GARDEN ROUTE HOLIDAY ATTRACTIONS

The problem with highlighting the Garden Route main attractions is trying to decide what to leave out rather than what to include. Not for nothing is it South Africa's favourite holiday destination: there's so much to experience - any age, taste, passion and budget is catered for - but here are our top Garden Route main attractions.

Explore Nature
Its name should give it away: the Garden Route is hundreds of kilometres of forest, wetlands, farmland and rural towns flanked to the south by a beautiful, mostly untouched coastline and to the north by an unbroken chain of rugged mountains. If you want Nature, you've come to the right place. Stroll along deserted beaches, hike through cathedral-like forests, marvel at the intricacies of the unique fynbos vegetation and poke around in crystal-clear rock pools - the Garden Route is a nature-lovers paradise, period.

Wildlife A to Z
Not only does the Garden Route do scenery in a big way, it also likes to fill it with wildlife. It begins in the ocean with activities ranging from the blood-chilling thrills of great white shark viewing to the world's best land-based whale watching. The extra-large theme continues with the chance to interact with African elephants at an elephant sanctuary while Monkeyland and Birds of Eden offer visitors the opportunity to get up close and personal with primates and birds in modern, well-designed enclosures.
Wildlife of a wilder kind can be experienced on the many Garden Route hiking trails - try the Tsitsikamma Forest - or by heading for the eastern end of the Garden Route and the fabulous Addo Elephant National Park. It gets even better when you carry on into the Eastern Cape private reserves for malaria-free Big 5 adventures.

Fine dining - and oysters
You'll quickly notice that the town of Knysna, at the heart of the Garden Route, is South Africa's oyster capital - and the even better news is that a buzzing food and wine industry has grown up around it, making this vibey little town one of the Garden Route main attractions. The seafood doesn't get much fresher than on the ocean-hugging Garden Route and with the Cape Winelands just down the road you can expect a wonderful accompaniment to the local dishes.
Oyster aficionados should time their visit to coincide with the Knysna Oyster Festival in July.

Small towns, big hearts
Life moves a little more slowly on the Garden Route than perhaps you're used to. But that's not like that's a bad thing.
One of the Garden Route main attractions is the more pedestrian pace of life experienced in its small towns and villages: take your time over a coffee and chat to the locals; browse slowly through a market and pick up some goodies; have a glass of wine over lunch and then have another.
Our favourite small towns on the Garden Route include Knysna, the heart of the Garden Route; Plettenberg Bay, where the rich and famous come to play; and Cape St Francis, serene and elegant with the best rock pools on the coast. But why not discover your own favourites?

Information from African Safari Travel