If you happen to follow me on Instagram you will know that I recently visited South Africa for one of my longest trips away to date
Below is our full day to day itinerary self-driving through the garden route and where we stayed. This itinerary was put together with the help of Andre from The Safari Expert who we booked through. I would highly recommend going through Andre when booking a Safari holiday as everything was seamless for us, and after speaking he knew what we would like and tailored it accordingly. There were chops and changes made from the original which resulted in the most amazing holiday possible that was perfect for what we wanted. I will do individual posts on the various places separately to go into greater detail on what we did and give more details on where we stayed.
DAY ONE: Port Elizabeth
On our first day we arrived in to Port Elizabth, collected our car and drove roughly ten minutes to our hotel The Windermere Hotel. It’s a stunning boutique hotel with views of the sea from our room and we felt it was the perfect place to rest our heads after hours (and hours..) of travelling. We had no plans for Port Elizabeth so took our evening realitively easy, got ourselves organised and headed for dinner. It’s a quiet city from what we saw, so I wouldn’t recommend staying here longer than needs be.
DAY TWO, THREE & FOUR: Amakhala Game Reserve
DRIVE: 106km – Roughly 1.5 hours
The morning in Port Elizabeth we struggled to find much to do aside from walk their boardwalk and enjoy the beautiful coastal views. We then left and drove to Amakhala Game Reserve. We arrived a little after 2pm, had lunch and got ready for our first game drive at 4pm.
We stayed in Amakhala Game Reserve for our third and fourth night also,
DAY FIVE & SIX: Plettenberg Bay
DRIVE: 315km – 3.5 hours
Once we finished our morning game drive at Amakhala we were keen to hit the road for the long drive ahead. The route is straight forward following the N2 most of the way there. Since the drive is quite long we arrived to Starfish Guest Lodge in the evening time and enjoyed what Plettenberg had to offer, such as Robberg Nature Reserve and their wonderful beaches.
On our second day here we actually drove one hour back towards Tsitsikamma National Park & Storms River. If you are interested in stopping off here (which I would highly recommend!) you can factor a stop in here before heading to Plettenberg, which will also help break up the 300km+ journey from A to B.
DAY SEVEN: Mossel Bay
DRIVE: 150km – 2 hours
Mossel Bay was just a means to an end for us to break up the long journey between Plettenberg and Hermanus. We ended up spending the majority of our time in Plettenberg Bay that day
DAY EIGHT, NINE & TEN: HERMANUS
DRIVE: 310km – 3.5 hours
Leaving early from Mossel Bay to ensure we arrived at a decent time in Hermanus, we checked in to On The Cliff Guest House just in time to walk in to the town via the beautiful Fernkloof Cliff Path. This guest house was our favourite on the journey due to the lovely staff, gorgeous breakfast and lovely seaside views from our room. The cliff path starts just outside the guest house and escorts you along the coast until the town centre, and actually continues on to the other side should you want to explore that far. Hermanus is known for it’s whale watching, so if you go at the right time of year you may get lucky and see them from the coast line and not just on a whale watching tour.
This was one of the most lively towns that we visited even right before summer, and the long coastline makes it a great place for water sports and whale watching tours. While at Hermanus we also drove to Gansbaii to go Shark Cage Diving roughly 45 minutes-1 hour away depending on traffic.
Not too far from Hermanus you will also find ‘Bettys Beach’ which is home to the Stony Point Penguin nature reserve. This reserve is roughly 45 minutes away and much lesser known than Boulders Beach in Cape Town. Not too far from Bettys Beach is also the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens nestled at the foot of the Fynbos where you can chose to take a leisurely stroll to a 4-6 hour hike depending on your preference and when you arrive.
DAY ELEVEN & TWELVE: Stellenbosch
DRIVE: 95km – 1 hour 20 minutes
Funnily enough we almost cut Stellenbosch out of the itinerary at the beginning as neither of us are huge wine fans – but since it is one of the big things to do along the garden route we said we would experience it and I am so glad that we did.
Stellenbosch, or known by it’s more endearing local term as ‘Stellies’ is a very vibrant and young city due to the university in the heart of it. There were exams during our visit, and it still felt more young and lively than anywhere else we had visited by a country mile. Like many cities, we found there wasn’t much to do within the city itself apart from
Our second day we ventured on a wine tasting tour across three out of the 150+ wine estates in Stellenbosch which our hotel organised for us. The three estates were all quite different in what they offered both in terms of wine and views. The tour was intimate with only two other couples along with ourselves and our tour guide so it ensured we got to ask questions and learn about each of the wines.
DAY THIRTEEN-SIXTEEN: Cape Town
DRIVE: 55km – 45 minutes (from hotel to hotel)
Our last four days of our South African Journey were spent in Cape Town. While driving from Stellenbosch from Cape Town, take your opportunity to drive around the cape – stopping in Muizenberg and Boulders Beach to see the penguins along the way. From here you can travel all along the Cape Peninsula to Cape Point and back up along the other side, passing Chapmans Peak on your way back to the city centre. Unfortunately, we did not have time to do this full route as we had to give our car back for
Cape Town is a beautiful city but we were told time and time again about the security within the city and to exercise extreme caution. This slightly tainted our experience as we were slightly anxious the second the sun went down. Our hotel was not by the Waterfront, so for easier access to walkable areas at night time
On our 17th day in South Africa it was time to say goodbye hop on our (excruciatingly long) flight home!
That is the extent of our 16 full day itinerary. I will do in to more detail down the line on each individual place such as Plettenberg, Hermanus and Cape Town where I will outline all the activities that we did and places that we ate. There are a few things that I would also note if you are heading to South Africa which are:
- Make sure to tip your game driver on Safari, especially if you had the same one like us for the entire journey. We tipped ours roughly R700 each and I’m still not sure if that was too much or enough.
- When filling up at a petrol station you do not get out of your car – simply roll down the window where the men working will fill your
takfor you, along with cleaning your windows. It’ is complimentaryto tip these a few rand(3-5 rand would suffice)
- When parking, don’t be scared by the people claiming to mind your car. These people are just trying to make a
living,and can help you put your mind at ease when parking in an area you’re not used to. Some may try and tell you to give them upwards of R20, but if they are unofficial (eg. don’t give you a legitimate parking disc/ticket) then anywhere between 3-5 randis enough here also.
- The weather can be quite temperamental. We needed warm clothes for the early mornings and late nights on our game drive, and then again when we climbed Table Mountain as it got incredibly breezy at the top so try and pack for all occasions.
- They have an absolutely insane plug adapter that I had never seen before. It was tricky enough to find and we ended up spending about €30 on them in Dixons in the airport so just remember this before you fly.
If you want to know more about the places I visited, please keep an eye out for some of my future posts where I will go