It’s an exceptional route, with incredible scenery at every turn and scenic roads that take you through the mountains or along the white beaches.
It was a challenge for us not to deviate from our route because the country has a perfect natural beauty and we often saw landscapes that we wanted to explore.
How can you visit this route?
Fly to Cape Town and rent a car:
It is probably the most popular choice, as most tourists enter South Africa via Johannesburg or Cape Town.
From Cape Town, you simply rent a car and head east along the southern coast of South Africa.
Fly to Port Elizabeth and rent a car:
This is the option we chose. We entered South Africa via Johannesburg, we visited Kruger National Park, Panorama Route, and St Lucia, then we flew with FlySafair from Durban to Port Elizabeth and traveled by car from here to Cape Town.
We rented a Suzuki Swift at Port Elizabeth Airport from First Car Rental through Rentalcars for 260 Euro/12 days + 185 Euro deposit + 70 Euro One Way Fee.
We dropped off the car in the Cape Town Airport, from where we flew back home.
Many tourists choose to rent a single car and cross the country from east to west or vice versa.
How many days do you need to cover this route?
This area of South Africa is full of tourist attractions and even if you spend a month here, you have no time to get bored.
We would say that 2 weeks will be enough time for you to visit most of the attractions on the route. We traveled the route in 12 days.
Tourist attractions on the route
After a short flight from Durban, we arrived in Port Elizabeth and we decided to spend a few hours in this city before heading to Addo.
Port Elizabeth is an elegant city located on the Indian Ocean coast. We saw most of the city from the car and spent 2 hours on the Humpback Dolphin Trail.
The Humpback Dolphin Trail:
It is a 2.3 km coastal walkway that stretches from Pollock Beach to Flat Rocks. The walkway is made of recycled plastic, which looks a lot like wood and the entrance is free.
The trail can be accessed from many places and there are several parking lots and picnic and barbecue areas next to the trail. We arrived here on a Sunday morning and it was pretty crowded.
If you are lucky you can see whales or dolphins while walking on this coastal walkway.
Addo Elephant National Park:
Addo Elephant Park is the 4th nature reserve we visited in South Africa, after the reserves in the west of the country (Kruger National Park, Hluhluwe – Imfolozi Park and iSimangaliso Wetland Park).
Among the animals you can see in Addo are The Big Seven which are The Big Five (Cape buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard and rhino – in the Nyathi, Addo Main Camp Area and Colchester sections) + whale and shark white (in the Woody Cape region).
Addo Elephant Park is the 3rd largest reserve in South Africa and it is located in a malaria-free area.
How do you get to Addo Elephant Park?
Addo Elephant Park is located in the southern part of South Africa, 70 kilometers away from Port Elizabeth Airport.
The easiest way to visit the park is by car, but there are some accommodation units near the park that offer transfer from Port Elizabeth airport and safari in the park, in which case you will no longer need a car.
The park can also be visited on a day trip from Port Elizabeth.
We arrived at the accommodation in the evening, the next day we went on a self-drive safari in the park. The last day in the morning we headed to Tsitsikamma National Park.
Where can you stay if you visit Addo Park?
Accommodation inside the Addo Park:
Within the Addo safari area (Nyathi, Addo Main Camp Area and Colchester Sections) there are 4 campsites managed by the park (Addo Main Camp, Matyholweni Rest Camp, Nyathi Rest Camp, and Spekboom Hide & Tented Camp) and 2 private lodges (Gorah Elephant Camp, River Bend Lodge). You can find more details here.
In the Darlington section, there is only one private lodge: Kuzuko Lodge.
In the Kabouga section, there are 2 campsites: Kabouga Cottage and Mvubu Campsite.
In the Zuurberg section, there is only one campsite: Narina Bush Camp.
And in the Woody Cape section, there is only one campsite.
Accommodation near the park:
Near the park, you can choose to stay inside the private reserves in the area (Amakhala Game Reserve and Addo Bush Palace Private Reserve) or in the cities, the villages or at the farms in the area.
We chose to stay at Addo Dung Beetle Guest Farm – a farm situated just 4 kilometers away from the Main Entrance Gate.
The farm is located in a very quiet area, in the middle of a huge orange plantation. It is one of our favorite accommodations in South Africa, due to its peaceful location and the hosts who are extraordinarily friendly and who presented us the farm and attractions in the area with great enthusiasm.
They have different types of accommodation available and we opted for the most vintage of them – a cottage located in a very private area of the farm, hidden in the middle of the vegetation, with a terrace from where you can see the huge orange plantation that stretches up to the foot of the Zuurberg Mountains.
