06 April 2018
You can get in a car and zoom your way up the winding road of South Africa, giving yourself the chance to view its amazing sites, from sprawling cities to vast safari parks, at your leisure. See the best of South Africa by taking a 13-day self-drive tour of the legendary Garden Route!
The ‘Garden Route’ is one of the most popular road trip routes in South Africa, allowing you to take in some of the country’s most intriguing sites. Spanning a 300-kilometre stretch of the south-west coast, the ‘Garden Route’ begins in Mossel Bay, Cape Town and ends at the meandering Storms River on the Eastern Cape. Between these two spots lies bustling cities, placid lagoons, picturesque winelands, sun-dappled safari plains and a whole lot more for you to explore with this tour.
Your journey begins with a local flight into Cape Town and below is a suggested itinerary to help you to discover the gems along this route.
Once you arrive in Cape Town and pick up your rental car, it’s off to the four-star Commodore Hotel for three nights. You will enjoy a fantastic location, as this hotel is perched on the Victoria & Albert Waterfront, allowing you to explore all the chic restaurants, shops and wine bars which line the water’s edge. At the Commodore, sleep in an elegantly furnished room, curl up with a good book in the property’s cosy library or swim in its sister hotel’s pool, which is just five minutes away.
Cape Town is your oyster for the next three days, and there are so many ways to pass your time. Visit its plethora of natural sites like the Kirstenbosch botanical gardens with its exotic flowers and ‘Mambo’ sculptures, or hiking hotspot Table Mountain. Explore the city’s history at Signal Hill, an old military outpost, or at Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was famously imprisoned. You could take this chance to explore the wider region, driving to nearby destinations like Boulders Beach where you can spot penguins and Cape Point, a scenic mountainous peninsula which juts out into the sea. Cap off your time here by browsing the fashion studios and local breweries of the Silo District, trying local delicacies such as lamb ‘sosatie’ kebabs and visiting marine mammals at the Two Oceans Aquarium!
It’s time to leave Cape Town behind and drive to Franschhoek. This is one of South Africa’s most famous wine regions where sun-kissed vineyards featuring plump grapes stretch out as far as the eye can see. For two nights you’ll stay in pure luxury at the Le Franschhoek Hotel and Spa, a sophisticated yet understated property ringed by mountains. During your time here book a session at the Camelot Spa which features a fragrant herbal sauna, a signature ‘Grecian liquid-sound flotation room’ where you’ll enjoy unique water therapies and a menu of tension-easing massages.
Make the most of Franschhoek by touring its famous wineries. Some of our top picks include the boutique Moreson vineyard which produces delightful Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, as well as the secluded Glenwood property which does excellent Syrahs. You can also take the legendary Franschhoek Wine Tram for a small cost, giving you the chance to visit various wine-making estates at your leisure on a hop-on-hop-off tour. Some other attractions you can see in Franschhoek include the Huguenot Monument which honours religious dissidents and the Kogelberg Nature Reserve.
Drive from Franschhoek to Knysna, one of South Africa’s most unspoilt destinations. There are plenty of pristine beaches here for you to relax on, along with forests where you can go trekking. The area is also home to the iconic Knysna Lagoon, a placid body of water nestled between two sandstone cliffs where you can go boating, as well as popular hiking spot the rugged Outeniqua Mountains. Your home for the next three nights will be the four-star Rex Hotel, a cosy yet modern property where you can dine on dishes from selected Mediterranean countries at the Rose Café.
Your road trip culminates with a three-night stay in the Main Lodge at the Kariega Game Reserve, giving you the safari adventure most people can only dream about. Enjoy full board at this one-of-a-kind property on the Eastern Cape, as you sleep in rustic yet fully-furnished log chalets which boast viewing decks where you can stare out at the grasslands. This is a perfect spot for foodies as Kariega Game Reserves features a homely pub where you can try some South African delicacies.
There is a broad menu of exciting complementary activities available to you during your time here. You can set out on a life-changing game drive in open safari vehicles, giving you the chance to spot ‘Big 5’ creatures; lions, elephants, rhinos, leopard and buffalo. You can also take a cruise down the Kariega River, go on a guided walk with experienced rangers or try activities like canoeing and fishing. On day 12 you’ll drive back to Cape Town and take an overnight flight back to the UK.