Wilderness, Knysna and Plett along roads less travelled.

The glorious Garden Route – 200-or-so kilometres lined with deep, lush forests on one side and a sparkling blue ocean on the other – is a favourite holiday hotspot for good reason. Many a sun-drenched holiday has been spent here, fishing, boogie-boarding, kayaking and surfing…

And, while the well-travelled route isn’t the first place you’d associate with getting away from it all, this glorious neck of the woods offers back roads that twist and turn through some of the Cape’s most beautiful scenery. We visited three of its key towns along a road less travelled.

What are your favourite stops on the Garden Route? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Day 1: Wilderness
Day 2: Wilderness to Knysna
Day 3: Knysna to Plett

As the N2 drops towards Wilderness, the Kaaimans River appears as a sinuous wisp of dark water; a siren song of accessible adventure on a hot summer’s day.

Garden Route Road Trip: WIlderness
Jared Watney

A sturdy kayak is open for an hour of exploring: first, into the narrow gorge where the Swart River cascades into the Kaaimans, then downstream for fantastic views of the iconic railway bridge. It’s also a moment to just pause… to trail your fingers in the ebbing tide and breathe in the sea air. To draw a line under a crazy winter, and relish the beginning of a new adventure. If you don’t get onto the water, tackle the seven-kilometre Giant Kingfisher Trail, which follows the east bank of the Touw River to an idyllic pool to swim in.

Garden Route Road Trip: Wilderness Valley
Jared Watney

The road up to the Map of Africa viewpoint (take the Wilderness Heights turn-off) is well worth the detour for an aerial perspective of this lake district – and for seeing how the Kaaimans River has cleverly created the shape of Africa in its meandering course through the valley. This is also a popular launch site for paragliding. From up here, a long stretch of beach and blue sea beckon for a swim.

Kayak the Kaaimans River

Garden Route Road Trip: Kaaimans River

This serene waterway invites exploration, and Kaaimans Adventures, based in a private nature reserve on a bend in the river, offers one-hour river trips by kayak or stand-up paddleboard. There is also a four-seater paddle boat for use on the estuary side.
Times Daily, 8am – 5pm
Cost R180 (one-hour kayak/SUP rental)
R110 (children)
Contact 063 561 0509, info@kaaimansadventures.com
Where to find it Off the N2 (just before/after the bridge), Wilderness
Enquire Now

Giant Kingfisher Trail

Garden Route Road Trip: Kingfisher Trail
Jared Watney

One of five hikes in the Wilderness National Park, this 3.5km trail along the Touw River leads to a waterfall and pool, where you can swim and picnic. For a shorter, shady stroll through the forest beside the river, there’s the 7.2km Half Collared Kingfisher Trail, or the 4.1km Brown Hooded Kingfisher Trail, which leads to the Duiwe River picnic spot.
Times Daily, 7am – 5.30pm (SANParks office)
SANParks permit R52 (adults); R26 (children)
Contact 044 887 0046/1197
Where to find it Ebb & Flow Camp (SANParks office), Ebb and Flow Drive, off N2, Wilderness

Paraglide from the Map of Africa

Garden Route Road Trip: Paraglide

The Map of Africa viewpoint (well worth the drive for an aerial perspective of this lake district) is a popular launch site for tandem paragliding. You’ll step off the edge of the cliff and soar like an eagle over the sparkling blue ocean, with unbeatable 360-degree views of the 18 km stretch of beach and the lakes. The standard flight is about 10 minutes, or you can opt for the longer 20-minute adventure flight where you can take the controls yourself.
Good to know Minimum age is 14 years old. There is a discount for groups of four or more.
Times Daily, 9am – 6pm
Cost R1 100 (standard); R1 600 (adventure)
R250 GoPro video + photos
Where to find it Map of Africa, Remskoen Street, off Hoogte Road, Wilderness
Enquire Now