They have an optional airport transfer and you can go with them on safari in Addo Park.
If you are looking for a place to stay near Addo Elephant Park, we recommend this magical place.
We stayed 2 nights here and paid 40 Euro/night.
Gate Opening & Closing Times:
Daily between 7 AM and 6 PM.
- Citizens and residents of South Africa: 77 Rand/adult and 39 Rand/child.
- SADC citizens: 154 Rand/adult and 77 Rand/child.
- International visitors: 307 Rand/adult and 154 Rand/child.
The regions of the Park:
The park is divided into 7 sections:
Darlington and Kabouga sections:
To visit this part of the park you will need a 4WD car.
In the Kabouga section, there are 2 campsites: Kabouga Cottage and Mvubu Campsite.
The most popular activities in this area are fishing and bird watching.
It is a very beautiful mountain area.
Here you can hike or explore the area on a horseback safari, and you can stay at Narina Bush Camp.
The Nyathi, Addo Main Camp Area, and Colchester sections:
These are the most visited regions of the park.
The main entrance gates to the park are the Addo Main Camp Gate and Matyholweni Gate.
It’s the area of the park where you can go on a self-drive safari to see The Big Five.
The main road is paved, and the other roads are unpaved but very easily accessible and you don’t need a 4WD car.
From Addo Main Camp, horseback safaris are organized in the Nyathi region where you can see elephants, buffaloes, rhinos, zebras, and antelopes.
In this area of the park, you will find a restaurant, a gas station, shops, 4 campsites (Nyathi Rest Camp, Addo Main Camp, Spekboom Hide & Tenteed Camp, and Matyholweni Camp) and 2 private campsites (River Bend Lodge and Gorah Elephant Park).
Woody Cape Section:
It is the part of the park that is located near the ocean and is the right place for hiking, bird watching or beach walks where you have the chance to see whales or sharks.
Here you can hike the fabulous Alexandria Trail, a 36 km trail that can be traveled in 2 days. The trail runs through the woods, over dunes, and through beach areas.
In this area of the park, you can stay overnight at the campsite near Woody Cape Office, or in the Kranse or Langebos overnight Huts.
Entrance gates to Addo Elephant National Park:
- Main Entrance Gate & Addo Campsite Reception (close to the town of Addo).
- Matyholweni Gate & Matyholweni Camping Reception (near Colchester).
Self-Drive Safari in Addo Elephant National Park:
As the name suggests, the park is famous for its large elephant population.
The elephants in Addo are very different from those in the other reservations we visited. The elephants in Kruger raised their ears in a warning sign and pointed threateningly at the cars that were approaching them too much, but in Addo, the elephants come as close as 1 meter to cars and are not at all disturbed by their presence.
Although there are not as many animal species as in Kruger, Addo is a very special place where you will have different and amazing experiences.
How did our day go?
We entered the park at the Main Gate, next to the Addo Main Camp. Initially, we passed a gate leading to the Addo campsite, where the car was registered in a table, then we stopped at the Addo campsite to buy water and snacks from the store.
After we passed the Addo campsite we came to the second gate, this is the gateway to the safari area (Nyathi, Addo Main Camp Area, and Colchester sections), at this gate we paid the entrance ticket to the park.
In addition to the ticket, we received a very interesting map of the park, on the map are specified all the roads and campsites in the park.
! Play the game on the map and try to see as many animals as possible to win an ice cream from the other players.
We did not plan our route before entering the park, but simply took the map and took care to enter each road on the map and to be by the water after 11 AM.
We managed to see in one day the whole safari area of the park (Addo Main Camp Area and Colchester sections).
We entered the park just after opening time, hoping to see predators, but didn’t see any. The park was much greener than Kruger and with many hills and forests.
There were far fewer cars in the park compared to Kruger and in the first 2 hours of the morning we saw very few animals: only a few zebras, buffaloes, an ostrich, a few antelopes, and many birds.
After 10 AM, the animals came out from the hiding place where they stay during the night and our safari began to be more interesting.
The Secretary Bird is a very beautiful bird you can see in Addo and it is very pleasing to see it walking gracefully through the grass.
What is very interesting about Addo and different from the other parks we visited is that if you are near the water at the right time you will see how the elephants come to drink water or play in the water just a few meters away from your car.
It was a little intimidating for us to see them so close to the car, but we relaxed when we saw that they were completely ignoring the cars.
Addo is the only place where the flightless dung beetle is found. This is a protected species that you will have to protect yourself by being careful not to step on it.
Where can you eat in Addo?
Cattle Baron Grill & Bistro is our favorite restaurant in South Africa. We ate several times at this restaurant and each time the food was delicious.
