This one’s for the nature-lovers! The Garden Route is a wonderful holiday getaway, loved by visitors and treasured by locals. Its scenic stretches of road and breathtaking destination views are among some of the most beautiful in the world. A peaceful and tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of city living. Many attractions are worth stopping for along the Garden Route. But we’ll explore our top five favourites with you, and perhaps set you up with some prime holiday accommodation while we’re at it.
Our 5 favourite attractions along the Garden Route:
1. Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex, Mossel Bay
Erected in celebration of the 500th anniversary of Bartolomeu Dias’ landing in Mossel Bay in 1488, the Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex is a fascinating historical site and popular tourist destination. The complex consists of several museums, making it a suitable destination for a full day out in Mossel Bay. The first stop at the complex is the ethnobotanical garden situated in the Granary. It’s full of local specimens of plants and flowers. Next, visitors explore the Maritime Museum, which exhibits a replica of the caravel Dias used to round the Cape. This is the star attraction of the complex, so visitors tend to spend a bit of extra time taking in the sight.
Another exciting attraction, the Shell Museum displays an impressive selection of shells from around the world. It also houses a few aquarium tanks showcasing living shellfish in their natural habitats. Outside the Shell Museum stands a national monument known as the Post Office Tree, a large milkwood that grows beside a stream. This stream is significant in South African history as sailors once used it to replenish their water supplies. And mariners sailing east used the tree as a post box for depositing letters. An interesting piece of our past! Another site worth visiting in the complex is the Munrohoek Cottages, which date back to the 1830s.
2. Cango Caves, Oudtshoorn
An absolute must-do on your Garden Route itinerary, the Cango Caves are an incredible attraction, loved by children and adults alike. Centuries ago, Bushmen inhabited these cavernous dripstone caves. And today, visitors can make out the remains of their drawings here and there as they explore. The stalagmites and stalactites of the Cango Caves are lit up beautifully, making the tour through the caverns truly awe-inspiring.
3. Wilderness National Park
Part of the Garden Route National Park, Wilderness National Park extends from the Trouw River to Sedgefield, and is in a beautiful natural setting, surrounded by the Outeniqua Mountains. Visitors enjoy beautiful walks around the park, and if they are lucky, spot grey herons and many species of kingfisher. What’s more, the campsite and log cabins allow visitors to spend the night. And the nearby lake offers amazing canoeing, fishing, windsurfing, and sailing opportunities.
4. Monkeyland, Plettenberg Bay
About sixteen kilometres from Plettenberg Bay, Monkeyland offers close encounters with more than eleven species of rescued and rehabilitated primates. Some of these include lemurs, squirrel monkeys and gibbons. As you can imagine, this is a Garden Route stop the kids will absolutely love. So bring them along and don’t forget your camera!
5. Knysna Heads
Knysna is one of the most visited towns along the Garden Route. And it’s not hard to see why. The city sits on a lagoon, with stunning forest settings on its one side and the sparkling Indian Ocean seascape on the other. Situated on the seaward side, the Knysna Heads area is a playground for tourists. For instance, the cruises are incredible, as are the path walkways with astonishing panoramic viewpoints. The nearby forests are home to ancient yellowwood trees and stinkwoods. Hikers enjoy exploring these lush woodlands, occasionally spotting antelope and gorgeous local birds like the Knysna lourie.
Ready to explore the great Garden Route?
If you’re keen to take a drive through the scenic Garden Route, keep this itinerary on hand so you don’t miss these fantastic tourist destinations. And if you need a place to spend the night as you pass through Mossel Bay, consider staying at one of our stunning holiday homes, Elgin House or Vista Bonita.