The Garden Route is one of the most popular destinations in South Africa, known for its stunning coastal scenery, lush forests, and abundant wildlife. Located along the south-western coast of the country, it stretches from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to Storms River in the Eastern Cape.
A Garden Route tour is the perfect way to experience all that this beautiful region has to offer including quaint coastal towns, safaris to spot the Big Five wildlife, scenic hikes and visits to world-renowned wineries. You’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities like whale watching, shark cage diving, and bungee jumping.
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The best Garden Route Tours
Price of a Garden Route Tour?
The price of a Garden Route tour can vary widely depending on the type of tour, the duration, and the level of accommodation and activities included. Generally, a basic 3-4 day tour can start at around $300-$400 per person, while a more luxurious 7-10 day tour can cost upwards of $1500 or more per person.
Some tour packages may include meals, accommodations, transportation, and activities, while others may only cover a portion of these expenses. It’s important to research and compare different tour providers to find the best package that suits your budget and preferences. Additionally, keep in mind that the exchange rate of your home currency can affect the overall cost of the tour.
Tour breakdown for a Garden Route
Depending on the tour requirements selected, visitors have the option to see parks, wildlife, vineyards and more on a Garden Route tour.
Garden Route tour highlights
- There are several private wildlife reserves along the Garden Route where you can spot the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhino), as well as other African wildlife such as giraffes, zebras, and antelopes.
- Oudtshoorn is known as the “ostrich capital of the world,” and is home to many ostrich farms and the breathtaking Cango Caves.
- Knysna Heads is a natural landmark offering stunning views of the Indian Ocean and the Knysna Lagoon.
- Plettenberg Bay is a charming coastal town surrounded by white sandy beaches, lagoons, and wildlife reserves.
- The Garden Route is one of the best places in the world to spot whales, especially humpback and southern right whales, during their annual migration.
- Wine tasting is a popular activity on the Garden Route with the region known for its excellent wines, with many award-winning vineyards offering tours and tastings.
- Adventure activities are also popular amongst adrenaline junkies, offering activities such as bungee jumping, canopy tours, and shark cage diving.
The following details typical tour inclusions and exclusions on the best Garden Route tours:
|Tour inclusions||Tour exclusions|
|Game drives (on safaris) per the itinerary as well as pick-up and drop-off||Visa fees, laundry services, drinks including mineral water at the hotels|
|Experienced english-speaking guide and driver||International/domestic flights|
|Transport and park entrance fees||Cultural visits to local villages (15 USD p/p)|
|Accommodation (full-board safaris)||Tips to the driver guides, waiters and porters|
|Breakfast, lunch, dinner and bottled water|
Garden Route tour essentials and info
Is a 5 day tour of the Garden Route sufficient?
A 5-day tour of the Garden Route can give you a great taste of the region and allow you to visit many of the top attractions. However, whether it’s sufficient or not depends on your interests and what you want to experience during your trip.
If you’re mainly interested in visiting the main tourist hotspots and doing some popular activities like hiking, whale watching, and wine tasting, then a 5-day tour should be sufficient. You could visit places like Tsitsikamma National Park, Knysna, Oudtshoorn, Plettenberg Bay, and also take in a safari game drive in reserves such as Shamwari Private GR and Amakhala Private Game Reserve.
However, if you want to explore the region in-depth, and have more time for activities like longer hikes, wildlife safaris, and exploring lesser-known destinations, then a longer tour may be more suitable.The length of your tour should depend on your preferences, budget, and how much time you have available to explore the Garden Route.
Accommodation offered on a Garden Route tour?
After a long day surveying the incredible South African landscape and wildlife on offer, guests can look forward to the very best safari accommodation on their Garden Route. The accommodation is excellent with numerous options from tented camps, luxury lodges to camping grounds.
From camping in the bush with amenities to mid-range and luxury lodges located inside park reserves, there’s something for everyone. On a safari, high-end lodgings are commonly used on fly-in safari packages and excellent wining and dining is very much the norm.
Many others are small designer ecolodges, often made to blend into the environment whilst others near watering holes are superb for wildlife viewing and guests can enjoy a front-row seat to spot the wildebeest and zebras crossing the river.
Animals on a Garden Route tour?
You’ll find just about everything on a Garden Route game reserve safari. The surrounding area is home to the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and African buffalo) and visitors will also find spotted hyenas and hippos depending on the particular country and park you visit.
Other animals you may encounter include giraffes, which can be seen at several reserves, including Gondwana Game Reserve, Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, and Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve. Zebras can also be spotted in Plettenberg and Gondwana GR whilst bottlenose dolphins can be seen swimming in the ocean along the Garden Route coast.
During the migration season (June to November), you may also see Southern Right and Humpback whales in the waters around Hermanus, Plettenberg Bay, and other coastal towns.
What activities are a must-do on a Garden Route tour?
Before or after your safari in South Africa, visitors have a huge array of activities to choose from nearby Cape Town including driving south to visit the Cape of Good Hope (one of the southernmost points of the African Continent), the nearby beach town of Camps Bay, the vineyards of Stellenbosch and drive along Chapman’s Peak Drive.
Closer to the city, you can climb (or cable car up) the breathtaking Table Mountain, wander through the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, go shopping at the Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront or visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years during apartheid.
How many days do you need for a Garden Route tour?
The ideal length for a Garden Route tour is 5-7 days, which will allow you to explore the top attractions, enjoy adventure activities, and experience the region’s beautiful scenery and wildlife.
What is the best time of year to do a Garden Route tour?
The best time to do a Garden Route tour is from September to April when the weather is warm and sunny. It’s ideal for outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, and wildlife viewing, although the whale watching season is from June to November.
Is it safe to self drive the Garden Route?
Self-driving the Garden Route is generally safe, but it’s advised to take precautions such as driving during daylight hours, staying on main roads, and being vigilant for wildlife. It’s advisable to use a GPS and keep your car locked when parked.