We recommend you try “STEAKS THAT MADE US FAMOUS”.
The restaurant is located in the Addo Main Camp inside the Addo Park.
The Addo Main Camp is located between 2 gates, the first gate is the entrance to the park and is open until 10 PM. Even if the park is closed, you will be allowed to pass this gate after the closing time of the park if you go to eat at the restaurant.
We told the man at the gate that we were going to eat at Cattle Baron and he gave us a form to give to the waiter. The waiter wrote something in the form, and we returned the form at the gate when we left (you receive this form only if you enter the park outside the park’s operating hours). To enter this gate, you don’t have to pay.
The entrance gate to the safari area is after the Addo Main Camp, and this gate is open between 7 AM and 6 PM. The entrance ticket is paid at this gate.
The ones at the accommodation also recommended to us the following restaurants: Africanos Country Estate, Addo Wildlife Center and Lenmore Accommodation & Restaurant.
What can you visit on the Garden Route?
Garden Route is a 300-km route along the southwestern coast of South Africa from Tsitsikamma Storms River to Witsand.
It is one of the most popular holiday destinations in South Africa and passes by lakes, forests, mountains, and beaches.
The infrastructure is in very good condition and the best way to travel this route is by car.
The route includes cities such as Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Mossel Bay, Great Brak River, Little Brak River, Wilderness, Sedgefield and Nature’s Valley, and George.
There are many attractions on this route, and we chose to visit the following:
Tsitsikamma National Park
How you can get to the park?
The park is 195 km from Port Elizabeth and 68 km from Plettenberg Bay. You can get here by car.
- Citizens and residents of South Africa: 72 Rand/adult and 31 Rand/child.
- SADC citizens: 124 Rand/adult and 62 Rand/child.
- International visitors: 248 Rand/adult and 124 Rand/child.
Gate Opening & Closing Times:
The park is open between 7 AM and 6 PM, but the gates are open until 10 PM, given the opening hours of the Cattle Baron Restaurant in the park.
Tsitsikamma National Park is a paradise for watersports or adrenaline lovers. The activities you can enjoy here are diving, snorkeling, whale watching, kayaking, hiking, swimming, climbing, mountain biking, and bungee jumping.
Kayaking & Lilo with Untouched Adventures
The ticket costs 650 Rand/person and the wetsuit rent costs 90 Rand.
Their office is located inside Tsitsikamma Park, and to get there you will have to pay the entrance ticket and go through the entrance gate.
The kayak tour lasts 2 hours and begins with a short training, after which you will head across the ocean to the mouth of the Storms River (if the ocean is unsafe to kayak across, you will hike the trail to the suspended bridge on foot and from there you will take the kayak).
We took the first tour in the morning and the ocean was calm and safe to paddle.
After passing under the suspended bridge the water was much quieter. The scenery is very beautiful and considering it was early in the morning, it was very quiet so that only the water’s whisper and the songs of the birds could be heard around us.
After about 40 minutes we left the kayak on the edge of the river and took the lilos.
Our guides Fraco and Regon were very friendly and answered patiently at all our questions.
No experience is needed to participate on this tour, the kayak is very stable, the guides are very careful and well trained, so you will feel safe.
The trails in Tsitsikamma National Park:
At the gate, you will receive a map of the park that contains all the trails.
It is a 1 km trail from the restaurant to the suspension bridge. The route is very easy to hike, and it has amazing views.
The route is 2 Km long and is practically a continuation of the Mouth Trail. After you cross the bridge, you will climb through the forest to reach the viewpoint from where you will have a great view over the river mouth, the suspension bridge, and the endless ocean that unfolds at the foot of the mountain.
The route to the waterfall is the first part of the Otter Trail and has a length of 6.4 km round trip and can be hiked in about 3 hours.
It is a short 1.5 km route from where you will see the ocean.
Blue Duiker Trail
It is a 5.5 km circular route. The first part of the route is a part of the Loerie Trail and in the end, Duiker Trail meets the Waterfall Trail on the way to the starting point.
With a length of 42 km, this route can be hiked in 5 days. If you want to hike this trail you have to make a reservation in advance because the route can only be traveled by 12 people at a time and places are occupied even a year in advance.
It is a 20 km route that can be traveled in 2 days.
The trail starts at Nature’s Valley, passes through the Tsitsikamma Mountains and ends at Storms River. The route can be completely hiked in 6 days.
There are 2 campsites in the park: Storms River Mouth Rest Camp and Nature’s Valley Restcamp.
Most tourists are staying in the town of Plettenberg Bay, which is just 68 km away from the park.