Nima Lodge

Garden Route Road Trip: Nima Lodge

Overlooking wooded hills and valleys to the distant Outeniqua Mountains, this hilltop boutique lodge is a beautiful, inspiring space to retreat into nature. The three extraordinary architect-designed Sand Cabins are multi-level spaces with curved walls inspired by dunes and a separate “tower structure” with a bath positioned in front of a large picture-window. There are also four other more traditional log cabins that are spacious, modern and stylish (3 Sun Cabins + 1 Luna Cabin, each sleeping two). There is also an “honesty” shop and bar on site.
Good to know The cabins are just a short stroll away from the hiking trails and waterfalls in Wilderness National Park.
Cost From R2 500 per cabin per night (minimum stay of 2 nights)
Where to find it 10 Mile Lane, Hoekwil, Wilderness

Treedom Villas and Vardos

Garden Route Road Trip: Treedom Villas

Nestled in the Langvlei Dunes of Wilderness, not far from the Lakes Area National Park and spectacular Wilderness Beach, is Treedom Villas and Vardos. Those seeking a truly unique forest glamping experience will love the vibrantly painted Vardos, both wonderful, liveable works of art. Perfect for a romantic escape, each wagon sits in a private garden, where a mini greenhouse strung with fairylights extends your living space, and a daybed provides the perfect spot to settle down with a book, or stargaze around the fire at night.
Good to know You can treat yourself to a private dinner in the Treedom forest under a natural handmade woven tunnel with seasonal menus, twinkling fairy lights, hanging lanterns, and a magical atmosphere (menus are bespoke and designed per dinner, so booking in advance is essential).
Cost From R1 995 per vardo (sleeps 2)
Where to find it 248 Dune Mole Street, Langvlei Dunes Road, Wilderness

iLali Restaurant & Social Bar

Garden Route Road Trip: Ilali Restaurant

iLali (meaning ‘village’ in isiXhosa) serves up simple yet flavourful dishes, whether you’re after a woodfired pizza, pasta, seafood or salad (it has dedicated vegan and pescatarian menus, too). With indoor-outdoor dining, a great vibe, live music, cocktails and local gins, it’s a good spot to relax into the holiday spirit.
Times Monday – Friday, 11am – 11pm
Saturday + Sunday, 8am – 11pm
Contact 044 877 0808, reservations@ilalirestaurant.co.za
Where to find it 197 George Road, Wilderness
Book through DinePlan

Timberlake Village

If you have children with you, this is a must-visit. A collection of artisanal outlets (clothing, homeware, art), a wine and sweets shop, plus Acrobranch – a forest aerial obstacle course that kids go crazy for. There are also giant jungle gyms and a Faerie Garden walk. For hungry visitors, there’s Naughty Monkey Cafe for pizza, burgers, waffles or milkshakes – or some damn fine Pause Coffee. The Oyster Shack is a laidback spot to enjoy seafood tapas (and one of the rare spots to eat wild-caught coastal oysters). For an early breakfast, gourmet sandwiches or to fill up a picnic or padkos basket with treats, there’s the Figtree Bakehouse or German Deli.
Times Monday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm
Acrobranch: Wednesday – Sunday, 9am – 6pm (last slot 4pm)
Contact 044 882 1240, info@timberlakeorganic.co.za
Acrobranch 086 999 0389
Where to find it Off the N2, halfway between Wilderness and Sedgefield

If you’re an early riser, drink in a golden sunrise along the banks of Island Lake. Fishermen are already casting their lines but you’ll have the boardwalk trails along the Touw River all to yourself. The route heads inland – up Hoekwil Road to join the famed Seven Passes route: a 75-kilometre mix of dirt and tar connecting George and Knysna through pastures, fynbos-clad hills and forest, a fantastic alternative to the N2.

Garden Route Road Trip: Wilderness Roads
Jared Watney

The Big Tree at Woodville is worth a stop. An 800-year-old Outeniqua yellowwood is the star attraction, but the leafy forest paths are just as mesmerising. Beneath a soaring ironwood, stop for a moment. In the quiet, there is little noise but the murmuring of leaves or the squawk of a Cape rain frog. Spend more time here and you may see blue duiker and wild bush pigs, an olive woodpecker or a Knysna turaco. This is a forest that rewards patience. You can stock up on cold drinks and farm preserves from the Woodville Trading Store, while Jersey cows chew the cud and watch cars pass in a cloud of dust. It’s the dramatic descents into forested gorges that make this road so much fun to drive. And of all seven passes, it was the Homtini River that gave 19th-century road builder Thomas Bain the biggest headache. In a 4×4 it’s a breeze, though, and too soon I’m out the other side at Rheenendal.

