Enjoy some of the best Garden Route Hiking trails in South Africa

The Garden Route in South Africa has fast become one of the best known hiking areas in the world. And it is no surprise why. The Garden Route hiking experience is a mixture of  shifting sand dunes to woodlands and fynbos shrublands. And the best way to explore this magnificent natural wonderland is definitely on foot.  Wild ocean waves crash onto the rugged garden Route coastline as whales swim past off the coast of Hermanus.  Cape penguins frolic in the surf . And then there is the epic safari adventure where elephants and lions roam freely in the Addo Elephant national park. We end of the garden Route Hiking experience in the endless vines of the Cape Winelands and Table Mountain in Cape Town.  Our guided hiking tour of the Garden Route  sees us exploring some epic and diverse natural biospheres that include coastal trails, forests, mountain gorges and safaris

Key information for the Garden route hiking trail

  • 10 nights accommodation in  hotels, chalets and lodges, mostly en suite. 2 of the  nights are in permanent tented camps and there is  one night spent in a hut.
  • 7 days walking
  • Varied terrain including sand dunes, forest, mountains, gorges and beaches
  • Altitude max 1195m, average 450m
  • Average walking pace is between 2-7 hours a day.

Day 4: 11.0km/6.0miles

Day 5: 16.5km/9.3miles

Day 6: 8.0km/4.0miles

Day 8 :9.5km/5.3miles

Day 9: 10.0km/6.0miles

Day 11 :7.0km/4.0miles

Day 12: 15.0km/9.0miles

Eating and Drinking on the garden Route hiking adventure

Basically this tour includes all breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners.
What we eat is pretty much similar to what western types of food.  No ants and worms on this trip. There will be some opportunities where you will get to try the more traditional South African food like Kudu and ostrich. And of course, seeing as the garden route hiking adventure is mostly by the coast, we will also be able to provide some fresh seafood.
On the safari night, we will enjoy a  traditional braai (barbeque). It would be sacrilege in South African culture to not have one. Wild animals, bush and safari have to be complimented by a good wine, beer and fire. Although South Africans are mainly a meat eating nation, there is an option for vegetarians  to survive the hike too without starving.

Weather

Summer months are from October to April and the average daytime temperature is 25ºC to 30ºC. The average night time temperature is 10ºC to 20ºC. The winter months are from May to September and average temperatures are about 10ºC colder at this time of year. In general, however, the Cape Town climate is quite mild.

The summer months are typically dry and warm, but the South Easterly wind can blow up to 70km/h at least a few times a month. This helps to cool things off, but can be a little unpleasant if one is walking in exposed areas. Most of the rainfall is in the winter but it is frontal rain, which comes off the Atlantic. Therefore it can rain solidly for 2 days, and in between there will be warm sunny days!

Due to the ocean’s proximity to the mountains and the winds, it is fairly common to experience tabletop clouds on the higher mountains. Our programme is flexible enough to accommodate any major changes in weather, and yet still make it enjoyable.

Cape Town, South Africa

Is this Garden Route Hiking trip for you?

Activity Level 4: Moderate/Challenging.

Basically there is 7 days of hiking with another 2 set aside for optional hikes. Most of the hikes are short hikes which we do in succession.these would include the Tsitsikamma area. we then have the 2 day Alexandria hiking trail. The distance on this trek is about 28km. This is the most challenging part of the Garden Route hiking adventure. There are no porters available. This means hikers will need to carry their own equipment. We will also be roughing it with regards to the accommodation. There is a mountain dorm we make use of. And depending on the group size, we may have to mix ladies and gents on this night. Sorry. part of the fun we say.

The climate is temperate but generally quite mild with highs of about 30’C in the summer (October-April) and 20’C in winter (May-September) with the possibility of strong winds on the coast. See the weather section for more details.

Drive times between locations are kept to a minimum. The longest driving duration is about 4 hours. But again, that is the longest. Most of the driving to the various locations is way shorter.

 

Additional information

Number of Tickets1 ticket @ R49,500
  • Explore the incredibly diverse coastal forest of Tsitsikamma national park
  • Hike up Table Mountain
  • Challenge yourself on the Alexandria Trail
  • Enjoy an open air safari in the Addo National Park
  • Explore the vibrant city of Cape Town

Day 1: Arrive in Port Elzibeth and drive through to the Addo Elephant Park

 Upon arrival of the group flight we will transfer to our accommodation in the Addo Hills. Here we stay in permanent tents with en suite facilities set in a private reserve, on the border of the national park, where various game such as kudu, impala and bushbuck can be seen. The rest of the day is free to relax after the overnight flight.

