We love a great road trip. The freedom to come and go as we please, and the idea that one road may lead us to crazy unexpected adventures fuels us to road trip whenever possible. When in South Africa it is an absolute must to rent a car and drive the southern coastline between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Not only will you gasp at the views along the famous Garden Route, but you will be amazed by all the little stops along the way. I have taken quite a few road trips in my lifetime all over the US, through the hills of Rwanda, down the west coast of Italy to name a few but the South coast of South Africa has to be my favorite.
There are so many places to stop and see during the drive it would be near impossible to name them all, instead here are a few of our can’t miss locations.
We originally headed to the Cape Recife area for a simple bit of lunch, and maybe a glimpse of the ocean, but nothing extravagant. As we turned off of Marine Drive to head toward Cape Recife Nature Reserve we quickly learned this was not going to be the trip we expected. Looking up we noticed we were being followed by vervet monkeys racing down the power lines. Upon approaching Pine Lodge Resort we observed tons of different birds flying around and they were also hanging out with the monkeys in the trees and power lines. We kept driving into the nature reserve and eventually stopped to take a walk along the beach. Unfortunately, we did not make note of the name of the particular beach, but it was located between the Pine Lodge Resort and the end of the reserve. I loved this area and would highly recommend it because of the seashells on the shoreline. I have never been on a beach that was covered with so many intact, gorgeous seashells. The colors of the shells and the sheer volume kept us there wandering, oohing and ahhing for hours. Check here for more information about Cape Recife in Port Elizabeth.
The Garden Route
A famous stretch of the southeastern coastline between the towns of Mossel Bay located on the Western Cape and Storms River located on the Eastern Cape. The area was named for its abundant and diverse terrain of greenery, lakes, lagoons, Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma Mountain ranges and the Indian Ocean. The GR is home to 10 nature reserves, several marine reserves and thousands of flora, fauna and animals species. Don’t be scared to divert your route from the main N2 freeway and explore one of the many side roads which lead you into the heart of the beauty which has made the GR famous. Check here for more details and ideas regarding the GR.
Addo Elephant Park
Addo Elephant Park is located north of Port Elizabeth. Addo isn’t just an elephant park; it’s an entire Big 5 safari destination. We loved our experience at Addo and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a self guided safari tour. The park offers all levels of guided tours and accommodations with very reasonable prices. There are a few different elephant park and/or safari type options along the southern coastline of ZA. We chose Addo because it maintains the most natural living experience for its animals. Although, of course, it would be amazing to walk with an elephant or a cheetah we felt those types of locations were more zoo like which we did not want to experience. Addo was perfect for us and we easily spotted all the Big 5 within our day and half there. Check here for more information about Addo Elephant Park.
Read more about our Addo Elephant Park experience here.
We had a hellish time getting to Jeffreys Bay, but it was worth every death defying second. Anyone looking for a true surfer beach type holiday would be in heaven in JB. The locals are friendly, and the small town vibe welcoming. We felt right at home during our stay in JB. We can’t wait to return to try out more of the water activities and relax on the beach. Check here for more information regarding Jeffreys Bay activities and accommodations.
Read more about our Jeffreys Bay experience here.
Storms River / Otter Trail / Tsitsikamma National Park
Located on the east side of the Garden Route this area is to die for – literally! There is so much to do in this area, and the views are breathtaking every direction you look. If you love the outdoors, hiking, biking, adventure, water activities, camping and so much more this is the perfect place to hang for a day or more. Storms River is located in the heart of the Tsitsikamma National Park, and it is also a starting/ending point for the challenging Otter Trail hike. We would love to return and hike more or even all of the Otter Trail. If you are in the area, we recommend camping or a cabin stay at Storms River Mouth Rest Camp. Check here for more information about the Otter Trail. Check here for more information regarding the Storms River Mouth Rest Camp.
Gansbaai is known as the White Shark capital of South Africa. We participated in a white shark cage dive with White Shark Diving Company. We arrived into Gansbaai 1 day after a 3 day storm and were treated to a bright blue cloudless morning of 9 different white sharks. The experience left us relaxed and in awe of these incredible massive creatures.
If white sharks are not your thing, Gansbaai is also popular for their Southern Right Whale watching tours.
Read more about our Gansbaai White Shark Dive experience here.
Agulhas National Park
We did not make it to Agulhas National Park and regret if very much.
Cape Agulhas is the true most southern tip of Africa. This is where the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean meet and mingle. The lighthouse at Cape Agulhas and the nature hike surrounding the area are suppose to be lovely. We wish we had more time but did not plan accordingly and had to cut out this section of our trip. We don’t recommend making the same mistake we did- be sure to plan accordingly. For more information about Agulhas National Park check here.
Recommendable: ABSOLUTELY! This is a dream trip. We recommend planning for 7 days or longer. Of course, it can be done in less but you will miss out on so much if you rush through it. We did it in 5 days and had one our best trips to date, but we feel missed quite a bit. We are already in the works of planning a return trip.