The Garden Route on the southern coastline of South Africa is a scenic, tranquil stretch lined with the most beautiful beaches, mountains, waterfalls, cliffs, and forested areas. Its natural beauty extends for miles from the shores of Mossel Bay to Storms River. There are endless opportunities to stop and take in the views, while also enjoying the sumptuous local flavors at the restaurants, farm stalls, and cafes which are conveniently strung along the route.
If you are looking for a 'green' hiking route with amazing views, the Otter Trail is a five-day trail along the coast which covers a distance of 43 kilometers. The Dolphin Trail is a less challenging option of only 17 kilometers over two days. Both trails offer comfortable accommodation and will take you on an astounding adventure into the indigenous Tsitsikamma Forest and the seaside cliff tops to discover the pristine beauty of this coastal region.
Outdoor Activities and Tours
The Garden Route is so rich in natural diversity and even has a superb selection of outdoor activities where travelers can opt for anything from a laid back day out in nature to the thrill of a lifetime.
Knysna Charters offer stunning lagoon cruises and will even take you on an Oyster Farm Tour where you can get a mouthful of the freshest oysters around. Horse riding and sandboarding along the sandy beaches, as well as kayaking and surfing, are great activities for the whole family and for those keen on paragliding, Sedgefield is the top spot for an adventurous yet relaxing activity offered by Fly-Time Paragliding. Black water tubing down Storms River or abseiling down the ridges and river valleys, and a zip-line tour will get rid of some excess energy. If you are a true thrill seeker why not go on the hour-long Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour, an amazing zip-line experience through the indigenous forest 30 meters above the ground. Not enough? Well, the world’s highest commercial bungee jump off the Bloukrans Bridge 216 meters up should certainly do it for you.
Offshore Adventures in Plettenberg Bay take you out into the ocean to share the habitat with the Cape Fur Seals who will steal your heart in a snorkeling experience of a different kind. Eco-lovers can also enjoy a free diving experience with the local Blue Sharks and Mako Sharks. Another popular choice in the bay are the ocean safaris, whale watching and dolphin encounters led by Ocean Blue Adventures. Get up close with African wildlife at the Knysna Elephant Park and see the African Elephants roam freely among the deer, antelope, zebra, and bush pigs. Travelers can also take time out for an authentic safari in the African sun and view the free-roaming Big Five at Gondwana Game Reserve. The Tsitsikamma Forest is also home to the reclusive African Leopard, although they are seldom ever seen. If you are just longing to see one, you can be fortunate enough to do so at Tenikwa Wildlife Centre where you can also enjoy a private, guided walk with an African Cheetah and see other cats in their natural surroundings. The wildlife sanctuaries, Birds of Eden and Monkeyland are just a few minutes away.
Green Accommodation Options
At the end of the day, one needs a comfy pillow to rest your head. Along the Garden Route, you can take your pick of eco-lodging facilities to suit your pocket. There are numerous eco backpackers to choose from which offer affordable facilities. If you would like to spoil yourself a bit more, Teniqua Treetops offer eco-friendly tented tree houses and are among many such options in the area. For those who can afford it, there is also the Luxury Safari Lodge at Gondwana Game Reserve where you can choose between their fynbos and bush villas or tented eco-camps.
The Garden Route will simply take your breath away and it’s rich, natural diversity will leave you mesmerized. So slip back into nature for the adventure of a lifetime!