Custom Private Garden Route Tours with Accredited Nature, Adventure & Culture Tour Guides
Breathtaking Views for Memorable Photos at your own Pace
Specialists in the Cape Town & Garden Route Areas
All Inclusive Custom Tour Offers
100% Safety Record
Custom Private Multi Day Tours
Traveller Reviews of Garden Route Tours
''Experience which Tops the Charts''
Words alone cannot describe the incredible experience my family and I had on our tour with Cape of Good Hope Tours. My family will return home with the best experience of their life.
- Anne , Malaysia, Tripadvisor Comment
''More than a Friend to us, well Experienced''
Our Garden Route tour was fantastic and we managed to go to all important tourist spots as per our plan. Amaan was more than a friend to us, and well experienced. In short we enjoyed to the most.
- Anthanasia, Tanzania, Personal Email
''Amazing, Infinitely Knowledgeable''
I was fortunate to have an amazing guide, Anthea. She was infinitely Knowledgeable. She allowed me to spend as much time as I liked at any of the stops and tailored my South Africa tour to my interests.
- Noah , USA, Tripadvisor Comment
Garden Route Tours: All You Need to Know
Overview | Highlights | Hermanus | Oudtshoorn | Mossel Bay | Knysna Lagoon | Plettenberg Bay | Tsitsikamma National Park | Wine Regions | Wildlife | Safari | Accommodation | Seasons | Benefits | Guides | Accreditations | Airports | Currency | Safety Guidelines
Steeped in ancient forests, winding roads, pristine beaches along with unique cultural and historical diversity, there is no questioning why the magnificent Garden Route stretch attracts thousands of visitors from all parts of the world. Garden Route tours start with meeting your personal accredited tour guide before boarding your dedicated aircon-equipped mini coach or sedan and then embarking on your trip.
Whether you’re strolling next to an African elephant with its trunk in your hand, cruising azure waters on a boat trip while the sun sinks below the horizon, or marvelling at the great forest beneath your feet as you cross the awe-inspiring Tsitsikamma suspension bridge – Garden Route Tours will leave you with lasting, life-long memories.
Highlights to See on Garden Route Tours
It’s called the Garden Route for a reason: the name comes from the fertile and ecologically diverse vegetation, as well as the large bodies of water found here, including pristine estuaries and lakes. Everywhere you stop, this verdant stretch of land has something unique and special to offer – but we want to ensure that you don’t miss out on any hidden gems. Read on for our top tips of those places you simply must explore while on your Garden Route tour from Cape Town or Port Elizabeth.
Hermanus and Whale Watching along the Garden Route
East of Cape Town beyond the Hottentots-Holland mountains, the quaint seaside village of Hermanus is recognised by the World Wildlife Fund (source) as one of the 12 best whale watching destinations in the world (source). As a result, it’s grown hugely in popularity and is today filled with nature enthusiasts and tourists eager to spot these giants of the deep. If you choose to include Hermanus as part of your Garden Route tour, here are some highlights to see and do:
Markets and restaurants: With thriving artisan markets, a bustling selection of coffee shops and restaurants, as well as some world-renowned wine farms on your doorstep, Hermanus has much to offer with regards to eating and drinking. It’s also a great place to pick up handcrafted goods or art from one of the many unique stores and galleries in the area.
Whale watching boat trips: Take an eco-based boat trip to observe these gentle creatures through the months of June to December, as they migrate to this bay from around the world to mate, birth and rear their young. See them play in the waves, breathe in the salty air and snap unforgettable photos. If you’re not keen on boarding a boat, Hermanus is also renowned for its land-based whale watching, which is possible on many easily accessible cliff paths.
Want to know more? Our 6 day garden route tour includes a Hermanus Eco Boat Trip.
See Oudtshoorn, Cango Caves & Garden Route Ostrich Farms
As you leave the cooler coastal Overberg region, head inland into the arid semi-desert of the Karoo. Atmospheric and expansive, the Karoo’s small towns are packed with heritage and original natural encounters. Where else can you spot cheeky meerkats in the morning and elegant ostriches in the afternoon? Oudtshoorn is one such town that’s a great base for exploring the region. Here are our top picks:
The Cango Caves: A short 30km drive from the village, these limestone caves have been a popular tourist destination for generations. Gaze upon beautifully lit up rock formations that have taken thousands of years to create and marvel at the exceptional acoustics, as you hear about the history and unique geography from your knowledgeable guide.
Meerkat Adventure Experience: Arrive before sunrise and make your way through the morning mist to find the site your guide has identified the night before (meerkats are nomadic squatters and choose a different place to burrow each night). As you settle into your chair and the sun starts to rise, you’ll spot the first head pop up, followed by fun family antics as the meerkats scratch, warm and feed themselves.
