Garden Route galavanting. The perfect playground for families, couples and solo travellers.
Whether you’re looking for a family holiday or honeymoon destination or planning an adventurous solo escape, the Garden Route is as rich in beauty as Elon Musk’s mind is in profitable ideas.
Driving from Cape Town to Mossel Bay, which marks the start of the Garden Route will take just over four hours, while a flight from Cape Town to George (the next town along the route) takes an hour. From here, it’s an easy drive on the well-maintained N2 that connects Mossel Bay to George, Wilderness, Sedgefield, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. The road continues northeast across the Bloukraans Bridge, where you can experience the world’s highest commercial bungee jump.
Ideal for families
The wonder of exploring caves with chambers housing massive stalactites and stalagmites sculpted over time is worth the drive inland from George to Outshoorn’s Cango Caves. Take an Adventure Tour (for children over six years old), which makes its way deeper into the network of caves than the standard tour. An experienced guide will lead you from the main caverns down Jacob’s Ladder and through narrow spaces like the Tunnel of Love and the Devil’s Postbox before you return to the main chambers.
You’ll find Acrobranch at Timberlake Organic Village (between Sedgefield and Wilderness), where children and adults can manoeuvre across obstacle courses suspended in the trees. Afterwards, head to Pomodoro in Wilderness, arguably the best Italian restaurant you’ll discover on your trip.
Boat rides along the Keurbooms River pass between forested banks where Knysna loeries and woodpeckers, sunbirds and giant kingfishers make their home. A trip on the Knysna Pirate Ship will have you entertained by Captain Fish and crew member Mad-Maton as you sail across the Knysna Lagoon.
No family holiday to the Garden Route would be complete without visiting Birds of Eden. This two-hectare domed aviary allows its 3,500 birds (some are rescues) to fly freely between the treetops and creepers in the indigenous forest, complete with walkways and waterfalls. You’ll find Monkeyland next door, which offers guided walks through a forested enclosure to search for primates.
Garden Route romance
Sail to the Knysna Heads and beyond, into the Indian Ocean, on The Heads Explorer catamaran. You can laze on the trampolines sipping champagne while taking in the extraordinary views. When you’re ready to hang your hat, you’ll find several treetop lodges in Knysna and Plettenberg Bay’s forests, where couples can retreat from the shoreside buzz.
A picnic and wine tasting at Newstead Wine Estate is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon, or head to the top of Baron’s View Estate to enjoy a meal with spectacular views at Sky Villa Boutique Hotel’s restaurant, which overlooks the Keurbooms Lagoon and Plettenberg Bay.
Spend a morning in nature by hiring a tandem canoe and paddling up the Touws River in Wilderness. Your canoe can be left at the mooring spot so you can stroll through the moss-lined pathway in the forest that takes you to the Touws River Waterfall.
Solo adventure travel along the Garden Route
The adventurous may want to begin the journey at Mossel Bay by leaping out of a plane to experience the exhilaration of tandem skydiving. If you prefer the water to the sky, you’ll find great white shark cage diving in the bay, and for a good combination of land, air and sea, there’s the Mossel Bay Zipline. This zipline – the longest over-ocean zipline in the world – begins on the cliffs at The Point before taking you over the sea. Hurtle down the line at speeds of up to 80 kilometres per hour, with a chance of getting splashed by surging waves as you pass by.
Knysna and Plettenberg Bay are full of exciting networks of mountain bike trails that wind through the Knysna and Harkeville forests and, like those at Cairnbrogie and Harkerville, which run along the cliffside overlooking the ocean. A hike through the fynbos-clad cliffs of the Robberg Nature Reserve will also provide you with dramatic views over Plettenberg Bay, where you have a good chance of spotting whales and dolphins in season.
Let us know your favourite spots along the Garden Route!
The Leopard Team
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