Wanna know more about Garden Route Tours? You want to see the Garden Route, but you don’t know where to start. The Garden Route is a beautiful place with lots of natural beauty and attractions. But it can be hard to figure out what’s worth seeing and how to get there.
We offer tours that are perfect for families or solo travelers who want an immersive experience in this unique part of South Africa. Our guides will take you on a journey through the region, showing you all the highlights while giving you plenty of time to explore at your own pace. Check out!
Garden Route Overview
The Garden Route is an approximate name for the stretch of coastline along the south western coast of South Africa. The area stretches from Mossel Bay to Storms River, and is a world heritage site. This region offers extraordinary long beaches with powder white sand. The coastline combines beautiful mountain ranges that meet the Indian Ocean.
The Garden Route stretches for approximately 280 km, starting at Mossel Bay and ending just beyond Storms River on the borders of Eastern Cape and the Western Cape provinces. The route is a tourist attraction and a popular holiday destination for people living in Cape Town to the west, Johannesburg to the north and Durban to the east.
The Garden Route offers a variety of attractions beyond beaches, including forests, lagoons, mountains and rivers. With its lush green landscape it has a lot to offer by way of outdoor activities such as hiking, abseiling, fly-fishing and river rafting.
The main towns on the route are George, Mossel Bay, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. In addition there are a number of other interesting places worth visiting along the Garden Route including Tsitsikamma National Park, Wilderness, Sedgefield and Nature’s Valley.
Tourism in the Garden Route region of South Africa is diverse. Because of this diversity there are many opportunities available to the tourists that visit the area. Some of these opportunities include whale watching (in season), deep sea fishing, kayaking, surfing, swimming with dolphins, sand boarding, horse riding, the list is endless.
The name comes from the verdant and ecologically diverse vegetation that borders the coastline. It is a narrow stretch of about 360km that runs from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to the Storms River on South Africa’s border with this world famous Garden Route Tourist Attractions.
Because the road is only two lanes in most sections, driving it can take up to twelve hours to complete. It has become a popular route for cyclists, and many people use it as a means of touring. The Garden Route boasts numerous lakes, lagoons, rivers, estuaries and other sites that are rich in bird life. The coastal belt, however, is chock full of wildlife that includes the highly endangered African black oystercatcher.
Of all the towns that can be found there, George and Knysna are clear favourites with both tourists and locals alike. The area’s most famous resort town is Wilderness which overlooks the Indian Ocean. Wilderness is particularly popular with golfers, which reflects the fact it is home to South Africa’s only Jack Nicklaus Signature course.
The Garden Route also boasts some of the most spectacular hiking trails in all of Southern Africa; these range from overnighters to overland trails that take weeks to complete. If you are looking for a longer trek, then the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe is for you. This historic train climbs the coastal escarpment that separates George from Knysna, offering sweeping views of the ocean below.
Must-Go Garden Route Tours & Sightseeing
The Garden Route is a destination so it’s best to plan your Garden Route tour with some advance preparation. The Garden Route destinations are not close to each other. You don’t have to worry about being bored during your Garden Route tour. You will never be bored because there is just so much to do and see on the Garden Route.
Revealing the special paths, secret beaches and hidden corners of this natural phenomenon is a journey with endless surprises, pathways and views.
Here are some of the must-go tours & attractions:
Whale Watching Knysna Heads
The best whale-watching opportunities are to be found in the bay of Knysna Heads. These gentle giants are seen at their peak during the months of May to November with August being the month when most whales are spotted.
Whale watching can also be done from other points along the Garden Route coastline, but this is by far one of the best places to spot whales.
Experience the thrill and adventure of a scootour as you glide across the Garden Route lagoon on an eco-friendly mini jet boat. The Garden Route lagoon offers some impressive views as it stretches along the coastline from Knysna to Plettenberg Bay.
The tour will take you past uninhabited islands where many wild animals reside including the majestic bald ibis. The tour will also offer stunning views of the Knysna Heads, which is a huge granite rock jutting out into the sea.
Plettenberg Bay Horse Trails
If you like horses and horse riding then the Plettenberg Bay Horse Trails should be on your list of attractions to visit in Plettenberg Bay during your Garden Route tour. It’s best to go on the horse trails early in the morning because this is when you will be able to see some wildlife, including buck and birds of prey. The views of the surrounding mountains are also fantastic.
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve
This is one of the best attractions on the Garden Route. Grootbos offers a wide variety of activities including eight hiking trails, tree-top adventures and guided nature walks to interact with the natural environment as well as various animal species such as penguins and lemurs.