Garden Route Road Trip: Outeniqua Yellowwood

At Rheenendal, the road to Millwood (Bibby’s Hoek Road) turns left, leading to more forest walks and the site of the short-lived Knysna gold rush in the 1880s. The Millwood Mine Walk goes back in time, taking in the remains of the village and mine tunnels (take a torch). Or head to Jubilee Creek’s picnic spot and river pool. Hidden gem alert: en route to Millwood, the Drupkelders Hiking Trail leads to an enchanting, sun-dappled stretch of the Homtini River with large rock pools and a waterfall. After this detour, the last stretch down the Phantom Pass into Knysna is spectacularly scenic, popping out of the forest with your first sighting of the famous lagoon.

Garden Route Road Trip: Knysna
Jared Watney

To appreciate Knysna from a different angle, drive through town to The Heads – the two iconic sandstone cliffs that separate the lagoon from the Indian Ocean. On the Eastern Head, follow Coney Glen Road to get to the Heads Viewpoint, where you will see the ocean, the lagoon and the town in all its splendour.

Seven Passes Drive

Garden Route Road Trip: Seven Passes Drive
Jared Watney

If you like scenic drives, this 75-kilometre mix of dirt and tar connecting George and Knysna via an inland “back route” is a must-do. All seven passes were the work of master 19th-century road-builder Thomas Bain. From Wilderness/Sedgefield, you can hook up with it on Hoekwil Road. (From George, head up Madiba Drive to connect to the Seven Passes Road.)
Good to know Worthwhile stops include the Big Tree at Woodville (a 33-metre-high yellowwood reached via leafy forest paths), the Woodville Trading Store (to stock up on padkos) and Black Horse Trails (if you fancy saddling up).

Hiking in the Knysna Forest

Garden Route Road Trip: Knysna Forest

These lush forests hold a vast network of trails to explore. Three iconic walks (all around 3.5km there and back) start from the Goudveld Forest Station at Bibby’s Hoek, Rheenendal. The Millwood Mine Walk goes back in time, taking in the remains of the village and mine tunnels (take a torch). Or head to Jubilee Creek’s picnic spot and river pool. En route to Millwood, the Drupkelders trail leads to an enchanting, sun-dappled stretch of the Homtini River with large rock pools and a waterfall. Get a permit from the Goudveld Forest entrance boom at Bibby’s Hoek.
Cost SANParks conservation fees:
SA citizens/residents with ID: R44 (adults); R22 (children)
SADC nationals with passport: R88 (adults); R44 (children)
International visitors: R176 (adults); R88 (children)
Contact 044 302 5600

SUPing on the lagoon

Garden Route Road Trip: Knysna SUP

The flat waters of the lagoon are ideal for stand-up paddling (SUP) and you can rent a board by the hour. It’s a great way to traverse the waters in a way that’s adventurous without requiring too much work. The tranquil waterways of Thesen Island are perfect for beginners, and the many inlets and coves will delight more adventurous or experienced paddlers.
Times Daily, 9am – 3pm
Cost R240 for first hour, R170 per subsequent hour
Good to know Also on offer are marine eco tours by boat, passing through The Heads to the ocean.
Where to find it Ocean Odyssey Charters, Long Street, Thesen Harbour Town, Thesen Island, Knysna
Book Now

Oyster Tour

Garden Route Road Trip: Oyster Tour

No trip to Knysna would be complete without sampling its famous oysters, and this 1.5-hour tour gives you the full story – you’ll cruise the scenic lagoon, getting an in-depth experience of the delicacy, including learning the difference between wild and cultivated oysters. Of course, bubbly is the natural accompaniment, so for an additional cost you can have some fine cap classique added to the experience (white wine is complimentary).
Times Daily, 3pm
Cost R700 (adults); R250 (children under 13); R120 (snack platter); R320 (bottle of MCC); R120 (extra oysters); R50 (kids’ activity pack)
Good to know Knysna Charters offers a range of other tours, including lunch and dinner cruises on a 44-foot catamaran that heads out to the open ocean. Or you can rent a kayak to explore the waters of the lagoon at your own pace.
Where to find it TH 23, Sawtooth Lane, Thesen Island, Knysna
Book Now