Cango Ostrich Farm: This privately-owned farm is immaculately maintained and offers you the chance to see the giant eggs and how they’re incubated, spot the chicks and feed and touch the adult birds. You can even choose to receive a “neck massage” from these gigantic birds!
Historic Country House: We’ve hand selected a range of owner-run guesthouses to stay in, such as Oue Werf, a farm that has been owned by the same family for over 150 years, spanning six generations. This ensures that you get to enjoy every luxury and amenity while soaking up the area’s heritage.
Explore Mossel Bay and try Garden Route Shark Diving
Following the gorgeous Garden Route coastline, the small harbour town of Mossel Bay offers a variety of activities to join, no matter what kind of holiday you’re after. It’s believed that Dutch admiral Paulus van Caerden gave the bay its name in 1601 (source), because his sailors gathered mussels here to supplement their meagre rations. Here are our highlights not to miss:
Pristine coastline: Enjoy a picnic or go for a swim at a safe spot along the area’s 60km of white sand beaches, or explore one the many exquisite walking trails along picturesque cliffs paths, including the well-known Oyster Catcher trail.
Shark-cage diving: Fascinated by the majesty and power of Great White Sharks? Stare these mighty predators in the eye by going shark-cage diving with a reputable service provider, who has conservation at their core. Feel the salty air fill your lungs and then plunge beneath the ocean as you experience a truly once-in-a-lifetime event.
Heritage and history: Stroll through the city centre and learn more about its many historic buildings or take a trip to the Dias Musuem to discover how this intrepid Portuguese sailor landed in the area in 1488. The museum is actually a complex of buildings featuring three different offerings, as well as an indigenous botanical garden.
Sky diving: Adrenaline junkies will delight in the sensation of free falling as the ground rushes towards you and you gaze upon the azure Indian ocean and Outeniqua mountains below. Tandem sky-diving is the safest option for first timers, as you’ll have an experienced instructor guiding you through the entire adventure.
Visit Knysna Lagoon and Garden Route Forests
Further north, just over an hour’s drive from Mossel Bay, the market village of Knysna is primarily built on the shore of a large warm water estuary known as Knysna Lagoon. To the north, the Garden Route rainforest stretches up for almost 20km towards the Outeniqua Mountains. As a result, Knysna evokes charm as you gaze upon yachts sailing on the lagoon and see hikers emerging from the depths of its magical forests. Here are some of our highlights:
Join a lagoon cruise: Soak up the sunshine as you glide along the glistening waters of the lagoon and gaze upon “The Knysna Heads”, the point at which the lagoon meets the sea. Perhaps you’re keen on a sunset cruise enjoyed with fresh oysters and drinks? The options to customise your day are endless.
Hike a Forest trail: There are only a handful of untouched Afromontane forests left in Africa, and one of these is found in Knysna. Choose from a variety of trails such as the ‘Circles of the Forest’ trail and spot rainbow coloured Knysna Dwarf chameleons, vivid mushrooms sprouting from rocks, and listen to birdsong as it echoes overhead.
Learn about elephants: The Knysna Elephant Park gives you the opportunity to interact with African elephants in an environmentally responsible way. The park cares for over 40 orphaned rescue elephants, allowing visitors to walk hand in trunk with them, feed them a snack bucket and see how they interact with each other.
A 4 day garden route tour includes a visit to Knysna – so be sure to review this should it be of interest.
See Plettenberg Bay & Pristine Garden Route Beaches
With sweeping golden sand beaches, first class hiking trails and picturesque cliffs surrounding the Robberg peninsula, this upmarket town is known rightly as the “jewel of the Garden Route”. Here are some of our highlights:
Birds of Eden: The world’s largest of its kind, this unique two-hectare dome over a swathe of indigenous forest is home to 3500 birds. Both exotic and African species, most are rescue birds, and this gigantic aviary provides a way to rehabilitate them as you spot their bright colours and hear their melodic calls.
Jukani: The magnificent roar of a male lion. The elegant gait of a leopard. Big Cats are synonymous with Africa and we’re proud to include Jukani on our list of Garden Route “must-sees”. Marvel at tigers, pumas and jaguars as well, all of whom have been rescued or rehomed from facilities that could no longer care for them.
Monkeyland: The world’s first free roaming multi-species primate sanctuary offers you the chance to see over 550 primates including capuchin monkeys, black-and-white ruffed lemurs, squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys and gibbons. This forest sanctuary is all about giving ex-captive primates back their freedom, as well as educating the public.