On top of that enjoy other activities such as boating or just relax by the pool and watch the whales swim and play in the bay.
Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours
This form of eco-adventure is quickly gaining in popularity. The canopy tour consists of 12 zip-lines that are fixed to steel cables that are high above the forest floor. This allows you to take in the magnificent views of the indigenous forest, while experiencing a memorable adrenaline rush.
This can be easily added to your Garden Route tour because it’s just a few hours away from the other attractions on the Garden Route.
Knysna Oyster Festival
The oysters harvested locally along the Garden Route coastline are delicious and it’s time to celebrate this little known fact. The Knysna Oyster Festival is the perfect opportunity to enjoy oysters in all forms. This festival takes place in November and will also feature other foods and wine from the region. From raw oysters to smoked oysters, this is an event not to be missed!
The limestone caves of the Cango Valley have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The fascinating underground passages of the caves are home to thousands of bats and also house some exquisite rock formations. The tours of the caves are done on an eco-friendly electric railway system. Cango Caves will give you a real feeling of what it’s like to be Indiana Jones!
Cango Wildlife Ranch
If you have children then a visit to the Cango Wildlife Ranch is a must. This working cattle farm has been transformed into an open-range zoo where visitors can see many indigenous species of fauna and flora in their natural habitat. The ranch also hosts a wide variety of animal encounters and one-on-one experience with the animals.
Because Oudtshoorn is located in the heart of the Little Karoo, you will be treated to expansive views across rugged landscapes. The vastness of the area is best appreciated while floating in a hot air balloon. You will never look at the world in the same way again. This place will give you a sense of how vast and beautiful the African continent is.
This is a new eco-adventure that has become popular recently. You will be taken on an inflatable boat down the Eerste River where you will enjoy the beautiful scenery of the indigenous coastal bush.
At some point during your trip, you will have to get out of your boat and walk through the river with your guide to the next section of boat waiting for you. You’ll be able to jump off waterfalls and enjoy other thrills that come with river tubing.
Safari Ostrich Farm Tractor Tour
This is a popular tour and not to be missed. You will take a tractor ride through the Ostrich demonstration farm and find out more about this fascinating flightless bird. The tour includes a visit to ostrich enclosures where you can get up close to the giant birds with their razor sharp claws and long legs. Be sure not to miss this tour!
Mountain Zipline Eco Tour
If you are looking for a thrilling zipline experience then the Garden Route is the place to go. Ziplining requires no prior experience and the lines are set at varying heights, making this activity suitable for all ages. The tour starts with a scenic drive up into the mountains where you will meet your guides who will take you on an adventure of a lifetime.
Wild Coast Eco Tours
This area is famous for its unspoilt beaches, which are perfect for swimming and sunbathing. If you love nature, then this part of the Garden Route coastline will give you an unforgettable experience of beautiful wildflowers and wildlife including turtles, dolphins and whales during certain months of the year.
The Garden Route offers a wide variety of activities from beaches to caves, nature tours to thrill rides. There is something for everyone on the Garden Route and all you need to do is decide where you would like to go first!
The Garden Route tours continue on to Mossel Bay, where many activities await you. The Senqu River flows right through Mossel Bay and its estuary is an excellent place for bird watching as around 320 species of birds have been recorded in this area. You can also go fishing, boating and kite surfing in the estuary.
This is a great place to get up close and personal with some of South Africa’s most beloved animals including rhino, giraffe, zebra and antelope. You can also try bird watching or horse riding along the paths that criss-cross the park. There are numerous picnic spots where you can relax under shady trees.
Cape Town City Tour
The Garden Route tours end with a tour of Cape Town, South Africa’s most famous city. You can go on a cruise to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years and also visit Table Mountain; one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. There are many things to do in Cape Town and the tours will give you an opportunity to see some of the best attractions in this city.
Swartberg Mountain Pass
The Garden Route tours end with a journey on the Swartberg Pass, which is also known as the “garden route.” You will be treated to some of the most spectacular scenery in South Africa on this trip.
The pass rises up to 1,300 m and you can see mountains, canyons and sweeping views across the Little Karoo. This is part of the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe steam train service and you can relax in a vintage steam train as it chugs its way up into the mountains!
When planning your Garden Route tours, make sure that you don’t miss out on this beautiful route. The experts at Go Places offer many different Garden Route tours where you will see some of the best attractions on this famous route. All you need to do is decide on which tour to take first!
