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Driving The Garden Route: Roadtrippin’ South Africa

Driving The Garden Route: Roadtrippin’ South Africa
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It all started with a photograph of two giant eggs next to a curious looking bird. The coffee-table book I was reading informed me that the picture was taken at an Ostrich Farm in Oudtshoorn, South Africa. At the time, driving the Garden Route was a distant dream. A decade later, when Vid and I finally embarked on our road trip through South Africa, I was sure I wanted to visit Oudtshoorn. Thus, The Garden Route was firmly pencilled on our itinerary.


We spent a fortnight exploring The Garden Route’s sandy beaches, turquoise lagoons, wildlife reserves, and untamed countryside. We’ve been on more road trips than we care to remember, but the Garden Route is truly second to none. There is nothing it doesn’t offer – great people, amazing panoramas, activities by the dozen, ambrosial wines, and delectable sea-food. We would recommend it to anyone – young or old – in a heartbeat.


The Garden Route, traditionally, stretches between the Storms River and Mossel Bay. However, for the ultimate road trip, we suggest an extended version of the traditional route:


Driving The Garden Route: A suggested itinerary


Distance Covered – 950 kms, Days required – 12

a) Start at Addo Elephant National Park (2 days)

b) Continue to Storms River and Knysna (3 days)

c) Explore Mossel Bay and  Oudtshoorn (2 days)

d) Wrap up your road trip by exploring Cape Town and The Wine Routes (5 days)


Driving the Garden Route

Driving the Garden Route – Suggested Itinerary


Driving the Garden Route is no mean feat. Prepare to be tempted by stunning panoramas or intrigued by wildlife at every turn. There is so much to be done and so much to be seen.


Without further ado, here are our top 5 reasons why Driving the Garden Route must be on your travel bucket list :-)



1) The Views and Culture


One moment we were driving next to the Indian Ocean, the next we were driving through a forest. The polarities of The Garden Route make it special. There are lush valleys, azure lakes, game reserves, spectacular mountains, and colourful vistas.


There are dozens of quaint towns and seaside resorts along the way. The local markets are a sight to behold – they sell everything from African dolls and ethnic jewellery to tribal masks and colourful clothes. We enjoyed a number of towns including Riversdale, Heidelberg, and Mossel Bay, but it was Knysna that stole our hearts.


Knysna appears as if from the clouds. It isn’t the quietest town on the stretch – far from it. It is popular with tourists but still incredibly charming. The famed Knysna lagoon is separated from the rough waters of the Indian Ocean by 2 dramatic limestone cliffs, known as the Knysna Heads.  At the time we visited, there were barely any people at the lagoon. Suspended clouds framed the Heads, adding to the mystery of the place.


Knysna - Sheer Magic

Knysna – Sheer Magic


Driving the Garden Route

Driving the Garden Route


Road Trip Through South Africa - Driving The Garden Route 3

Views on a road trip through South Africa


Driving The Garden Route

Local markets along The Garden Route


2) Extreme Adventure Sports


South Africa offers a variety of extreme adventure sports including Shark Cage Diving, Sky Diving, and Bungee Jumping. The world’s highest Bungee Jump is located at the Bloukrans Bridge along The Garden Route. We went there and tried it for ourselves – it is errr scary.


Notice the rope under the bridge? Imagine dangling at the end of that rope – nuff said ;-)


Driving the Garden Route

Bungee Jumping at Bloukrans Bridge, South Africa


3) Safaris and wildlife


The Garden Route is dotted with Game Reserves that provide a perfect opportunity to see The Big 5. We opted for a self-drive Safari at The Addo National Park and loved every moment of it.


For something a bit tamer yet equally enjoyable, we visited the Ostrich Farms in Oudtshoorn (yes finally :-) ). A lot of fun was had exploring the ranch, acquainting ourselves with Ostrich babies and learning more about Ostrich eggs (they’re HUGE).


Driving The Garden Route

Yay – we finally got to meet an Ostrich


4) The Food and Wine *sigh*


On our first night in South Africa, we had food off a Braai (Afrikaans for BBQ)  . Over the course of our trip we sampled bunny chow in Durban, oysters in Knysna, and springbok and game meat in Cape Town and fell hopelessly in love with food in South Africa . It wasn’t a fling, ladies and gentlemen, but a full-blown love affair. I find myself craving sea-food “cooked the South African way” to this day.


Don’t even get me started on the wine. Who hasn’t picked up a bottle of South African pinot noir or chenin blanc off the shelves of a supermarket for a night in with friends? The ambrosial taste might be familiar, but the experience of visiting wine cellars and attending tastings along The Wine Routes is totally novel. The Cape Winelands, especially Stellenbosch and the Franschhoek valley, are resplendent. Can you blame us for going weak at the knees? :-)


-Road Trip Through South Africa - Driving The Garden Route

Vineyards along The Wine Route, South Africa


Driving The Garden Route

Gorgeous wine cellars along The Wine Route, South Africa


 Driving The Garden Route

A bit too happy? Can you tell we’ve ‘sampled’ way too many wines?



