If you're planning a holiday in South Africa, consider adding the Garden Route to your travel itinerary. Home to two of our properties, The Old Rectory Hotel & Spa and Country House, the Garden Route tops many travel bucket lists - and with good reason.

This magnificent route stretches 200 kilometres and takes you through a spectacular natural playground - filled with beautiful fynbos, breathtaking mountains, some of South Africa’s most sought after holiday towns and pristine beaches, lakes and lagoons. Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know when it comes to planning your trip on the Garden Route.

HOW TO GET THERE

Fly

The easiest and most convenient way to get to the Garden Route, especially if you are pressed for time, is to fly directly to George or Plettenberg Bay Airport. Local airlines fly in and out at least once a day, making a weekend away in this special part of the world a wonderful possibility.

Drive

One of the best ways to see and explore the Garden Route is to drive its length, stopping at all the small towns and popping into the various attractions along the way. You can either rent a car, a shuttle or make use of a tour company. All major car rental companies operate from the airports.

WHEN TO VISIT

Although the Garden Route is a wonderful destination all year round, we love the spring (September to October) as the temperatures are a comfortable 15-25 degrees Celsius, the fynbos is blossoming and there are often whales just off the coast. Of course summer is also beautiful (endless blue skies and beach days) but be sure to book in advance as this is peak season.

WHERE TO VISIT

The Garden Route has been recently named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It's a biodiversity hotspot, stretching along 300kms of the southern east coast of South Africa from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to Stormsriver in the Eastern Cape - an area to be explored, treasured and protected. If we had to choose our must-see destinations, we’d recommend you make a stop at the following:

  • George

  • Wilderness

  • Sedgefield

  • Knysna

  • Plettenberg Bay

  • Nature’s Valley

  • Tsitsikamma National Park and Storms River Village

WHAT TO DO

Each town along the Garden Route has something unique to offer - from extreme outdoor activities and pristine beaches to incomparable views and an abundance of natural beauty to explore. The list of things to do is endless, and the choice can be overwhelming. Here are a few of our suggestions.

  • Take a tranquil walk around the Garden Route Botanical Gardens in George and then as you continue on the N2 towards Wilderness, make a stop at the Kaaimans River Crossing for a picture-perfect moment. You’ll find a historical train bridge and a river that curves dramatically through a gorge.

  • Next, have a swim in the ocean at Victoria Bay before arriving in Wilderness where you can enjoy visits to bird sanctuaries; horse riding, hang-gliding, hiking as well as long stretches of glorious coastline.

  • Experience a retreat in the tranquil town of Sedgefield and ensure you make time to enjoy a hike in the Goukamma Nature Reserve.

  • Then it’s time for Knysna, a favourite amongst tourists. Hop on a boat and adventure to The Heads - sandstone cliffs that create a channel from the lagoon through to the ocean. If you have more time, take a walk through the Knysna forest, grab an ice cream at the waterfront and pop over for a swim at Brenton-on-Sea.

  • Following Knysna, your journey will bring you to the beautiful town of Plettenberg Bay. Here you can choose from a wide range of activities. From epic sundowner spots, hiking trails and wine farms to beaches and spa treatments, there's so much to see and do in the area. Check out our Plettenberg Bay Holiday Checklist for a more in-depth look.

  • Then head down the Grootrivier Pass (R102) to get to the peaceful town of Nature’s Valley - a place for you unwind, breathe and feel at one with nature as you prepare for your final stop in Storms River.

  • The Tsitsikamma Nature Reserve lies at the foothills of the Tsitsikamma Mountains. Venture over the famous suspension bridge, appreciate the soaring peaks and enticing river, and hop in a kayak for a river adventure you won’t forget.

WHERE TO STAY

Two of our Rare Earth portfolio properties - The Old Rectory Hotel & Spa and Country House - are situated in and around Plettenberg Bay, at the heart of the Garden Route. We are surrounded by rolling mountains, pristine beaches and magnificent indigenous forests. It's truly a wonderful and incredibly central place to base yourself for a few days whilst exploring the area.

The Old Rectory

The Old Rectory Hotel & Spa is an immaculately restored national monument built in 1777 and reimagined into an intimate boutique hotel. With only 18 luxury suites and only a short stroll from the beach, you can expect a personal, world-class experience with plenty to see and do including a spa, in-house restaurant and sparkling pool.

Country House

A provincial wine farm homestead that can accommodate groups of up to 10 people, our Country House is the ideal getaway for you and your family. It's quite simply your home-away-from-home so use it as your base and spend your break exploring the wonders of the surrounding area.

Is the Garden Route calling your name? Stay with us at our Country House in the Crags or at our coastal hotel, The Old Rectory Hotel & Spa, whilst you discover one of the most beautiful places on earth. Get in touch to book your stay.