The Garden Route in South Africa is a stretch of 124 miles from the Western Cape between Mosel Bay and the Storms River. It is a tourist route set up for road-trippers with pit stops and numerous detours that showcase the culture, beauty and hospitality of the region.

The route can be done over a few days or a few weeks, depending on how deep under the skin the area you want to access is.

Mossel Bay is the western gateway to the Garden Route and is less than 250 miles from Cape Town as you take the N2 highway with minimal traffic and easy driving conditions.

Mossel Bay provides the opportunity to explore the St. Blaise Trail, a rugged nine-mile coastal walk that leads from the cave below Cape St. Blaise Lighthouse to Dana Bay.

The historic town of George is 30 minutes further along the coast and is home to the Garden Route Botanical Gardens, which characterize the Cape Floral Region, recognized by UNESCO for its astonishing biodiversity. While this region covers only 0.5% of Africa, it contains 20% of the continent’s plant species. As you pass George, the imposing Outeniqua Mountains provide a stunning backdrop as you head into the wilderness and on to Knysna.

Beyond Knysna is famous for its 10-day Oyster Festival which takes place in late June each year. The town overlooks a lagoon dotted with sailing boats with the sea beyond two headpoints making a perfect sunset backdrop.

Plettenberg Bay, an hour further east, is a favorite throughout the Western Cape. Think stunning beaches, sandy coves and sheer cliffs with waters teeming with migrating dolphins and whales year-round.

The Garden Route ends at the village of Storms River, 50 minutes east of Plettenberg Bay. Inland lies the dense, mountainous Tsitsikamma Forest, which is home to a wide range of adventure activities such as kayaking expeditions as well as the world’s highest bungee jump (709 feet) at Bluecranes Bridge. While home to some amazing walking trails, including the country’s oldest hiking route, the five-day Otter Trail, lies Tsitsikamma National Park.

Along the Garden Route, to complement the many activities, there is some fabulous luxury accommodation. Here are five of our favourites;

The Manor House at Fancourt – George

The Manor House at Fancourt is located in the heart of the Fancourt Estate in George. It is a luxury boutique hotel that combines historic charm with modern elegance. Originally built in 1859 by Henry Fancourt White, the manor house is an outstanding example of 19th-century architecture, with elegant, Cape Dutch-style design elements.

The main attraction is golf and most guests will look to play. Boasting 3 superb links golf courses, designed by Gary Player and currently ranked as the number 2 course in the country.

The exterior of the manor house features whitewashed walls, gabled roofs and beautiful verandas that offer panoramic views of the surrounding gardens and the Outeniqua Mountains. Lush, meticulously landscaped gardens include mature trees, vibrant flowerbeds and tranquil water features, creating a serene and picturesque setting.

Inside, the Manor House is beautifully appointed with high ceilings, original wooden floors and antique furnishings that exude timeless sophistication. The decor seamlessly blends classic and contemporary styles, with luxurious fabrics, rich colors and bespoke artwork adorning the walls. Rooms are luxurious with individually decorated suites but with modern amenities. After a round of golf, guests can enjoy exclusive access to the Manor House’s private facilities, including the lounge, bar and outdoor swimming pool.

The Manor House is part of the sprawling Fancourt Estate where you’ll find a wellness spa, gourmet dining options, and recreational activities like tennis and hiking. Plus world class golf facilities.

If you’re a golfer and visiting South Africa, you’ll want to stay at least one night.

Simbavati Fynbos on Sea – Sedgefield

Simbavati Fynbos on Sea is located in the small coastal town of Sedgefield, halfway between George and Knysna. This luxurious lodge can be difficult to find as it is located on top of a hill with a path to the top.

Once there, you will discover breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean and the surrounding fynbos landscape characterized by its diverse plant life, part of the Cape Floral Kingdom.

The lodge overlooks the beach below, providing easy access to sandy shores and coastal activities.

Simbavati’s rooms are elegant, often designed with natural materials and focus on blending in with the environment. Rooms usually have large windows or private terraces to take advantage of the scenic views. The interiors are tastefully decorated with a blend of modern amenities and rustic charm.

The region is known for its activities and Simbavati is no different. Here guests can enjoy guided nature walks, bird watching and explore the unique flora and fauna of the fynbos region. The lodge is also home to free-roaming game animals such as eland, waterbuck and zebra.

Close to the property you can discover beautiful fossil dunes and beaches, kayak on the Swartveli and Sedgefield lagoons or visit the neighboring Prouty Farm. At low tide in summer, snorkeling in the rockpool can be a treat. The area is also a major attraction for advanced paragliding with companies using Simbavati as a jumping off point.

Dining at Simbavati Fynbos on Sea is an exquisite experience, with a focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients and guests can enjoy meals in the beautiful dining area overlooking the sea or in a more private, romantic setting.

The Simbavati Fynbos on Sea Garden is a perfect stop on the route, especially if you’re looking for an alternative to Knysna.

