The best places to visit on the Garden Route by far
Any great travel itineray to South Africa has to include the scenic Garden Route. But of course there is a heck of a lot of information on the web about it. The best advice you can get is from a local. And you can’t get more local than us. We are born and bred in South Africa and have spent many a year exporing the garden route from Port Elizebeth to Cape Town. Here is our collection of the best places to visit on the Garden Route.
The famed Norman-style church at Belividere has a grandeursurprising for such a remote region. It was built by Captain Thomas Duthie in 1855. When conscecrating the church, Bishop Robert Gray described it as ‘the most perfect church yet in the diocese’. A big word that. Don’t worry. We also had to look it up. It means a district under a bishops jurisdiction. Spend some time in the tiny village of Old Belvedere after you have taken in the quaint church surroundings.
Take some time to enjoy the spectacular Brenton-on -sea. The veiws of the Knysna Lagoon and flower strewn hills are just incredible. Best enjoyed with a good glass of South African wine. The area is popular for fishing or chilling, good food and chilling on the beach. Situated a mere 15km from Knysna and home to the rare Brenton blue butterfly, it is no wonder this location is ranked in our best places to visit on the Garden Route.
The buffaloes which gave Buffelsbaai its name have long since vanished. It is now a favoured beach for swimming, surfing and fishing. The bay is situated 20km from Knysna.
The cliffs of the Garden Route occasionally pull back to form a sandy, sheltered bay. Herold’s Bay is an example of such a bay. The cliffs on either side of the bay fall back steeply in to the sea. The beach is well sanded and there is a tidal pool for swimming. A ridge overlooking the bay is the site of the village. There are plenty of trees that just add to the magic of the place. Enjoy a beer or light lunch in one of the seaside restaurants. Ernie Els, the famous South African golfer has built a house at the base of the Northern cliff.
Boating and fishing are major activities at Kuerboomstrand. The river, named from the sweetly scented flowering trees which grow on its banks, joins the Bitou River to form a lagoon. on the beach, which is bordered by bush, are monds of shells thosands of years old. Nearby is the Matjies River Cave where late Stone Age relics have been found. The upper reaches of the Kuerboom River are roofed with trees, notably Whiskey Creek. Might be a sign. Maybe best to enjoy the spot with a good Scotch old chap.
‘This Fair land is the gift of God’. So reads the motto on Knysna’s coat of arms. It bears testimony to the pride local peopel have for the great scenic beauty. It is not sure what the eaxt meaning is. The word has several meanings from ‘straight down’, ‘fern leaves’ and ‘place of wood’. The main feature of Knysna is called The Heads. These are 2 massive cliffs which guard the harbour. The naval ship Emu sank here. a great spot for scuba diving. More than 200 species of fish are found in the lagoon including the infamous Knysna seahorse. And whsat is Knysna most famous for? Oysters of course. The main supplier of the market in South Africa. Take a sunset cruise on the lagoon enjoying champagne and oysters. For the more adventurous traveller, there is kayaking, abseiling and hiking in the area.
Millwood Gold Mining Town
In 1886, gold was found in several of the streams in the foresrty area known as Goudsveld ( Gold field). The town now known as Millwood formed in the ensuing goldrush. It was howveer soon to be abandoned as the profits whee not sustainable. Today it a ghost town of overgrown foundations, shafts amd trenches. A great place for a picnic.
Mossel Bay is overlooked by the Langeberg and Outeniqua mountains. It has sandy beaches safe for swimming. There are also numerous rocky islets used by the seals as a rookery. The main feature is a commanding cape, Cape St. Blaize with a lighthouse on the summit and caves in its cliff face. Mossel Bay has fast become the best place to dive with Great White Sharks. They seem to have migrated here from Cape Town due to the increase in Orcas in the area. The name Mossel Bay comes from the word mussel. There are millions of them to be found on the rocks. For passing ships, it was a pleasant anchorage. Bartholomew Dias was the first sailor to sail into the bay in 1488.
Outeniqua Hiking Trail
Much of the Garden route is overlooked by the Outeniqua Mountain Range. The name means ‘man laden with honey’. The abundance of flowers here attract millions of bees and hence the honey. A hiking trail, mainteined by the forestry department covers 150km of the range. Along the route are 7 huts. The path links Witfontein and Deep walls foresty sation.
The first proper ropad connecting George and the Garden Route with Oudtshoorn and the Little karoo. A stunningingly beautiful drive that has to be done. It contains 40 bends,corners and curves, many of which exceed 90 degrees. The road is well engineered, but it is advisable to stick to the speed limits have which have been carefully calculated to get you safely over the pass. For south-bound traffic there are several excellent view-sites and the third one from the summit is particularly impressive, which is marked as “The 4 passes”. From this vantage point all four passes still be seen, one of which dates back almost 200 years.The pass has an altitude variance of 581m and is long at 13,3 km, producing an average gradient of 1:23 with the steepest sections being at 1:10.
The Portugese, with some restraint, named this Formosa ( beautiful). There are 3 spacious beaches, lagoon and a river mouth all backed by mountain ranges and a prominent cape known as Cape Seal situated at the end of Robberg. in the 1700’s, the Dutch tried to make the bay into a port for the shipment of timber. But it did not happen. There are ruins still left that you can visit. Norwegian Whalers built a whaling base at what is now known as Beacon Island. The area is a popular holiday spot for locals.
Prince Alfred’s Pass
The road from Knysna to Avontuur in the Langkloof finds a spectacular way over the Outeniqua mountains by means of a Pass named after Prince Alfred, second son of Queen Victoria. The journey leads through dense forest, pine and gum plantations.
Robberg Nature Reserve
Robberg, the montain of seals is a peninsula of red sandstone projecting into the ocean and ending at Cape Seal. A popular spot for hiking. Sea-Birds are numerous and intertidal life is rich.
The formidable gorge of the Storms River is spanned by spectacular Paul Sauer Bridge. It is 191 metres long and 130m above the river. A great spot for hiking and black water tubing.
Tsitsikamma Forest and National park
The name means sparkling water. The Tsitsikamma national park covers a 113km coastal strip that inlcudes many rivers and streams. It is a wild and unspoilt stretch of rocky coast with steep forested cliffs. Great for hiking. The famous Otter Trail hiking path runs along the souterh part of the park. The forest includes some massive trees. the tallest is 36m tall and is reputably 1000 years old. This is one of our favourite and best places to visit on the Garden Route.
A small bay set between steep cliffs. A great place for surfing, chilling on the beach or hiking.
Honeymooners have long favoured the Wilderness. A romantic seaside village with an international reputaion. The forewst covered hills tumble doen into the sandy beaches and is more than 8km long. There are some great hiking and kayaing routes in the estuaries and well amazing restaurants in town. One of the best places to visit on the Garden Route.
The whale watching capital of South Africa. Also a great place to explore the many vineyards in the area.