Guide to the Garden Route in South Africa

Guide to Garden Route and Rt. 62 in South Africa

The famous Garden Route in South Africa is a must-visit for those spending time in Cape Town and wanting to explore more of the Western Cape. There are many places to stop with tons of activities and beautiful scenery.

The Garden Route: Nature's Valley Overlook
Nature’s Valley Overlook

Enjoy wine tasting and hiking along Route 62 before heading down to the coast. Hike in the Tsitsikamma National Park or if you’re looking to get your heart pumping, check out the 3rd tallest bungee jump in the world (the tallest bridge jump!).

The Garden Route is a perfect option for a week away from Cape Town. Check out our list of the best stops along the way to help you plan your trip!

The Garden Route, South Africa: Vineyard
Vineyards in Stellenbosch

Content and photographs provided by Yana Kogan and Timon.

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Guide to the Garden Route and Rt. 62

Overview of the Drive

Things to do in the Garden Route: Drive
Driving along Route 62

Start from Cape Town, heading towards Paarl on the N1. Stop in Stellenbosch or Franschhoek for some excellent wine tasting. Both of these towns are perfect for a two or three-day stop, but a day visit will suffice.

Continue on Route 62 passing through Robertson and Montagu. Montagu is a good choice to stay in order to enjoy the area. Known for rock climbing, there also are several day hikes, including the Badskloof trail (1.4-mile walk), the Bloupunt trail (9.3-mile day hike), or the Cognanskloof trail (7.5-mile day hike).

The Garden Route Cape Town: Grapes
Grapes in Calitzdorp

When passing through Ladismith, turn left on Seweweekspoort Road and drive up through the pass to get some amazing viewpoints. Then drive back down to Calitzdorp.

Spend the morning at the Calitzdorp spa then head back into Calitzdorp, known for Port Wine production. Stop at Die Krans winery for a wine tasting to try one of the world’s best port wines.

The Garden Route, South Africa
Heading through the pass near George to the Garden Route

Pass through the ostrich capital of the world in Oudtshoorn where there are several private game safaris and ostrich farms. Take a short detour to the Cango Caves, 30 minutes north of Oudtshoorn.

To finish the scenic drive on Route 62, head through the mountains to the coastal city of George, the start of the Garden Route.

The Garden Route: Coastal Hike
Coastal Hike to the Waterfall

Continue on the Garden Route to Knysna. A popular tourist destination with plenty of accommodation and restaurants, Knysna is a great first stop. Visit Thesen Island for your evening out.

If nature and quiet evenings are more your things, skip Knysna and continue further down the coast. Getting into the heart of the Garden Route, Wilderness, Natures Valley, and Storms River is the highlight of this region.


The Best Stops Along the Garden Route

1. Hike Salt River Mouth in Natures Valley

Things to do in the Garden Route: Salt Pond
Salt Pond Mouth

Salt River hike in Natures Valley is a great 3-hour hike. This is a low-tide hike only. Stop at the village shop near the beach entrance to get a free permit and take a picture of the map of the hike. 

From the beach walk right, and you will look for a sign for Lookout Point. Walk through the bush and uphill to the lookout point. Just past the viewpoint is a small jeep track, turn left and go down to the Salt River. Cross the river and follow the trail up to an excellent viewpoint of the Salt River Mouth.

Come back down and continue to the trail along the coast, past the rocky section (only passable at low tide) until you reach the beach where you started.

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2. Waterfall Hike from Storms River Mouth

Start your morning in Storms River Mouth by hiking the 3-hour coastal waterfall hike in Tsitsikamma National Park. Mostly flat, this in-and-out hike is along the coast. This beautiful coastline makes for an excellent half-day adventure and ends at a beautiful waterfall.


3. Suspension Bridge Walk

The Garden Route: Suspension Bridge
Suspension Bridge

This hike is short but rewarding! You can enjoy a walk along two suspension bridges, one crossing the mouth of the river with excellent views into the Gorge.

If you are looking for more to hike, continue up the trail after the long suspension bridge up to the viewpoint. It is very steep and takes about 30 minutes to get up to the top, where you have excellent views of the entire coastline.

The Garden Route: Coastal Viewpoint
Coastal Viewpoint from the Suspension Bridge

4. Kayak/Lilo

You can kayak in Storms River Mouth, into the gorge where you will switch to a small lilo raft, followed by a stop to cliff jump from some rocks into the river.

Book with Untouched Adventures, located at Storms River Mouth inside Tsitsikamma National Park.

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5. Bloukrans Bridge Bungee Jump

Just outside of Tsitsikamma, at the Bloukrans Bridge, is the highest commercial bridge bungee in the world at 709 feet high (216 meters). This is the third-highest bungee in the world. It is located 20 minutes West of Storms River on the N3 main highway.


6. Blackwater Tubing

Tube ‘N Axe Backpackers schedule half-day or full-day trips for river-tubing. Half-day trips are 3-4 hours and full-day trips are six hours. This is a great option if you’re craving some adventure during your visit!


Where to Camp

The Garden Route Cape Town: Salt Pond
Hanging out at Salt Pond

We camped along the Garden Route, but several of these are excellent options also for dorm rooms or in some cases private rooms. You can find inexpensive rooms in the following hotels/hostels:

  • Stumble Inn Backpackers in Stellenbosh
  • De Bos in Montegu
  • Die Bosvarkie Buschcamp and Pub in Calitzdorp
  • Calitzdorp Train Station
  • Monks Caravan Park in Knysna
  • Tube ‘N Axe Backpacker in Storms River
  • Wilderness Beach House Backpackers
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That’s it – we hope you have a wonderful time exploring the Garden Route in South Africa!


Planning a trip to South Africa? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!


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