A firm favourite among visitors and locals alike, South Africa’s famed Garden Route offers a generous dose of the great outdoors, where nature and adventure combine in one perfect playground. Country roads perfectly frame both the rolling farmlands and endless flora and fauna. The landscape dramatically changes – from wine farms to untamed wilderness, Tsitsikamma forest to mountain ranges – as the kilometres pass. You'll cover some ground on this adventure. There’s optional bungy jumping and ziplining for the thrill-seekers and canoeing in Wilderness or a quick swim in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean for the nature-lovers. Add in hiking in Tsitsikamma National Park, the sounds of silence in Cango limestone caves and prime game viewing at Addo Elephant National Park, home to the densest population of wild elephants on the planet. Plus, you’ll come nose-to-beak with the planet’s largest birds in the feather capital of the world - Oudtshoorn, and walk with the biggest land mammals on the planet in the Klein Karoo. And, if the mood takes you, you can learn to surf on some of the world's top-rated waves or put your goofy foot forward with a spot of sandboarding in Jeffreys Bay.
DAY 1: CAPE TOWN – SEDGEFIELD
Early morning pick up from your accommodation in Cape Town CBD or Stellenbosch
In the anticipation of the journey to come, it’s easy to daydream and miss the ever-changing scenery on your first day’s drive from Cape Town to the Southern Cape. You’ll wind your way through mountain passes where lazy baboons line the roadside; through fertile microclimates with rows and rows of grapevines and rolling farmlands. A morning stop at Riviersonderend allows those with change in their pockets to indulge in the South African penchant for home baked pastry like the creamy and delicious milk tart (Melktert) the country claims from its Dutch origins.
The abundance of aloe lining the roadside heralds your arrival in Albertinia and provides plenty of Instagram opportunities with bigger-than-big succulents. By stark contrast the oasis-like towns of Wilderness and George are surrounded by lush national parks and an afternoon canoe paddle provides the perfect setting to bird watch and enjoy the clean wild air. For those that savour a great night’s sleep, tonight’s end destination – the coastal town of Sedgefield– promises just that. The tranquil village boasts the title of Africa’s slowest town. Here, life in the slow lane is THE way of life.
OVERNIGHT IN SEDGEFIELD
DAY 2: SEDGEFIELD – JEFFREYS BAY (Breakfast included)
Knysna Heads Hike
Pristine wild and adventure go hand in hand on this adrenaline-packed day. From a morning spent admiring the views from the imposing Knysna Heads to ocean and green river views atop Bloukrans Bridge, the world’s highest commercial bridge bungy jump or as you zipline over gushing river gorge in the Tsitsikamma forest.
The bungy bridge itself is fairly unassuming as you drive over it, but it’s pretty apparent from the squeals and screams that this isn’t your average photo stop. Here, seemingly normal people hurtle face first down the 216m drop only to spring back up on their elastic cord like a yoyo. For the spectators, half the thrill is in watching their contorted faces on the TV in the nearby café and the other in watching a staff member ‘catch them’ and return them to safety. Bungy jumping is an optional activity (at extra cost), and those that are not keen on jumping will continue onward to start the hike in Tsitsikamma forest earlier.
This region is a playground for the outdoors and for those with tamer appetites who have opted not to bungy, a visit to some of Tsitsikammas’s abundant forests provides the opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. As you head to the coastal belt, towns like Plettenberg Bay show why it and the Tsitsikamma (the first ‘T’ is silent) National Park are favourites with holidaying locals. The short but steep walk to Tsitsikamma’s suspension bridge is worth it for the views alone and, you’ll likely get a thrill as fellow tourists test its swing factor.
The large white caps (or seahorses as the locals call the surf break) of Jeffreys Bay herald your departure from the official Garden Route and your arrival into South Africa’s quintessential ‘Surf City’. Hang ten with the locals and slip into a relaxed frame of mind.
