Introducting the Garden Route
High on the must-see lists of most visitors to South Africa is the Garden Route, and with good reason: you can’t help but be seduced by the glorious natural beauty.
The distance from Mossel Bay in the west to just beyond Plettenberg Bay in the east is under 300km, yet the range of topography, vegetation, wildlife and outdoor activities is remarkable.
The coast is dotted with excellent beaches, while inland you’ll find picturesque lagoons and lakes, rolling hills and eventually the mountains of the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma ranges that divide the Garden Route from the arid Little Karoo. The ancient indigenous forests that line the coast from Wilderness to Knysna offer adventure trails and hiking, birdwatching, canoeing on the rivers, sliding through the tree canopy or simply taking an easy walk through the forest to gasp at the size of a yellowwood tree that’s over 600 years old. Wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy spotting brilliant green and red Knysna loeries or maybe even catching sight of one of the near-mythical elephants said to inhabit the forest.
With such a diverse range of things to do in this renowned region, it’s not surprising that the scope of accommodation comes up trumps. The downside is the high volume of people in the most popular towns, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. While they make good bases for exploring the area, these two spots can get very crowded during December and January, and prices rise significantly. This makes it important to book ahead if you’re travelling at these times, or head for less crowded Wilderness.