I cannot imagine going on a holiday without visiting the ocean.  Curling my toes into the soft wet sand as the waves lick around my ankles, tugging me in, beckoning me to abandon the land and to dive into the rhythmic swells of the vast open water.

As much as we loved spending time in the stillness of the Karoo, South Africa’s incredible coastal vistas were calling us.

The Garden Route technically starts at Mossel Bay, swings up into the Karoo towns of Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn and back down to the costal town of George and ends at the spectacular Storms River.

Here you will find the misty mountains of the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma and countless rivers.  Endless beaches with breathtaking sunsets, ancient forests that inspire thoughts of magic and mystery. Crashing waves on jagged rocks, secrete coves and enclaves all this and so much more make up the diverse Garden Route of our incredible land.

Our experience along this stretch of the country is nothing short of spectacular and no words could really describe the overwhelming sense that South Africa has to be one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world.

Deciding where to stop and explore had never been more difficult.  We were spoiled for choice and it was a whirlwind of constant discovery.  As we moved along the coast, camping from one spot to the next, we were constantly surrounded by nature at it’s very best.

So here is our must do list if you ever find your self in this part of the country:

  1. Visit St Francis Bay, a beautiful holiday town with endless sandy beaches.  The town is built around the largest man made water ways and canals in Africa.  Enjoy nature walks along the beach, surfing, rock fishing and canal tours.
  2. The Storms River nature reserve is nestled in the Tsitsikamma mountain range.  An adventure seekers paradise.  Enjoy black water kayaking, bungee jumping, hiking, canopy tours, diving and whale watching.  You could spend weeks exploring this diverse area.
  3. Nature’s Valley is a unique little village, the only of it’s kind in a national park in South Africa.  The Groot River estuary allows for activities such as swimming, fishing and canoeing.  Plentiful hiking is available in the surrounding park allowing you to experience nature at its best.  Be sure to visit the beach during sunset, its truly spectacular.
  4. If you love golf, cycling, paragliding, sailing, rock climbing, nature walks and eating oysters then the town of Knysna is for you.  We stopped over for lunch and this little town is just picture perfect with so much to see and do.  We highly recommend 34 Degrees South Restaurant!
  5. Wilderness is surrounded by the Outeniqua mountains, beautiful lakes, rivers and estuaries.  A water sport enthusiast’s paradise.  With a 2500 hectare National Park on the border of the town you will have so much to see and do.  A sunset picnic on the beach is a must.

The biggest surprise for us was how well the SANParks nature reserves are run.  Our experience each and every time was nothing short of incredible.  Well maintained camp sites and facilities along with meeting people who are passionate about nature conservation and preserving our country’s most valuable assets.

Exploring the area in your car is the best way to experience the Garden Route.  The endless gorges and impressive bridges that span them will take your breath away.  You will want to pull over at every turn to take it all in.

We know for sure that we will visit this spectacular part of our country again.

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