OVERNIGHT IN JEFFREYS BAY
DAY 3: JEFFREYS BAY to ADDO to JEFFREYSBAY (Breakfast included)
Game Drive in Addo National Park
A pre-dawn wake-up call might seem hard to take at first, but trust me, it’s worth getting an early start for your Addo game drive to see even more wildlife as the bush awakes. Your guide will use local knowledge to pinpoint the whereabouts of the park’s big game animals while deftly navigating the maze of dusty dirt roads in search of the Big Five.
The early morning start means free time in the afternoon and J’Bay’s surf village – with its discount outlets – is perfect for shopaholics. But, if you’ve always fancied learning to surf, then this town or the sand slopes beyond it are the places to put your goofy foot forward and go for it.
OVERNIGHT IN JEFFREYS BAY
DAY 4: JEFFREYS BAY to OUDTSHOORN (Breakfast included)
Ostrich Farm Visit
Cango Caves Tour
South Africa delivers on its contrasts with landscape and lifestyle as you leave the Indian Ocean shoreline behind and wind your way through the Langkloof Mountains to the arid lands of the Klein Karoo. Here, the ostrich reigns supreme. If you haven’t picked it up from the bird-filled paddocks lining the highway or the colourful feather stalls as you head into Oudtshoorn itself, you will from the many show farm signs and the palatial sandstone homesteads that hark back to an era when ostrich feathers were worth more than gold.
The Cango Ostrich Show Farm gives you a glimpse into the farming industry, allowing you to observe the world’s biggest bird beak-to-beak and test the toughness of the shells. Ostrich steak or kebabs complete the experience for those with an adventurous appetite.
Delve deep underground to the magical Cango Cave’s limestone chambers, alive with drip formation stalactites and stalagmites and remnants of Khoikhoi paintings. Opt for the easy-going Heritage Tour to test the cave’s acoustics and gain insights your guide provides into the formation and dripstone evolution. By contrast, the Adventure Tour allows would-be contortionists to squeeze, twist and wiggle their way through limestone chimneys on a rather more adventurous underground route. Subject to availability, return to the wild for an optional 4x4 game drive with a knowledgeable game ranger at Buffelsdrift Private Game Reserve for a possible sighting of resident rhino and giraffe.
OVERNIGHT IN OUTSHOORN
DAY 5: OUDTSHOORN to CAPE TOWN
Elephant Bush Walk
Route 62 Wine Tasting
As dawn breaks in Oudtshoorn, the adventurous at heart can choose an optional stroll with elephants along the dam wall at the Buffelsdrift private game reserve. Meet three orphaned gentle giants and learn more about this large species.
After your Elephant adventure, it’s time to head back to Cape Town along the famous Route 62, modeled after America’s Route 66, but with a distinctly local flavour and the longest wine route in the world. Enroute back to Cape Town, the country roads stretch into the distance and the give way signs warn of nimble. Inspired by the famous American counterpart, Route 62 is more than just a leisurely drive – showcasing local culture, food, larger-than-life local characters and world-class wines. Route 62 is more than just burgers and beers, farm stalls or small country towns, the highway is also the longest wine route in the Western Cape, so oenophiles will be in their element with our wine pit stop en route to Cape Town.
Reach Cape Town by late evening.
Cape Town Pick-up & Drop-off service (±10km radius from Cape Town CBD)
Transport to tour highlights
4 nights accommodation in backpacker hostel (shared bathrooms)
Entry fees & Activities as listed:
- Cango Caves tour
- Ostrich Farm tour
- Wine Tasting
- Wilderness Canoeing
- Tsitsikamma National Park Hike
- Addo Game Drive in tour bus (±2 hours)
Lunch, Dinner & drinks
Optional Activities at extra cost:-
Bungy at Bloukrans Bridge ± R1100pp
Tsitsikamma Waterfall Zipline ± R430pp
Addo 4x4 Safari ± R385 pp
Buffelsdrift 4x4 Safari ± R380pp
Elephant Bush Walk ± R395 pp
Surfboard & Wetsuit Hire ± R90/hour
Sandboarding ± R250pp