Welcome to The Garden Route!
With valleys and lakes, rivers and forests, and miles upon miles of beautiful, white sandy beaches you can’t help but be seduced by the glorious natural beauty of the Garden Route. The distance from Mossel Bay in the west to Storms River in the east is less than 300 km, yet the range of topography, vegetation, wildlife and outdoor activities are remarkable. The coast is dotted with excellent beaches, while inland you’ll find picturesque lagoons and lakes, rolling hills and eventually the mountains of the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma ranges that divide the verdant Garden Route from the arid Little Karoo. This route includes towns such as Mossel Bay, Knysna, Oudtshoorn, Plettenberg Bay and Nature’s Valley.
Majestic mountains, breath-taking views and a natural garden of rich, colourful vistas
TOP REASONS TO VISIT
Absolutely not to be missed is the viewpoint at the Heads, in Knysna, a geographic marvel. From the viewpoint you may be lucky enough to spot a Southern Right Whale – this gigantic creature finds both food and refuge just after the mating season when her calf is born. A set of binoculars may help you to spot them. From the northern side of the viewpoint, you will see Featherbed Nature Reserve, Leisure Isle and the expansive Knysna Lagoon.
John Benn Cruise
The iconic John Benn Cruise is an ideal way to enjoy a perfect sunset upon the Knysna Lagoon for the whole family.
The Millwood Goldmine is an integral part of Knysna’s history, established in 1858 when a gold nugget was found in Jubilee Creek (originally called the Karatara River). There are tours available on request and Mother Holly’s Tearoom will be sure to keep your hunger at bay with some delicious treats.
The Woodville Big Tree
An impressive 800 years old and 33m tall Yellowwood Tree stands proud and silent in the Hoekwil Forest and can be visited on a day trip.
The Indian Ocean supplies the beaches with warm waters that come with the tides during the summer months giving everybody in the family a great day out. Noetzie Beach as well as Buffalo Bay Beach remain favourites for adventure seekers. Brenton-on-Sea is a grand expansive of shoreline that is bordered by lush indigenous forest. Cola Beach is one of Sedgefield’s most loved beaches and offers visitors a beautiful and tranquil setting. Coney Glen offers a small and intimate beach on the other side of the Heads, nestled away in a small cove and Bollard Bay is Leisure Isle’s secret treasure set on the Knysna Lagoon which is a safe-haven for young swimmers, to name but a few.
For the Foodies
This is truly a multi-cultural destination with a unique twist to your typical restaurant options. Of course, you must fit in some fresh seafood while at the coast; taste the local’s favourites of White Mussel Cracker and Grunter. And what would your trip to Knysna be if you didn’t try some delectable oysters? Take your pick from either the cultivated or coastal variety. If you are more in the mood for meat, try an ostrich “potjie”. Slow-cooked in a wrought iron pot, and usually done outside on the fire, this meal is as social as it gets. Enjoy a hot summers evening and ice-cold beer while the kids play around outside. For vegetarians, there is also a host of dining options. The Garden Route focuses on organically grown foods, from wholesome milk to iron-rich kale – you will certainly get your health buzz going.
Here you will find a huge range of curios and artistic local crafts. Further up Gray Street there are local designer clothing shops, beachwear shops and much more!
Robberg Nature Reserve
A national monument steeped in history, with prehistoric rocks and Stone Age artefacts, situated 8km south of Plettenberg Bay.
Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre
Located in The Crags, just outside Plettenberg Bay only 40 minutes from the popular town of Knysna. It focusses on the conservation of the indigenous wild cats of South Africa and open daily.
A rehabilitation centre at the Heath in Plettenberg Bay, that aims at community awareness and the rescue, rehabilitation and release of birds of prey.
Birds of Eden
A unique two-hectare dome (the world’s largest) spans over a gorge of indigenous forest. Currently it is home to over 3,500 birds from over 220 species, with the main focus being African birds. Visits to Birds of Eden are usually self-guided, however guided walks are offered on request.
Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary
The world’s first free roaming multi-specie primate sanctuary. Its mission is to educate and foster greater understanding of our primate cousins and the threats and challenges they are facing. Situated close to Plettenberg Bay.
Wilderness National Park
Located around the seaside town of Wilderness between the larger towns of George and Knysna. Wilderness protects three major zones of indigenous forest, four types of Fynbos (wild shrubs), lakes and winding waterways. There are also several historic sites of archaeological significance. Here visitors may spot five types of Kingfisher, the Grey Heron and Little Egret and the brightly coloured Knysna Loerie. This area is also known for the Knysna Seahorse and Pansy Shell.
Based in the coastal town Sedgefield, between Wilderness and Knysna, its one of the top spots in the world for Paragliding.
WHERE TO GO
Mossel Bay offers a perfect mix between adventure, family activities, culture, great local and traditional cuisine, pristine beaches, warm atmosphere and friendly people. The town is centrally located in the Garden Route, close to many other towns in the area and is the perfect base to explore the Garden Route from.
Knysna is the beating heart of the Garden Route and is sure to steal a piece of your heart. Knysna is not only a small and unique town, but it also offers up-to-date and convenient services. Built on the northern shore of a large warm-water estuary, known as the Knysna Lagoon, which is fed by the Knysna River, the estuary opens to the ocean after passing between two large headlands, known as “The Heads”, and have become infamous due to the loss of boats and fishermen passing through their treacherous and unpredictable waters. The Paquita, a German vessel, sank on the eastern side of the Knysna Heads way back in 1903. Near them are geological formations, known locally as “The Map Stones.” To the north of Knysna, Afro-Montane or temperate rainforest covers the hilly terrain for 20 km until changing to fynbos or macchia high in the Outeniqua Mountains.
Situated between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna, the Harkerville area is particularly well known amongst mountain bikers that are looking for fun and adventurous routes to enjoy throughout the year. Guests can visit several local attractions, all within a short drive away such as Birds of Eden, Monkeyland, Jukani, Adventure Land and the Knysna Elephant Park.
For some, its long, lazy days on sunny beaches and for others its Plett’s buzzing night life and high season cocktail circuit. There are those who are up early to ride in the forests and go parachuting or bungee jumping. Don’t forget to visit the 16 wine estates around the area or go on a township tour or take part in any number of activities that make up the Plett Summer Festival.
Tsitsikamma Marine Park
Tsitsikamma is a word of the indigenous Khoi-San people meaning ‘Place of Many Waters’, accurately describing the beautiful 80 km stretch of coastline that makes up the Tsitsikamma National Park, the oldest and largest marine reserve in Africa. The park contains many attractions, including a giant Outeniqua Yellowwood Tree that is hundreds of years old. The region is criss-crossed by hiking trails, including the world-renowned Otter Trail – a 5 day hike – starting at Storm’s River and running along 41 km of spectacular coastline to Nature’s Valley.