South Africa: Trails of the Garden Route

  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • What's Included
  • Reviews
  • Dates
  • Exodus

Discover the wild beauty of South Africa’s Garden Route on foot

From shifting sand dunes to woodlands and fynbos shrublands, South Africa’s Garden Route displays a wild beauty waiting to be explored on foot. Savage oceans crash on shore as whales swim past off the coast (in season) and penguins frolic in the surf. Inland elephants and lions roam Addo National Park, whilst further west endless rows of vines stretch out and Table Mountain towers over the Mother City, Cape Town. We roam coastal trails and forests, wander up gorges and go on safari as we explore some of the best reserves and parks of the Cape region.

* Hike up Table Mountain * Challenge yourself on the Alexandria Trail * Go on a safari in Addo National Park * Explore vibrant Cape Town

All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners included. A lot of the food you’ll come across is very similar to what you’ll be used to at home. There will be, however, opportunities to try some local dishes, including some unusual meats such as ostrich or kudu. Spending a lot of time along the coast there is also access to some very good, fresh fish and seafood. One of the nights we will enjoy a traditional braai (barbeque), a quintessential South African meal. Whilst South Africa is very much a meat-eating nation, there are options for vegetarians, though perhaps not as many as you’d be used to at home.

* 10 nights hotels, chalets and lodge, mostly en suite, 2 nights permanent tented camp, one night hut * 7 days walking * Varied terrain including sand dunes * Altitude max 1195m, average 450m
  • Storms River
  • Port Elizabeth
  • Cape of Good Hope
  • Stellenbosch
  • Knysna
  • Victoria
  • Africa
  • South Africa
  • Cape Town
  • The Garden Route
  • Adventure Holidays in South Africa
Tour Types
  • Walking
  • Active
  • Adventure
  • Point-to-point
  • Walking & Trekking
  • Safaris
  • Singles
Day 1

Depart London **

Day 2

Land only passengers can be picked up at our pre-tour hotel in Port Elizabeth or meet the group at Port Elizabeth Airport in time for the arrival of the group flights (see final joining instructions for detail). Upon arrival of the group flight we will transfer to our accommodation in the Addo Hills. Here we stay in permanent tents with en suite facilities set in a private reserve, on the border of the national park, where various game such as kudu, impala and bushbuck can be seen. The rest of the day is free to relax after the overnight flight. Accommodation: Kudu Ridge Lodge or similar *Comfortable Camping*

Day 3

After breakfast we embark on a full day game drive in Addo Elephant National Park (to give it its full name). The park was initially set up to protect the few remaining elephants in the area which it did with great success as the populations grew considerably over the years. Today it is Africa’s third largest national park and, as well as elephants, is home to lions, Black rhino, meerkats and the ubiquitous dung beetle which can be seen throughout the park rolling little balls of dung by the side of the road. We'll find a good spot to stop and have a picnic lunch in the park. Accommodation: Kudu Ridge Lodge or similar *Comfortable Camping*

Day 4

We head towards the coast today to start on the two-day Alexandria Trail. There is a strict limit of 12 people allowed on the trail per day meaning that we will probably be the only people on the trail. The trail loops through three distinct environments - sand dunes, sea-shore and indigenous forest – within the Woody Cape Nature Reserve, part of Addo National Park. After doing the sign-in procedures at the office, we take a short drive to the start of our trail passing through indigenous forest and dairy farms. Our trek starts at the coast. We wind through indigenous coastal forest until we reach the dunes. From here we follow the coast from where we may spot whales or dolphins off-shore. Eventually, after almost 11 km, we arrive at the Woody Cape Hut with its incredible views. Sleeping arrangements tonight are in two 6-bed dorms which may have to be shared by men and women depending on the formation of the group. You will have to carry everything you need for the night, including a sleeping bag, and will be asked to help carry your portion of food for the day. Walk: Distance 11 km Time: 5 hours Accommodation: Woody Cape Hut or similar *Basic Hotel*

Day 5

This morning we complete the loop of the Alexandria Trail. Leaving the hut behind we head into the Alexandria Dune Field. This vast expanse of sand, often referred to as a sand sea, is one of the largest existing active coastal dune fields in the world covering 142 square kilometres with some dunes measuring up to 140m. After conquering the dunes we continue through the forest back to the start point. From here we transfer to Tsitsikamma National Park where we can relax for the rest of day. Walk: Distance 16.5 km Time: 5 hours Accommodation: Storms River Restcamp or similar *Standard Hotel*