Accommodation: Kudu Ridge Lodge or similar
Comfortable Camping

Meals included: dinner

Day 2: Game drives in Addo N.P.

After breakfast we embark on a full day game drive in Addo Elephant National Park (to give it its full name). The park was initially set up to protect the few remaining elephants in the area which it did with great success as the populations grew considerably over the years. Today it is Africa’s third largest national park and, as well as elephants, is home to lions, Black rhino, meerkats and the ubiquitous dung beetle which can be seen throughout the park rolling little balls of dung by the side of the road. We’ll find a good spot to stop and have a picnic lunch in the park.

Accommodation: Kudu Ridge Lodge or similar
Comfortable Camping

Meals included: breakfast  lunch  dinner

Day 3: Start the Alexandria Trail.

We head towards the coast today to start on the two-day Alexandria Trail. There is a strict limit of 12 people allowed on the trail per day meaning that we will probably be the only people on the trail. The trail loops through three distinct environments – sand dunes, sea-shore and indigenous forest – within the Woody Cape Nature Reserve, part of Addo National Park.

After doing the sign-in procedures at the office, we take a short drive to the start of our trail passing through indigenous forest and dairy farms. Our trek starts at the coast. We wind through indigenous coastal forest until we reach the dunes. From here we follow the coast from where we may spot whales or dolphins off-shore. Eventually, after almost 11 km, we arrive at the Woody Cape Hut with its incredible views.

Sleeping arrangements tonight are in two 6-bed dorms which may have to be shared by men and women depending on the formation of the group. You will have to carry everything you need for the night, including a sleeping bag, and will be asked to help carry your portion of food for the day.

Walk: Distance 11 km Time: 5 hours

Accommodation: Woody Cape Hut or similar
Basic Hotel

Meals included: breakfast  lunch  dinner

Day 4: Continue on the trail through the Alexandria sand dunes; on to Tsitsikamma N.P.

This morning we complete the loop of the Alexandria Trail. Leaving the hut behind we head into the Alexandria Dune Field. This vast expanse of sand, often referred to as a sand sea, is one of the largest existing active coastal dune fields in the world covering 142 square kilometres with some dunes measuring up to 140m.

After conquering the dunes we continue through the forest back to the start point. From here we transfer to Tsitsikamma National Park where we can relax for the rest of day.

Walk: Distance 16.5 km Time: 5 hours

Accommodation: Storms River Restcamp or similar
Standard Hotel

Meals included: breakfast  lunch  dinner

Day 5 :Hike in Tsitsikamma N.P. before moving on to Plettenberg Bay.

Stretching along the coast, Tsitsikamma National Park gets its name from a local word meaning ‘place of abundant water.’ The park is made up of rocky coastlines, fairy-tale forests, waterfalls and rivers and is a great place for bird enthusiasts with a variety of sea, forest and fynbos (scrubland) species present. There are a number of short trails which depart from the Storm’s River area where we will be staying and we will do a couple of the most popular trails.  The first of these is the Waterfall Trail, this trail, rocky in parts, takes us to where the Tweeriviere River falls 50m into a pool before cascading into the sea. We return the same way. This trail is 6kms in total (3kms each way) and should take about 3hrs. Next we head in the opposite direction on the short Storms River Mouth trail which takes us, as the name implies, to the mouth of the Storms River where there are suspension bridges. This 2km trail is very easy along boardwalks most of the way but is well worth it for the views. There is some free time and you can choose to follow another trail or head to the trees for some zip-lining (see optional excursions section for prices).  Later we drive to Plettenberg Bay where we spend the next two nights.

Walk: Distance 8 km Time: 4 hours

Accommodation: The Dunes Resort or similar

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 6: Free day with optional beach walks or boat rides through Featherbed Nature Reserve.

When Portuguese explorers first sailed past Plettenberg Bay they named it ‘Bahia Fromosa’ (beautiful bay). With three beaches, estuaries and lagoons, the town has become a popular holiday destination for South Africans. We have a free day to relax or explore the region further. For those who want we can drive to Knysna and explore the featherbed nature reserve by boat taking in the Knysna Lagoon and Heads. There are also some walks that can be done nearby.

Accommodation: The Dunes Resort or similar
Standard Hotel

Day 7: Drive to Swellendam; hike in the Marolth Nature Reserve.

An early start as we leave the coast behind and travel to Swellendam, the third oldest town in South Africa, with its attractive Cape Dutch architecture. We spend most of today in nearby Marloth Nature Reserve with its interesting vegetation of mountain fynbos, protea and erica. We follow the Tienuurkop Peak (10 O’clock Peak) trail, a challenging hike climbing up to the summit of Tienuurkop at 1,195m with spanning views of the Langeberg Mountains, Ruensveld and Swellendam. Along the way we pass fynbos veld and patches of indigenous forest and may see various birds and small mammals, including antelopes.

