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Garden Route National Park, Plettenberg Bay

Self-driving the Garden Route is on most people’s to-do list when it comes to exploring South Africa and after a quick google, it’s easy to see why. With its rolling topography, ocean-battered coast and incredible array of flora and fauna, this route is undoubtedly amongst the crème de la crème of the world’s greatest road trips. But “what makes it so special”, you ask? And that’s where the Garden Route National Park comes in, because it’s thanks to the natural beauty preserved by this park that the Garden Route is still as epic a journey as ever. 

Spanning an incredible 121,000 hectares and taking a handful of other national parks under its wing – from Tsitsikamma to Knysna – this is one of the most important conservation areas in the country. Think mile upon mile of untouched indigenous forest and unruly fynbos carpeted mountains, traced by a pristine sandy coast, all providing a vital natural habitat to the creatures that reside here. Breathtaking is an understatement and inspiring is a given. 

And protecting these areas is all part of a mission to right the wrongs of the country’s not so eco-friendly past. In the 19th century, much of the indigenous forests were destroyed and the areas turned into farming land, pushing out the wild animals that lived here. After years of exploitation, it wasn’t until the latter part of the 20th century that conservation projects began to be put in place. And the Garden Route National Park wasn’t formed until 2009, when the numerous national parks spread along this picturesque coast were amalgamated to ensure overall protection of the region. 

Now, the park protects a number of rare species, including the critically endangered honey badger and the elusive Knysna elephant, as well as stretching out into the ocean to pull the marine life of the Atlantic into its motherly embrace. 

Why you should add the Garden Route National Park to your itinerary

Take a trip along this coastline and it is guaranteed to be a journey that stays with you forever – the sights are endless. We’re talking a real, natural world feast for the eyes. 

Whether you hike, bike or swim, the options for exploring this vast and varying park are endless and each sub-park has its own individual draw. Tsitsikamma’s Otter Trail is one for any serious trekkers whilst Knysna’s incredible tidal lagoons provide the perfect spot for tranquil contemplation – but covering such a great expanse of coast, there will always be something to see and do here.

For the thrill seekers, it doesn’t get much better than the highest commercial bungee jump in the world. Yep, the world. Stick Bloukrans Bridge’s 216 m drop onto your bucket-list now to crank the adventure up a notch on your trip. 

And for those who actually want to get in some chill time on their trip, the national park’s beaches are some of the country’s best. So, grab a good book and soak up that sun on an untouched, wilderness beach. Sometimes you just can’t beat getting back to holiday basics.

The Garden Route is world-renowned for good reason.

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Garden Route National Park essential information


The wilderness that lies between Mossel Bay in the east and Storms River in the west.

Opening times


Getting in

Tariffs depend on the sub-park of the Garden Route National Park that you’re visiting, varying from R105 to R235. Considering the vast landscapes of each park, it’s unlikely that you would take in more than one a day so your daily budget shouldn’t take too much of a hit – you can breathe out now.

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