5) Penguins


I will never forget the day we saw penguins for the first time. I could spend hours observing them waddle awkwardly, tip over, fall down, and get back up only to fall down again.


Boulder’s Beach near Cape Town is home to a huge colony of jackass penguins. Anyone can visit the beach, but it is also possible to have breakfast with the penguins if you decide to stay at one of the hotels lining the beach.


It is hard to resist the charm of these clumsy li’l things :-)


Driving The Garden Route

Look how cute the penguins are


Driving the Garden Route

We couldn’t get enough of penguins in South Africa



Is driving the Garden Route on your bucket list? Have you been to South Africa? If not, our experiences in South Africa should get you started ! :-)

1)  An Epic Road Trip in South Africa : A Suggested Itinerary

2) A Self Drive Safari at Addo National Park, South Africa

3) An Offbeat Budget Safari at Hluhluwe National Park

4) Frolicking with lions at the Johannesburg Lion Park

5) 5 Reasons you MUST visit a township in South Africa


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  1. Penguins ^.^ so cute..and yes yes it is on the bucket list ;) awesome post :D

    • Good pick Shivangi. The Garden Route and The Wine Routes are definitely worthy of being on every bucket list out there :-)

  2. Ohh wow! What an amazing trip! Fab photos!!
    I didn’t know there was penguins in South Africa…lol
    Kim Carberry recently posted…5 Star Drywipe + Cork Board – Review!! #shopletreviewsMy Profile

    • Thanks Kim. South Africa is full of surprises :-)

  3. i want to go traveling so bad! x

    • Join the gang Chloe ;-)

  4. I think this looks like you had an amazing adventure! I will have to show my friend your pictures of the penguins, she loves them!! Ahhh I wish I could go travelling :( x
    Hurnae recently posted…Kate’s Product of the Week – Soap & Glory Archery Eyebrow PencilMy Profile

    • Thanks Hurnae- The Garden Route is supposed to be one of the best roadtrips in the world, so there’s penguins and a whole lot more :-)

  5. The pics are amazing! Especially love the one in which you both are standing with the penguins. How beautiful.
    I love local markets. :)
    coralcrue recently posted…A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned, Online Shopping with CouponzGuru: A ReviewMy Profile

    • Thanks :-) We couldn’t get enough of the penguins

  6. Amazing pics, a treat for the eyes after long hours of working :) I was always intrigued by South Africa, but this post made me want to visit it asap :) The pics are beautiful. And OMG, OMG, I love penguins! Don’t they look oh-so-cute?? :)

    • Penguins are the most adorable animals EVER :-) Ramya you should totally plan a trip. We have a road trip itinerary for South Africa so you don’t have to work hard at putting one together ;-)

  7. the views are like hell astonishing .. the photo with penguins is awesome !!! and not to miss , i love the red thing in the hair . :)

    • Damn! You noticed the red feather- how cool :-) The views on The Garden Route are absolutely stunning

  8. Great post. Thanks for the helpful advice! I hope to be able to visit South Africa soon.
    Stef recently posted…48 hours in LisbonMy Profile

    • Stef I hope so too – you will love it :-)

  9. Capetown has always been my South African home – regardless of where I live in this world. I’ve done the garden route a few times and simply love it! I’m currently living in Capetown until March and plan to explore the garden route again with my partner whose never been. This week we plan to plan with penguins and touch the tip of the cape point. It’s been hard to pull him away from the vineyards – I’m glad you had such a wonderful time here :)
    Natasha recently posted…A Romantic rendezvous to Coopmanhuijs Boutique Hotel in StellenboschMy Profile

    • Natasha I’m so jealous. I want to live in Cape Town too :-(

  10. Love the idea of driving across South Africa! We have done it all across North America and Europe and firmly believe driving is the best way to see places. It is so great to be able to pull off and stop for awhile at any place that strikes your fancy. Hope we can do this soon.

    • Well said ! We both love road trips – the flexibility and freedom it offers is unbeatable. Going to check out your blog for your tips on the North American road trip – that’s very high on our to-do list :)

  11. Love your blog! Did the roadtrip of Iceland last year! ONe of my favs! Heading to South Africa to do the Garden Route / Capetown for 2 weeks in November. Do you have any accomodations you would recommend? Thank you!

    • Hey Kim- Did you enjoy Iceland as much as we did? You’re going to love South Africa – we rented with Air B&B while we were in South Africa- they have some great houses for rent there :-)

  12. Great post! What time of the year did you go? The penguin pics are adorable, so are your outfits!
    Ash recently posted…Canvas of Copenhagen My Profile

    • Hey Ash, thanks a ton. We visited South Africa in April :-)

  13. South Africa offers more than just safaris….Here is a snapshot of our road trip along the Western Cape in South Africa…
    Wish we could add a little of what you did into our itinerary!
    Sonia recently posted…Western Cape RoadtripMy Profile

    • Hey Sonia – we agree. South Africa has so much more to it than just safaris. Good to see you had an amazing time too :-)


  1. #NGTRadar: Travel Lately – Intelligent Travel - […] you’re looking for the ultimate road trip, South Africa’s Garden Route has got it all: scenic views, delicious food and wine, …

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