It is one of South Africa’s most popular areas for local and international visitors. The Garden Route stretches over 200 km and includes national parks, dense forests, tranquil lakes and outrageously beautiful beaches. Known for its outdoor activities like its natural beauty, you can learn to surf the web, jump into canyons filled with water, dive into wrecks, or just sit on a yacht and admire the view.
Follow this article from the west on a walk along the Garden Route. First stop: Mossel Bay.
Stretch your legs by the sea
Most people use Mossel Bay as a stopover on the road between Cape Town and the heart of the Garden Route, but if you can spare an afternoon, there is really much to do. If you just have lunch, try Kaai 4, an outdoor braai restaurant where traditional dishes are prepared by massive fireplaces. If you have about an hour to spare, the Dias Museum is well laid out and offers views of Mossel Bay 500 years ago, when European explorers landed on the South African coast for the first time. If you decide to spend the night, book in advance for a surf lesson in the morning – the best activity in Mossel Bay and a great way to rejuvenate before getting back in the car.
The highway between Mossel Bay and George is quite busy and not really nice, but things get photogenic from there. George is the largest city in the region, but its appeal lies mainly in the amenities and not in the attractions. If you want to stop in the area, drive to one of Georges Satellite Towns, both of which line the winding roads. Victoria Bay and Herolds Bay are known for their waves and there is little else to do that forms the basis of their appeal. If you’re not a surfer, opt for a simple seafood lunch while enjoying spectacular ocean views.
Forest, lake and beach
Back to the main road and take the short but scenic route to Wilderness. Stop at Dolphin Point to catch a glimpse of the disused railway line and see photos of the wild and wonderfully underdeveloped Wilderness Beach. Wilderness manages to stay among many visitors to the Garden Route. The city center is little more than a supermarket and some restaurants are grouped around a petrol station, but the forest and lake landscape strikes the beach, making it one of the most beautiful places to stop.
Perhaps it is best to rent a canoe here in the Garden Route National Park and explore the lake network. If you are looking for lunch, try the organic village of Timberlake, just off the N2. The restaurant here, Zucchini, is famous for its rural cuisine or, if you prefer to nibble, a group of shops sells homemade edible products.
A boat on the lagoon
The road crashes and climbs gently for 23 km to Sedgefield, well known for its busy Saturday morning market. When the road leaves Sedgefield, the panorama changes to reflect the huge forest fire that crossed the area in June 2017. After heavy winter rains the forest disappears, but the dense vegetation that once lined the road takes years to fully recover.