We visited the park on our way from Port Elizabeth to Knysna and stayed in Knysna.
Attractions in the Plettenberg Bay area
Monkeyland, Birds of Eden and Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary
Entrance tickets can be purchased online or on-site.
- Single ticket for 1 sanctuary: 240 Rand/adult and 140 Rand/child (3-12 years)
- Combo ticket for any 2 sanctuaries: 450 Rand/adult and 225 Rand/child (3-12 years)
- Triptic ticket for all 3 sanctuaries: 560 Rand/adult and 280 Rand/child (3-12 years)
9 AM – 5 PM
We visited Monkeyland and Birds of Eden, which can be accessed from the same parking area. To visit these 2 sanctuaries, you will need at least 3 hours, although you can easily spend much more time here.
What does Monkeyland look like?
The Monkeyland Sanctuary is home to over 700 primates of various species, and it is a very special place.
Monkeyland is a forest where animals live freely in an environment similar to their natural habitat. The forest is fenced with a mesh fence so that monkeys are left free and not kept in cages.
At the entrance, there is a double gate, and the porter will lead you in. As soon as we entered, we were greeted by some curious lemurs.
It is the only area where you have access without a guide. Here is the reception where you will buy tickets and a restaurant where we had lunch after the guided tour.
If you do not know many details about the primate species and their habitat, we advise you to buy with the tickets the identification guide of the species in the sanctuary.
Access beyond the restaurant area is only permitted accompanied by a guide. Our group consisted of 11 people and our guide was a very friendly young lady who spoke with great passion about the species of monkeys in the sanctuary.
The guided tour lasts 1 hour and is very interested to see so many species of monkeys together.
It is important not to feed the monkeys and not to touch them, because if they are accustomed to being fed by humans, they will become aggressive with the next visitors.
It is an impressive beautiful place, like a journey through various jungles and forests on several continents, and worth a visit.
Birds of Eden
After having lunch at the Monkeyland restaurant, we headed to Birds of Eden.
Entrance to the sanctuary is through the souvenir shop, from where tickets can be purchased.
We recommend that you opt for the combo tickets, which allow you to visit both sanctuaries and have a much better price than purchased separately for each sanctuary.
However, we stopped at the ticket office to buy the identification guide of the birds that live in the sanctuary.
What does Birds of Eden look like?
Birds of Eden is a sanctuary surrounded and covered with a mesh fence, so the birds are allowed to fly freely.
About 3500 birds from over 200 species from all over the world live in this sanctuary.
When we entered the sanctuary, we suddenly had the feeling that we were in the jungle. The vegetation is very interesting and diverse.
There is a suspended bridge that passes over a river and a lot of colorful birds fly freely everywhere. We were glad to recognize bird species from many countries we have visited so far.
Unlike Monkeyland, you can explore Birds of Eden at your own pace, without a guide. We did not even realize how the hours flew and in the last part, we had to hurry up to get out of the park before closing time.
Since birds fly freely, the experience is like a safari, because you have to look for birds or wait for them to come out.
You can eat at the restaurant inside the sanctuary that has a magnificent view.
Robberg Nature Reserve
The entrance ticket is 50 Rand/adult.
Gate Opening & Closing Times
- October – April: 7 AM – 8 PM
- May – September: 8 AM – 6 PM
What can you see on this route?
The nature reserve is 8 km away from Plettenberg Bay.
At the entrance to the route, there is a parking lot, toilets (the only ones on the route) and a picnic area with a great view over the bay.
We traveled the entire circular route along the Robberg Peninsula in about 5 hours, but there are also 2 shorter and easier trails:
Trail 1: 2 km to The Cap and back to the parking lot.
Trail 2: 4 km to The Witsand, then to The Island and back to the parking lot.
The complete Trail to The Point is 11 km long and takes at least 4 hours to complete. This trail has some difficult parts and it is not recommended for young children.
Take with you hiking shoes, water, food, and warm clothes as the weather changes suddenly and it can be quite cold.
It is a fairly easy route for the most part and the main attraction of the route are the seals.
There are many seals, several hundreds that either stand in the sun on the rock or swim. You will need a zoom camera to be able to photograph them and a binocular if you want to see them closely because they are at the base of the rocky wall on which the route is situated.
At The Point (the end of the peninsula), we saw the seals up close, here the trail descends very close to the water and the seals swam about 3 meters from us, we didn’t see any seals out of the water, but we were surprised to see them swimming in those huge waves
At the beginning of the trail, we saw 2 sharks that were huge compared to the seals.
You can take a tour of Plettenberg Bay to swim with the seals.
