5 - Day Garden Route itinerary
Are you planning on a 5 day trip along the beautiful garden route in South Africa? Or are you still in doubt if 5 days is long enough for the garden route? This article will help you on your journey. The garden route can be done in many ways. From the short 3 day itinerary to spending a couple weeks. It usually really depends on how much time you have in your trip. We would encourage always that going a bit slower - thus taking more time - is the better option for the Garden Route.
If you want to do your 5 day Garden route from Cape town please keep reading below. If you want to have your 5 day Garden route itinerary from Port Elizabeth please visit this page.
5 day garden route itinerary starting in Cape Town - Day 1
The first day if you 5 day itinerary on the Garden Route is a bit of a driving day, as you have to get towards the start of the Garden Route. Start your trip in Cape Town early in the morning (7 - 8 am) and drive towards the start of the Garden route along the N2. There is many places you could stop if you have more time it worth taking some time at Hermanus, Good Hope National Park or the wine region (Stellenbosch and Franschhoek). You should arrive in Mosselbay (the official start point) around lunch. Park you car close to the lighthouse (not the city center, unless you like to walk for 20 minutes). Mosselbay has a beautiful coastline where you often find many surfer in the water. There are a couple of restaurants at the beach front. The most scenic part of the coastline is when you go beyond the Italian restaurant xxx. And walk around the block (approx. 20 minutes). If you are lucky you can spot some dolphins or whales (June, July) in the water.
After your lunch drive another 60 minutes to Wilderness. You will find that most itineraries recommend staying in George - but it’s a bit of a boring city. So take the scenic drive just 15 minutes after George to Wilderness. This will be your first destination of your trip. The moment you drive the scenic pass, you will understand why the garden route is call the garden route.
Activities when you arrive in Wilderness:
- Depending on your time (and energy) there are some things you can do on your first day at Wilderness:
There is the option today to drive to the ‘map of Africa’. This is a beautiful viewpoint at the top of the mountain in Wilderness. There is a view point that shows the beautiful jungle that lies beyond Wilderness. Some see the shape of Africa. Others see a crocodile. Some see nothing. Don’t forget to ask the two ladies there any questions about the viewpoint. They keep the place clean everyday so that others can enjoy this viewpoint. You can tip them cash or by card (optional!).
- Another option is to explore the beach of Wilderness with a romantic walk. Make sure there is enough day light when you start your hike so you come back around when the sun is setting. Either start at Beach House Backpackers or somewhere along the beach and walk towards the west.
Places to stay in Wilderness:
- Romantic Lodge: - xxx
- Budget: Beach House Backpackers - Option: for the dorms, camping, overlander (safe parking in front) or a private room with ensuite.
Places to go for diner in Wilderness:
Garden route Itinerary - Day 2
In the morning we recommend you explore the region around Wilderness. There are multiple things you can do. The things we did in Wilderness (note we stayed there a week, so you can’t do all these things) are:
- Hiking the Kingfisher Trail in Wilderness National Park (50% cano, 50% walking) (approx. 3 hours)
- Skydiving at George Skydive center (2-3 hours)
- Surfing and Victoria Bay beach (one of the best surfing spots along the garden route) - best time to go is around 6am.
After your activity drive onwards towards Knysna. This is about 1 hour drive from Wilderness. There is a nice option to go to xxx - a short 10 minutes detour by car. Which will give you one of the best beaches of the garden route. This is a great place for a stroll along the sand and reefs. When you arrive in Knsyna find a nice place to Lunch. There is a chain with xx and xx restaurant that have a daily special. Every day 1 dish will be super cheap. When were there xx day and xx day they had a Seafood platter for 2 for just xx.
During the afternoon in Knysna there are multiple options for you to explore:
- Enjoy the marine harbor with it’s fine restaurants serving good food and drinks.
- Watch the critically endangered Knysna Seahorse in the Knysna seahorse rescue center.
- Visit the local rastafari village. It’s safe to go here and to walk around. Plenty of people will offer your their sacred herbs.
Places to stay in Knysna:
- For Couples:
- For large groups and/or families: The Oyster Creek Lodge
- Romantic Camping: - TAO Camp - If you have a tent or camping equipment with you. And looking for the most romantic night on a private camp spot underneath the stars in the jungle.
- Camping: Ebb & Flow Camp
Places to go for diner in Knysna:
Garden route Itinerary - Day 3
Day three we recommend spending time in nature. As you are on the beautiful garden route, and there is so much that Mother Nature has to offer here. As you are limited in times we recommend one of the following three options with overnight stay.
Option 1 (Adventurous, for hikers). Visit Diepwalle National Park for an overnight stay. It’s a 30 minute drive from Knsyna up north. Just follow road xxx. You don’t need a 4x4 to get there. At the Diepwalle National Park you find the oldest part of the rainforest along the garden route. There you can explore one, two or three (we don’t judge) of the Elephant hikes. Each around 7km’s long. If you are lucky you can spot some game (bush pig, gannets, small deer). Unfortunately the Knsyna forest elephant hasn’t been spotted in a very long time.