Kanonkop House

Garden Route Road Trip: Kanonkop House

Perched high on Kanonkop Hill, this tranquil guesthouse offers spectacular lagoon views and elegant luxury in seven suites. It’s characterised by a sense of peace and privacy, with contemporary decor and lush greenery adding to its appeal (it’s also conveniently located just five minutes from the centre of town). There is a heated pool, sundeck, outdoor lounge-bar and forest boma. Breakfast, high tea and drinks are included in the rate.
Cost From R2 250 per night per person sharing (depending on season and suite type)
Where to find it 6 Cuthbert Street, Kanonkop, Knysna

The Lofts Boutique Hotel

Garden Route Road Trip: Lofts Boutique Hotel

On Thesen Island, this refurbished boatbuilding shed offers industrial-chic lagoon suites and lofts, where contemporary furnishings, a slew of on-site attractions and modern amenities – not to mention sweeping views of the Knysna Lagoon all the way to The Heads and beyond – are the cherry on top of a central stay without fuss. There’s a sundeck and splash pool, and canoes and bikes for guests to use, and an array of good restaurants and a bustling waterfront nearby.
Cost From R1 291 per suite per night (depending on season and suite type), includes breakfast
Where to find it The Boatshed, Thesen Islands, Knysna, Western Cape

Woodlands Country Retreat

Garden Route Road Trip: Woodlands Country Retreat

Just outside Knysna, this is home to five lovely cottages, filled with thoughtful touches and handmade furniture. Part of the appeal is knowing that you will be completely immersed in nature and surrounded by unbelievable views. Take a walk around the indigenous gardens and through the valley on the private forest trail, or simply relax on your private deck as you listen to the soporific sounds of birdsong – no matter how you spend your time here, deep relaxation is a given.
Cost From R1 100 per unit per night (depending on season and unit type)
Where to find it Rheenendal Road, Knysna, Western Cape

Maillard Baking Company

Garden Route Road Trip: Maillard Baking Company

A must-visit for anyone who loves authentic Neapolitan pizzas, this artisanal bakery in a leafy part of the industrial neighbourhood offers outdoor seating and a neat little shop. Pop in for coffee and rustic pastries in the morning, or come later for the best sourdough pizzas in town, made with locally sourced ingredients in a massive woodfired oven. Wash them down with craft beer or gin (from the hip distillery next door), and finish with a sweet treat. Then leave with a sourdough or speciality loaf for later.
Times Tuesday – Friday, 10am – 6pm (pizzas from 12pm)
Saturday, 2pm – 6pm
Contact 068 400 8887, maillardbakery@gmail.com
Where to find it 5 Uil Street, Knysna

Knysna Distillery

Garden Route Road Trip: Knysna Distillery

Head to this award-winning craft distillery (where gin is distilled the traditional way with a flame and copper pot still) for a tasting of three local gins and a distillery tour. The Original Knysna Gin Classic has a distinct taste, thanks to the num-num berry, the Knysna loerie’s favourite treat. You’ll also find limited-batch seasonal releases including honey, mulberry, wild plum and pink plum gin. On Friday afternoons, it turns into a popular bar, serving cocktails, craft beer, smash burgers and gourmet hotdogs. At 6.30pm you can watch the staff distil and lift the alembic (pot still) with great theatrics, too.
Times Monday – Thursday, 10am – 9pm
Friday, 10am – 10pm
Saturday, 1pm – 9pm
Happy hour: Monday – Saturday, 4pm – 6pm
Cost R60 per tasting board of three gins
Contact 081 722 2715, info@knysna-gin.com
Where to find it 5 Uil Street, Knysna

île de païn

Garden Route Road Trip: Ile De Pain
Jacobus Esterhuizen

A buzzing café-style restaurant on the Thesen Island waterfront, founded by baking legend Markus Färbinger and his wife Liezie Mulder, this is perfect for a breakfast or brunch of delicious, innovative, honest food. The adjoining artisanal bakery produces authentic breads and creative pâtisserie (think baguettes and challah, perfect croissants and delicate citrus slices) to take away, and you can also shop for carefully curated bakery tools and kitchen accessories.
Times Tuesday – Saturday, 8am – 3pm
Good to know They don’t do reservations, so it’s first come, first served.
Contact artisans@iledepain.co.za
Where to find it 8-10 The Boatshed, Thesen Harbour Town, Knysna

Garden Route Road Trip: Plett
Jared Watney

Leaving town on Old Cape Road, you’ll pass Simola Golf Estate and head left to the hamlet of Gouna. The road is hemmed in tight by indigenous forest, parting just before San Ambroso Church, built in 1891 for Italian immigrants who came all the way to the ends of the Earth to launch a silk-spinning industry. It failed, but the church’s small museum pays fascinating tribute to the hardy families who made their new home here.