Knysna Elephant Park
Adults: 320 Rand
- Children 5-12 years: 160 Rand
- Pensioners and students: 230 Rand
- Bucket with food for the elephants: 45 Rand
The park is open daily between 9 AM and 3 PM and tours begin every half hour and you do not need to make a reservation.
Tickets are purchased from the reception, and before entering the park you will watch a short movie about the history of the park.
From the reception, you will reach the elephants with a tourist train linked to a tractor.
When we reached the elephants, the group was divided into smaller groups, of a maximum of 4 people and each group was accompanied by a guide. At first, we fed the elephants with the fruit in the bucket and then we walked with them and we were allowed to touch them.
Our guide told us the elephant’s mane and how they got to this sanctuary.
It was an interesting experience to get so close to these huge animals.
Where to stay in Knysna?
It is a romantic accommodation, suitable for couples or honeymoon trips. The cottage we stayed in had lots of windows and a great view over the city and the Knysna lagoon.
This is the most expensive accommodation we booked for this vacation, but we enjoyed it and would love to go back there to spend more days. We stayed one night here and paid 160 Euros.
The hotel looks great and is surprisingly cheap. It has a swimming pool, parking, a very nice dining area and the rooms are very spacious. Breakfast is included (cereals with yogurt, bacon eggs, juice, tea and coffee).
We stayed 2 nights here and paid 35 Euro / night.
From Knysna, we headed early in the morning to Oudshoorn and stopped at Garden Route Mall in Geroge for breakfast.
The distance between Knysna and Oudtshoorn is 120 km and from Oudtshoorn to Cango Caves you have to drive another 30 km.
In South Africa, in some parking lots at the tourist attractions, there is a person that takes care of the cars and people usually pay a small tip for this service. We gave 10 Rand to the man staying in the parking at Cango Caves, because we had all our luggage in the car and couldn’t take much with us in the cave.
However, you can take a backpack into the cave. The Heritage tour can be easily hiked with the backpack and if you go on the adventure tour, there is a room where you can leave your things before entering the narrow area and take them back when you return.
The temperature in the cave is suitable for wearing just a shirt, you will not need warm clothes.
There are 2 tours at Cango Caves:
Tours depart every hour on the hour between 9 AM and 4 PM and last 60 minutes.
It is an easier tour where you will visit the larger cave rooms that are easy to access.
Tickets cost 150 Rand/adult and 100 Rand/child.
Tours depart every hour on the half-hour between 9:30 AM and 3:30 PM and last 90 minutes.
We chose this tour and went on an adventure in a group of 8 people and a guide.
It is an interesting tour, the first part is the Heritage Tour and the adventure part comes at the end, where the tour becomes progressively more difficult.
Tickets cost 220 Rand/adult and 150 Rand/child, and we bought the tickets directly on the spot.
Tours depart every hour on the hour between 8 AM and 4 PM.
- Adult: 146 Rand (117 Rand if you book online)
- Children: 4-14 years – 70 Rand (37 Rand if you book online)
- Admission is free for children under 4 years.
The tour lasts one hour and begins with an Ostrich Tractor Safari. In this safari, you will find out the difference between ostriches from Zimbabwe, Kenya, and South Africa while you watch them walking around the tractor.
In the second part of the tour, we walked through the farm.
Next to the reception, there are also a restaurant and a souvenir shop, from this store you can buy beautiful decorations made from ostrich eggs shell or ostrich leather bags.
Opposite the reception is a small building, where you can make a donation or buy a brick for the construction of a school (in that box you will see on the walls the “bricks” bought by other people). If you want to know more about this project, read here or ask at the reception.
Where can you stay in Oudtshoorn?
It is a farm located in a very quiet area between Oudtshoorn and Cango Caves. The farm is located at the foot of the mountains and has a beautifully decorated garden.
Optionally you can have breakfast and dinner here for a fee.
We stayed for one night here and paid 35 Euros, and early in the morning, we headed to Cape Agulhas.
From Oudtshoorn, we headed on Route 62 to Cape Agulhas. This is a very interesting route that passes through places with spectacular landscapes.
The Garden Route ends in Witsand, before Cape Agulhas, but the route from here to Cape Town is also very impressive.
Cape Agulhas is considered the place where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet, and it is also the southernmost point on the African continent.
The area is very beautiful, with long beaches and elegant houses. There is a coastal walkway that leads to the place marked as the meeting point of the two oceans.
For a small fee, you can visit the lighthouse of Cape Agulhas.
You can certainly spend a few days exploring this area, but we only spent 2 hours here on our way from Oudtshoorn to Hermanus.