Day 6

Stretching along the coast, Tsitsikamma National Park gets its name from a local word meaning ‘place of abundant water.’ The park is made up of rocky coastlines, fairy-tale forests, waterfalls and rivers and is a great place for bird enthusiasts with a variety of sea, forest and fynbos (scrubland) species present. There are a number of short trails which depart from the Storm’s River area where we will be staying and we will do a couple of the most popular trails.  The first of these is the Waterfall Trail, this trail, rocky in parts, takes us to where the Tweeriviere River falls 50m into a pool before cascading into the sea. We return the same way. This trail is 6kms in total (3kms each way) and should take about 3hrs. Next we head in the opposite direction on the short Storms River Mouth trail which takes us, as the name implies, to the mouth of the Storms River where there are suspension bridges. This 2km trail is very easy along boardwalks most of the way but is well worth it for the views. There is some free time and you can choose to follow another trail or head to the trees for some zip-lining (see optional excursions section for prices).  Later we drive to Plettenberg Bay where we spend the next two nights. Walk: Distance 8 km Time: 4 hours Accommodation: The Dunes Resort or similar *Standard Hotel*

Day 7

When Portuguese explorers first sailed past Plettenberg Bay they named it ‘Bahia Fromosa’ (beautiful bay). With three beaches, estuaries and lagoons, the town has become a popular holiday destination for South Africans. We have a free day to relax or explore the region further. For those who want we can drive to Knysna and explore the featherbed nature reserve by boat taking in the Knysna Lagoon and Heads. There are also some walks that can be done nearby. Accommodation: The Dunes Resort or similar *Standard Hotel*

Day 8

An early start as we leave the coast behind and travel to Swellendam, the third oldest town in South Africa, with its attractive Cape Dutch architecture. We spend most of today in nearby Marloth Nature Reserve with its interesting vegetation of mountain fynbos, protea and erica. We follow the Tienuurkop Peak (10 O’clock Peak) trail, a challenging hike climbing up to the summit of Tienuurkop at 1,195m with spanning views of the Langeberg Mountains, Ruensveld and Swellendam. Along the way we pass fynbos veld and patches of indigenous forest and may see various birds and small mammals, including antelopes. Walk: Distance 9.5 km Time: 4 hours Accommodation: Rooseje Van de Kaap Hotel or similar *Standard Hotel*

Day 9

This morning we head back for the coast and the De Hoop Nature Reserve. This afternoon we have an interpretive marine walk along part of the Whale Trail. This easy trail, covered during high-tide, explores coastal rock pools and sandy beaches with a guide pointing out various marine life-forms and, between June and December, can provide great sightings of Southern Right whales off shore. The time of the walk is dependent on the tides and there should be some free time to relax, look out for the whales (in season) or go explore the reserve. This evening the leader will prepare a traditional South African braai (barbeque) for dinner. Walk: Distance 10 km Time: 2 hours Accommodation: De Hoop Nature Reserve or similar *Standard Hotel*

Day 10

Any trip to South Africa’s Cape region would be amiss if it didn’t visit some of the country’s famous wineries and today we do just that as we explore the wine region surrounding Stellenbosch and Franschoek. We visit a couple wineries and get to taste some of the different varieties produced here. We later continue on to the Mother City, Cape Town, Africa’s most exciting city. Accommodation: Cape Manor Hotel or similar *Standard Hotel*

Day 11

Nothing symbolises Cape Town like Table Mountain. We head up the mountain the back way along Skeleton Gorge. The trail meanders its way up through a steep ravine and along a path reaching the top before crossing the entire plateau to the cable car. The route involves some light, non-exposed scrambling, so you don’t need a head for heights but one section requires you to negotiate a series of wooden ladders lightly exposed to heights – not difficult, but fairly challenging and requiring some upper body strength. Along the way there are sweeping views in different directions and we pass every ecosystem found on the mountain (Table Mountain National Park has more species of plants than the whole of the UK) and get to appreciate the mountain in its totality. After a well-deserved rest and enjoying the views from the top we catch the cable car back down the mountain (ZAR145), the rest of the day is free. Walk: Distance 7 km Time: 4.5 hours Accommodation: Cape Manor Hotel *Standard Hotel*

Day 12

Going along the Cape Peninsula we reach Smitswinkel by bus. From here we hike through the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, along False Bay. We pass fragrant fynbos and may spot antelope, baboon and Rock hyrax along the way. Our final destination is the Cape Point Lighthouse and the Cape of Good Hope beyond that. This is the south-westerly most point in Africa and is the place where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans dramatically come crashing into one another. After visiting the area around Cape Point we drive to Simonstown where our hotel has fantastic views over False Bay and the majestic Simon's Kloof Mountains. Walk: Distance 15 km Time: 5.5 hours Accommodation: Quayside Hotel or similar *Standard Hotel*

