Garden Route Private Tours
Garden Route private tour packages are among the most popular tourist packages for visitors to South Africa, which is not surprising given that the Garden Route is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.
Garden Route Tours from Johannesburg, Garden Route Tours from Cape Town, and Garden Route Tours from Durban are available. The Garden Route packages take visitors to regions of striking contrasts, such as magnificent mountain ranges, lush belts of indigenous forest, and breath-taking beaches.
The Garden Route is located on South Africa’s south-western coast and stretches for about 300 kilometres from Mossel Bay, which is 380 kilometres east of Cape Town in the Western Cape, to Storms River in the Eastern Cape.
Others believe that the Garden Route begins in the quaint coastal towns of Witsand, Stilbaai, and Albertinia. From here, the Garden Route winds its way through the towns of George, Wilderness, Sedgefield, and Knysna; passes through Plettenberg Bay and the magnificent Tstisikamma Forest; and concludes with a crossing of the awe-inspiring Storms River Bridge.
The Garden Route runs parallel to a coastline that features crystal-clear coastal lakes, majestic mountain ranges, imposing indigenous forests, amber-coloured rivers, white sandy beaches, and beautiful bays.
George is the Garden Route’s administrative capital and is known as “The Gateway to the Garden Route.” Oudtshoorn is known as the “Capital of the Little Karoo” and is famous for its ostriches and Cango Caves. Between the two major tourism hubs are a slew of towns, each with its own distinct personality and rich history. Many are trendy vacation spots, while others are hidden treasures; all are charming and special in their own way.
The Garden Route’s diversity provides clients with a wide range of tour options, including budget and affordable weekend Garden Route tours for singles and pensioners, Garden Route tours for seniors, romantic Garden Route tours for newlyweds, and extended 4 day, 5 day, or 6 day Private Garden Route packages.
The N2 National Highway, the Western Cape wine route, and scenic side roads take you on a winding journey through a coastal corridor between the Indian Ocean and the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma Mountains, which separate the Garden Route from the Little Karoo. The lush coastal vegetation blends seamlessly with the arid grasslands, creating a visual masterpiece that changes with the seasons.
The Garden Route is a playground for young and old. If you are looking for a private weekend getaway full of adrenaline and adventure, or a luxury, private getaway at a slower pace, there will be a Garden Route tour package for you. This may range from private budget tours that provide all of the fun without many frills in order to keep the price as low as possible, to more comfortable tours that provide excellent value for money but including 3- to 4-star accommodations and more meals and activities, to absolute luxurious tours.
What to expect from a private Garden Route tour
The Garden Route is home to a magnificent collection of protected natural reserves, each of which provides tourists visiting South Africa with an introduction to the region’s incredible diversity of animals, birds, and plants. Explore them on foot along a scenic hiking trail or from the safety of your vehicle.
The Garden Route Botanical Garden is located in George and is adjacent to the Outeniqua Nature Reserve. It is known as the Western Cape’s “green lung,” and it plays an important role in educating visitors about the region’s unique flora.
The Knysna National Lake Area is a tidal lagoon and open estuary with the Knysna Heads at its heart. These massive rocky sentinels stand guard between the calm lake waters and the raging Indian Ocean. The forest belt is popular among visitors who spend their days walking, hiking, picnicking, cycling, and, of course, birdwatching since the birdlife in the lake area is abundant.
The Dolphin Trail is just as beautiful and enjoyable as the famous Otter Trail, but less crowded. The trail is about 17 kilometres long and offers an endless view of sandy beaches and the Indian Ocean. During the breeding season, you are almost certain to see dolphins and whales.
If your trip to South Africa does not include a Kruger safari, no worries. The Garden Route is home to its own Big 5. Gondwana Private Game Reserve is an 11 000-hectare wildlife sanctuary along the Garden Route that also happens to be malaria-free. Gondwana Private Game Reserve is set in a picturesque valley with panoramic views of the Langeberg and Outeniqua mountains.
Birders flock to the Keurbooms River Nature Reserve to see the famous Knysna lourie, malachite kingfisher, giant kingfisher, narinatrogan, fish eagle, white-breasted cormorant, African darter, reed cormorant, yellow-billed duck, little grebe, hamerkop, black-headed oriole, Cape batis, and Knysna woodpecker.
Hiking, paddling or canoeing, or motorless boating are all options at Keurbooms River Nature Reserve.
The Knysna Estuary is a prominent landmark along the Garden Route and one of the most important conservation areas. The Montagu Pass Montagu Pass connects the towns of George and Oudtshoorn, offering visitors a scenic journey through the Outeniqua Mountains.
