The Garden Route
Features & Highlights
The Garden Route Summary
The Garden Route region begins as you descend Sir Lowry’s Pass after leaving Cape Town, and continues along a unique, picturesque landscape and coastline, culminating at the seaside City of Port Elizabeth. Located in South Africa’s south east coast, the Garden Route is one of the most famous and popular attractions in South Africa. It’s a place of wild indigenous forests, fresh water lakes, hidden coves, mountain ranges and spectacular sandy beaches.
Highlights of the Garden Route include whale watching at Hermanus, shark cage diving off Gansbaai, the picturesque coastal stretch of Wilderness, Knysna’s lagoon and forests and the beaches of Plettenberg Bay. Tsitsikama National Park (just outside Plettenberg Bay), with its rugged coastline and dense indigenous forests, draws hikers from all over the world.
Hermanus, once a small fishing village and now a bustling seaside resort is the first stop for most people embarking on the Garden Route. Hermanus is famous for whales, as it offers some of the best land based whale watching in the world. From June through December, Hermanus becomes home to the Southern Right Whale.
Neighbouring Hermanus to the East is the small town of Gansbaai, which is regarded as the world’s capital of the Great White Shark. Gansbaai, nestled at the foot of the Duyenefontein Mountains, boasts a beautiful coastline with magnificent “Fynbos” vegetation. However it is Dyer Island (just off the coast of Gansbaai), home to 60,000 Cape Fur Seals, which has transformed this area into a tourist hot spot. For the sea around Dyer Island has become the feeding ground of the endangered great white shark, and many visitors flock to Gansbaai to test their nerves on a shark safari, which involves diving with great white sharks, whilst protected in a specially designed shark cage. The period April to December is best for shark cage diving with about a 90% chance of a sighting. Gansbaai is also one of the best places for land-based whale viewing.
Knysna has many attractions in the surrounding areas, the most spectacular being the Knysna forest. It is the largest indigenous forest in South Africa, and it was once home to the great herds of Knysna elephant, who throughout history, were mercilessly hunted for their magnificent tusks. It is believed that only one female elephant remains in the forest today. The Knysna forest is also host to a wide variety of birds, such as the famous knysna Loerie.
The quaint and laidback town of Knysna has plenty to offer. The town itself is filled with restaurants, bars, boutiques and curio shops, and the more active can be fully entertained as fishing, surfing, canoeing, cycling, abseiling, and white water rafting are all on offer at Knysna. Bird watching and walking in the Tsitsikama Forest are also excellent excursions.
The Knysna/Plettenberg Bay area is fantastic for birding, with nearly 300 species to be found in a great variety of habitats ranging from forests to fynbos to wetlands. May to December is also a good time for spotting humpback and southern right whales, whereas dolphins are ever-present visitors to these shores.
Plettenberg Bay, George, Wilderness and Oudtshoorn are all beautiful places situated on the Garden Route along South Africa’s south east coast, and should be included on any itinerary to the Garden Route region.
Enquire now with one of Africa Uncovered’s specialist consultants who can assist you in planning the perfect trip along the magnificent Garden Route.