Garden Route – South Africa’s Hidden Stretch of Paradise

Outeniqua Pass

The Garden Route between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth is South Africa’s “hidden stretch of paradise”. Although I visited some of the places many years ago, the Garden Route is my next South African adventure.

Kwena Lodge Garden Route

Beginning in late October, I’ll be driving the route, and I’m researching the area to decide which direction to take and what attractions to include. There’s so much exciting territory to explore, it’s a challenge deciding where to stop and for how long.

Bridge along the N2 Garden Route


Along South Africa’s Garden Route, “be at one with the indigenous forests, ever-changing sea, mysterious rivers, and wondrous lakes”.


Knysna Lagoon

George Golf Course


The Garden Route can be driven in less than ten hours, but “hidden destinations and side roads are the region’s secret jewels”. The two routes to choose from are inland and coastal.

Inland R62, the route less traveled, has “stunning mountain scenery and quaint, historic towns”:

Great Karoo

It’s recommended to take at least 3 days for the R62 and allow an extra day for the Prince Albert Circuit. Prince Albert is in the arid Karoo Plains, an “oasis on the southern edge of the Great Karoo”.

Prince Albert Bungalow

The town’s water supply flows from springs in the Swartberg Mountains. The spring water “runs in irrigation furrows bringing gardens and orchards to life” and makes Prince Albert one of South Africa’s prettiest towns.

De Bergkant Lodge Prince Albert


As it “meanders along the coast from Heidelberg in the West to Storms River in the East,” the Garden Route has breathtaking scenery!


Jeffreys Bay South Africa’s Surfing Capital

“Serene Prince Albert has beautifully restored Cape Dutch, Karoo, and Victorian buildings, a number of them are National Monuments”. Founded in 1762 on a farm called Kweekvallei (Valley of Plenty), after gaining municipal status in 1845 the town was “renamed Prince Albert in honor of Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg”.

Prince Albert Farm


The Garden Route “can be driven in five hours, but hidden destinations and side roads are the region’s secret jewels”.


Dolphin Hiking Trail

Jeffreys Bay Surfers

Coastal N2 is a “brilliant marine drive” along the Indian Ocean passing:

Canola Fields Swellendam


Inland R62 and Coastal N2 Garden Routes

Parks and reserves along the Garden Route include Tsitsikamma National Park. Tsitsikamma (sits-ee-cah-ma) is a coastal reserve that protects South Africa’s indigenous forest and giant trees like the Outeniqua Yellowwood.

Ostriches Oudtshoorn


“Serene Prince Albert has beautifully restored Cape Dutch, Karoo, and Victorian buildings, a number of which are National Monuments.”


Garden Route N2 Beach

“Rivers in the area carve deep gorges as they wind down from the plateau to the sea. The Tsitsikamma Forest is also home to adventurous activities like bungee jumping at Bloukrans Bridge, the Storms River Adventure Center, the Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour, and the Tsitsikamma Waterfall Zipline. Hiking choices are abundant, including the Otter and Dolphin trails.”

Chris Davies Otter Trail

The Otter Trail is one of South Africa’s most famous hikes through coastal forest, river crossings, and viewpoints with gorges and waterfalls. It’s a 5-day hike along 27 miles of Tsitsikamma coastline, from the Storms River mouth in the east to Nature’s Valley in the west. Bookings are essential. They open a year in advance and sell out quickly.

Dolphin Trail

The unique Dolphin Trail is a challenging hike covering 10.5 miles in Tsitsikamma. The hike begins at Storms River mouth and winds east through fynbos and pristine indigenous forest. It ends on the banks of the Sandrift River at The Fernery. This hike is on my bucket list!


Port Elizabeth marks the end of the Garden Route, but it’s also the gateway to Addo Elephant Park and the Eastern Cape’s private Big 5 game reserves:

Elephant Family Addo Elephant Park

Addo Elephant Park

I’ll probably vacillate between the inland and coastal routes, hike, and enjoy the more affordable game reserves. Tsitsikamma Waterfall Zipline sounds fun. Planning the itinerary is a bit overwhelming, but I have a few weeks to get things together. More blog posts in October, when I encounter some of these spectacular places!

Outeniqua Mountain Range

Outeniqua Mountain Range


2 thoughts on “Garden Route – South Africa’s Hidden Stretch of Paradise

  1. Maybe could drive the “route not taken” on the way back to Cape Town (?) but must be in Durban November 1 and then on to Seychelles Mahe Island December 1, Mozambique in January or February. I’ve been in one place since July, time to move on ;)….


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.