Guided Garden Route Tour South Africa

Nature’s Paradise: Guided Garden Route Tour South Africa

Sunset on Garden Route Tour South Africa

Going on a guided Gard Route Tour South Africa is one of the most amazing things I have ever been. South Africa is actually the #1 place that I have visited out of 23 countries. It is a land of diverse landscapes, amazing wildlife, and stunning natural beauty. One of the best ways to experience all of this in one unforgettable journey is by embarking on a Garden Route Tour!

Stretching along the country’s Western Cape, the Garden Route is a paradise for nature lovers, adventure enthusiasts, and anyone seeking a remarkable travel experience. In this post, I will take you on a trip through this captivating destination and provide essential tips on what to see and do when planning a Garden Route Tour in Africa.

Disclaimer: This post may include affiliate links. If you click one of them, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

This was one of the only times in all my travels that I went on a group tour for 6 days. This Garden Route group tour was definitely worth it for my first time. The next time I do a Garden Route tour South Africa, I will plan to drive it, now that I know what to see and where to go.

The following will give you a good insight into all the places I visited, plus an extra one I added in on my own. 

I will include fees to visit the places, if you visit these on your own. If you decide to take a guided garden route tour in South Africa, then I have included a local tour recommendation. The entrance fees are usually included in the price of the tours you book.

If you are looking for help planning your trip to South Africa, visit my page on travel planning as I offer services that could help you.

A Natural Wonder

The Garden Route gets its name from the lush and diverse vegetation that lines its path. It’s a breathtaking stretch of coastline that extends approximately 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Mossel Bay in the west to Storms River in the east. This route is renowned for its awe-inspiring landscapes, pristine beaches, and a variety of ecosystems that make it a biodiversity hotspot.

Tips for Your Guided Garden Route Tour South Africa

The Garden Route gets its name from the lush and diverse vegetation that lines its path. It’s a breathtaking stretch of coastline that extends approximately 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Mossel Bay in the west to Storms River in the east. This route is renowned for its awe-inspiring landscapes and a variety of ecosystems that make it a biodiversity hotspot. Did I mention that the Garden Route has some of the best beaches in South Africa?

Best Times to Visit:

The best time to embark on Garden Route tours depends on your preferences and the activities you want to engage in, as the region experiences different weather patterns throughout the year. Here’s a breakdown of the seasons and their suitability for visiting:

Summer (December to February):
– This is the peak tourist season to venture on a South African Garden Route tour due to the warm and sunny weather.
– It’s ideal for beach activities, water sports, and outdoor adventures.
– Accommodations can be more expensive, and popular attractions may be crowded, especially around Christmas and New Year’s.

Autumn (March to May):
– Autumn offers pleasant weather with mild temperatures and fewer crowds compared to summer.
– The scenery is beautiful as the leaves change color.
– It’s a great time for hiking, wildlife viewing, and exploring the natural beauty of the region.

Winter (June to August):
– Winters in the Garden Route are mild and generally rainier than other seasons.
– It’s a good time for whale watching in places like Hermanus and for enjoying indoor activities.
– You’ll find lower accommodation prices and fewer tourists during this season.

Spring (September to November):
– Spring brings blooming wildflowers and lush green landscapes to the Garden Route.
– It’s an excellent time for birdwatching and exploring the region’s botanical gardens.
– The weather starts warming up, making it suitable for outdoor activities.

Shoulder Seasons (September-October and April-May):
– These months offer a balance between pleasant weather and fewer crowds, making them great for visiting if you want to avoid peak season.

Rent A Car:

Discover Cars is a great site for comparing car prices to find the best deal so you can explore the Garden Route’s hidden gems. It provides flexibility and allows you to stop at various viewpoints and attractions along the way on your schedule.

Stay Connected:

If hyou are visiting from another country, consider getting an eSIM Card for your mobile phone, to avoid the high roaming changes and to stay connected. I recommend Airalo as it works great and is relatively inexpensive.

Protect Your Trip:

Don’t forget travel insurance to protect you while on your Garden Route tour! SafetyWing is a great option and affordable. Read more about why you should get travel insurance.

Packing Tips:

Don’t forget to pack essentials like comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a camera to capture the breathtaking scenery.


From luxury resorts to charming guesthouses, the Garden Route offers a wide range of accommodation options. Be sure to book your accommodations in advance, especially during the peak travel season.

Note: Included in my multi-day guided tour, was standard accommodations in hostels along the way. I decided to pay to upgrade my stay. Nothing was wrong with the hostels and I often spent the evenings and dinners with the group at the hostel. But I upgraded to stay in beautiful guest houses with privacy, wonderful breakfasts and reliable WiFi. Throughout this post you will find links to the places that I stayed on my guided Garden Route tour.

This map shows only the places that I stopped while on the guided Garden Route Tour South Africa. You can choose to travel in whatever order works for you. Below I will highlight the locations, what I saw or did in that area and provide some great recommendations along the way. If you want to delve further into the location, you can read the related posts to those areas.

The guided Garden Route tours from Cape Town start in a comfortable van and I found it to be enjoyable with no issues.