Accommodation in Diepwalle:
The park offers two options for accommodation. For campers you can pitch your own tent on a plateau in the jungle. For non-campers you can rent a pre-pitched tent on a plataue fully equipe with good beds and camping gear (stools, cooking equipment, lights etc..). Both option come with a braai. Don’t forget to bring wood or coals. Booking can be done at the website of the National Park itself. There are only 12 plateaus available - so make sure to book in time.
Option 2 (Romantic and for wildlife enthusiasts). Visit the Knysna Elephant Sanctuary. We also recommend you staying here for the night. The Elephant sanctuary is a place for rescued elephants. The lodge offers a variety of options to encounter elephants. Don’t worry these are non-intrusive encounters. The park doesn’t allow any touching or riding of the elephants. What is so special about staying here for the night is the fact that you will actually be able to hear elephants snoring from your room. The lodge is built next to the stables where to elephants like to sleep at night (they are free to walk in, but like humans elephants rather sleep indoors). The lodge has an open living area that gives you an amazing view of the elephants while they are sleeping. This is probably the closed you can get to sleeping with elephants.
- Option 3. (For families and animal lovers) Visit three animal sanctuaries! Spend your time at Monkeyland, Birds of Eden and Jumanji. You can opt to view one, two or three of the parks. As they come in a bundle and are all close to each other. Expect to spend about 2 hours per park.
- Our personal favorite is Monkeyland. As there is a beautiful hanging bridge in there where you can walk among the apes. The have a large variety of apes. The smallers ones roam freely around the park (you can buy food to feed them). The bigger ones have protected areas where they can stay (like a zoo).
- Second is Birds of Eden. We love watching birds. And in this park you can see a huge variety of birds flying around freely. Get your camera with you for those beautiful shots of the birds. Just like Monkeyland there is an option to feed to birds at a small cost. This is a very fun activity for smaller kids.
- Thirdly is the Junaji park. This park is dedicated to the big cats of Africa. You will find all sorts of cats here. Most of the cats don’t belong to the region, and are rescued from private owners who use to held them as a pet. At the park they get the freedom to rest their final days in peace. No interaction with cats are offered here (as it should!).
Accommodation for option 3.
For people looking for a unique place to stay we recommend staying at Holt Hill. Carla has created a beautiful place to stay with unique designed rooms and their garden full of peacocks!. Another good option is to drive already a bit further towards Plettenberg bay and to stay at xx or xx or xx. And make it a 2 night stay at this location.
Garden route Itinerary - Day 4
Depending on where you come from, make sure you drive early in the morning to Plettenberg bay (which is about 1 hour from Knysna). Grab your camera and binoculairs. Today is the best chance to spot whales, dolphins and seals and great white sharks! No worries, we don’t suggest you should go cage dive (you could though). Day 4 we recommend going for a hike along the Robberg Nature Reserve. The nature reserve named after the many rob’s (= dutch for seals) is a beautiful day hike. You can just drive up your car to the start of the park. A conservation fee is required (free for wildcard owners).
There are different routes available. The big one (about 14km is a bit strenuous. And you have to start your hike before 14:00 to be allowed to go in). While you walk along the Robberg you can spot on the east side thousands of seals. Watching them swim is amazing. If you are lucky you can sometimes spot groups of dolphins or a lonely great white. We did spotted about 30 dolphins on our hike. Unfortunately no great white, but the shark spotter told us that the day before the spotted multiple great whites.
If you don’t like hiking, you can also instead opt for a boat tour along the Robberg. Diving with seals is an activity being offered in Plettenberg.
After your hike you can find one of the nicer restaurants at the beach to enjoy the sunset. Plettenberg also has one of the better nightlifes of the spots along the garden route. So if you want to spend a night partying on your 5 day garden itinerary. This is the place to be. The clubs we recommend going for a night out is xx.
Where to stay in Plettenberg:
- Couples budget - Holt hil
- Backpackers - Wild Spirit Lodge (nature’s valley)
Places to go for dinner:
Garden route Itinerary - Day 5
The last day of your 5 day garden route trip. Early in the morning you drive to Stormsrivier. On your drive there you will drive over the Bloukansrivier bridge. This is the place that is famous for the worlds highest bungee jump of a bridge. This is not for the faint hearted. But rest assured, in the xx years of its operation nobody ever died doing this 280m bungee.
Stormsrivier is the final stop on the garden route. At Stormsrivier it’s all about being in the jungle of the Tsitsikamma. There are plenty of options to explore:
You can go canoeing in the river mouth.
Depending on your travel plans from Stormsrivier you can drive onwards towards Port Elizabeth. This is another 3 hours of driving, and you will pass the famous Jeffreysbay which is definitely worth a stop for a couple days. Other option is to drive back from Stormsrivier to Cape Town. This will take you about 10 hours. We once did it in one day. But in all honesty it’s a bit of a long drive (on a good road though). Other options are to fly back via George, Plettenberg or Port Elizabeth to your next destination.
Spending more time on the garden route:
There is actually a lot to do on the garden route. And sometimes a 5 day itinerary on the garden route is not enough. If you got excited we also created a 7 day garden route itinerary and 10 day itinerary. Here we will explore more parts of the garden route.
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