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The Garden Route on the Indian Ocean is undoubtedly one of the top highlights for every South African vacationer, even for families. Year after year, the well-developed coastal road in the south of the country puts millions of passengers and passengers in a real buzz of joy, uniting dozens of highlights, especially wild nature, stunning national parks and attractive beaches. Who then combines the tour with a trip to Cape Town, experiences something like a “Best of South Africa”.
The Garden Route is a stretch of land along the Indian Ocean on the N2 national road. Its extent is a matter of definition. In the west it starts at Mossel Bay and extends in the east at least to the Tsitsikamma National Park – with some good will but also to Port Elizabeth and the Addo Elephant National Park. The Garden Route is not a colourful garden, but a very fertile part of the country, much greener than the desert landscapes north of the route.
The Garden Route stands for its beautiful and varied nature. There is even a national park of the same name, made up of several parks spread over the whole region.
Directly on the Indian Ocean, there are varied coasts: sometimes a kilometer-long sandy beach, sometimes a beautiful lagoon and often also rough cliffs. Further inland you will find deep forests, such as the Knysna Forest, which invite to hiking and mountain biking tours. Behind it, a mountain range up to 1,500 meters high separates the fertile coast from the arid semi-deserts.
Popular activities on the Garden Route include hiking, cycling, golfing, swimming, surfing, fishing, canoeing, abseiling or bungee jumping. Or just relax in one of the beautiful places.
The Garden Route (Afrikaans: Tuinroete) is a popular stretch of the south-eastern coast of South Africa. It stretches from Heidelberg in the Western Cape to the Storms River which is crossed along the N2 coastal highway over the Paul Sauer Bridge in the extreme western reach of the neighbouring Eastern Cape.
The name comes from the verdant and ecologically diverse vegetation encountered here and the numerous lagoons and lakes dotted along the coast. It includes towns such as Mossel Bay, Knysna, Oudtshoorn, Plettenberg Bay and Nature’s Valley; with George, the Garden Route’s largest city and main administrative centre.
It has an oceanic climate, with mild to warm summers, and mild to cool winters. It has the mildest climate in South Africa and the second mildest climate in the world, after Hawaii, according to the Guinness Book of Records. Temperatures rarely fall below 10°C in winter and rarely climb beyond 28°C in summer. Rain occurs year-round, with a slight peak in the spring months, brought by the humid sea-winds from the Indian Ocean rising and releasing their precipitation along the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma Mountains just inland of the coast.
The Route is sandwiched between the aforementioned mountains and the Indian Ocean. The Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma indigenous forests are a unique mixture of Cape Fynbos and Temperate Forest and offer hiking trails and eco-tourism activities. Nearly 300 species of bird life are to be found in a variety of habitats ranging from fynbos to forest to wetlands.
Ten nature reserves embrace the varied ecosystems of the area as well as unique marine reserves, home to soft coral reefs, dolphins, seals and a host of other marine life. Various bays along the Garden Route are nurseries to the endangered Southern Right Whale which come there to calve in the winter and spring (July to December).
West of the Garden Route
Where the official route ends is far from over the beautiful landscapes. West of the Garden Route, whale watching is especially worth it. Between July and November you have the best chance at De Hoop Nature Reserve, Struisbaai and Hermanus.
Even the southernmost point of Africa is here and not at the Cape of Good Hope, as is often assumed. At Cape Agulhas, the Indian and the Atlantic oceans meet.