Garden Route Road Trip: Birds

The road bends east along lonely Kom-se-Pad, through deep forests to Diepwalle. Out here in the deep quiet of the forest it’s easy to imagine Knysna’s legendary elephants living here unperturbed – and undiscovered. Wind down the window, then stop, switch off the engine and listen. These woods are home to more than 280 species of birds, and the forest soon comes alive with birdsong. It’s easy to hop out and stretch your legs on the well-marked forest trails.

Garden Route Road Trip: Trails
Jared Watney

Then it’s north on the R339 and I soon find the road to Spitskop, for a panoramic view of the entire coast – from the Robberg Peninsula to Mossel Bay. If you don’t want to tackle the rough track to the top of the mountain, the charming Dal van Varings (Valley of Ferns) nearby offers a picnic spot and short walking trail. Continue up the R339 until the intersection with the R340 (the old Paardekop ox-wagon route), and follow this road down through the Uplands, passing the Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve. Finally, at journey’s end, you’ll pop out at Keurbooms near Plettenberg Bay.

Diepwalle Elephant Trails

Garden Route Road Trip: Diepwalle Elephant Trails

The three Elephant Trails let you lose yourself in the magic of the Knysna forest. The easiest, the Black Route, is the longest at nine kilometres. The White Route is a moderate 8km, while the 7km Red Route is classed as medium to difficult. All start and end at the Diepwalle Forestry Station and take about three to four hours. The trail is a mix of forestry road, woodcutter trails and boardwalk, winding its way past giant old yellowwoods, stinkwood trees, gurgling streams and beautiful tree ferns. You might even spot a Knysna loerie or a dwarf chameleon. If you feel energetic you can link the routes into one long hike of 18.2km, which takes approximately 6-7 hours to walk. Permits are obtainable from the Diepwalle Forestry Station.
Good to know Diepwalle is also a popular start/finish/overnight point on the Outeniqua Overnight Hiking Trail and has a campsite where you can camp on wooden decks amongst the trees.
Cost SANParks conservation fees:
SA citizens/residents with ID: R44 (adults); R22 (children)
SADC nationals with passport: R88 (adults); R44 (children)
International visitors: R176 (adults); R88 (children)
Contact 044 382 9762/3

Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve

Garden Route Road Trip: Plett Game Reserve

When one thinks of Plettenberg Bay, wading hippos and galloping red hartebeest do not come into it. But, actually, there’s a lot more to the Garden Route than golden beaches and amazing swimming. Tucked away in the Bitou River Valley (just a 15-minute-drive from the bustling seaside resort) is this 2 000-hectare private game reserve. It’s home to the Big Five, hippo, wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, kudu, eland, many other antelope species and smaller game animals, as well as over 100 bird species. Join a two-hour game drive in an open land rover with the reserve’s well-informed guides. Children are welcome, and the lodge’s coffee shop and bar (overlooking a waterhole) is open for refreshments before and after your game-spotting adventures.
Cost Game drive: R890 (adult); R445 (child)
Times Monday – Saturday, 10am, 12.30pm, 3pm
Duration 2 hours
Contact 084 449 1275, safari@plettgamereserve.com
Where to find it R340, Plettenberg Bay
Enquire Now

