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 along the Garden Route. I honestly hadn’t thought much further than our game reserve stay which was at the beginning of our trip so to say I was pleasantly surprised with the country is an understatement. Every single place that we stopped at, I was enthralled with the beauty. It could be anything from the crystal clear waters to the towering mountains that had me in awe, or the flora and fauna found in every corner. The one thing I learned is that there are no limits to the beauty of the landscape, people or food within this gem of a country and I’m very grateful I got the chance to experience it myself.

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

Boardwalk 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

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, ejoying game drives in both the morning and the evening. Most people checked out of the game reserve after two nights, but as we are huge animals and wildlife fans we were more than happy to stay for two extra game drives! While at Amakhala you are within decent driving distance from Addo Elephant Park should you wish to visit here in between drives (which we did, but I’m not sure I would recommend as it was a lot to take in one day) or on the day you are leaving if you are heading in the direction of Cape Town.

DAY FIVE & SIX: Plettenberg Bay

Robberg Island Tombolo

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 snorkeling with Seals by Robberg Nature Reserve and then visiting Tenikwa Conservation Centre. With all these activities we arrived late in the evening in Mossel Bay. We only had dinner here and left early the next morning as we had no activities planned for here and didn’t really enjoy the vibe of the town. I’m sure there is plenty to do here, but for us it was just a place to stay that wasn’t too far from Hermanus. I have chosen not to link where I stayed in Mossel Bay as I personally wouldn’t recommend it (what HOTEL has several rooms downstairs and NO lift to help you with your severely overpacked bag?!)

DAY EIGHT, NINE & TEN: HERMANUS

Hermanus Whale Watching

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

Remhoogte Winery
View at Remhoogte Wine Estate

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 walk around and enjoy the scenery. We were staying in the very central Oude Werf Hotel , the oldest continously-in-business hotel in all of South Africa (so we were told!). Our first evening was spent enjoying the city and equally enjoying the wine. 

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

GoPro Table Mountain
Top of Table Mountain

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 4pm, but if you have your car for the full day then this is the best day to explore this area. We spent most of our time in Cape Town being incredibly active between climbing mountains and other activities – but this is also the perfect place for you to take a holiday on your holiday. The coast is sprinkled with gorgeous beaches such as Camps Bay. This area has a pristine beach with a road parallel lined with bars and restaurants for you to enjoy if the sun gets too much. There are usually quite bad rip currents in the sea, but you can still enjoy a swim if you just find the Camps Bay Tidal Pool.

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, I would not recommend staying there. We did find that while we did exercise more caution than usual, we also found the city was a lot better than we anticipated. We didn’t have to clutch on to our bags at every waking second and even during the day we decided to venture areas that weren’t marked for tourists and found there was no major issue. There are a lot of security personnel working around the V&A Waterfront, around Bo-Kapp, etc which should also put your mind at ease.

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 tak for you, along with cleaning your windows. It’ is complimentary to 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 rand is 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 in to more detail. Have you ever been to South Africa or done the Garden Route? Are there places you would recommend that I didn’t mention? Please let me know in the comments below!

Let Me Know Your Thoughts!