans bridge bungee jump, Tsitsikamma. For adrenaline seekers it’s a must stop on the Garden Route, the highest bungee bridge in the world, even if you don’t jump come here just for photos, it’s free.
Hiking famous Otter Trail, Tsitsikamma. One of the most beautiful and scenic hiking trails in the world; dramatic coastline, white-sand beaches, hidden overnight huts, waterfalls, and rivers. Plus chances to spot some animals.
Lilo and Kayaking in Storms River Gorge, Tsitsikamma. This is an adventure is for anybody and a great way to see the beautiful gorge and to enjoy swimming in quiet pools and hiking through the indigenous forest.
Canopy tours in Stormsrivier. Suitable for children and adults, one of the oldest canopy tours in South Africa will take you through Tsitsikamma indigenous forest with some trees more than 700 years old.
Quadbike tour in Tsitsikamma – a fun way to spend two hours exploring the forest on a quad bike.
You can do a 5-day Garden Route adventure tour from Cape Town that offers a great combination of adventure activities and comfortable lodging.
Camping 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 river bank, 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.
De Vasselot campsite, Nature’s Valley. Very quiet place in the forest, at the river bank, 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.
Ultimate Garden Route itinerary
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.
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 do a couple of stops on the way or maybe even combine this trip with Cape Town to Cape Agulhas drive. Swellendam is about halfway between Cape Town and Mossel Bay many people stop here for a night. It’s a nice town but it gets very hot in summer; January – February between +35°C and +40°C.
Mossel Bay restaurants
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.
Mossel Bay accommodation
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.
Mile Crunchers Backpackers is a good budget option to stay, the location is awesome; close to Diaz Museum, harbor, beach, surfing spots, restaurants, and bars. The place is nice, with inside lounge area, kitchen, included breakfast, etc. They have dormitories and private rooms. The hostel is clean, safe, the staff is helpful.
If you want something special and at the same time budget why not to stay in a train-hotel? Santos Express is an old train turned into a hotel, located right at the beach, close to the city center, with insider restaurant and bar. Don’t expect rooms being spacious!
For more luxury stay Lavandula Manor hotel is a great option; stunning view from the terrace, outside swimming pool, big breakfast, impeccably clean rooms, lovely garden and very helpful staff.
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.
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. Probably one of the best places in South Africa for this activity. Price ZAR1750/US$130 pp.
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.
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 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 do a loop and come here for a day, especially if you travel with children. Tours from ZAR110/US$8 adults, ZAR65/US$5 children.
Visit 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. Tours from ZAR170/US$12 adults, ZAR110/US$8 children. If your time is limited or crawling through tunnels and watching ostriches don’t excite you too much rather skip it and stick to the coastal route.
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.
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!
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.
Wilderness and Sedgefield accommodation
We camped at Ebb & Flow in Wilderness National park, an amazing and beautiful place. There are several hiking trails, kayak and paddle board 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.
Nice budget option in Wilderness The Wild Farm backpackers, ZAR160/US$14 per bed. Located in a beautiful area with a great view, outside pool, included breakfast, wi-fi, great for solo travelers.
Afrovibe Adventure lodge in Sedgefield right at Myoli Beach, ZAR160/US$14 per bed. Great vibe, perfect location, neat and clean.
If you want to stay right at the beach choose Wilderness Beach Resort, great location, sea view, good breakfast, wi-fi, very helpful owners. A great place for a romantic holiday or family trip. Double rooms from ZAR1000/US$86
There are many accommodation options in Sedgefield from B&Bs to guest houses and hotels, check HERE to find a perfect place for you.
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
- Drive up to Knysna Heads for a stunning view over the area.
- Diving with seahorses though last they are pretty scarce.
- Drive to Noetzie castle, castle-like houses on the beach; fantastic area, beautiful empty beach.
- Hiking in Diepwalle, Knysna section of the Garden Route National park, there are three hiking trails 7km, 8km, and 9km, as well as a small museum and a coffee shop.
- Speed boat trip in the Knysna lagoon exploring the beautiful coastline. From ZAR500 pp.
- Enjoy delicious food and good wine in one of the restaurants, there are many for different budget and taste.
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.
Amanzi Island lodge – an exceptional place with a stunning view over the lagoon, 3 min. walk to the beach. The hotel boasts outside the swimming pool and beautiful patio. The rooms have all you can need for a perfect stay; AC, wi-fi, satellite TV, mini-bar, etc. Guests can use canoes and bikes. Big continental breakfast is included. Double rooms from ZAR1935/US$167.
There are many accommodation options for different budgets from backpackers to fancy hotels, check HERE to find the best and suitable accommodation.
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.
Accommodation in Plett
Nothando Backpackers Lodge is a good budget option, located 15min. walk from the beach, close to the mall, nice and safe place, great staff, kitchen, bar, inside parking.
If you prefer to stay outside the town, in a quiet place surrounded by forest, African Array Backpackers lodge is a great place. Located on the top of the hill with stunning views over the mountains and sea it offers different accommodation options from dormitories to double and family rooms (sleep 6).
If you’re looking for something more comfortable and luxury Ocean Watch Guest House is a great option. Situated 10 minutes walk from the beach this place is perfect for a romantic getaway or a family holiday. Beautifully decorated comfortable rooms, outside swimming pool, very good breakfast, impeccable service – all you need to enjoy your stay in Plett.
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 a real adventure capital of the Garden Route there are tons of thrilling and exciting activities to do in Plett.
