Garden Route

Explore the Garden Route Coast from your base at Blommekloof

It’s called the Garden Route because it truly is nature’s garden: a loosely-defined, oblong strip of coast between the Indian Ocean and the Outeniqua Mountains that stretches from somewhere west of Mossel Bay to somewhere east of Plettenberg Bay.

The only part of Africa that receives rainfall throughout the year, the Garden Route is an area of transition between the Mediterranean climate of Cape Town and the Western Cape Province, and the summer rainfall regions to the north and east of us - which explains why it contains the largest stands of evergreen forest in South Africa (the famously mysterious Knysna Forests), as well as some of the country’s finest stands of fynbos (Cape macchia - a group of over 6,000 plants that includes hundreds of species of proteas, ericas, Cape reeds, bulbs, and bulb-like plants).

And, with more than 120,000 hectares under the management of South African National Parks (the Garden Route National Park) - and tens of thousands under provincial and private conservation management - the Garden Route is also one of South Africa’s favourite outdoor playgrounds.

Image: Microlight flights above Wilderness with (more info below)

Tourist information offices

What to do: Nature

  • Garden Route Game Lodge (Albertinia) - safari game drives, game watching, children’s programmes, a fun and freaky skull garden, restaurant
  • Botlierskop Private Game Lodge (Great Brak River, Mossel Bay) - safari game drives, game watching, elephant encounters, restaurant
  • Birding (Wilderness & Sedgefield): visit the Rondevlei Bird Hide or the Malachite Bird Hide 
  • Birding (Blommekloof and Mossel Bay) - please see our bird list and other info here
  • Jubilee Creek & Millwood Gold Fields (Gouna section of the Knysna Forests) - definitely worth a day drive from Blommekloof. Picnic areas, short walks, Mother Holly’s Tea Garden, and an outdoor mining museum (Millwood was the site of the Cape’s only gold rush).
  • Radical Raptors (near Plettenberg Bay) - this is one animal sanctuary that’s definitely worth visiting. It rehabilitates sick and injured birds of prey, and its first aim is to release the birds whenever possible. Daily flying displays. 

What to do: Golf

  • Pinnacle Point Beach & Golf Resort (Mossel Bay) - 18 hole, par 72 links course designed by Peter Matkovich and Darren Clarke: Length 5,844 metres, ladies, 4,955 m.
  • Mossel Bay Golf Club - 18 holes, par 72 links course designed by Bob Grimsdell (1957) with extensive upgrades by Danie Obermeyer (2000). Length championship: 5,880 metres
  • Oubaai Golf Course (George) - 18 hole, par 74 links course designed by Ernie Els. Length: 6,516 metres
  • Fancourt  (George) - three different courses, all designed by Gary Player: The Links at Fancourt (18 holes, par 72 links course. Length championship: 5,530 m), The Montagu at Fancourt (18 holes, par 72 parklands course. Length championship: 6,284 m); and the Outeniqua (18 holes, par 72, parklands course). In 2014, Golf Digest SA ranked The Links the top course in South Africa, while USA Golf Digest ranked it number 34 in the world.
  • Kingswood Golf Club (George) - 18 hole, par 72 links course designed by Danie Obermeyer. Length championship: 6,286 m, club: 6,020 m
  • George Golf Club - 18 hole, par 70 combination links and parklands course designed by Dr. Charles Molteno Murray. Length championship: 6,201 m
  • Pezula Championship Course (Knysna) - 18 hole, par 72 links course designed by Ron Fream. Length championship: 6,281 m
  • Simola Golf Course  (Knysna) - 18 hole, par 72 parklands course designed by Jack Nicklaus. Length 5,644 m, ladies: 4,755 m
  • Knysna Golf Club 18 holes, par 72 parklands course designed by Phillip Basson (redesigned 1998). Length championship: 5,924 m, club: 5,924 m
  • Goose Valley (Plettenberg Bay) - 18 holes, par 72 combination links and parklands course designed by Gary Player Design Co. Length championship: 5,847 m

What to do: In the air

What to do: Beaches

  • Mossel Bay - a total of 60 km of sand, including 4 seasonal Blue Flag Beaches
  • Victoria Bay (George) - probably the Garden Route's most famous surfing destination

What to do: Tours & Excursions

  • Point of Human Origins Experience (Mossel Bay) - visit the Pinnacle Point Caves in the company of the archaeologist who introduced them to science: Dr. Peter Nilssen. The Caves have been the subject of ongoing research since 2000, and have revealed the earliest evidence for modern human behaviour - and have established Mossel Bay as the birthplace of both culture and advanced technology. Other important lessons from the caves point to the way humankind has reacted to climate change over long periods of time. This tour will change the way you think about being human.
  • Romonza Boat Trips (Mossel Bay) - boat-based whale watching trips; tips around Seal Island
  • Diaz Express (Mossel Bay) - scheduled services and rail excursions along the coast in restored power vans (inspection trolleys)
  • Paddle Cruiser (Knysna) - fine dining cruises on the Knysna Estuary about South Africa’s famous (and only!) working paddle boat
  • Heads Explorer (Knysna) - catamaran sailing cruises on the Knysna Estuary and through the Knysna Heads
  • Featherbed Nature Reserve (Knysna) - 3- to 4-hour excursions that include return cruises on the Knysna Estuary, tour of the reserve on the Western Head (headland). Some tours also include buffet lunch.
  • Springtide Charters & Ocean Odyssey (Knysna) - luxury sailing yacht charters, sailing cruises, boat-based whale watching, marine safaris on the Knysna Estuary and through the Knysna Heads

What to do: Museums & galleries

  • Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex (Mossel Bay) - Includes a maritime museum with a full-size replica of a Portuguese caravel (the type of ship on which Dias sailed to become the first European to land on South African shores); Africa's biggest shell museum; the Post Office Tree (a Milkwood tree that was used as a drop-box by sailors in the 16th Century; letters posted here today are stamped with a special commemorative frank); and a tranquil field Garden and fynbos Braille Trail.
  • Great Brak River Museum - local history, photographic collection, exhibition of human origins with special reference to the local community
  • Outeniqua Transport Museum (George) - trains, trucks, cars, and other vehicles. Includes Kruger’s private train (from which he ran the Transvaal Republic after the fall of Pretoria in the South African War, 1899 - 1902), and the White Train, in which the British Royals toured South Africa in 1947
  • George Museum - local history, wonderful collections of musical instruments, and fascinating displays about the history of forestry and timber in the forests of the Garden Route (including the Knysna forests).
  • Old Gaol Museum & Millwood House Museum (Knysna) - maritime history, art gallery, history of the Knysna Forests and Knysna timber industry in the 19th Century and early 20th Century
  • Knysna Fine Art - one of South Africa’s most respected commercial galleries. Specialises in contemporary South African Artists; also shows international artists

Microlight & gyrocopter flights

Experience the Garden Route from the air: 15, 30, 45 minute (and longer) trips from airfields in both Rheenendal (near Knysna) and Hoekwil (which is in the foothills of the Outeniquas, near Wilderness, and 85 km from Blommekloof).

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