Garden Route Self Drives & Tours
There’s not much more you could ask for from a self drive holiday or tour than the spectacular scenery, welcoming towns and unique experiences you’ll find on South Africa’s Garden Route.
The coastline is simply stunning, with gorgeous beaches interrupting rocky cliffs, from where southern right whales can be spotted at certain times of the year. Inland, thick forests climb steep-sided mountains, before giving way to the picture-perfect Winelands and dramatic Karoo.
Whether you enjoy travelling in your own vehicle or in the company of others on an escorted tour, a Garden Route holiday won’t fail to leave you enchanted.
Where does the Garden Route start and end?
The Garden Route starts in Mossel Bay and ends at Storms River, 200 km to the east, along the South African coast.
Many people begin their road trip in Cape Town however, and continue to Port Elizabeth (now known as Gqeberha), a journey of around 750 km.
Whilst it is possible to follow the well-maintained N2 highway the whole route, from Cape Town, many people choose to either travel through Stellenbosch and the Winelands, then drop down to the Garden Route from Oudtshoorn, or drive via Hermanus and L’Agulhas, the southernmost point in Africa.
Things to do on the Garden Route
If you have the time, we recommend allowing yourself at least six or seven days to drive from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, as there are plenty of places to visit on the way, including:
- Hermanus – to spot southern right whales on a cruise or from the cliff-top, as they return to South African waters to calve between June and November
- Montagu & Calitzdorp – two charming towns on Route 62, worthy of a visit to admire their historic buildings and taste the local red muscadel or port wine
- Oudtshoorn – to take a tour of a working ostrich farm to learn how the world’s largest birds are bred for feathers, leather, eggs and meat
- Cango Caves – an incredible underground world of hidden chambers and gravity-defying stalactites in the foothills of the Swartberg Mountains
- Outeniqua Pass – which links Oudtshoorn and the Little Karoo with George on the Garden Route, climbing to 800 metres and offering unbelievable views
- Mossel Bay – to go sandboarding, quad-biking or deep-sea fishing, or just to relax in a beachside restaurant, and perhaps try the local oysters
- Wilderness National Park – to wander along a choice of nature trails keeping an eye out for kingfishers and the brightly coloured Knysna lourie
- Seven Passes Road – an adventurous alternative to the N2 to travel between George and Knysna, from which you can reach the Map of Africa viewpoint
- Knysna – to take a boat tour across the lagoon to Featherbed Nature Reserve, home to blue duiker antelopes, tortoises and blue cranes
- Plettenberg Bay – with its miles of sandy beaches, boutique hotels and shopping, and nearby Robberg Nature Reserve with its resident seal colony
- Nature’s Valley – a hidden gem on the Garden Route, where the Groot River feeds a picture-perfect lagoon before it meets the sea
- Tsitsikamma National Park – where ancient forests cling to rocky cliffs, and you can gaze out at the Indian Ocean from a suspension bridge across the mouth of the Storms River
From Port Elizabeth, the wildlife of the Eastern Cape is within easy reach. A self drive safari in Addo Elephant National Park is a popular addition to a Garden Route holiday, or a two or three night stay in a private Eastern Cape reserve, with game drives included.
Where to stay on the Garden Route
There is a wonderful variety of hotels on the Garden Route and in the Western Cape, from boutique lodges to beachside resorts. Three that our recommended by our South Africa Experts include:
- Montagu Vines – a charming guesthouse on a working olive grove in the Little Karoo, with just eight bedrooms, each with a patio and garden view
- Hog Hollow – set in its own private nature reserve overlooking an indigenous forest, just east of Plettenberg Bay
- Buffelsdrift Game Lodge – between Oudtshoorn and the Cango Caves, with a game drive included in your stay, in search of elephant, giraffe and rhino
Garden Route Escorted Tours
If you’d prefer to let someone else do the driving, you can enjoy a fully escorted tour of the Garden Route, either travelling from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth or as a round-trip from the Mother City.
Travel by luxury coach, high quality hotel accommodation and daily activities are included, such as wine tasting and cultural tours.
Garden Route 2024 & 2025
To start planning your Garden Route holiday for 2024 or 2025 please get in touch with our friendly team. They have all lived or travelled in South Africa and would be pleased to use their first-hand knowledge to help you plan your ideal itinerary.
With FREEDOM, you can book you flights, Cape Town hotels and Garden Route self drive or tour in one place, as a fully ATOL protected package. South Africa awaits!
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