Hermanus is located 110 km from Cape Agulhas and 120 km from Cape Town.
It is a charming city, located at the foot of the mountain and on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.
Hermanus is the most popular place in South Africa and perhaps even in the world to see whales, which are present near the coast of South Africa from July to November.
Cliff Path Walk
On the first day in Hermanus, we hiked the Cliff Path Walk.
It is an 11 km coastal trail between Piet-se-Bos to the east and New Harbor to the west.
From place to place there are wooden benches from where you can watch the whales swimming in the bay. We were very excited when we saw the first whale, but after about an hour we lost their number.
One of the most popular whales watching spots on the trail is Gearing’s Point, here you have the chance to see whales very close to the shore.
Kayaking in Walker Bay
The next day in Hermanus we went on a kayak tour with Walker Bay Adventures.
Unfortunately, we did not see whales during the tour, only seals that were swimming curiously around the kayak.
It is a very pleasant experience and we recommend it, especially from July to November when you have the chance to see whales.
The tour lasts 2 hours and costs 450 Rand/person.
In Hermanus, you can enjoy other experiences such as whales watching cruise, white sharks cage diving, diving, horseback riding on Pearly Beach or hiking.
Where you can stay in Hermanus?
In Hermanus, we stayed in a villa located in a quiet and select neighborhood. The rooms are very clean and tastefully decorated, some overlook the ocean and others overlook the mountain.
The owner is a very kind person who knows South Africa very well and gave us many useful tips. We paid 50 Euro/night.
The route between Hermanus and Simon’s Town
It is a very beautiful area, with amazing views over the bay with blue water and mountains in the background. There are many parking lots along the route where we recommend you stop for whales watching or simply to admire the sublime scenery.
Betty’s Bay is 50 km away from Hermanus or 90 km from Cape Town.
The biggest attraction in the small town of Betty’s Bay is the Stony Point Penguin.
- This beautiful place can be visited between 8 AM and 4:30 PM.
- Admission tickets cost 50 Rand / person.
As soon as we got to the parking lot, we were greeted by 2 penguins who were hiding under the parked cars (it is good to look under the car before leaving the parking lot).
The entrance tickets are purchased from the counter at the entrance on the wooden path that walks you through the penguin’s nest.
The route passes through the middle of the penguins who either stay in the nests or descend to the water to swim.
Muizenberg Beach is an endless white sand beach popular for surfing. We stopped here on our way between Betty’s Bay and Simon’s Town to see the colorful houses on the beach. We liked the beach and took a stroll around the area to watch the surfers.
The distance from Hermanus to Simon’s Town is only 129 km, but it took us a full day to travel the route.
The only stops we had planned were at the penguin colony in Betty’s Bay and at the Muizenberg Beach, the rest of the stops we made to admire the natural beauty of the area.
The scenic road connecting Betty’s Bay to Simon’s Town runs along the coast of False Bay, and the whales seem to love this bay.
We spent an hour and a half in the Fish Hoek bay, 10 km from Simon’s Town where 4 whales swam just a few meters from the shore, offering a free show to the tourists.
Simon’s Town is just 45 km from Cape Town.
Where can you stay in Simon’s Town?
The hotel is located right next to the port and some rooms have a great view over it. The staff is very friendly, the rooms are large and very clean, and the breakfast included is fabulous.
We paid 130 euros for 2 nights.
Where to eat in Simon’s Town?
Breakfast at aha Simon’s Town Quayside Hotel was served at Saveur restaurant and we had dinner at this restaurant too. It is a European style restaurant that overlooks the harbor and the food is delicious.
What can you visit near Simon’s Town?
Boulders Beach is another place where you can see African penguins in their natural environment, and it is located very close to Simon’s Town.
They are the only species of penguins that breed in Africa and you can only see them in South Africa or Namibia.
At Boulders Beach, there are 3 trails.
With the entrance ticket, you will have access to Boulders Beach and the route leading to the platform overlooking Foxy Beach.
From the parking lot, we reached the entrance gate to the swimming area and Boulders beach, but we decided to go first to the route that leads to the platform overlooking the Foxy beach.
From the entrance gate to the Boulders beach and up to the entrance gate to the trail leading to Foxy Beach, a beautiful wooden path trail is arranged. This part of the route can be visited free of charge and passes by the penguins’ nests.
After paying the entrance ticket we walked the route that leads to an open platform from where you can see the whole Foxy beach full of penguins.
Before leaving this area be sure to visit the second platform where you will arrive after a short trail through the forest.
With the same entrance ticket, you will enter the Boulders beach. There were no penguins on the first beach we entered, so we followed other tourists and passed under a rock to reach the beach between Foxy Beach and Boulders Beach.