Keurbooms River

Garden Route Road Trip: Keurbooms River

The dark waters of this river twist and turn through a beautiful forested gorge, offering a day of adventure and fun if you’re skippering your own motorised boat – the river’s navigable for 5.5km, up to just before Whiskey Creek. Along the way, there are six beaches on either bank to stop at for a swim, picnic or braai. No previous boating experience is required to hire a cabin boat (for up to 5 people) or red boat (for up to 8 people, no cabin but with a sun canopy) from Plett Boat Hire, and the cost includes fuel and safety equipment.
Times Daily, 8.30am – 4.30pm
Cost R1 100 (cabin boat for up to 8 hours)
R1 650 (red boat for up to 8 hours)
Contact 044 535 9740/082 493 0385, bookings@plettboathire.co.za
Where to find it Plettenberg Bay Angling & Boating Club, N2, Keurbooms River
Book Now

Plett Wine Route

Garden Route Road Trip: Plett Wine Route
Knysna Plett Herald

Established in 2000, SA’s youngest wine region has made a splash ­– especially for bubbly and sauvignon blanc. Bramon was the pioneer, and the vineyards now stretch from Harkerville to The Crags (a particularly scenic area, with several farms conveniently concentrated here within a 45km radius). Wineries with tastings and restaurants include Bramon, Newstead, Kay & Monty, Lodestone, Packwood, Luka and Plettenvale. The estates are small and family-run, ensuring an authentic and hospitable experience.
Times Most open Tuesday – Sunday, 11am – 4pm (check with individual farms)
Where to find it Redford Road in The Crags, off the N2, has several farms; for others, see the map available from Plett Tourism.

Robberg hiking trails

Garden Route Road Trip: Robberg Hiking

The Robberg Peninsula is a natural national monument, due to its prehistoric rocks and Stone Age sites. It’s also an incredibly beautiful, pristine place to go for a walk, with its rugged coastline, stunning sea views and diverse landscapes. You’ll encounter seabird and seal colonies, see dolphins and whales (in season) and might just spot a rare blue duiker (as tall as a 30cm ruler!). Along the three hiking trails (Gap Circuit – 30 minutes; Witsand Circuit – 2 hours; Point Circuit – 4 hours), you’ll encounter ancient caves, a lighthouse, picnic /viewing decks, a shipwreck, rock pools and the majestic Witsand dune.
Good to know It’s a rugged hike, and it’s best to check tide tables before you go. At high tide, there can be freak waves and strong currents. Make sure you have enough water as there is none along the way, wear suitable hiking shoes and be prepared for sudden changes in the weather.
Times Daily, 7am – 8pm
Cost R60 (adults); R40 (children)
Contact 087 087 8250 (permits, Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm)
Where to find it Robberg Road, off N2/Piesang Valley turn-off

Belle Balance Bush Hideout

Garden Route Road Trip: Belle Balance Hideout

The charming old stone lodge at Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve offers a stylish safari stay in unbridled nature. Passionate owners Kathy and Leon de Kock purchased this spectacular escape in 2005, and have since turned the former bush hideout of Baron van Plettenberg, the governor of the Cape of Good Hope from 1771 to 1785, into an incredible passage between past and present. There are 10 luxury rooms, with plush ensuite bathrooms and an outdoor patio giving views of indigenous forest, mountains or watering hole. Guests are treated to breakfast as well as light lunches, dinners and drinks in the restaurant and bar. Activities include game drives, forest walks and spa treatments, while The Belle (overlooking the Tsitsikamma forest) serves as a wedding and function venue.
Cost From R4 370 per room per night (sleeps 2)
Where to find it Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve, Uplands Road, Wittedrift, Plettenberg Bay

The Old Rectory

Garden Route Road Trip: Old Rectory

Just a short stroll from the ever-popular Hobie Beach, this boutique retreat is built around an 18th-century national monument (the oldest building in Plett, built in 1777), resulting in an appealing combination of heritage and modern style. The beautifully decorated suites are light-filled and airy, with private terraces overlooking the pool and milkwood trees. There is also a spa for pampering, and a cosy bar and restaurant on site, offering a wonderfully peaceful oasis in a sought-after seaside location.
Cost From R9 480 per suite per night
Where to find it Corner Bull and Meeding streets, Plettenberg Bay, Western Cape

The Plettenberg

Garden Route Road Trip: The Plettenberg

The Plettenberg is a grand five-star escape perched on a rocky headland that overlooks a long stretch of unspoilt beach and fynbos-covered mountains. Part of The Liz McGrath Collection (which includes The Cellars-Hohenort and The Marine Hotel, also members of Small Luxury Hotels of The World), this seaside escape offers a classic stay with heavenly views to match. The sophisticated, seaside-inspired decor echoes its location, and no matter which room you’re in, you’re guaranteed a sumptuous stay.
Cost From R5 804 per room per night (depending on season and room type, includes breakfast)
Where to find it 40 Church Street, Plettenberg Bay

