There is a lot more to South Africa than authentic African safaris, beautiful beaches, and delicious traditional cuisine. Last year more than 16 million tourists visited South Africa according to data released by the SA Department of Tourism with more than 25% of these flocking to the magnificent Garden Route. While sunny SA boasts a number of world-class airports and ports, traveling by road is undoubtedly the best way to explore all the hidden nooks and crannies of one of the world’s most sought-after tourist destinations. Here are just a few reasons why exploring the southernmost coastline of SA by car is the best thing you can do.
You will find a host of hidden treasures
The appeal of exploring popular regions such as the Cape Winelands or the KZN Midlands Meander by car is evident but the greatest joy can be obtained from discovering the countless little gems scattered along the roads less traveled. Driving along the Garden Route from East London towards Cape Town you will be blown away by the abundance of farm stalls along the way boasting everything from handmade cheeses and hand-picked fruit to freshly-baked artisan bread and local wines. You will also be afforded exquisite views of rolling green hills, rocky shores and the tranquil Indian Ocean beckoning you to dip your toes in its cool, pristine waters.
You will meet the most interesting people
The people of the Garden Route are a friendly, creative bunch who prides themselves on their warm hospitality. The affable locals can be found everywhere from owner-run pubs and restaurants to the numerous charming backpackers lodges that also seemingly attract the most colorful of characters amongst both the locals and the tourists visiting the area. Artists and musicians flock to the Garden Route in their hoards and it is very likely that you will cross paths with a talented busker or two while traveling through Knysna, Wilderness or George.
You aren’t bound to an austere schedule
When you travel by plane, boat or train you have to adhere to unwavering schedules that allow for little deviation to engage in spontaneous activities. When you, however, travel by road, you can always make time for a quick dip in the ocean or an impromptu visit to one of the many flea markets or art galleries you will undoubtedly come across. As long as your mode of transport is reliable and your itinerary allows for some off-course deviation there is no saying what adventures you and your traveling companions may stumble upon. Driving along the Garden Route is undoubtedly the best way to explore it and will allow you to make a quick visit to the Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary in Plettenberg Bay or take a hike in the magnificent Wilderness National Park is well worth getting to your destination a couple of hours (or days) late.
Once the travel bug has bitten and you have gotten a taste of the magic of the Garden Route you are going to want to spend as much time as possible exploring all it has to offer. Drive safely, rest when you are tired and get closely acquainted with one of the most beautiful regions in South Africa.