On this beach, we saw a few penguins coming down from their nests to swim and we had the chance to swim with them.
Remember that you should not touch or feed penguins!
- April – September: 8 AM – 5 PM
- October, November, February, and March: 8 AM – 6:30 PM
- December and January: 7 AM – 7:30 PM
Entry tickets cost 152 Rand / person.
Cape Peninsula and Cape of Good Hope
Cape of Good Hope, part of Table Mountain National Park, is a beautiful nature reserve just a 20-minute drive from Simon’s Town or 55 km from Cape Town.
Honestly, before we went there, we didn’t expect to like it so much, but we had an amazing day in this park.
Here you can hike some interesting trails, relax on the beautiful white sandy beaches, see the whales swimming in the False Bay or go on a small safari in search of antelopes, baboons, zebras or ostriches in the park.
More than 250 species of interesting birds can be seen here, and from August to September the wildflowers are blooming in a spectacular display of color.
When you buy the entrance tickets, we also received a park map, we took the map and traveled by car all the routes marked on the map.
What you shouldn’t miss in the Cape Peninsula?
Cape of Good Hope
The southernmost point of the African continent is Cape Agulhas and the westernmost point is Cape of Good Hope.
Leave the car in the parking lot and climb to the lighthouse and enjoy the view from the top. You will see from here the Cape of Good Hope, the ocean and the peninsula.
Near the parking lot at Cape Point, there is a restaurant and a souvenir shop.
- October – March: 6 am – 6 PM
- April – September: 7 AM – 5 PM
Make sure you reach the gate before closing otherwise you will receive a fine of 500 Rand.
- Citizens of South Africa: 74 Rand/adult and 39 Rand/child (2-11 years)
- International visitors: 303 Rand/adult and 152 Rand/child (2-11 years)
Chapman’s Peak Drive
We headed from Cape Peninsula to Cape Town on the famous scenic road – Chapman’s Peak Drive.
The road stretches between Noordhoek and Hout Bay and is one of the most spectacular marine drives in the world.
It is a toll road and the fee costs 50 Rand (you have to pay cash as only South African credit cards are accepted). The toll is payable when you enter or exit the road on the Hout Bay side.
There are several picnic areas along the route, and the sunset seen from here is divine.
Cape Town is a very beautiful city, and the surroundings are of breathtakingly beauty. Although we read so many beautiful words about this city, we did not expect to exceed our expectations that much.
Where to stay in Cape Town?
The hotel is a 5-minute drive away from the Cape Town Waterfront. Given the location, the price is extremely good. We paid around 45 Euros per night.
The rooms are quite small but very clean.
You can rent only the room or choose the option with breakfast included, which is served at the Vivaldi restaurant.
Vivaldi’s restaurant is very interestingly furnished, with furniture that seems to be part of the old palaces. We had dinner at this restaurant and enjoyed the show offered by the waiters. Every few minutes, one of the waiters stopped serving and started singing.
V&A Waterfront – the place where the city meets the sea.
V&A Waterfront is located on the ocean coast, in the harbor of Table Bay and consists of shopping centers, souvenir shops, markets, hotels, restaurants, museums, and other places where you can spend your time.
V&A Waterfront is the most visited destination in South Africa and the Table Mountain seen from here is amazing.
What can you visit in V&A Waterfront?
Victoria Wharf Shopping Center is the most popular shopping mall in South Africa and is open daily from 9 AM to 9 PM. The mall has a very large paid underground parking.
On one side of the mall, there is the Sea Point Promenade, a very pleasant place for a walk or for jogging.
On the other side of the mall is the V&A Waterfront, where you can walk and discover at your own pace the attractions in the area or take a guided tour to find interesting information about the history of the city.
If you want to buy something to remind you of this wonderful country, you can buy from the souvenir shops here.
During your walk through the harbor, make a stop at the Nobel Square to see the sculptures of the four Nobel Prize winners (Nelson Mandela, Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, and F. W. de Klerk).
If you are visiting this place with your children, visit Scratch Patch. Here you can play golf or choose the pebbles you buy from the carpet of stones lying on the floor.
Admire the wonderful underwater world at Two Oceans Aquarium on a regular tour or during a diving session.
V&A Waterfront is the starting point for a cruise to Robben Island, the place where Nelson Mandela was taken prisoner. There are many other cruises you can take part in and tickets can be purchased directly from the port.
Cape Town Diamond Museum is the right place to learn about the history of the South African diamond industry. The museum is open daily from 9 AM to 9 PM.
