Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

High on the list for many Cape Town visitors is to experience one of the world’s most spectacular drives. We were no exception and couldn’t wait to hit the 200 mile scenic road which winds around South Africa’s southeastern coastline.

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

We drove from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth past forested mountains, sprawling wetlands, beautiful lagoons and white-sand beaches with charming towns dotted all along the route. It’s a paradise for adventure seekers and nature lovers with plenty of opportunities to spot some incredible wildlife and experience thrill seeking activities. Being a malaria-free zone it’s a firm favourite for families too. Hurrah to not dealing with pesky mozzies.

Here are five places I think should be on your itinerary when you cruise along this beautiful road.

Mossel Bay

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

The first town along the spectacular Garden Route is Mossel Bay. It’s year round mild climate is only one reason why it’s such a popular holiday town. The pastel coloured buildings, surfer dudes hanging out and old school ice-cream vans gave it an aura of the Cornish town Newquay.

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

Although with a golf course perched atop a cliff with dramatic views of the Indian Ocean, it’s now become a big hit with the golfing enthusiasts too.

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

For the daredevils among you, Mossel Bay is also one of the only two places in South Africa from which visitors can go cage diving with great white sharks. If you dare?!

Knysna

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

When you drive alongside the impressive lagoon on your approach to Knysna, it’s easy to see why many call it the unofficial capital of the Garden Route.

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

Sandwiched by the Knysna lagoon and the lush Knsyna forest you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to outdoor activities. Whether it’s hikes and short strolls in the forests or canoeing, fishing and sailing on the waters.

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

We were only there for a day trip so headed straight for the famous landmark The Heads, a pair of sandstone cliffs which separate the Knysna lagoon from the surging ocean. There’s also the gorgeous East Head Cafe overlooking these fantastic views. We enjoyed a lovely lunch and the girls were happy with the small outside play area. Obviously it’s incredibly popular, so make sure you book a table.

Plettenberg Bay

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

The seaside town of Plettenberg Bay or Plett as it’s commonly known will treat your eyes to mountains, pristine beaches and the deep blue Indian Ocean. We spent two nights in Plettenberg Bay at Hog Hollow Country Lodge located in a private nature reserve. It provides a great base to explore the area, and a review will be up soon.

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

One of the main attractions for visiting Plett are its incredible beaches. Our sand and bucket day turned out a bit grey, but it didn’t deter us.

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

The temperatures were still mild enough for the girls to frolic around on the beach in their swimsuits whilst Mr S and I drank in the truly impressive coastline vistas.

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

With our lodge set on the edge of an indigenous forest near an area known as The Crags, we took the opportunity to explore the unique activities on offer. Animal lovers can get up close and personal with a number of sanctuary in the area. You have Monkeyland, home to 11 different species and Birds of Eden the largest free flight aviary in the world. It’s a great treat for the kids and adults alike.

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

I couldn’t resist booking a slot at The Elephant Sanctuary, where we had the opportunity to feed, massage with a brush down and walk hand in truck with the gentle giants.

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

It was the most incredible experience as a family and left us with memories to last a lifetime. You can read about our special day with the elephants here.

Tsitsikamma National Park

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

The Tsitsikamma forest stretches east along the coast from Plettenberg Bay. It’s an enchanting vision of giant trees, dramatic mountains, deep river gorges and picturesque valleys.

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

From zip lining on a canopy tour to hiking through winding nature trails or bungee jumping from the world’s highest (216 metres) commercial bungee jump location at Bloukrans Bridge. Trust me there’s plenty to tempt your adventurous side.

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

We followed a trail to The Storms River Mouth Suspension Bridge, which is a remarkable piece of architecture.

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

It hangs over the churning waters of the Storms River Mouth, spanning 77 metres. Originally built in 1969 and has since been rebuilt to ensure its safety.

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

It was thrilling to stand a mere seven metres above the burbling river as it enters the frothy Indian Ocean. I could have stood forever mesmerised by the beautiful seascape, if it wasn’t for the constant stream of people walking across.

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

Addo National Elephant Park

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

Drive a little further past Port Elizabeth and you’ll arrive at Addo National Elephant Park, home to the Big Five and one of the densest elephant populations in the world!

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

On our three day safari and saw four – the elephant, lion, cape buffalo and rhino. The fifth, the leopard is so elusive even the lodge staff asked us to radio in if we spotted one, so they could come out! We were lucky enough to experience a true David Attenborough moment, an incredible lion kill. You can read about in my post 7 tips for an incredible family safari.

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

Our safari home was at River Bend Lodge, a charming homestead offering the perfect beginners safari for families.

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

You don’t even have to leave the lodge sometimes to view the wildlife. I adored hanging out on the cottage veranda with a cup of rooibos watching herds of elephants amble by – spellbinding! There will be a review up on the blog soon.

And finally…

Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

We were all completely seduced by the breathtaking natural beauty of this region sweeping eastwards along the coast of the Cape to Port Elizabeth. It’s certainly a road trip not to miss when visiting this amazing country.

Have you driven along The Garden Route? Would you consider it? Let me know in the comments box below.

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You may also enjoy my posts on  South Africa:5 reasons why it’s great for families, 10 reasons why Cape Town stole my heartCape Peninsula tour with CAT-AFRICA and Exploring the Cape Winelands with kids.