Map - Garden Route Tour South Africa

Stops on your Guided Garden Route Tour South Africa

African Penguins, Bettys Bay

Penguin Colony – Stony Point Nature Reserve, Betty’s Bay

One of the main attractions in Betty’s Bay is the Stony Point Penguin Colony, which is home to a large colony of African penguins. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll on the boardwalks to observe these adorable, flightless birds in their natural habitat, without disturbing or disrupting them.

Cost: R30 ($1.60 US)
Hours of Operation: 8:00am – 4:30pm

Day Tour Recommendations: Betty’s Bay & Area (most of these includes tours of the area, including some locations below)

Rock Hyrax (Dassie)

When visiting this coastal reserve, you have the opportunity to see other wildlife including Crowned cormorants, Cape cormorants, Bank cormorants as well as Rock Hyrax, more commonly known as the Dassie, which can be seen on the surrounding rocks. 

This was one of the coolest experiences I had with penguins. They were easy to see, all around you and there were minimal crowds, as compared to Boulders Beach. I was really able to enjoy the time with those beautiful creatures.

Cormorants - Stony Point Reserve


If you continue southeast down the coast on this Garden Route tour, you will come upon Hermanus, another coastal town located not far from Betty’s Bay. Hermanus is often referred to as the “Whale Watching Capital of the World” due to the abundance of whales that visit the area, especially Southern right whales. The town offers excellent shore-based whale watching opportunities, and there are also boat tours available for a closer look at these majestic creatures.

Tour Recommendations: Day Trips Including Hermanus

Best View of Hermanus, Garden Route Tour South Africa

Restaurant Recommendation: Pear Tree 

Had a great mix of salad and seafood for lunch at Pear Tree. Spent a few hours wandering around the town and admiring the view.

Pear Tree - Lunch - Hermanus

Cape Agulhas

This is the official place where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, as well as being the southernmost tip of South Africa.

Cape Agalhus

Due to the treacherous water, the powerful currents of two oceans colliding, strong and unpredictable winds and the rocky coastlines and reefs, the cape is known to have one of the largest concentrations of shipwrecks in the world.

Shipwreck at Cape Agalhus

Accommodations in Struisbaai / L’Agulhas: Mermaid Guesthouse Rated #1 of 6 guesthouses by Tripadvisor

Mermaid Guest House, Struisbaai

Mountains / Tradouw Pass

Passing through the Langberg and Swartberg mountain ranges you will head north on Route 62, which is South Africa’s longest wine route and one of the most spectacular drives. Passing through Tradouw Pass and into the Klein Karoo, the unique views will take you to another place. 

Diesel & Creme - Barrydale
Mountains, Tradouw Pass

Recommendation: Stop in Barrydale for a break and hit Diesel and Creme and have an amazing milkshake. 

Ostrich Farms, Oudtshoorn

Oudtshoorn, located in the semi-arid region of the Klein Karoo, is home to the world’s largest ostrich population with many ostrich farms and an ostrich feather industry. Visitors to Oudtshoorn can tour ostrich farms to learn about these unique birds. You have the opportunity to see ostriches up close.

Cost: $10US

Tour Recommendation: Ostrich Tour

Cango Caves

The Cango Caves are a series of stunning limestone caves located just outside of Oudtshoorn.

Cango Caves, Oudtshoorn

They are known for their impressive stalactites and stalagmites. Guided tours of the caves provide an opportunity to explore the intricate chambers and learn about the geological history.

Ostriches, Oudtshoorn

Cost: R170 ($9.00 US)

Hours of Operation: 9:00am-5:00pm

Tours: Options Available, depending on what you are looking to do. 

Area Tour Recommendation: Spend a full day exploring Oudtshoorn.

Karusa Vineyards

This is a must in Oudtshoorn! Amazing lunch and wine tasting. I promise you will enjoy the food, wine and scenery. If you book one of the multi day Garden Route Tours, then check to see if this place is still included. If you are touring on your own, make sure you book the experience with them.

Karusa Wines, Oudtshoorn

 Accommodations in Oudtshoorn: Adley House – Rated 11 of 38 B&Bs in Oudtshoorn 

Adley House, Oudtshoorn
Source: Adley House

Meerkats, Little Karoo

This was not part of the tour I booked, but knowing that I was going to be in a prime area while on a guided Garden Route tour South Africa, where meerkats could be found, how could I not add in an extra early morning trip!

The Little Karoo is home to several meerkat populations. Meerkats are well-suited to the semi-arid environment because of their adaptability and ability to dig burrows to escape extreme temperatures.


I arrived at the ‘viewing area’ about 530am, before the sunrise. And then you sit and wait for them to emerge. It could be 20 minutes or 2 hours. Luckily, the meerkats emerged from their burrows relatively quickly and I got to watch them start their days, scout the area for predators, socialize and eat. It was a highlight of my Garden Route Tour in South Africa.

