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Why is it called the Garden Route in South Africa?

7 mins. read

A big hello! Today let’s go to the Southernmost country of continental Africa - South Africa. Whenever we hear of South Africa, there are 3 things that get mentioned the most: Cape Town, Kruger National Park and the famous Garden Route. Today, I want to concentrate our discussion on the third one: The Garden Route of South Africa.

Before I made a trip to South Africa in 2018, even I wasn’t aware of what the Garden Route really was. So let’s start with what exactly is the Garden Route of South Africa. So the Garden Route is a scenic and popular tourist route in South Africa that stretches along the south eastern coast of the country. It is renowned for its breath-taking natural beauty, diverse landscapes, lush vegetation, and numerous outdoor recreational opportunities. It typically covers a stretch of approximately 300 kilometres and includes a variety of towns, cities, national parks, and coastal attractions, each having their own unique experiences.

We’ll definitely get into the experiences, features & highlights, but now that we have figured what the Garden Route really is, do you know why it is called the Garden Route of South Africa? How did it get its name?

So the name "Garden Route" was first coined by the popular botanist, John Paterson, in 1925. He was struck by the abundance of flora in the region, which includes more than 300 species of birds, 8,000 plant species, and the world's largest indigenous forest. Paterson believed that the area had a garden-like quality, and the name "Garden Route" stuck. The region's natural beauty and rich biodiversity have made it a popular destination for nature lovers, adventure enthusiasts, and families. And with sure incredible natural beauty, it is but natural that the Garden Route offers a wide range of activities such as hiking, bird watching, bungee jumping, and whale watching.

The Route is known for its mild climate, with temperatures averaging between 18 and 28 degrees Celsius all year round. The region is also home to many small towns that offer unique experiences to visitors. Some of these towns include Knysna, Pilanesberg National Park, Plettenberg Bay, and Mossel Bay.

So now you know that the Garden Route got its name from the vast array of plants, flowers, and trees that line its route, making it feel like a giant garden. The natural beauty of the region combined with its mild climate and picturesque towns have made it a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike. So now let’s come to the final thing. And for this final thing, I wanted to talk about the key highlights of the garden route. Let’s list them down one by one:

  1. Diverse Landscapes: The Garden Route traverses a wide range of landscapes, including dense indigenous forests, pristine beaches, rugged mountains, and picturesque coastal cliffs. This diversity in scenery makes it a paradise for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers.
  2. Knysna: Knysna is a charming coastal town nestled between lush forests and the Indian Ocean. It's famous for its beautiful Knysna Lagoon and the Knysna Heads, two towering sandstone cliffs that guard the entrance to the lagoon. Knysna is also known for its oysters and vibrant arts and crafts scene.
  3. Plettenberg Bay: Plettenberg Bay is a popular beach destination along the Garden Route. It offers pristine sandy beaches, excellent surfing spots, and opportunities for whale watching and dolphin encounters. Robberg Nature Reserve, with its stunning coastal trails, is a must-visit attraction.
  4. Wilderness: Wilderness is a small coastal town known for its tranquility and beautiful beaches. The Wilderness National Park is nearby and offers opportunities for canoeing, birdwatching, and hiking along the Touw River and the coastline.
  5. Mossel Bay: Mossel Bay is a historic town with a rich maritime heritage. Visitors can explore the Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex, which commemorates the first European explorer to round the southern tip of Africa. The town also boasts beautiful beaches and the Cape St. Blaize Lighthouse.
  6. Oudtshoorn: Located slightly inland, Oudtshoorn is known as the "Ostrich Capital of the World." Visitors can tour ostrich farms, explore the Cango Caves, and enjoy the scenic beauty of the Swartberg Mountains.
  7. Addo National Park: Located in South Africa's Eastern Cape, this park is a renowned wildlife sanctuary and conservation success story. It was originally established in 1931 to protect the last remaining African elephants in the region and has since expanded to include a diverse array of wildlife, including the Big Five (elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros). Visitors can enjoy game drives, guided safaris, and the opportunity to witness elephants in their natural habitat within this remarkable park.
  8. Adventure Activities: The Garden Route offers a wide range of adventure activities, including hiking, zip-lining, paragliding, shark cage diving, and bungee jumping from the Bloukrans Bridge, which is one of the highest commercial bungee jumps in the world.
  9. Wildlife and Nature Reserves: The region is home to several nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries where you can see African wildlife, including elephants, cheetahs, and various bird species.
  10. Tsitsikamma National Park: Located at the eastern end of the Garden Route, Tsitsikamma National Park is known for its lush forest, dramatic coastal scenery, and the Storms River Mouth Suspension Bridge. Visitors can explore hiking trails, go canoeing, or take a canopy tour through the forest.
  11. George is a charming city located along the Garden Route in South Africa's Western Cape province. Known for its lush surroundings, it serves as a gateway to the picturesque Garden Route and offers a mix of outdoor adventures, including hiking, golfing, and water sports. George also boasts a pleasant climate and is home to the renowned George Golf Club, making it a popular destination for both nature lovers and golf enthusiasts.

So all in all, the Garden Route is a perfect destination for those seeking a combination of natural beauty, outdoor adventure, cultural experiences, and relaxation. Its moderate climate and year-round appeal make it a popular destination for both domestic and international travellers exploring South Africa. And finally, to end today’s article, I’ll only say that the Garden Route of South Africa is one of the major reasons why South Africa today has become a multi-visit destination for the Indian traveller. See you next time, bye.

December 23, 2023


Neil Patil
Neil Patil

Founder & Director, Veena World

More Blogs by Neil Patil

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