This is a road that leads across the Swartberg mountain range, which forms part of the Great Escarpment. The views from this pass are absolutely stunning and if you have time, do take this route on your Garden Route tours so you can experience some of South Africa’s scenic beauty.
Tips For Amazing Garden Route Tours
Garden Route Tours are always a great way to find out more about the roots of South Africa. It is a destination with so many different attractions, so it’s understandable why you might want to spend some time here and experience the best of what this place has to offer! With that in mind, we’ve put together a few tips for those thinking about taking a tour:
Get your tickets ready and try and book as early as possible. The Garden Route can often sell out, especially during peak season (winter).
Prepare for weather changes! Depending on the time of year you choose to visit, there’s a good chance you’ll be exposed to sunshine one moment and torrential rain the next.
Remember insurance as you head out on the road. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in a bus with no food and water, so give yourself peace of mind and make sure you’re covered by insurance.
Bring snacks! It might sound like common sense, but when stopping at restaurants it can be easy to forget to check what kind of payment they accept (some don’t’t accept cards).
Wear comfortable clothing. It’s easy to pack the wrong kind of clothes when you’re on the road, so make sure you check what kind of terrain you’ll be facing before choosing what to wear.
Don’t forget your camera! It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and forget to document all the great things you’re seeing, so make sure you bring along a camera.
Bring your ID book. National parks are always an excellent place to visit; whether it be for hiking or photography. You’ll need valid identification to enter any National Park.
Beware of the animals. It’s very easy to get carried away and start chasing dangerous animals (even lions) so please keep your distance and always respect these creatures.
Make sure you’re fit enough for a Garden Route tour. One of the biggest mistakes people can make is underestimating how physically demanding these tours can be; especially if you’re planning on hiking.
Be patient! Tour guides are doing their best to get everyone along the tour, so there’ll be times where you’re asked to wait for a short period of time.
Pack your sunscreen! After all, it’s summer and most Garden Route tours involve plenty of sunshine that can cause sunburns if you forget to apply the sun cream.
Hire a car with Go Places, to ensure that your Garden Route tour is perfect! We offer very competitive prices on both cars and insurance, so you’ll be able to enjoy this trip without having to worry about spending too much money.”
Be mindful of wildlife. It’s easy to forget that many South African animals are potentially dangerous, but it’s really important to keep your distance from the wildlife you come across.
Book your tours with a reputable company. You don’t want to end up like this group of tourists who reportedly went on a Garden Route Tour and ended up stranded for two days with little food and no way home!
Lastly, remember to have fun! These can be long tours and a lot of driving involved, but if you’re with the right people it’s always going to be a good time. Find yourself an awesome tour guide and enjoy yourself!
What kinds of plants can I see on garden route tour?
The plants that one may see on a garden route tour will vary depending on what time of year the garden is in. In winter, you’re likely to see a lot of tropical plants. However, in summer it’s more common to find indigenous flowers and trees.
Are tours suitable for children?
Tours will depend on the location and whether your children are old enough to be around animals. Most tours allow children but ask the tour company which they recommend if you have any concerns.
What is the best time of year for Garden Route Tours?
The climate of the Garden Route varies with each season. The coolest months are April to September, during which days are cooler and rainfall averages about 45mm per month. The warmest months are December to March, when days are warmer and rainfall is only around 15mm per month.
This really depends on what you want to do but the main attractions like bush flowers and wild flowers are at their most spectacular during late autumn and winter.
Can I drive around by myself if I take a Garden route tour?
Yes, you can certainly drive around the Garden Route on your own and we highly recommend that. You might find driving along the Garden Route just as enjoyable and informative if not more than a tour guide.
What is the difference between a garden route Safari and a garden route tour?
The Garden Route is your destination, not our’s. We can advise you on what time of year to visit, give information about the history of the towns around here and recommend activities for your stay but we will only ever take you where you want to go.
All guided tours will be tailored to your interests and we welcome input from you so the tour can be as you want it.
Is it safe to walk alone during a garden route tour?
Yes, you can certainly walk around the Garden Route on your own and we highly recommend that. You might find exploring the Garden Route on foot just as enjoyable and informative if not more than a tour guide.
The Garden Route is a must visit destination for any nature lover and tourist. You can take day tours, overnight trips or even enjoy the scenery from behind your steering wheel on scenic routes that offer plenty of photo opportunities. There are many tour operators to choose from in this province but it’s best to do some research before deciding which one suits you best!