Tour Recommendation: Five Shy Meerkats – great knowledgeable guides

Meerkats - Little Karoo Oudtshoorn

St Croix Trail, Mossel Bay

Technically we stopped here on the way back to Cape Town on the last day of the tour, as we returned on the coastal route. But I’m adding it here since it’s close to Wilderness and could be done at any time on the route. Mossel Bay is known for its mild climate, beautiful beaches and famous Cape St. Blaize Trail. 

The Cape St. Blaize Trail hike follows along the cliffs overlooking the Indian Ocean. The full trail is 13.5kms but given the time I had, the group hiked only a few kilometers of the trail. It was relatively easy and provided some amazing views.

St Croix Trail, Mossel Bay

Wilderness National Park

Wilderness National Park

Stopping here while on one a Garden Route tour South Africa is worth it! Visitors to the Wilderness area can enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, bird watching, canoeing, fishing, and swimming. There are also several well-marked hiking trails that offer the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the region up close.

Trail through Wilderness National Park

Make sure you take the 2km walk along the boardwalk and enjoy the lush surroundings and beautiful scenery.

We were lucky enough to spot a blue duiker, which is the smallest antelope species in South Africa.

Blue Duiker

Knysa Heads, Knysna

Knysna is a stunning picturesque region known for its natural beauty, diverse ecosystems, and outdoor recreational opportunities. It is nestled between lush forests, the Indian Ocean, and the imposing Outeniqua Mountains. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to truly explore the area, but it would definitely be worth it.

The Knysna Heads are two towering sandstone cliffs that guard the entrance to the Knysna Lagoon.The Heads are not only iconic but also treacherous, as the changing tides and turbulent waters make navigation challenging. It was definitely one of the most beautiful stops we made when exploring the Garden Route in South Africa.

Knysna Heads

Accommodations: Knysna / Sedgeway was a beautiful area. I wish I had more time to explore the area! Unfortunately the place i stayed is no longer open, but you can find great accommodations to compliment your stay.

Tsitsikamma National Park

As you reach the eastern end of the Garden Route, Tsitsikamma National Park is renowned for its breathtaking natural scenery, which includes lush indigenous forests, rugged cliffs, pristine rivers, and the rugged Tsitsikamma Mountains.

Tsitsikamma National Park

The name “Tsitsikamma” is derived from the Khoekhoe language and means “place of abundant water.”

The famous Storms River Mouth Suspension Bridge is a must-see attraction for hikers and nature enthusiasts to walk across. Enjoy your time here and explore the area with lots of things to do and see.

Storms River Mouth Suspension Bridge

There are dassies and lizards everywhere!

Tour Recommendations: Check out some of the best ways to experience the Park


Technically this is the end of some of the guided  Garden Route Tours South Africa, however the tour that I did included a visit to Addo Elephant National Park. It is 150 kms from Tsitsikamma to Addo, so I recommend driving close and staying overnight before exploring Addo.

Avoca River Cabins

Accommodations: Avoca River Cabins This was truly a beautiful place to stay with amazing views and the dinner they provided was one of the best of my trip.

Addo Elephant National Park

Addo Elephant National Park is one of the country’s most popular national parks and is primarily known for its large population of elephants.

Elephant - Addo National Elephant Park

While the park is best known for its elephant population, it is also home to a wide variety of other wildlife species. Visitors can spot animals like lions, leopards, buffalo, rhinos, zebras, various antelope species, warthogs, and numerous bird species. I also couldn’t believe how many dung beetles we saw there! I guess it makes sense.

Dung Beetle

Cost: R376 ($20.00 US)

Hours of Operation: 7:00am to 7:00pm

Vervet Monkey

 Self-drive game viewing is what many people do as there are numerous viewpoints and hides strategically located for wildlife viewing and photography. 

Tour Recommendation: There are many different guided tours if you want to get the full knowledge and experience when visiting Addo Elephant National Park.

The Garden Route is not just a destination; it’s an experience you’ll cherish for a lifetime. Make it your next travel adventure, and you won’t be disappointed!

Garden Route Tour South Africa

So, start planning your Garden Route tour South African today, and get ready to be amazed by the breathtaking landscapes of this enchanting area. If you are looking for some help to plan your visit to the Garden Route or any other part of South Africa, then please contact me so I can assist you with planning your route.

Whether on your own or on a guided Garden Route tour, South Africa promises an unforgettable experience. Whether you are a nature enthusiast, an adventure seeker, looking for a connection to nature or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of our world, there are many Garden Route tours that have something to offer everyone.

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  1. I have wanted to go to South Africa for a while now. At first I thought it was just about the safaris. But then I learned that you could actually enjoy their vast vineyards too. I see that you did a wine tasting. I would love to go and experience everything that this beautiful country has to offer. Thank you for these great tips I will definitely save them for later.

  2. I’d love to tour the Garden Route! I’d especially love to visit Stony Point Nature Reserve to see the penguins! Also, the meerkats look adorable! Thanks for the great guide!

  3. Incredible! I would love to visit South Africa one day to see all of that wildlife, and the landscape is just breathtaking. Thanks for sharing your experiences, it has certainly sparked my interest in travelling there.

  4. South Africa has always been on my bucket list! All of these places look so incredible, especially the St Croix Trail! Thanks for sharing!

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