South Africa: Adventures on the Garden Route
After becoming obsessed with Cape Town, we hopped in our little white rental car with our friends Jeff and Catherine to take on the Garden Route drive. This scenic route took us from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth where we were able to catch our flight to Johannesburg for safari. Our drive was full of lots of laughs and adventure. The itinerary and GoPro video below gives you the cliffs notes on our route and escapades along the way!
*Note: We had some file issues and weren’t able to get all of the shakiness out of this video. So, our apologies for the shake, rattle, and rolls! Still one of our very favorite videos because of all of the wonderful memories made with Jeff and Catherine!
Day 1-Whale Watching and Great White Shark Cage Diving
Start the drive in Paarl (wine country outside of Cape Town) and head to Hermanus for breakfast and a whale-watching break. We suggest grabbing one of the delicious egg dishes from Oskars Delikatessen (Shop 4, Village Square, Market Square St, Hermanus, 7200). After breakfast, head to the coast for some whale watching. We didn’t spy any whales, but plopping down on a rock at the lookout is a great place to take in nature, reflect, and remind yourself you’re not at work!!
From Hermanus, continue your drive to Gansbaai for some cage diving. On the way, we stopped off at Birkenhead Brewery for a bite to eat and a sampling of their great beer selection. Then, we got face to face with great white sharks through Marine Dynamics. Despite the freezing waters, we had a wonderful experience and got to see two huge great whites! Don’t worry, you feel very safe in behind the bars of the cage (we were more upset about the temperature of the water).
Approximate Time in Car: 3 hours
Day 2-Drive to Oudtshoorn
The longest drive of the route is reserved for day 2. Start in Gansbaai and head to the next stop, Oudtshoorn. Don’t fret, this drive has beautiful views as you weave through the mountains and you get to stop at Ronnie’s Sex Shop. This pub proudly wears the title of “weirdest pub in South Africa.” The owner, Ronnie, bought this building in the middle of nowhere, labeled it “Ronnie’s Shop”, but was stumped about what to sell. One drunken night, Ronnie’s friends graffitied the side of the store by adding “sex” to the sign. After waking up to his new namesake, it hit Ronnie that it had to be a pub! So, now you have a hilarious spot to stop for a cheap beer and toasties (grilled cheese) during this long haul. There are also some hot springs along the way for those interested in a relaxing break from the drive.
Approximate Time in Car: 4.5 hours
Day 3-Ostiches, Caves, & Views To Boot
Day 3 is jam packed with activities and takes you from Oudtsdhoorn to Plettenberg Bay. Get up early to ride the ostriches at Cango Ostrich Show Farm in Oudtsdhoorn. This is stop is super hilarious and fun. You get to learn about ostriches, feed them, and even ride them. Fun fact: after being bitten by one of the ostriches and scratched riding one, I learned that birds can’t have rabies… so, that was a relief!
After riding the ostriches, head about 15 minutes further north to the famous Cango Caves. These caves are enormous and filled with beautiful stalagmites and stalactites. You can choose between a 1-hour walking tour or a 2 ½ walking/climbing tour.
Following a morning of activities in Oudtsdhoorn, continue south to Plettenberg Bay. Be sure to stop in Kynsna for lunch and views on your way. East Head Café has unbelievable views of the water and delicious food. We’re told there are some great hiking trails in Kynsna as well, but unfortunately didn’t have time to check them out for ourselves.
Continue driving until you get to Plettenberg Bay. We had an A+++++ Airbnb at Moon Shine on Whiskey Creek complete with a cozy cabin, fire pit, hiking trails, and a pool. Just down the street, you’ll find Thyme & Again where you can buy yummy baked goods and other staples.
Approximate Time in Car: 2 ½ hours
Day 4-Kayak and Lilo in Tsitsikamma National Park
On Day 4, drive from Plettenberg Bay to Port Elizabeth for your next flight. On the way, be sure to stop in Tsitsikamma National Park where we had one of our favorite activities so far. Here, we kayaked and liloed (a hardcore float you lay on) up the Storms River. If you watch our GoPro video you’ll see how kickass this activity was. Our guide, Tate, was extremely funny and informative. We had a blast kayaking, liloing, and cliff jumping!
Approximate Time in Car: 2 ½ hours