Best time to visit South Africa

Garden Route in South Africa

The most picturesque route in South Africa is filled with vibrant fauna and flora, and runs between the ocean and mountain ranges

Best time: July–April

Garden Route
Garden Route
Garden Route
Garden Route
Garden Route
Garden Route
Garden Route
Garden Route

The Garden Route is a picturesque route stretching for 200km along the verdant coastline of the Western Cape and some of the Eastern Cape Provinces. It owes its name to the abundant, diverse indigenous vegetation that is present. On one side, the route is dotted with scenic bays and golden beaches, while the other side features lush forests, lakes, lagoons, amber-coloured rivers, and mountain ranges. Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma mountains divide the green route from the arid Klein Karoo.

From the starting point in Witsand, the Garden Route runs across Still Bay, Albertinia, Mossel Bay, Oudtshoorn, George, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Nature's Valley, and proceeds into Eastern Cape reaching Tsitsikamma National Park, and culminates at Storms River. The most important stops on this route are the Oudtshoorn ostrich farms and caves, the largest city of George, oyster-rich Knysna, and Tsitsikamma Forest with its giant trees, ferns, and rich birdlife.

The route is open all year round, however certain times of year offer better experiences. For example, July to October is whale watching season; August and October are prime for wildflowers; and November to April is the best time if you intend to spend some time on the beach. Thus, the best time to hit the road is somewhen between July and April. Also, take into account that the Western Cape has a winter rainfall climate, which makes the months between June and August less attractive.

Practical info

What activities can tourists participate in while visiting the Garden Route?

Visitors to the Garden Route can participate in a wide range of activities other than driving, which include hiking, surfing, bird watching, river tubing, skydiving, whale watching, bungee jumping, and cave exploration. In addition, tourists can explore the area's wildlife, participate in adventure sports, and visit cultural and historical sites. Show more

Which months are less crowded in the Garden Route?

From June to August, the Garden Route is generally less crowded than other months. The peak tourist season is between November and February, where towns and beaches are most crowded. However, visitors can visit in April to May and September to October to avoid the peak season while still enjoying good weather. The quieter months of July and August are also ideal for whale watching. Show more

What are the transportation options available in the Garden Route?

Driving is the most convenient way to get around the Garden Route, although public transport is available. Tourists can use the overpriced Baz Bus or the minibus shared taxi service. Bicycles are another option and can be rented from towns such as Knysna or George. Visitors who enjoy outdoor adventures can complete a multi-day hike like the Otter Trail. Show more

Where can we find traditional African dishes on the Garden Route?

The Garden Route is known for its diverse mix of Cape Dutch, British, Indian, and Malay cultures. Visitors can savor traditional African dishes in several cities and towns along the coast. Oudtshoorn is known for its ostrich meat, while Knysna offers seafood. Visitors may also enjoy a range of offerings in George and Plettenberg Bay. Local dishes feature popular ingredients like Karoo lamb, ostrich fillet, and biltong. Show more

What unique wildlife species can we expect to see on the Garden Route?

Wildlife enthusiasts have plenty of opportunities to view African fauna on the Garden Route. Coastal sightings include dolphins, whales, sharks, and seals. The forests are home to numerous native bird species, including the Knysna Lourie and Narina Trogon, while wild cats like the African Wild Cat and Caracal and primates like the Samango Monkey and Vervet Monkey can be spotted. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin