Duration: 12 days
From: £ 4,234pp (excluding flights)
Duration: 13 days
From: £ 3,686pp (excluding flights)
Duration: 10 days
From: £ 1,263pp (excluding flights)
Linking Mossel Bay and Storms River Mouth, the roughly 150-mile coastal Garden Route is one of travel’s great temptations. It’s also one of its finest misnomers – for while you’ll find tracts of greenery and wildflowers (fynbos), there are also primeval forests, mountains, beaches and lakes to relish, and even Big Five game parks for those without time for Kruger. Nor is is actually a single route: the real joy comes in deviating from the main N2 artery and unearthing hidden gems.
The indigenous forests near Wilderness are an adventure playground, with walking, zip-wiring and canoeing among the activities. Birdwatchers come too, hoping to spy the scarlet Knysna turaco. South Africa’s most popular hike, the five-day Otter Trail, begins at the Route’s equally wooded eastern end. Knysna and Plettenberg Bay are busy towns with lovely accommodation and are perfectly positioned for exploring the area. ‘Plett’ is famous for surfing and also has a great beach, while Knysna has a lagoon with delightful sunset booze cruises. Local game parks include Kwandwe, Shamwari and Amakhala all offering unique experiences. But it’s really all one big highlight, with whale-watching, secluded coves – Victoria Bay, Nature’s Valley – great golf courses, rolling hills and artist communities all here.
Most visitors hire a car in Cape Town and drive eastwards via Hermanus or the more scenic Route 62. Typical itineraries include 3-5 days along the Route, but many travellers like to be less hurried. Port Elizabeth, to the west, is where the majority deposit their vehicle, and from where one can fly on to the next adventure.
Best Time To Visit
With a temperate climate even in winter (June-September) – the mercury rarely drops below 16°C – your decision can be based on other factors. The Christmas holidays are busiest, while beaches quieten between February and April. Summer can be too stifling for hikers. Whale-watching season runs from July to October, peaking in September.
The Eastern Cape is a warm and welcoming part of South Africa with plenty of untouched natural splendor across it. While the waters of its beaches are warm, it’s the game reserves that will remind you just how diversely beautiful South Africa really is. Located just an hour out of Port Elizabeth, the malaria-free reserves offer an abundance of big game and five star accommodations with service to match.
A small town, it’s set atop a gentle lagoon which is really the Knysna River, broadening out before inching between two sheer cliffs – known as ‘the Heads’ – to find the ocean. The Tsitsikamma Mountains provide an elegant backdrop. As well as scenery, Knysna seduces with its huge range of outdoor activities, stunning accommodation and famously high-quality oysters. Surfers, nature-lovers and families all congregate here.
One of the Garden Route’s two main resort towns – along with Knysna, further west – bustling ‘Plett’ is characterised by dreamy beaches and nearby Tsitsikamma Forest, a paradise for activity addicts, walkers and wildlife fans. Throw in excellent hotels, and Plett has every box ticked.
Route 62 is not only the longest wine route in South Africa but its also the most mountainous and quite simply jaw-dropingly beautiful. The ever-changing colours of the landscape, vineyards and mountains are a feast for the eyes while the local delicacies and world class restaurants along the route will impress the most hardened of foodies.
The Best of South Africa Travel map displays the locations of the destinations and accommodation that we have selected and visited; for each item, hovering over or clicking the marker will display a short summary and photo of that place or hotel, and hotel pricing. Follow the links in the info box to the full page listing which has much more information.
Note that the online map offers both a satellite view (click satellite in the top right) and, for some locations, a street level view (Drag the person in the top left onto the map). These let you explore the country; and when you wish to explore in person, or if you have any questions about the places you see, give our staff a call, or request a quote. Our staff regularly visit the places and accommodation that we feature.
When you book a holiday with us we will provide full driving instructions for reaching your accommodation, where necessary; these can be used by yourself, or you could enjoy the luxury of a driver. Alternatively we will arrange private (car rather than coach) transfers for you; helicopter transfers are also possible for some destinations.
A wonderful 7 night break to South Africa
We have just come back from a wonderful 7 night break to South Africa. We were incredibly well looking after from the second we stepped off the plane, by a lovely representative of Best of South Africa Travel - who met us and escorted us through customs and immigration literally behind the pilots. It was very efficient, and we felt very ...