Visit Tsitsikamma National Park a Garden Route Treasure
This lush stretch of land teems with life and is named after the San tribe word that means "place of abundant water". You’ll see why when you glimpse the wild seas crashing onto the rocks and streams flowing through forests, and as you swim in waterfalls and marvel at the river mouth at the bottom of a ravine. Here are some highlights on your Garden Route Tour from Port Elizabeth or Cape Town that you won’t want to miss:
Tstitsikamma National Park: Nature lovers will delight in the Waterfall Trail which forms the first 3km stretch of the world-famous Otter Trail. It takes you along the wild coastline past a spectacular waterfall and along a suspension bridge (pack a picnic and your swimsuit, and be prepared for some fairly strenuous walking).
Bloukrans Bungee Jumping: If you’re going to bungee jump, do it from the top of the arch of Africa’s highest commercially available bungy! Using pendulum bungee technology, this is the most comfortable, safest and exhilarating jump available – a once in a lifetime experience.
Include World-class Wine Regions on your Garden Route Tour
South African wine heritage has largely been influenced by the arrival of French Huguenot settlers who arrived in the Cape in the late 17th Century. Today, wine connoisseurs travel from all over the world to sample our local wines. With our temperate climate and rich wine-making tradition, South Africa is currently the ninth largest producer of wine worldwide (source), and is known for unique varietals such as Pinotage.
Leaving Cape Town, take a trip through some of the most famous Cape wine regions: the history-steeped streets of Stellenbosch, the wide green expanses of the Franschhoek valley, or the cultural pearl of Paarl. Whichever you choose, you’ll be guaranteed stunning scenery, delicious food and wine, and beautiful Cape Dutch architecture to enjoy.
An 8 day garden route tour includes a visit to Stellenbosch, stopping in at some of South Africa’s most prestigious wine estates.
Will I see Animals on my Garden Route Tour?
Sightings of animals occur on most Garden Route tours but given these animals are in their natural habitat, sightings cannot be guaranteed. Having said that, let your dedicated tour guide know which animals top your list, whether its spotting the Big 5 in the wild, getting up close to Great White Sharks or bird watching for particular species. They’ll then ensure that they give you the best chance of seeing these.
Join a Garden Route Safari Experience
The game reserve we recommend all depends on what you’d like from your Garden Route tour, in terms of what animals and terrain you’d like to see. Here are two of our favourites:
Garden Route Game Lodge: Located just over three hours’ drive from Cape Town, this family owned private garden route game reserve is malaria-free and gives you a great chance to spot the Big 5. Get up early for a dawn patrol of the bushveld in a safari vehicle, relax in your luxurious chalet perched on the edge of the wild bush, or plunge into the crystal-clear infinity pool to cool down.
Addo Elephant Park: If you’re a fan of the iconic African elephant, then Addo is the place to head if you really want to get to grips with the way elephants feed, socialise and rear their young. Elephants here are so used to humans that they sometimes pass within inches of your car, but be warned not to disturb them in any way. You could also spot lion and hyena, as well as many types of antelope.
A 7 day garden route tour includes a visit to the Addo Elephant Park – find out more.
Garden Route Tours: Accommodation & What to Expect
Accommodation on the Garden Route varies greatly. We prefer to focus on high quality, small to medium sized owner-run establishments, rather than larger chain hotels. We mostly use 4-star lodges and guesthouses, and all establishments need to meet strict criteria when it comes to local charm, quality, cleanliness and reputation requirements.
We’ve hand-picked a selection of properties that all have something special or unique about them. Oue Werf Country House & Manor in Oudtshoorn is a country guesthouse and working farm that has been in the same family for six generations. Another special inclusion is the Misty Mountain Reserve in the Tsitsikamma, where you can immerse yourself in nature as you relax in your cabin perched on steep cliffs with 180-degree views of the Indian Ocean.
When Should you Visit the Garden Route?
Visitors join Garden Route tours all year round, as the region is known for its mild, temperate and sunny climate – we have on average seven months of sunshine per year (source). Since we’re in the Southern Hemisphere, our seasons are the opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere.
The Western Cape gets most of its rainfall in winter, while the rest of the country experiences most of its rainfall in summer (source). Peak tourist season is typically December through February, but March through May also offers delightfully temperate weather along the Garden Route and is less busy.
Over the winter months from June through October, temperatures do drop but are still mild compared to many countries, with snow being a rarity. Many visitors come over our winter months in order to escape summer monsoon season in their own countries, when it may be hot and very rainy.
With so much variety in terms of natural surroundings and activities, you can craft a special South Africa tour at any time of year. In summer you may focus on hiking and beach activities for example, while game spotting and delectable dinners at a Garden Route game lodge ‘boma’ are available all year round.
Benefits of Custom Private Garden Route Tours
Going on one of our custom private Garden Route tours means that you benefit from our years of experience spent curating inclusive package trips for our guests.
