Garden route villas and holiday accommodation
The Garden Route is one of the most scenic and popular stretches of coast line in South Africa. Starting about a half day's drive east of Cape Town, it then runs for about 200km from Mossel Bay to the Storms River mouth in the Eastern Cape passing along the way through the pretty holiday towns of Knysna, Wilderness and Plettenberg Bay that all make the perfect bases to explore this unique region of verdant indigenous forests, long sandy beaches and peaceful lakes and lagoons.
Here is our selection of properties in Knysna, Wilderness and Plettenberg Bay and below that is more information on what these fabulous destinations and the Garden Route generally have to offer -
Knysna is about 4-5 hours drive from Cape Town and is consistently voted one of the most popular small holiday towns in South Africa. Overlooking an 11km long lagoon, the town nestles between the majestic Outeniqua mountains and the Indian Ocean. Surrounded by deep forests and vast expanses of natural fynbos, the Knysna lagoon is dominated by the "Heads" - the impressive sandstone cliffs at the mouth of the lagoon. There are numerous restaurants and shops in the Knysna waterfront, quays and town centre, whilst the surrounding area offers excellent opportunities for sailing, cycling, hiking, surfing, bird and whale-watching and game viewing. Golfers will also be in paradise as the superb Pezula and Simola courses are close by.
Plettenberg Bay (or simply Plett as it is affectionately known) is another 30 minutes drive along the Garden Route beyond Knysna and is particularly appealing for lovers of beach holidays and families, with no less than 3 fabulous sandy Blue Flag beaches to choose from and a unique micro-climate of its own which can make for lovely mild and sunny days even in the Cape winter.
Also as Plettenberg is such a popular summer holiday destination for the well to do Jo'Burg crowd and their families, especially over the December school holidays, there are lots of fabulous holiday homes to choose from close to the beaches and the town of Plettenberg itself is really well geared up for holiday visitors, and especially families, with a very laid back, welcoming holiday vibe and lots of relaxed, good value restaurants as well as a substantial shopping centre and some lovely coffee shops and smaller specialty stores. There is also a great selection of activities and events for all ages and interests in Plettenberg and the surrounding area - from animal sanctuaries to whale and dolphin watching trips on kayaks, from canoeing up the Bitou and Keurbooms rivers to hiking on the stunningly beautiful Robberg peninsula, from wine tasting and picnics at the local Bramon wine farm to tree canopy tours and bungee jumping at Storms River (the world's highest bungee from a bridge!) and much more besides.
Smaller than both Plettenberg Bay and Knysyna, the seaside holiday village of Wilderness closer to the town of George, is a very peaceful and quiet Garden Route spot in which to relax and unwind while enjoying and exploring its long white sandy beach, calm lagoons and lush indigenous forests that stretch inland. Wilderness has a good selection of eateries, craft stalls, shops and art galleries and offers a wide range of activities including hiking, mountain-biking, bird- and whale-watching, boating and other water sports.
As for the Garden Route itself, this takes its name from the fact that this densely vegetated stretch of stunning Western Cape coastline, rich in diverse natural beauty and with the mildest climate in South Africa, contrasts so sharply to the country's hot, arid interior.
Indigenous temperate forest, pine plantations and thick fragrant bush known as "fynbos" cover the lush coastal plains of the Garden Route beneath the Tsitsikamma and Outeniqua mountains and the 200km stretch of Indian Ocean coast making up the Garden Route is dotted with lagoons, rocky coves and glorious sandy beaches that make this a haven for holiday makers of all kinds.
From nature lovers keen to explore the great outdoors on hiking trails, eco-tourism activities or on mountain bikes or for thrill seekers keen to try out bungee jumping in high river gorges to families just wanting to relax on the beach, the Garden Route has something for everyone. It's a great base for an entire holiday of a week or longer, or a lovely place to stop off and explore for a few days, perhaps en route to a game park near Port Elizabeth.
The Garden Route has an oceanic climate, with mild to warm summers, and mild to cool winters, with the mildest climate in South Africa and the second mildest climate in the world, after Hawaii, according to the Guinness Book of Records. Temperatures rarely fall below 10°C in winter and rarely climb beyond 28°C in summer.
In all, ten nature reserves comprise the greater Garden Route National Park, including the world renowned Tsitsikamma, Wilderness and Knysna Lake sections as well as some unique marine reserves, home to soft coral reefs, dolphins, seals and a host of other marine life. Various bays along the Garden Route are nurseries to the endangered Southern Right Whale which come there to calve in the winter and spring (July to December). Nearly 300 species of bird life are to be found in a variety of habitats along the Garden Route ranging from fynbos to forest to wetlands.