Day 13-14

Those still feeling energetic have the option of taking a kayak trip this morning to a local penguin colony. Alternatively it’s also possible to just go to Boulder’s Beach and visit the colony of African penguins which have been residing here since 1982. We later return to Cape Town where we can spend the next day and a half exploring the magnificent city. There is plenty to do in and around the city from exploring the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront or the Kirstenbosch Gardens to taking a township tour or heading out to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela, and numerous other political prisoners, were held captive during the apartheid era. Accommodation: Cape Manor Hotel or similar *Standard Hotel*

Day 15

The trip end after breakfast for land only passengers. Those on the group flights should have some time for last minute shopping or sightseeing before being taken to the airport in time for the flight home. **

Day 16

Arrive London **

* All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners * All accommodation * Tour leader throughout * All transport and listed activities * Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

Excellent walking tour of the beautiful Garden Route

We packed a lot of walking in varied terrain into this two week itinerary. As well as the 7 days walking included in the tripnotes, we did substantial walks on several of the 'rest' days. These were optional, but we were all glad to have the chance to see more of this fascinating country.

Rating: 5

The best holiday ever!

My wife and I and 2 friends made up part of a group which started the South Africa Garden Route tour on the 21st of October this year with our guide Justin. I have given the tour 5 stars, only because I can’t give it 6 or more! Justin turned out to be not only a fantastic guide, but a marvellous ambassador for his country, taking us to places we never would have found on our own, telling us about the wildlife, geography, history and politics of this beautiful, complex country. We stayed in 5 different locations on the tour, The Avoca River cabins, Tsitikamma National Park lodges, the Housemartins Guest Lodge in De Rust, the Windsor Hotel, Hermanus and finally the Sweet Green Olive Guesthouse, Cape Town. All the accommodations, while not 5 star, were perfectly clean, comfortable and had all the required facilities. The Housemartins Guest lodge in particular, was the best place we stayed. Our hosts, Jan and Teresa, welcomed us into their home like long lost family members and looked after us so well, that most people did not want to leave! Highlights of the tour; Schotia Tooth and Claw safari – 5 stars Tsitikamma Nation Park, including kayaking and zip wiring – 5 stars Housemartins Guest lodge – 10 stars Whale watching in Hermanus – 5 stars Cape town - 5 stars Anyone considering a trip to South Africa should give this tour serious consideration, we were four very happy chappies!!!

Rating: 5

Trails of the garden route with Simon and Cathy

South Africa was amazing. The people, wildlife, scenery, food and wines all excellent. Simon and Cathy o ur guide and driver really looked after us, slightly adapting things dependant on the weather, however, we managed more than the set itinerary due to their kindness and generosity. We stayed in great locations and lovely accommodation, I particularly enjoyed the night in the hut when we all played cards by cand!elight. The group all got on well too. Thank you.

Rating: 5

What a trip!

An incredible trip of walking, whales, wildlife and wine. From the much needed leg stretch when arriving at Kudu Ridge after the long flight to get to SA, to the trek up Table Mountain, each day brought different experiences, amazing scenery and some challenging walks.

Rating: 5

South African adventure

An amazing and challenging adventure. The countryside was beautiful and we saw so many interesting animals. Accommodation was always comfortable ranging from a permanent tent in the bush to a luxury hotel by a waterfront. The food was wonderful and plentiful. The South African people were charming, friendly and helpful. Walks were always challenging but so worth the effort with a real sense of accomplishment after we had clambered over sand dunes and boulders or climbed Table Mountain.

Rating: 5

Trails of the Garden Route

Had a great trip.Many thanks to Simon,our guide,and our driver.Good varied walks.Good accommodations.Mostly great itinerary tho one day we drove 4 hours first thing and,as a result, could not tackle the full mountain height.Should have travelled to Swellendam the previous evening on a free day.Otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed the holiday.Great company, food etc.Would recommend this holiday.My first of its kind but ,hopefully, not the last

Rating: 4

Superb holiday

This was a full and energetic holiday as we travelled across the Cape. We saw a wide variety of wildlife, wonderful scenery and, thanks to our guide and driver, learned so much about S.A. society and the places we travelled through. The walking was at the level of the grade, over the two weeks we climbed nearly 5000m, over terrain that varied from sand dunes to high mountains. We stayed at a variety of accommodation, some of it quite unique and lovely, such as the de Hoop nature reserve.

