The Garden Route – a stretch of 300 kilometres between Mossel Bay and Plettenberg Bay along South Africa’s southeastern coastline – is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. It’s easy to see why – the route is blessed with beautiful scenery – golden beaches, forests, lagoons and lakes, mountains and rolling hills – there are loads of adventurous activities on offer, amazing wildlife to spot and great options for accommodation.
Here’s our round up of the top 10 things to do on South Africa’s Garden Route to get you inspired to travel to this beautiful part of South Africa.
1. Go whale watching
The Garden Route is one of the best places in the world to see whales from the shore. You can spot southern right whales from June to November and humpbacks from May to December. Bryde’s whales year round and very occasionally, killer whales. If you want to get a closer look at these majestic marine animals, do a whale-watching trip from Plettenberg Bay in a boat or kayak.
2. Hike the Otter Trail
One of South Africa’s most famous hikes, this five-day trip takes you through amazing scenery along the coast. It’s not for the faint hearted though! It’s fairly tough going and you need to carry all of your supplies on your back.
3. Become a twitcher
In Plettenberg Bay, Birds of Eden is a bird sanctuary in a two-hectare expanse of indigenous forest in a gorge. There are more than 280 species of birds in the sanctuary including flamingos, macaws and cranes which you can spot easily on the boardwalks through the lush forest.
4. Jump high
Go bungee jumping at Bloukrans Bridge – the highest bungee jumping bridge in the world at 216 metres above the Bloukrans River. It’s guaranteed to get even the most daring travellers’ hearts pumping!
5. Get close to ellies
At the Knysna Elephant Park, you can get up close and personal to orphaned African elephants by going on elephant back rides and walking with the elephants through the bush.
6. Fly like a bird
Take to the skies on a canopy tour of the Tsitsikamma Forest. Get strapped into a harness and slide along a zipline, zigzagging along cables above the treetops across rivers, waterfalls and a gorge.
7. Get your surf on
Jeffrey’s Bay is a world-renowned surf spot, with great waves such as Supertubes, which has been called the world’s most perfect wave.
8. Drive the Swartberg Pass
Head inland from the coast to drive up the 27-kilometre Swartberg Pass – considered to be one of the most spectacular mountain passes in the world with its zig zags and steep switchbacks, panoramic views and dramatic rugged scenery.
9. Go caving
Take a trip underground to explore the wonderful world of the Cango Caves – a series of caverns that open up into giant halls of amazing stalagmite formations.
10. Monkey about
Hang out with 18 different species of primates including lemurs, howler monkeys and spider monkeys in the world’s first free-roaming primate sanctuary at Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary in Plettenberg Bay.
Inspired to travel to South Africa’s Garden Route? Check out our budget overland tours to the Garden Route:
13-day Cape Town to Durban overland adventure
18-day South African adventure tour