Updated: Aug 31, 2021
South Africa has so many spectacular places to experience, and each place is filled with little hidden gems; since moving to the beautiful mother city of Cape Town I have made it my mission to discover and experience as many of these wonders as possible!
Today, I am going to be focusing on a basic itinerary for The Garden Route, including some links for accommodation, prices and fun activities in the area.
Date Range: 24th September - 11th October
This is the springtime in South Africa, where you can expect lovely weather and all the flowers to be in bloom.
It is not during school holidays so it’s relatively quiet and private, plus it overlaps a long weekend so less leave is required from work!
Hermanus: 24th September to 27th September (Day 1 – 4)
Swellendam: 27th September to 29th September (Day 4 – 6)
Still Bay: 29th September to 1st October (Day 6 – 8)
Mossel Bay: 1st October to 3rd October (Day 8 – 10)
Wilderness: 3rd October to 5th October (Day 10 – 12)
Sedgefield: 5th October to 7th October (Day 12 – 14)
Knysna: 7th October to 9th October (Day 14 – 16)
Oudtshoorn: 9th October to 11th October (Day 16 – 18)
Map of the Garden Route, South Africa
What’s a road trip without a few pit-stops? Our first being Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate found as you enter Hermanus.
Benguela offers a stunning view with full-bodied wines and scrumptious tastings, and the friendliest staff! Perfect for a quick lunch stop or to spend the whole day lounging on the grass sipping on some wine.
We appreciated their cheese and wine pairing on the grass, to find more about the tour you can click here.
After enjoying your pick of the beautiful wine farms while entering Hermanus, you reach the main town notoriously known for its Whale Watching Festival and markets.
We chose to stay at Belle Vue Guest House which is located only 2kms from the city centre and right on the seashore, which allows you to witness the beauty of the ocean and sky in the privacy and comfort of your own home.
This is definitely a budget-friendly option, for the 3 nights we paid R2400 (£117) for the queen bedroom with a garden view, we had a large patio all to ourselves with a braai – one thing you need to know about South Africans is that we LOVE to braai!
A braai is what South Africans call a barbeque or grill - strictly on coal or wood!
Activities To Do In Hermanus & The Surroundings
Much like almost any place found in the Western Cape, there are tons of fun activities to do including wine-tastings, hikes, swimming, horseback riding on the shore etc. I have compiled a list of our favourite things to do in and around Hermanus.
Whale Watching With Walkerbay Adventures
The Whale Watching Festival as mentioned above is the biggest event Hermanus has - people come from all over South Africa to witness pods of whales forming!
They do also offer tours and you can even kayak alongside the whales! What an unforgettable experience!
All the things we love about Hermanus are rolled into one at this laidback country market, making it a fitting start to a Saturday!
Sausages, pies, hand-made cheeses, fresh juices, craft beer and ciders, wines, gin, excellent coffee, and loads more, can be found at the various stalls. Live music and a variety of arts and crafts contribute to the vibrant atmosphere.
Cave Art - A 40-minute drive beyond Hermanus lies the only recorded rock art on the Cape Whale Coast. You’ll find it in a capacious cave at Phillipskop Mountain Reserve that’s open for day visitors and those staying in one of the accommodation options available on the reserve. Phillipskop boasts artwork of Khoe (Khoikhoi) pastoralists and San hunter-gatherers that’s thought to be between 1000 and 2000 years old.
Lembu Gallery - Housed in a century-old fisherman’s cottage, now the home and studio of artist Ed Bredenkamp, you’ll find a myriad of African stories in the form of paintings, fabrics, ceramics and jewellery. A treasure trove of gifts and unique art pieces – including some of Ed’s oil paintings of red elephants – Lembu is the place to buy authentic souvenirs from the African continent.
Wine & Dine On The Ocean Or In A Cave!
Picture this: you’re seated on the water’s edge, devouring a Malay-style seafood curry and sipping on a glass of Hamilton Russell chardonnay. Is there a more perfect way to take in the coast of Hermanus? We think not.
The Bientang Cave – named after Bientang, the last known Khoi Strandloper who lived in it self-sufficiently – is home to the Bientang’s Cave restaurant that’s open daily to ocean- and food-lovers alike. If you’re thinking of coming to Hermanus, be sure to make a booking during the season as this is a prime whale-watching spot.
Shark Cage Diving At Gansbaai!!!!
This is the top destination in South Africa for viewing great white sharks close to the shore all year round. Whether you want to cage dive or just view the sharks from the boat you will come away with a memorable experience of these beautiful predators with Sharklady Adventures!
There have been a lot of changes with the environment in the last 2 years and now our great white sharks are back with also the added bonus of also seeing the beautiful bronze whaler or copper sharks from the boat, as well as the odd huge stingray with a 2-meter wingspan coming up from the bottom to have a sneaky bite of the bait.
Swellendam is one of the biggest agricultural producing areas in South Africa and offers something for everyone, no matter if you’re a history buff, sports fanatic, wildlife fan, adrenaline junkie, birder, photographer, cyclist, wine and liqueur lover, foodie or just looking for a family break!