Rating: 5

South Africa Trails of the Garden Route

The tour was excellent. The walks were all different and the planning was fantastic. Our guide Eugene was great and had a huge amount of knowledge to share with us. Toulei our driver was also excellent. Apart from being a great driver he brought a positive spirit to the group every day.

Rating: 5

South Africa: Trails of the Garden Route

An energetic hugely enjoyable trip along the southern coast of South Africa. Lots of walking, some quite strenuous, game drive and viewing, with some wine and beer tasting as well. A real insight into this delightful country with its beautiful landscapes and friendly diverse peoples.

Rating: 5

Trails of the Garden Route, South Africa

First trip south of the equator and such a varied and intense experience of South Africa. What a wonderful country with friendly people, beautiful landscapes and magnificent animals.

Rating: 5


You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.

Dates Price Single Availability
07-Sep-2019 for 15 Nights Flight inclusive adult Flight Included Visit Website
08-Sep-2019 for 13 Nights Land only Visit Website
19-Oct-2019 for 15 Nights Flight inclusive adult Flight Included Visit Website
20-Oct-2019 for 13 Nights Land only Visit Website
08-Feb-2020 for 15 Nights Flight inclusive adult Flight Included Visit Website
09-Feb-2020 for 13 Nights Land only Visit Website
04-Apr-2020 for 15 Nights Flight inclusive adult Flight Included Visit Website
05-Apr-2020 for 13 Nights Land only Visit Website
06-Jun-2020 for 15 Nights Flight inclusive adult Flight Included Visit Website
07-Jun-2020 for 13 Nights Land only Visit Website
15-Aug-2020 for 15 Nights Flight inclusive adult Flight Included Visit Website
16-Aug-2020 for 13 Nights Land only Visit Website
05-Sep-2020 for 15 Nights Flight inclusive adult Flight Included Visit Website
06-Sep-2020 for 13 Nights Land only Visit Website
17-Oct-2020 for 15 Nights Flight inclusive adult Flight Included Visit Website
18-Oct-2020 for 13 Nights Land only Visit Website

Touring with Exodus

Exodus is an award-winning company built on adventures. It started life on 4 February 1974 when two friends got together to provide an overland truck to travel to the Minaret of Jam, deep in the heart of the Hindu Kush, the most inaccessible of the world’s great monuments. They continue to discover countries, cultures, environments, cities, mountain ranges, deserts, coasts and jungles - exploring this amazing planet we all live on.

At Exodus, they know what makes you tick when it comes to holidays. It’s a desire shared by so many others. A yearning to visit new places and come home with a real sense of what they’re all about. This means delving into local traditions, cultures, cuisine, lifestyles – anything that contributes to its unique identity. At the same time, they always remember that they are only guests. So they ensure they travel courteously and respectfully, in smaller groups to minimise their impact, to ensure that every Exodus holiday is a beneficial experience for everyone involved. This is a philosophy they take around the world, helping you reach some incredible destinations on 500 itineraries across 90 countries – choose from walking, cycling, culture, wildlife and even polar adventures in guided groups or self-guided, tailor-made for you or a ready-made itinerary in Peru or India, Costa Rica or Italy – the choices are endless. They also strive to provide as much flexibility and choice as possible, making it simple for you to experience a very different holiday.

All staff at Exodus have a passion for travel and adventure with their combined experiences spanning 171 different countries and in their former lives, some team members have been professional archaeologists, wildlife guides, overland drivers, mountain leaders, diving and ski specialists and mountain bike gurus – all guaranteed to give you the very best adventure possible. Extensive planning, research, fact-finding and training are just some of the ways this expertise comes through in your adventure.

Exodus recognises their obligation to operate their tours in a responsible and sustainable fashion to address the environmental, economic and social impact tourism can have. They are committed to the well-being of the communities that host you and the natural environment that you are there to experience. Key points in their philosophy include small groups which have less impact on local communities and environments, putting money directly into the communities visited by using locally owned and run accommodation and eating locally produced food, ensuring local staff and operators receive a fair rate for their services, encouraging their own staff to take an active interest in responsible and sustainable tourism and train them accordingly, endeavour to ensure that their practices help in the environmental conservation of the areas visited and provide their clients with advice and guidelines on how to respect the social, cultural and religious beliefs of local communities.


tour details

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Group Size:4 - 11
Difficulty:Moderate / Challenging
Meals:12 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 6 dinners.
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