Kanankop House – Knysna

Kanankop House is perhaps the top boutique luxury property on the Garden Route. Perched on the hills above Knysna, this hotel offers stunning panoramic views of the Knysna Lagoon and surrounding lush landscapes.

There is no official reception at the property and guests are met personally by an attentive concierge who escorts you to your room. Rooms and suites are exceptionally appointed, each individually decorated with a mix of contemporary and traditional African styles. Many rooms offer private balconies or terraces with stunning views over the Knysna Lagoon.

Rooms are equipped with modern amenities such as air conditioning, flat-screen TV, complimentary Wi-Fi, mini-bar and luxurious en-suite bathrooms with high-end toiletries.

There is a large lounge and bar area, designed for relaxation which includes a wide range of South African gins and other spirits, a large beer fridge and an extensive bar with an amazing selection of South African wines. The best part is that all drinks are included in the cost of your stay.

An à la carte breakfast is served daily, often on the terrace with lagoon views. Light meals and snacks are also available throughout the day but there is no main restaurant. Knysna has some great dining options a short drive away and most people have their own car when visiting Knysna.

The guesthouse is conveniently located close to Knasna’s town centre, offering easy access to popular tourist destinations such as Knasna Heads, Featherbed Nature Reserve and Knasna Waterfront.

A sun deck and a beautiful outdoor pool surrounded by lush gardens provide a perfect place to relax and soak up the sun while there are also beautifully manicured gardens with indigenous plants.

Kanankop House’s concierge can arrange various activities such as lagoon cruises, hiking, golfing, visits to local wildlife reserves and beaches, massage and spa services, as well as restaurant reservations.

There is Kanankop House This Place to stay in Knysna.

Tsala Treetop Lodge – Plettenberg Bay

Tsala Treetop Lodge is a luxury retreat in the middle of the Garden Route in Plettenberg Bay. This unique and unusual lodge is unlike any other property on the Garden Route and offers a unique blend of seclusion, comfort and natural beauty, making it an ideal destination for couples looking for a quiet escape.

The lodge features a selection of elegant suites and villas that are elevated on stilts above the forest floor, offering breathtaking views of the lush forest canopy. The suites and villas are designed with a mix of stone, wood and glass, offering a blend of modern luxury and natural elements. Each suite or villa is equipped with a private deck, plunge pool and spacious living areas, ensuring utmost comfort and privacy. It is perfect for a honeymooning couple.

The main dining area offers spectacular views of the forest, enhancing the dining experience and guests can enjoy fine dining, from hearty breakfasts to decadent dinners, all prepared with the finest ingredients.

The lodge has a range of facilities and activities designed to enrich the guest experience. The lodge has a beautiful infinity pool, a library and a lounge area where guests can relax and unwind. For those seeking adventure, the lodge offers activities such as forest walks, bird watching and guided tours of the surrounding area. Nestled within the forest, the lodge is a convenient 20-minute drive to Plettenberg Bay, where you can enjoy excellent surf beaches, whale watching and a variety of water sports.

The lodge offers a range of spa treatments for those looking to relax away from your room or the beach.

Tsala Treetop Lodge is committed to sustainability and eco-friendly practices. The lodge takes steps to reduce its environmental impact by using sustainable materials in its construction, implementing water- and energy-saving practices, and supporting local communities through various initiatives.

All this makes Tsala Treetop Lodge a truly unforgettable experience, ideal for those seeking retreat in style.

Walker’s Beach Hotel – Plettenberg Bay

Walkers Beach Hotel is one of the newer hotels in Plattenburg and in my opinion the best. It is a stunning boutique hotel that offers guests direct access to stunning views of the Indian Ocean and pristine sandy beaches. The hotel’s architecture and decor blend modern elegance with coastal charm, featuring large windows, airy whitewashed rooms and spacious balconies that maximize the breathtaking ocean views. It looks very much like a Mediterranean villa.

Rooms at Walker’s Beach feature contemporary interiors with soothing color palettes and high-end furnishings and plush bedding.

There are two outdoor swimming pools with comfortable loungers and parasols, perfect for enjoying the sea view and soaking up the sun if you don’t fancy the sandy beach.

The restaurant and bar overlook the sea and serve fine food, focusing on fresh, local ingredients, in a bright open space. Beef carpaccio salad is great for lunch!

Plattenburg Bay is famous for its variety of activities and excursions, and the hotel can help book water sports, whale watching and trips to nearby attractions, so guests can fully experience the beauty and adventure of the surrounding area.

With its prime location, stylish rooms and exceptional service, Walkers Beach is our property for anyone looking to stay in Plattenburg.

Simon Williams

Simon Williams is the director The Humboldt Journey. Humboldt Travel is a luxury travel company specializing in vacations in Latin America, Africa and Asia. If you would like to become a guest blogger on a luxury travel blog to raise your profile, please contact us.

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