The official Garden Route in South Africa leads from Mossel Bay to Port Elizabeth. Even though we were aware of this, we decided to make our very own trip on the renowned Garden Route. We started in Port Elizabeth, stopped in George, Swellendam and Hermanus and finished our tour in Cape Town. We can surely say: We don’t regret a thing!
This post features only pictures from our tour. For pictures of the cities head to our city reviews!
It’s not always about doing things like you are supposed to. When we were planning our trip to South Africa, we decided to do the Garden Route the other way round, starting in Port Elizabeth.
All seven days we spent on the route (including Port Elizabeth and Cape Town), we had an amazing time and saw so more natural wonders than ever before. Let’s be honest: Who did see a zebra while driving around on official streets before?
After landing in Johannesburg, we instantly boarded a plane to Port Elizabeth. While people told us to not visit the city, we did anyway.
Port Elizabeth is definitely not well developed when it comes to tourism, but it’s definitely interesting to stroll around the city center for some hours and spend some time at the beautiful beaches of Summerstrand.
The drive from Port Elizabeth to George is known as the official Garden Route. And honestly, it is definitely worth every minute.
Even though there are some rather “boring” areas, you’ll definitely get awarded with stunning views of cities like Plettenberg Bay, Knysna and Mossel Bay.
As we drove the route in winter, we didn’t have too much time to also explore the lovely cities, but I’m sure it’s recommendable to stop in the cities for a coffee or a little snack.
Nevertheless, the best views of the bays and the lovely nature can be enjoyed on the road.
While the route to George mainly leads along the coast, traveling from George to Swellendam is a whole different story.
As the latter city is located in the hinterland, you’ll see a different South Africa which is less green and looks like more like the steppe.
From time to time, you’ll also spot a baboon before arriving in Swellendam, a city which looks kind of surreal in South Africa as it more or less looks like a small British village. No safety concerns, no problems. Swellendam is definitely not the usual South Africa.
South Africa is mostly about nature and the experience. When we left Swellendam, we decided to make a detour via Malgas.
The village (or the maybe ten houses) are renowned for the only still existing hand-drawn ferry in South Africa.
The way to Malgas already is an experience as you’ll only drive on gravel roads. The ferry itself is an experience you’ll never forget.
To get even more of your time in South Africa, you should also visit De Hoop Nature Reserve, one of the most beautiful National Parks in South Africa.
We were lucky enough to not only see zebras and other wild animals, but also several wales. De Hoop Nature Reserve is also the most Southern part of Africa!
The drive from De Hoop Nature Reserve to Hermanus is another experience in itself. Once again, you’ll follow gravel roads through tiny little villages, all a little different from each other.
Yet, the most important part of the journey is the last one as you’ll enjoy unbelievably beautiful views when driving the last 20 kilometers to Hermanus. The city itself feels a little bit like California.
Beach villas, stunning views of the ocean and relaxed lifestyle. Hermanus feels a little bit out of place, too. Yet, it’s fully understandable why people from Cape Town come there for holidays.
The last part of the journey from Hermanus to Cape Town was rather boring at first. Nevertheless, this feeling changed very fast as the mountain passes offer incredible views of the ocean.
Be sure to concentrate on driving as the stunning views are more than just distracting. When arriving in Cape Town, you’ll forget about nature quite fast as the city has a lot to offer itself. Some sightseeing, boat trips to Robben Island, shopping and much more is what you can do in Cape Town.
Nevertheless, we’ll never forget about the amazing experience Garden Route was. The different natural wonders, the changing landscape and the varying cities and towns make the Garden Route in South Africa one of the most interesting experiences all over the world.