We chose to stay over at Wildebraam Berry Estate.
Wildebraam Berry Estate is a working berry farm located in the picturesque Hermitage Valley, 2 km from Swellendam, at the foot of the majestic Langeberg Mountains with the Klip River twisting through the peaceful berry farming valley.
We booked the garden suite for 2 nights for R1600 (£78), this gave us our own private garden to enjoy picnics with the local pets, a stunning view right from our window and more than enough peace and privacy.
The farm also offers free liquor and berry tastings in their tasting room and produces their own jams, chutneys, relishes etc.
Activities To Do In Swellendam & The Surroundings
David Schlapobersky and Felicity Potter are South African Studio Potters who have been working together in the tradition of high temperature, reduction-fired pottery (stoneware and porcelain) since 1973. They conduct various types of courses and workshops both at their studio in Swellendam and at other venues.
Duiwelsbos Hiking Trail is one of Swellendam’s favourites, it may only be 3kms but boy – it is a tiring one!
At the end of your hike, you are rewarded with the most surreal view, a lovely pool to cool off in and a picnic bench to enjoy a quick snack.
“Kwetu”, meaning “our home, our place” in Swahili is run by a charming elderly couple and has a variety of game such as springbok, bontebok, giraffe, eland, wildebeest, kudu, waterbuck, reebok, sable, not to mention countless birds and other smaller mammals, plus it has a stunning raft within a lake near the centre of the estate where you can wind-down and enjoy a picnic on the waterbed surrounded by wildlife.
After soaking up some sun, we arrived in Still Bay, which is also known as the town of “Sleeping Beauty”. This beautiful and well-kept area is perfect if your holiday goals are for tranquillity and soaking up nature.
During our time in Still Bay, we stayed over at Crawfords Croft and spent R1800 (£88) for the 2 nights.
Crawfords Croft is a stunning little self-catering establishment run by a charming couple who make you feel right at home, it is located 400m from the beach. It also offers easy access to the river, the harbour and Skulpiesbaai Nature Reserve.
Activities To Do In Still Bay & The Surroundings
We are definitely smack-bam in the midst of a craft gin craze, and honestly, I hope this craze doesn’t end! Inverroche Distillery is known to make some of the finest gins in South Africa.
The owners have spent 3 years testing flavours and trying new things until they were successful in creating a unique “African Alchemy”.
Hiking Trails, Beach Yoga and Marine Life
Still Bay is home to tons of intermediate hikes which you can make more challenging by going along the rocks by the harbour before heading back home.
The marine life is vibrant and undisturbed making it a scuba divers paradise!
Culture Rich History
Four hundred years ago prior to the Portuguese, Dutch and British settling in South Africa the Khoisan tribes wandered the farmland.
By scouring the rocks each day they began to take note that when the tide was exceptionally high caused by the moon “shapes” that big fish got caught onto rocks overnight. The thought occurred to them that if they could have their own rock pools they might trap more fish in them when the tide was high. With this in mind, they set about building their traps.
They found a nice flat piece of beach that was not too deep and built a wall of rocks around it. The idea was to allow fish to swim over the wall of rocks when the tide was high and then be trapped inside the rock wall when the tide went out. These rocks had to be placed carefully, to allow water to flow through them and not allow fish once inside to escape.
We decided to stay at Sea View Nautica, the 2 nights cost R2200 (£107) since it is a 4 person flat and was very luxurious, it held everything one needed – your own washing machine, dishwasher etc. which one doesn’t usually find at holiday rentals, and as a bonus, it had a direct view of the ocean.
Activities To Do In Mossel Bay
There are many activities to choose from in Mossel Bay. Mossel Bay is not only known for its rich history and pristine blue flag beaches, but also for the great adventure opportunities and the lifelong memories that are made here.
The Longest Over-Ocean Zip Line in THE WORLD
Spanning approximately 1100m in length and reaching up to 90km/h you are definitely going to get your adrenaline fix with Mossel Bay Zipline!
Get a bird’s eye view of the caves below, look out for the local sharks and seals below or simply take in the beauty of this incredible natural landscape from a unique viewpoint that tops any other!
The aim of the guides at the Point of Human Origin is to create awareness of the original human design, awaken the human spirit, and inspire people to discover themselves and to change the way they behave towards all life on earth. You have the choice of a guided tour or to simply experience the vast archaeology and remains of early modern humanity on your own.
Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex
The Dias Museum Complex is situated near the beach, shops, restaurants, banks and the tourist information centre. Home to the famous 500-year-old post office tree, a shell museum and aquarium, the Ethno Botanical Garden and so much history you are bound to be awe-struck!
PART 2 coming soon for more Garden Route adventures!
Written by Candice Stratford
Hey there! My name is Candice Stratford and I live in the beautiful mother city of Cape Town in South Africa.
I am a secondary school English teacher and I am in the process of completing my second degree in Psychology.
I am passionate about life and all living things, exploration and discovery along with experiencing the beauty this Earth has to offer.
Please follow me through my journey of light, love and growth xx