The Garden Route is a coastal stretch found in the Western Cape of South Africa which is popular with many travellers for its stunning landscapes and lush vegetation (that’s where the name comes from). It has the second mildest climate in the world (after Hawaii!) and is an absolute backpackers’ fantasy land.

There are countless outdoor activities which turned even me, a relative wimp when it comes to outdoor adventures, into an adrenaline junkie. For the more mellow traveller there are still plenty of options to spend your time surrounded by beautiful nature and wildlife.

Here are my top 10 picks of fun things to do while visiting the Garden Route:

 1. Hermanus Whale Festival

Whale watching has been high on my bucket list for a while, so I was super excited to hear that not only was Hermanus a great spot for this activity, but there was also the annual Whale Festival on while we were visiting. The whole town gets transformed into a ocean themed fair ground and your chances are great at this time of year to actually spot a whale. We were very lucky and saw some of the giants on our first day there! But even if you have less luck, Hermanus is still worth a visit as it’s a very charming town with stunning views and walks along the coast.

Best whale watching spot on the Garden route

Best whale watching spot on the Garden route

 2. Visit (and ride) ostriches in Oudtshoorn

Oudtshoorn (pronounced ouds-hooo-ren as my Afrikaans friends taught me) actually lies about 100 km inland in the Little Karoo region and is the official ostrich capital of the world. Number one on the list for most travellers is a visit to an Ostrich farm where you learn about these fascinating birds, get to feed them and if you’re very lucky you get to hold a freshly hatched ostrich chick. If you’re feeling very brave (and don’t weigh more than about 60 kg) you even get the chance to ride an ostrich! I was too scared and also had a feeling the animals didn’t really enjoy the experience so I skipped the ride but still had an amazing time at the farm.

OMG I'm holding a freshly hatched baby ostrich!

OMG I’m holding a freshly hatched baby ostrich!

 3. Cango caves

If you ever find yourself in the Oudtshoorn area to visit some ostriches then make sure you don’t miss out on a trip to the nearby Cango caves. The Cango caves are an extensive 4km long network of caves that can be visited as part of a group tour on a standard tour or an adventure tour.

After much convincing by my boyfriend Simon, we opted for the one and a half hour long adventure tour which included squeezing through tight tunnels and sliding down rocks inside the caves. Despite my initial fears I had an absolutely brilliant time and this adventure was one of my favourite experiences of our whole trip.

Sliding through the "letterbox", a very narrow tunnel in the Cango caves

Sliding through the “letterbox”, a very narrow tunnel in the Cango caves

4. Beachfront stroll in Knysna

Knysna is just one a handful of quaint little beach towns dotted along the Garden route and we had a lovely time here strolling along the beautifully refurbished beach promenade. You can enjoy an ice cream and browse some lovely boutiques and second hand book shops or just take in the great seafront views from the pier.

Beautiful harbour in Knysna

Beautiful harbour in Knysna

5. Elephant riding

Definitely one of my all-time favourite experiences and on top of many backpackers’ bucket lists is riding on the back of an elephant through the South African outback. It was definitely an adventure of a life time and deserves a post for itself so I will keep it short. Let me just say: They might look soft and squishy but riding on an elephant is not as comfy as one might think!


How huge is that elephant??

Have you been to the Garden route? Which activities were your favourites?

Check out part 2 for more fun activities!

Anybody hungry? Here are My top 10 dishes from one year of #travel #rtw #food

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