The Storms River Mouth and Tsitsikamma National Park is a marine sanctuary that protects a diverse range of marine life. Diving is both safe and suitable for inexperienced divers.
The Knysna Elephant Park, which opened in 1994, houses orphaned elephants in a controlled free-range environment.
Towns that may be visited on a Garden Route tour from Cape Town include Sedgefield, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay (and Tsitsikamma National Park), Jeffreys Bay (and Addo Elephant National Park), Oudtshoorn, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Cape Agulhas, Hermanus and Betty’s Bay.
Possible itineraries for private Garden Route Tours
From Cape Town one can choose from a 2 day Garden Route excursion to an extended 7 day tour.
Overnight guided safari tours may take you as far as the beautiful coastal town of Little Brak River and inland to Oudtshoorn and may include game spotting for the Big 5, bungy jumping, a wine route, ostriches at Oudtshoorn and the amazing Cango Caves, walking with elephants or canoeing in Wilderness.
For those with a little more time, a 3-night/4-day Garden Route Safari Tour include Cape Agulhas (including the famous lighthouse), the Swartberg Mountain Pass, Garden Route private game reserve and coastal towns of Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Storms River, Mossell Bay, Hermanus and Betty’s Bay.
On a 5 day tour you may also be able to include Sedgefield, Knysna, Tsitsikamma National Park, Jeffreys Bay and Addo Elephant National Park while a 7 day guided trip may give you a full house circle route with even more places like Stellenbosch and Franschhoek also included.
On your way from Cape Town, your journey to the scenic Garden Route winds its way through mountain passes and past rolling farmlands with a few stops to stock up on snacks and drinks.
You will probably overnight in Wilderness, Knysna or Sedgefield and may have time for some canoeing at Wilderness along the route.
Next you will explore a lovely stretch of coastline past Knysna where it is a lovely walk to the imposing Knysna Heads before exploring the magnificent Tsitsikamma National Park and walk through the dense indigenous forest and over a 77-metre suspension bridge over the Storms River Mouth.
Enroute to Jeffreys Bay, you may stop at Bloukrans Bridge where the world’s highest commercial bungy jump (a 216 metre fall into the riverine gorge below) or a zipline over the gushing river offers an adrenaline rush.
From Jeffreys Bay you may look forward to an exciting safari tour of Addo Elephant National Park, the third-largest national park in South Africa and a protected sanctuary for over 500 endangered African elephants. Here you may be lucky enough to spot a Big 7 (elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion and leopard as well as the great white shark and southern right whale), the last two in Addo’s protected marine reserve.
In Jeffreys Bay itself you can explore the quaint surfing shops in town or go for a walk or horse riding on the beach.
Your tour may continue back to Cape Town via the Little Karoo. After winding your way through the spectacular Langkloof Mountains, you can visit Oudtshoorn, known as the “Ostrich Capital of the World” where you can meet these big-eyed birds at a working ostrich farm.
At the world-renowned Cango Caves you can admire the striking drip-formation stalactites and stalagmites during a leisurely heritage tour or a more challenging adventure tour – the latter will have you crawling through a maze of tunnels and chimneyson hands and knees.
An optional 4×4 safari tour of the Buffelsdrift game reserve at the foothills of the magical Swartberg Mountain may await too.
From Oudtshoorn you may take Route 62, known as the “Longest Wine Route in the World” where you may stop at the Boplaas family-run wine estate renowned for award-winning wines and port.
Your next stop may be the historic towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek in the heart of the Cape Winelands where you may visit more wine estates and sample their award-winning wines.
After lots of fine wine and food, your tour may also include Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa where the Indian and Atlantic oceans officially meet.
From Cape Agulhas back to Cape Town you will pass the vibrant coastal town of Hermanus, famous for whale watching, cliffside walks and colourful street markets.
The last stretch of your return journey takes you via Stony Point in Betty’s Bay where you can see one of the largest successful African penguin breeding colonies in the world and more panoramic views of the sparkly Atlantic Ocean.
Are private Garden Route tours worth it?
Yes absolutely! The Garden Route is one of the most spectacular tourist destinations in South Africa and a very popular choice among tourists who want to undertake private tours
What is the duration of private Garden Route tours?
The average duration of the private tours are 2/3 days, but for a the full-Garden Route experience, 6-7 days are recommended.
What activities are available on private tours along the Garden Route?
Activities along the Garden Route include shark-cage diving, bungee-jumping, gliding through forests, hiking trails and more. Tourists should be aware that partaking in these activities won’t be on a private basis as these locations are open to public use.