There is so much beauty to see in our country, so you don’t want to miss out on those highlights. For example, you may want to book a Safari Adventure to spot elephant mothers and their calves, or need some help purchasing Robben Island Tickets, so you can learn more about our history and where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, while you’re visiting Cape Town.
Planning a trip which gives you authentic experiences can be difficult if you just follow the crowds and may not necessarily appeal to your specific tastes. Trying to organise this yourself can take hours of research and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get it right. Rather save time and let our Garden Route tour experts do it all for you.
We carefully select quality guesthouses to stay at, know the safest routes to take, and all the other details that make a holiday in South Africa memorable, rather than stressful or mass produced. Whether you want to devote time to touring galleries and museums, or get up earlier than usual to snap that perfect photograph of a lion at a watering hole, going on a private Garden Route tour with us gives you an instant solution of what matters to you.
Local Accredited Guides on your Garden Route Tour
When visiting a country as colourful and fascinating as South Africa, it requires a lifetime to immerse yourself in its diversity. That’s why a tour of the Garden Route with a local experienced guide is the most efficient way to visit our nation, as they use their rich experience of the area to share stories that will really help you see the country through their eyes.
As a requirement, all our guides are CATHSSETA accredited (Culture, Art, Tourism, Hospitality, Sport Education and Training Authority of South Africa) which means each person undergoes extensive training of the region they guide in, in this case the Garden Route (source).
Safety is of utmost priority to us, which is why all our guides have First Aid training with an accompanying certificate.
A guidebook might tell you how to get there, but we’ll show you around and share the magic behind our land.
ASTA – Member of the World’s Largest Travel Organisation
ASTA Membership Number: 900255971
Cape of Good Hope Tours, a Momentous Travel subsidiary and specialist in Garden Route tours, is a local Southern Africa tour operator which is certified by ASTA, the largest organisation of travel professionals worldwide (source).
In order to qualify as a member, we need to adhere to ASTA’s strict code of ethics, of which we are proud members. The code of ethics includes:
For more, visit Asta.org (source).
SATIB24 - 24/7 Emergency Support
Policy Number: B1262BW 0217118 PI08/2019/3239
Our Satib24 membership allows all our guests access to a 24-hour support centre which means that during any crisis, you can call their number (+27-311-002-370) and receive direct assistance. Services include:
A dedicated 24/7 helpline to the Satib24 incident operations centre
A direct line to doctors, nurses and security professionals in a crisis
Clinically-led decision making
A trusted source of global support and advice
The coordination of an integrated network of emergency medical, security and incident management specialists
Medical and security evacuations if necessary
During your stay on the Garden Route, simply keep our Policy Number on hand and provide it in case of any unforeseen emergencies.
Is it Better to Fly into Cape Town, Port Elizabeth or George Airport?
The wonderful thing about a Garden Route tour is that you can fly into any of these airports, depending on the areas you’d like to visit. One of our guides can meet you at whichever airport you choose, and drop you off at the same or a different airport, giving you ample flexibility.
Cape Town is an international airport and is close to the wine regions of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl, while the George airport is right in the middle of the Garden Route, with the villages of Knysna and Plettenberg Bay close by. Port Elizabeth is at the opposite end of the Garden Route to Cape Town, situated near the Addo Elephant Park and the dense forests of the Tsitsikamma region.
Currency Information & Tips for your Garden Route Tour
Most establishments on the Garden Route accept credit cards such as Visa or Mastercard, and there are also multiple places where ATMs are available. This said, we do advise you not to keep large sums of cash on you, but rather to have a small amount (in Rands) to pay for services such as parking, tips for petrol attendants and guides, or water or snacks at more informal establishments.
Safety Guidelines for Garden Route Tours
Every country has its own safety issues, so it’s important to be aware of these when visiting South Africa. Being safe during your Garden Route tour is all about knowing which areas are safe to visit as a tourist, along with your conduct while you’re there. Most visits to South Africa are trouble-free (source), but there are some things to bear in mind when travelling here:
Keep valuables in your hand luggage, instead of packing them in your checked baggage.
Most incidents occur in isolated areas or places far away from those tourists frequent, so take care not to make yourself a target in this way.
Ask locals (or your highly experienced guide) about areas to avoid, especially after dark.
Always lock valuables in your hotel safe, or out of sight if you’re leaving them in a parked car.
Avoid openly displaying valuables on your person, whether this is wearing expensive jewellery, or openly displaying large sums of cash.
Ultimately, booking one of our customised Garden Route Tours with us means that you can enjoy the benefits of a carefully curated tour package including guides that know their surroundings intimately. Enjoy your South Africa tour with the added comfort of knowing you have Satib 24 support and Asta certification throughout your trip.
Want to find out more about booking your Garden Route tour with us? Browse our trips or contact us today to book a trip you’ll never forget.