Old Nick Village

Garden Route Road Trip: Old Nick Village

Encompassed within a historic homestead on the N2 just outside Plett, you’ll find Mungo Mill (where you can watch the weaving process take place before stocking up on its beautiful textiles in their flagship store next door), as well as boutique shops, gallery spaces, pottery spun, glazed and fired on site, a nursery, and even a chocolatier. There are abundant gardens and lawns, play areas for children, and the Nice Neighbour restaurant and bakery, with seating under the trees, serves up eclectic dishes using the freshest local ingredients and a fusion of globally inspired flavours.
Good to know The Wednesday Market (9am – 2pm) at Old Nick is the place to find organic fruit and veg, ethically farmed meat and dairy products, tasty homemade foods and all manner of handmade and environmentally friendly products.
Times Daily 9am – 5pm (6pm during high season)
Restaurant: 7.30am to 5pm
Contact 044 533 1395, info@oldnickvillage.co.za
Where to find it N2, Plettenberg Bay

Emily’s Restaurant + Simon’s Bar

Garden Route Road Trip: Emily Moon

Set in an indigenous garden, overlooking the Bitou River, with a backdrop of mountains and valleys, you’ll find Emily Moon River Lodge, a tranquil retreat dressed in a selection of rare finds that passionate owners Mark and Christine Valentine have accumulated during their travels through Africa and beyond. Here Emily’s Restaurant serves mouthwatering home-style meals. Upstairs is Simon’s Bar, where vintage boat engines, water sport equipment and other found objects decorate the walls, and a woodfired pizza oven produces delicious pizzas. Order a cocktail or a glass of wine, and watch the sun set over the river.
Times Emily’s Restaurant: Monday – Sunday, 6pm – 9pm (booking essential)
Simon’s Bar: Tuesday – Saturday, 5pm – 9.30pm (no reservations)
Contact 044 501 2500, info@emilymoon.co.za
Where to find it Rietvlei Road, Plettenberg Bay
Book through DinePlan


Garden Route Road Trip: Barrington's

Chances are if you’ve been to Plett, you’ve heard of Barrington’s. A destination in itself, this Piesang Valley favourite is home to the first craft brewery in town, as well as a wonderfully scenic organic kitchen garden, restaurant, bar, small hotel, bakery, wine shop and boutique nursery. The terrace overlooking the garden is the perfect spot for a cooked breakfast, or a range of freshly baked pastries and cakes. In the restaurant, brass, leather and wood finishes create a warm and cosy ambience, particularly on cold, misty nights when the enormous fireplace takes centre stage. Or step through the stacking doors onto the wraparound terrace overlooking the garden and Barrington’s majestic coral tree. On the menu are slow-cooked gourmet burgers and vegetables prepared in Barrington’s custom-made smoker. Finishing touches include freshly baked breads from the onsite bakery and a selection of homemade pickles, preserves and chutneys.
Times Breakfast: Daily, 8am – 11am
Lunch + Dinner: Daily, 12pm – 10pm
Contact 044 050 3767, eat@barringtonsplett.co.za
Where to find it Barrington’s, Piesang Valley Road, Plettenberg Bay
Book through DinePlan

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The Inside Guide has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, we do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, cost, time, and location.

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7 Responses to “The Ultimate Garden Route Road Trip”

  1. Berry Prentice

    The San Ambroso church/museum near Gouna is on privately owned land and is no longer open to the public.

  2. Pieter Crous

    Hilltop Boutique Hotel’s a hidden gem that overlooks Wilderness, Kaaimans River and the Outeniqua Mountain range. Definitely a piece of Eden.

  3. Zanele

    Looking forward to more information

  4. Moira Walker

    I know this area well after many holidays over the years. I really appreciated the depth of knowledge fisplayed in the article. Also the engaging manner of writing.
    Well Done !

  5. Gail Thomson

    Looking forward to receiving your newsletters.

  6. Jutta Schlee



    Please send me latest updates.