Diving with seals with Pro Dive Plett. It was a fun and easy morning dive with many seals playing in the water around us. The dive is only 5m deep and 20min. long, the area is protected and it’s the maximum time you allowed to interact with seals here. As we descended seals immediately surrounded us, they were swimming around, playing with bubbles and with each other. Price – ZAR550/US$40 pp.
Canyoning with AfriCanyon. A great day of jumping, climbing and swimming in a beautiful canyon, not a very extreme but fun adventure. The guides are very professional and entertaining they’ll make sure you’re safe and happy. Price – ZAR750/US$55 pp.
Horseback riding in Hog Hollow Private Nature reserve.
MTB in Buffalo Hills Nature Reserve. A relatively easy 14km trail through the reserve takes about 1,5-2 hours to complete.
Hiking in Robberg Nature Reserve. There are several hiking trails from 30min. walk to 4-hour hike around the peninsula. Stunning scenery, many seals, beautiful beaches, chances to spot dolphins and whales. Entrance fee; ZAR40 adults, ZAR20 children.
Whale watching boat tour. Not to miss a chance to encounter with these beautiful giants from August to December Southern Right Whales are in the area, dolphins and seals can be seen on a tour as well. 1,5-2 hours, ZAR750/US$55 adults, ZAR400/US$30 children.
Go to Keurbooms beach, the best and less crowded beach in Plett, swim, walk around, have a drink in one of the local bars.
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 beautiful Grootrivier Pass. If you like birds you’ll enjoy Birds of Eden – a bird sanctuary home to 220 different types of birds, more than 3500 birds living here. Entrance fee; ZAR230/US$17 adults, ZAR115/US$8 children.
Bloukrans bridge bungee jump
It’s 100% worth of money, it’s the most adrenaline activity 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. For those who don’t feel like jumping but want to get some adrenaline, there is a bridge walking tour to the bungee jump base and back. Bungee jump – ZAR950/US$70 pp, bridge walk – ZAR120/US$8 pp.
Things to do in Storms River Mouth park
A very popular park with many tourists coming every day through the main parking area gets very busy if you go a bit further you’ll find almost no people. Storms River mouth is one of our favorite Garden Route attractions; a beautiful 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.
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 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 pool and waterfalls on the way. We haven’t done this one yet but are aiming to do in the nearest future.
Suspension bridges – two beautiful bridges across the river mouth with great views of the canyon.
Viewpoint, after the last bridge there is a trail that climbs up all the way to the viewpoint, the view from there is stunning, about 2 hours return.
Waterfall hike, the trail starts at the caravan park, goes along the coast to the waterfall and the pool. Takes about 2-3h return. Involves some rock hopping and a little bit of climbing, not suitable for hiking with small children.
There are two more hiking trails through the forest
Lilo and kayaking in the Storms River gorge – 2-3h combined activity with incredible scenery and optional cliff jumping, suitable for any age. Cost ZAR550/US$41 pp.
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.
Stormsrivier and the Crags accommodation
As for accommodation options for the day, 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 the area.
Tube ‘n Axe Boutique lodge backpackers and camping – an awesome place in Stormsrivier village; great vibe, bar, restaurants, swimming pool, activities booking, different accommodation options (camping, dormitory, private rooms). A perfect place for a single traveler or a group of friends.
We really liked Rocky Road backpackers 15km from Nature’s Valley. Big and beautiful place, stunning garden, great staff, different accommodation options; double rooms, luxury tents or camping.
If you want to relax in a nice and quiet place African Crags Ecolodge; comfortable rooms with stunning views over the sea or the mountains, good breakfast, extra large soft beds, helpful staff all you need for a nice and comfortable stay.
For an exquisite stay in Stormsrivier, nothing can beat The Fernery Lodge and Chalets. The stunning location of the hotel, rooms with an incredible view of the waterfall, spacious rooms, delicious breakfast, and impeccable service. Note, the place is so beautiful that you will want to stay longer.
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.
Handy items to pack for the Garden Route
- Sunglasses – yes, it can be sunny in the city and if you do any water excursion sunglasses will be quite handy.
- GoPro Hero7– there are many amazing places and exciting activities on the route make sure you’ll get awesome footage.
Recommended books and guidebooks
- Lonely Planet Cape Town & the Garden Route (Travel Guide). Paperback & Kindle, 2018
- The Rough Guide to Cape Town, Winelands & Garden Route (Rough Guides). Paperback & Kindle, 2018
- Lonely Planet South Africa, Lesotho & Swaziland (Travel Guide). Paperback & Kindle, 2018
- DK Eyewitness Travel Guide South Africa. Paperback, 2017
- Insight Guides South Africa. Paperback & Kindle, 2018
- The Boy From The Wild by Peter Meyer & Graham Spence. Paperback & Kindle
- Nelson Mandela. Conversations with Myself. Paperback, audio & Kindle
Wild Card break-down – how much did we save?
Another road trip with our Couple Wild Card and another great saving during our Garden Route holiday. Note! Wild Card for foreigners is much more expensive and if you’re coming for a short holiday it’s not worth buying it.
- Ebb & Flow campsite, Wilderness National park – ZAR40 pp.
- Diepwalle, Knysna – ZAR32 pp.
- Garden of Eden, Knysna – ZAR12 pp.
- Robberg Nature Reserve, Plett – ZAR40 pp.
- De Vasselot park, Nature’s Valley – ZAR48 pp.
- Storms River Mouth National park – ZAR54 pp.
Total: ZAR452 for two or ZAR226 per person.
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