If you are lucky enough to visit Cape Town on a clear day, you can take the opportunity to see the city from a helicopter. Helicopter flights can be booked from V&A Waterfront, or online.
We went 2 evenings at the V&A Waterfront, but we said we would take pictures of Table Mountain on the last day, when we would spend a whole day there, well we regretted not taking pictures then because when we returned during the day in the port, the mountain was covered in fog.
Table Mountain Aerial Cableway
You can hike up to the Table Mountain, but we, for lack of time, chose to take the aerial cable cars.
Tickets for the cable cars are cheaper after 1 PM.
- Between 8:30 AM- 1 PM: 360 Rand/adult return ticket, 180 Rand/child return ticket, 200 Rand/one-way adult and 100 Rand/one-way child.
- Between 1 PM – until closing time: 300 Rand/adult return ticket, 150 Rand/child return ticket, 200 Rand/adult one-way and 100 Rand/child one-way.
Tickets can also be booked online from here.
On the mountain, there are 3 short routes with several lookout points.
There are a café and a souvenir shop in the cable car area.
On our visit, it was very cold on the mountain and very foggy. Nevertheless, we managed to see the beautiful image that unfolds at the foot of the mountain: Cape Town, Robben Island and the bay with endless white beaches.
Table Mountain was voted one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2011.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
How can you get here?
The Botanical Garden is 13 km from Cape Town, and it is very easy to get here by car.
There is also a touristic bus that has a stop here, more details can be found here.
The botanical garden is located in a very beautiful area, having the Table Mountain in the background. The garden has a lot of beautiful plants and flowers, and it is also a good place to observe the beautifully colored birds.
The botanical garden is very big, so we recommend that you buy a map with 10 Rand from the ticket office. Be careful not to miss the Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway and the Protea Garden.
Here, you can take a free guided tour, you can walk freely through the garden, enjoy a quiet picnic, go jogging or attend a concert that takes place in the amphitheater here.
- April – August: 8 AM – 6 PM
- September – March: 8 AM – 7 PM
Admission tickets cost 75 Rand/adult.
World of Birds
How can you get here?
The sanctuary is in Hout Bay and you can get here by car or by a tour bus.
The park is open daily between 9 AM and 5 PM.
Admission tickets cost 120 Rand/adult and 45 Rand/child.
World of Birds is the largest bird park in Africa, there live over 3000 birds from 400 different species from all over the world.
Among the many birds in the sanctuary are a lot of injured birds, who would have no chance of surviving in freedom.
The sanctuary is like a zoo, interestingly, you can enter the bird’s cages, because the trails pass from one room to another through the middle of the birds, and we were glad that we had the chance to look closely at the birds we were watching through binoculars in their natural habitat.
Besides birds, there are many other animals here. For us, it was a joy to see the little monkeys that had 2 new members in the family.
Watch what activities appear on the map that you will receive at the entrance, so you don’t miss out when the penguins or pelicans are fed.
We also entered the Monkey Jungle, the home of the Squirrel monkeys. It was a very nice image to see these adorable little animals running all around us. You are not allowed to enter with food there, nor to touch the animals. We sat on the grass and allowed the little ones to move around us.
Bo-Kaap (Malay Quarter) is the colorful neighborhood of Cape Town located at the base of Signal Hill.
We drove there, but it can be reached on foot in about half an hour from the V&A Waterfront.
At first, the houses were white and were inhabited by slaves from Malaysia, Indonesia, and Africa. The vast majority of the residents were Muslims, which is why some mosques were built in the neighborhood. After the adoption of the Slavery Abolition in the British Empire, the inhabitants of this neighborhood painted their houses in bright colors to celebrate freedom.
There are also guided tours that will take you through the most important areas of the quarter, to the museum and mosques.
Other attractions in Cape Town
The Lion’s Head trail was on our list but unfortunately, we didn’t hike the trail because of the dense fog.
An exceptional place to watch the sunset is Signal Hill and Noon Gun.
For those who want to spend more time at the beach, we recommend the beaches Hout Bay, Clifton, and Camps Bay.
If you spend more time in the city, visit the Town Hall and the Castle of Good Hope, which are located in the same area.
Several vineyards can be visited around Cape Town.
After spending 3 wonderful weeks in South Africa, we left the car at Cape Town Airport and flew back home with Turkish Airlines.
If you visit South Africa once, you will want to go back there again and again. For us, this beautiful country is in the top 3 most beautiful countries we have visited so far.
In this article, we wrote some useful details for organizing a holiday in South Africa. And if you want to see what you can visit in South Africa in 3 weeks, read about the Kruger National Park here, the stunning Panorama Route here, and the beautiful area around St. Lucia here.