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30th Mar 2019

South Africa’s iconic Garden Route: 5 reasons why it’s legitimately breathtaking

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Brought to you by South African Tourism

South Africa has long been an incredibly popular destination for holiday-makers.

And for many people travelling from Ireland, the country meant safari.

However, in more recent times, South Africa has forged a strong reputation for everything from stand-out fashion and food, to world-class galleries and museums.

It’s a well-deserved honour – and among an array of attractions, the spectacular coastal strip known as the Garden Route is surely the most memorable of highlights.

Here are five reasons why…


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1. Weather

It doesn’t get more perfect than this: positioned on the south-eastern coast, the Garden Route boasts mild winters and pleasantly warm summers. In fact, the strip is the mildest in South Africa. Bliss!

Temperatures rarely drop below 18°C with the summer season taking place from November to April. The hottest months are January and February – though conditions don’t tend to rise above 28°C.

All-in-all, in fact, there really isn’t a bad time to visit in terms of weather. And an ideal climate means you’ll be free to dine al fresco, to indulge in your favourite water-sports, and go for walks and hikes.

2. The towns

The Garden Route spans some 200km of coastline from Mossel Bay to Storms River – and along that route are a series of inviting, picturesque towns that are a delight to visit. In terms of practical considerations, the good news too is that infrastructure is very good and it’s easy to travel in between the various stop-off points.

Take in the likes of Heidelberg, a small village on the banks of the Duivenhoks River; Witsand, a great spot for water-sports and whale-watching; Riversdale, which has stunning hikes, rivers, and mountains; Mossel Bay, a cultural oasis with pristine beaches; and George, a city of some 125,000 people and an ideal base from which to explore the Garden Route. An added bonus? George was very recently voted the best city in South Africa.

3. The views

Probably among the best globally – the Garden Route is as spectacular as they come. For example, 8kms from Plettenberg Bay is the magnificent Robberg Nature Reserve. Sitting on a 4km-long peninsula and at the foot of the Mountain Of The Seal, some of the surrounding rocks date back 120 million years while caves show evidence of prehistoric man.

Otherwise, the Garden Route National Park has the 77-metre long Storms River Suspension Bridge – which hovers less than 7-metres above the Indian Ocean. Close-by to the Storms River is the Big Tree, a gigantic yellowwood said to be 800 years old.

Two giant crags known as the Knysna Heads can also be explored from the water on a cruise or along walkways with plenty of panoramic viewpoints overlooking the sea below.

Finally, the Swartberg Pass is one of the most scenic mountain passes in the world, with stunning rock formations and sweeping views.

4. Accommodation

There are plenty of hotels, guest-houses, and Airbnb properties to choose from along the Garden Route – for all budgets too. Many visitors are impressed with how far your cash will go too. The Sky Villa in Plettenberg Bay boasts 360-degree views of the ocean and Keurbooms Lagoon (rooms from €120/night). Or alternatively the Nothando Backpackers Lodge is just a 15-minute walk from Central Beach with prices from €35/night for a room.

The stunning Amanzi Island Lodge is located on Leisure Isle in Knysna (rooms €120/night) and is tranquil beach house with spectacular views of the Knysna Heads and Featherbed Nature Reserve. There are also complimentary bicycles and kayaks available to guests for scenic trips around the island.

The Fernery Lodge & Chalets (rooms €175/night) is situated above a 30m waterfall with views of the river gorge. For something more affordable, the Wild Farm Backpackers in Wilderness has barbecue facilities, a pool, and a garden for €10/night.


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5. Food

The views may be breathtaking – but thankfully so is the food. Knysna is famed for its oysters and runs 90-minute long cruises that includes oysters and wine. Alternatively, the Knysna Oyster Festival takes place in last week of June (this year it takes place between June 21-30).

The Lookout Deck & Restaurant in Plett is a cracking spot for a seafood lunch or sundowners right on the beach. The restaurant doesn’t take bookings so get there early – especially in the summer.

The delicious Book Nook and Le Fournil can be found in the Lookout Centre in Main Street in Plett, or otherwise tuck into pizza with a view at Enrico’s in Keurbooms.

Finally, the Fynboshoek Cheese Farm Restaurant has been spearheaded by the award-winning Alje van Deemter. There you can take part in classes, even staying overnight in the farm cottage. Lovely!

The Garden Route rightly deserves its reputation as being one of the most impressive strips of coastline in the world. There is real diversity too: sand dunes and woodlands; shrublands and ocean waves. You can spot penguins, seals, elephants, and lions. You can walk coastal trails and forests, wander up gorges and go on safari.

Time to get booking!

Brought to you by South African Tourism