In December of last year, Julia and I did something that we have been wanting to do ever since we moved to South Africa: go on a road trip along the Garden Route. Together with my boyfriend Alex and our friend Lara, we packed our stuff and drove from Cape Town to Jeffrey’s Bay. In this blogpost I am going to share with you what we did, where we stayed, where we ate and lots of insider tips.
Departing from Cape Town
To seize the day, we set our alarm at 5 o’clock in the morning to leave our house at 5:30. Looking back this was so worth it, because we got to enjoy our first road trip day to the fullest. After a 5 ½ hour drive we arrived at our first destination: Knysna.
Whilst in Knysna we were very lucky to be able to stay at our friend Robbie’s place who had a house right be the Waterfront. When we arrived we went straight on his boat and drove out the Knysna Heads which was absolutely amazing. We chilled on the boat and cruised around a little. My personal highlight was definitely seeing a swarm of dolphins swimming– absolutely breathtaking!
What to do in Knysna
Go on a boat– The best thing to do in Knysna is actually to go on a boat and check out the lagoon/the heads. The water is warmer than in Cape Town, thus it is super nice to go wakeboarding or waterskiing
Check out the viewpoint– My favorite spot in Knysna was the viewpoint from where you got the best view over the Knysna Heads
Where to eat in Knysna
La Paz Mexican restaurant– they have a lot of vegetarian options, which you can veganize by leaving out the cheese. Julia is still dreaming about their Enchiladas
Chatters Pizza– a lovely pizza place with some nice outdoor seating. You can create your own pizza, which I loved since I was able to top it with lots of avocado- so delicious
Throb Café– This place is definitely worth a visit for their iced coffee, which is so so good
Île de pain– this bakery is the perfect spot for breakfast/brunch. They have lots of freshly baked bread, croissants etc. Furthermore, they also have some healthy options on their menu such as smoothies or chia pudding
Spending the day on the boat & wakeboarding
The Knysna Viewpoint
Even though Wilderness lies before Knysna on the Garden Route, it was our second stop simply because of the way accommodation happened to work out. We spent the night in our tents at a Camping Place called “Ebb & Flow” located in the wilderness national Park, which was a nice and clean camping spot.
What to do in Wilderness
Hike to the waterfall– we did the Giant Kingfisher Trail, which is a super nice, relatively easy 1.5 hour long hike, that took us to a beautiful waterfall. It was surely one of the highlights of our road trip, since there were barely any other people there and swimming underneath the waterfall just felt absolutely amazing. A MUST DO!
Go Canoeing– In the National park you can rent canoes and explore to area whilst paddling along the river. When you rent a canoe the staff will advise you which way you can go, what you can see, how long it will take etc.
Watch the sunset– the sunset we caught at the beach in Wilderness was absolutely breathtaking. In my opinion nothing rounds up a day better than watching a beautiful sunset.
Check out Timberlake Market– this is a cute, little hippie market just outside of Wilderness with some food options
Where to eat in Wilderness
Wilderness is quite limited when it comes to the amount of restaurants they have, however, we went to these two places which were both pretty good:
Green Shed Coffe Roast– this place is great for coffee and smoothies. Make sure to get a Wazoogles Smoothie there- they are delicious. They also sell some food and vegan snacks
Royal Siam Thai Restaurant– We had dinner there one night and the curry was pretty good. They have lots of options on their menu and they also make Sushi
Hike to the waterfall in Wilderness
The next stop was Jeffrey’s Bay which is known to be one of the best surfing spots in the world. Somehow we couldn’t find any suitable accommodation there so we spent the night in St. Francis- at a place that isn’t really worth mentioning.
What to do in Jeffrey’s Bay
Go surfing– we initially wanted to rent a board and try our luck surfing, however the day we were there the water was so packed with people and the waves were tiny (even for beginners like us) so we decided not to surf
Little Amusement Park– there a little “amusement park” along the boardwalk in Jeffrey’s bay, which we went to. Even though the rides were pretty chilled, it was still a lot of fun
Shop at the Outlet stores– In Jeffrey’s bay there a lot of Outlet shops: Billabong, Ripcurl etc. where you can get the brands’ older collections at a very reduced price
Where to eat in Jeffrey’s Bay
Inn Food Coffee Society– we had lunch at this place right next to all the outlet shops and we fell in love with the food there. They had smoothie bowls and one of the best avocado toasts I have ever tasted
Storms river suspension bridge
On our way back from Jeffrey’s Bay back to Plettenberg Bay we stopped by at the Tsitskikamma National Park to have a look at the Storms River suspension bridge. It was an easy 30 minute hike to the bridge and a very beautiful sight to see
Storms River Suspension Bridge
For the last two nights of our road trip we went camping once again: this time at the “Wild spirit backpackers” in Nature’s Valley. This place is a must visit along the Garden Route! Filled with hippies it is more than just an accommodation: they have forest hikes, Yoga classes and a bonfire in the evening. If you don’t want to go camping, don’t worry: they also have other accommodation options. However I must say that the showers there aren’t the nicest, so if you are not fond of the outdoors and are very picky when it comes to clean showers it might not be for you.
Whilst staying in Nature’s Valley we went on some of their hikes, but most of the time we actually drove to Plettenberg Bay, which is only 15 minutes away from Wild Spirit.
Feeding the horses at Wild Spirit carrots
Small waterfall at Wild Spirit
Whilst staying at Wild Spirit, we drove to Plettenberg Bay every day. Plett (as it is called) is an absolutley beautiful holiday town and somewhere you have got to stop by, whilst doing the Garden Route
What to do in Plett
Robberg beach- Most people don’t know that the water in Cape Town is actually freezing cold, so most of the time you can only go for a quick dip in the oean. Along the Garden route however, the water is a lot warmer, so we did spend a lot of time by the beach (especially in the water) in Plett. The main beaches are very busy in the season, so we drove to the end of Robberg beach which is a lot more quiet
Robberg Nature Reserve– We actually didn’t go there, but I have seen some nice photos of this place. Apparently it is great for hikes.
Where to eat in Plett
Bocca Coffee Roastery– this all vegan place is located about 15 minutes away from Plett. It is so cute and they offer an all vegan à la carte breakfast, aswell as a vegan buffet lunch. We went there for breakfast and the pancakes, aswell as the warm, savory breakfast we had were super yummy. The coffe there is also very good
Sajuiced– this little place offers juices, smoothies and even an Acai bowl, which tasted pretty good
Acai bowl in Plett
Loved the warmer water in Plettenberg Bay
Some Questions answered…
How long was the drive? From Cape Town Knysna you drive around 5.5 hours and from Knysna to Jeffrey’s bay it is another 2 hours. However, when you are in your car with some good friends, time passes very quickly.
Is it expensive? You will have to pay for fuel and accommodation. We saved a lot of money, since we camped some nights which is pretty cheap (e.g. at the Wild Spirit backpackers you only pay 100 rand per person per night). Moreover, I have found that eating out and grocery shopping is even a little cheaper at places along the Garden Route than in Cape Town. This trip can definitely be done with a small budget.
Is it safe? Questions about safety come up a lot when people ask me about travelling around in South Africa. Of course, it is not like Europe and you have to take certain safety precautions. For example, you can’t just camp anywhere by the road like you could in some places in Europe, instead you should look for a proper camping place with security. All in all, I have never felt unsafe in any way during my trip.
I hope you found this blogpost helpful. Let me know if you are ever up doing the Garden Route and visit any of these places. Furthemore, if you have any additional recommendations please let me know in the comments!