What to See and Do along South Africa’s Garden Route

If you’re looking up cheap flight deals to the Rainbow Nation and are on the lookout for a unique experience once you’re there, the Garden Route South Africa could be your answer! The 190-mile stretch allows for many opportunities to check out wildlife, hike, swim, eat, and drink along the scenic coastal drive across the southern Cape. Starting in Cape Town, there are many small towns worth visiting along the Garden Route, including Hermanus, Agulhas, Mossel Bay, Oudtshoorn, Knysna, Plattenberg Bay, and Port Elizabeth. If you want to see it all, plan for two weeks. Here are some must-see places to stop at for a sustainable vacation.

Cape Town

Table Mountain Wine Safari

Image via Sucheta Rawal

Stay at family-owned luxury boutique hotel Cape Grace, located at the bustling V&A Waterfront with walking access to restaurants and shops. The spacious harbor and mountain-facing rooms are elegantly decorated with original antiques and artifacts that tell the history of the Cape.

Cape Grace embodies responsible tourism practices through its support to SOS Children’s Village, Uthando South Africa, Christel House, and environmental conservation. In light of the Western Cape’s water crisis, Cape Grace has a heavy focus on water conservation and has a conversation with guests upon arrival about measures they can take to save water. Their swimming pool, overlooking a private quay, is treated with a non-toxic oil-based liquid to avoid evaporation, and a ‘Water from Air’ machine produces drinking water from the atmosphere.

Table Mountain is the number one tourist destination in Cape Town, and most visitors take the aerial cableway to see the dramatic 500-million-year-old rock formation and breathtaking views of the Cape. However, a private tour through Durbanville Hills Table Mountain Wine Safari will take you to the top of Table Mountain with an expert naturalist, driving in an open rugged jeep. Learn about the fynbos trees and protea flowers, as well as see iconic Devil’s Peak, Lion’s Head, and False Bay. The relaxed safari allows you to spend more time in nature while sipping on Durbanville Hills wines and snacking on local cheeses, fresh fruits, and cold cuts.

Ten percent of all proceeds from this tour are donated to South African National Parks (SANParks) for the conservation and general upkeep of South Africa’s national parks.

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Boulder Bay

Boulder Bay penguins

Image via Sucheta Rawal

A road trip through the Southern Cape is a must-do on your visit to South Africa. Here, you can stop at Seal Island for a boat trip, hike around the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, drive the scenic Chapman’s Peak road, and take a boat to the seal colony near Hout Bay.

The most memorable experience in the Southern Cape is watching a colony of wild African penguins in their habitat at Boulder Beach near Simon’s Town, located in Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area. Kayak around the beach colonies or watch the penguins breed, swim, and moult from the boardwalks.

Hermanus

Bengula Cove garden

Image via Sucheta Rawal

Located an hour’s drive from Cape Town is an estate winery surrounded by a natural lagoon rich with fish and bird species. Bring your kids and dogs to Bengula Cove for a day out and be surrounded by mountains, vineyards, olive trees, and lavender fields. You can also partake in a wine tasting, enjoy brunch in the garden, swim in the open water, or take a boat ride along the lagoon. With a Splash Pad, Pirate Golf, and Tea Terrace, there’s plenty of things to keep the young ones occupied.

Bengula Cove supports The Hermanus Night Shelter to build a permanent, modern facility to care for the homeless, professionally and with dignity.

Stanford

Panthera

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Panthera Africa is an essential stop-off on the Garden Route as it is one of the most sustainable big cat sanctuaries in South Africa. Captive-bred white lions, Bengal tigers, leopards, cheetahs, and caracals are rescued from private homes, circuses, and game ranches, so they can spend the rest of their lives abuse-free. Pre-book a sunset tour for magical views of the big cats against the backdrop of the arid landscapes.

Knysa

Knysna Elephant Park

Image via Sucheta Rawal

This picturesque beach town is a popular place among locals for long weekends and holidays. Outdoor adventure enthusiasts can hike through the forests of Featherbed Private Nature Reserve or sail through the Knysna Heads. Near the city is Knysna Elephant Park where you can visit and feed orphaned African elephants that have been rescued and learn more about these magnificent mammals.

Plattenberg Bay

Plattenberg Bay beach

Image via Sucheta Rawal

Mainly known for its long stretches of white sand beaches and surf breaks, Plattenberg Bay also has a couple of animal sanctuaries where you can sustainably see wildlife. Take a guided tour through Monkeyland, the world’s first free roaming multi-species primate sanctuary, and spend a few hours admiring exotic birds up-close at Birds of Eden free flight sanctuary.

So if South Africa is on your bucket list, don’t miss out on this very special road trip with eye-opening stops. What are you waiting for? Start looking for cheap flight deals so you can start your South African adventure ASAP!

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What to See and Do along South Africa’s Garden Route