Walk: Distance 9.5 km Time: 4 hours

Accommodation: Rooseje Van de Kaap Hotel or similar
Standard Hotel

Meals included: breakfast  lunch  dinner

Day 8: Drive to De Hoop; hike along the whale trail.

This morning we head back for the coast and the De Hoop Nature Reserve. This afternoon we have an interpretive marine walk along part of the Whale Trail. This easy trail, covered during high-tide, explores coastal rock pools and sandy beaches with a guide pointing out various marine life-forms and, between June and December, can provide great sightings of Southern Right whales off shore. The time of the walk is dependent on the tides and there should be some free time to relax, look out for the whales (in season) or go explore the reserve.

This evening the leader will prepare a traditional South African braai (barbeque) for dinner.

Walk: Distance 10 km Time: 2 hours

Accommodation: De Hoop Nature Reserve or similar
Standard Hotel

Meals included: breakfast  lunch  dinner

Day 9: To Cape Town, stopping in the famous winelands of Stellenbosch on the way.

Any trip to South Africa’s Cape region would be amiss if it didn’t visit some of the country’s famous wineries and today we do just that as we explore the wine region surrounding Stellenbosch and Franschoek. We visit a couple wineries and get to taste some of the different varieties produced here.

We later continue on to the Mother City, Cape Town, Africa’s most exciting city.

Accommodation: Cape Manor Hotel or similar
Standard Hotel

Meals included: breakfast

Day 10: Hike up Skeleton Gorge to Table Mountain.

Nothing symbolises Cape Town like Table Mountain. We head up the mountain the back way along Skeleton Gorge. The trail meanders its way up through a steep ravine and along a path reaching the top before crossing the entire plateau to the cable car. The route involves some light, non-exposed scrambling, so you don’t need a head for heights but one section requires you to negotiate a series of wooden ladders lightly exposed to heights – not difficult, but fairly challenging and requiring some upper body strength. Along the way there are sweeping views in different directions and we pass every ecosystem found on the mountain (Table Mountain National Park has more species of plants than the whole of the UK) and get to appreciate the mountain in its totality. After a well-deserved rest and enjoying the views from the top we catch the cable car back down the mountain (ZAR145), the rest of the day is free.

Walk: Distance 7 km Time: 4.5 hours

Accommodation: Cape Manor Hotel
Standard Hotel

Meals included: breakfast

Day 11: Hike from Smitswinkelbay to Cape Point.

Going along the Cape Peninsula we reach Smitswinkel by bus. From here we hike through the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, along False Bay. We pass fragrant fynbos and may spot antelope, baboon and Rock hyrax along the way. Our final destination is the Cape Point Lighthouse and the Cape of Good Hope beyond that. This is the south-westerly most point in Africa and is the place where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans dramatically come crashing into one another.

After visiting the area around Cape Point we drive to Simonstown where our hotel has fantastic views over False Bay and the majestic Simon’s Kloof Mountains.

Walk: Distance 15 km Time: 5.5 hours

Accommodation: Quayside Hotel or similar
Standard Hotel

Meals included: breakfast  lunch

Day 12 and 13 :Exploring Cape Town.

Those still feeling energetic have the option of taking a kayak trip this morning to a local penguin colony. Alternatively it’s also possible to just go to Boulder’s Beach and visit the colony of African penguins which have been residing here since 1982.

Day 14: Depart Cape Town.

The trip end after breakfast for land only passengers. Those on the group flights should have some time for last minute shopping or sightseeing before being taken to the airport in time for the flight home.

Meals included: breakfast

We later return to Cape Town where we can spend the next day and a half exploring the magnificent city. There is plenty to do in and around the city from exploring the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront or the Kirstenbosch Gardens to taking a township tour or heading out to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela, and numerous other political prisoners, were held captive during the apartheid era.

Accommodation: Cape Manor Hotel or similar
Standard Hotel

Meals included: breakfast

Accommodation

Hotels, Chalets, Lodge, Hut & Camping

For 10 nights we stay in hotels and chalets which are mostly en suite.

For 1 night whilst on the Alexandria Trail we stay in a trekking hut which is comprised of 2 dorm rooms of 6 beds each. For this reason it may be necessary to use the rooms as mixed dorms where men and women may be sleeping in the same room.

Near Addo National Park we stay in permanent safari tents for 2 nights which have their own en suite bathroom.

In De Hoop, one bathroom is shared between two rooms.

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