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Top 5 stops on the Garden Route of South Africa

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33 Comments

  1. 27th November 2017 / 2:04 pm

    South Africa is such a lovely place and these photos really show it off!

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      27th November 2017 / 9:22 pm

      We had the best family holiday. So welcoming too.

  2. 27th November 2017 / 2:48 pm

    These places are all so stunning and beautiful. Thankyou for sharing I had no idea about them

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      27th November 2017 / 9:23 pm

      I was completely blown away by all our stops along the route. Now you can out them on your wanderlust list too Sonia.

  3. 27th November 2017 / 7:11 pm

    That looks absolutely amazing! Would do anything to be there right now especially since it looks really warm and inviting 🙂

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      27th November 2017 / 9:24 pm

      Oh gosh me too. Wish I had a rewind button.

  4. 27th November 2017 / 8:45 pm

    Love the photos. The places you visited look simply gorgeous.

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      27th November 2017 / 9:24 pm

      Thank you Justine, such a beautiful part of the world.

  5. 27th November 2017 / 9:50 pm

    I don’t really know that much about South Africa. It looks beautiful though

  6. 28th November 2017 / 12:02 am

    The TSITSIKAMMA NATIONAL PARK looks absolutely magical and I love how you can go ziplining too! Such beautiful photos x

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      29th November 2017 / 4:54 pm

      Thank you Ana. I wish we had more time there though there was so much to do!

  7. 28th November 2017 / 9:29 am

    We stayed in Plettenberg bay but we were gutted that we didn’t see anything cos the weather was so bad!

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      29th November 2017 / 4:54 pm

      Oh no, that’s a shame Angie. Ensuring that that there is always a next time!

  8. 28th November 2017 / 9:35 am

    I visited SA many years ago with my family. My stepdad was born there so he knew his way around. It was a beautiful country back then, too. Gorgeous photos!

  9. 28th November 2017 / 4:52 pm

    It looks absolutely gorgeous! Its really nice to see you have gone to a sanctuary rather than somewhere that rides elephants, it makes me so mad when people do that. My husband is form Zambia and we plan to go soon so I can meet the family and then explore some nearby countires including this great one!

  10. 29th November 2017 / 11:08 am

    wow! These places are stunning and definitely giving me the wanderlust! I now have a few new places to add to the bucket list!

  11. 29th November 2017 / 11:27 am

    The Elephant Sanctuary looks amazing, they are my favourite animals and those views in your photo’s – wow!

  12. 1st December 2017 / 1:49 pm

    Wow that looks like an amazing drive although I think that I will give diving with sharks a miss if that’s OK? I love the beware elephants road sign. Thank you for linking up to #CulturedKids

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      3rd December 2017 / 2:03 pm

      Yes, I’d loved the elephants signs too. Love to have one for my home!

  13. 1st December 2017 / 2:19 pm

    Wow – the safari sounds incredible. I saw four of the big five in Etosha, Namibia, but I didn’t get to any of the South African wildlife parks. I’d like to change that! Thanks for linking up with #CulturedKids

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      3rd December 2017 / 2:03 pm

      Oh Namibia is on my list of places to go, especially along the skeleton coast.

  14. 1st December 2017 / 7:59 pm

    My husband would love to do this, but I just want to ask if you felt safe at all times? Every country has its risks but when I’d advised that it’s a great place to visit, as long as you’re in your hotel before darkness falls it puts me off, especially with kids. #CulturedKids

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      3rd December 2017 / 2:02 pm

      We felt totally safe on our holiday from being in Cape Town to driving along the Garden Route. There is nothing to fear when you’re on the tourist paths. A lot of the things you hear and read is scaremongering half of the time. Like travelling anywhere in the world you need to be sensible and have your wits.

  15. 3rd December 2017 / 1:54 am

    Sima, I had never heard of many of these places until now and as a result I’m itching to go. The elephant sanctuary sounds amazing and the nature is incredible. #culturedkids

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      3rd December 2017 / 1:59 pm

      Ahh Katy…love inspiring wanderlust in others.

  16. 3rd December 2017 / 4:45 pm

    I love the garden route. We didn’t do the elephant sanctuary but wish we had

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      3rd December 2017 / 10:00 pm

      Yes, so beautiful, where did you stop off Leona?

  17. 4th December 2017 / 1:10 am

    I was literally reading about The Garden Route today! Definitely need to add South Africa to the 2018 Travel Bucket list! xx

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      4th December 2017 / 8:57 am

      Oh you do! It’s such a gorgeous drive to do with some great stop off points.

  18. 4th December 2017 / 4:42 pm

    Sounds like a lovely trip. The coastline looks stunning. I might pop over to your post about safaris now, I’m interested to hear how you got on with young kids in tow! #Culturedkids

  19. 5th December 2017 / 8:25 pm

    Ah you ALWAYS give me wanderlust! South Africa looks so epic and it’s now super high on my bucket list. The Elephant Sanctuary experience sounds out of this world – i’d love to do it! Maybe South Africa honeymoon..!? Will have to send this to the Doc 🙂

    • Sima Sthanakiya
      6th December 2017 / 9:05 pm

      Definitely need to slip my South African adventure posts to the Doc. It would be an amazing honeymoon destination! x

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