4 alternative things to do along the Garden Route, South Africa

South Africa's Garden Route is synonymous with outstanding scenery, rugged landscapes, vineyards and dramatic coastal roads. It's a beautiful stretch with rich, diverse countryside full of attractions, as well as some truly unusual activities.

The Garden Route just west of Knysna - photo courtesy of South African Tourism
The Garden Route just west of Knysna - photo courtesy of South African Tourism

If you fancy squeezing more out of your scenic road trip than just copious glasses of fine wine, the good news is that there are a number of alternative and exciting things to do for action-junkies.

Getting to South Africa: check out the latest deals on expertly-led trips to South Africa with TUI Tours*. Choose from a number of different itineraries, each departing from London Heathrow in 2019 and 2020.

From seeing some of the world's most curious creatures in their natural habitat and crawling through limestone caverns to jumping off bridges, there's something for everyone along the Garden Route in South Africa.

1. Meet the elephant's closest living relative

One of the easiest yet most unusual things to do on the Garden Route is spot an animal which is native to South Africa - the dassie.

It may sound highly dangerous to get up close to animals which are the closest living relative of the elephant on planet earth, but fear not for these funny, furry little creatures actually look like guinea pigs and their name means 'little badger' from the Afrikaans dasje.

South African Rock Hyrax © Vilseskogen - Flickr Creative Commons
South African Rock Hyrax © Vilseskogen - Flickr Creative Commons

Also known as Rock Hyrax or Procavia Capensis they are most often spotted by tourists in Tsitsikamma National Park, a protected coastal area of indigenous forest between Knysna and Port Elizabeth.

They're easy to seek out: with their poor internal temperature control, dassies tend to lie on rocks in the sun to warm up their bodies making them the perfect photographic subjects that won't bite.

2. Get up close with the world's largest bird

At Cango Ostrich Farm you can learn a lot about these huge birds, which you'll see throughout the region, including how they survive and breed.

You'll also get the chance to hand feed the friendliest ostriches on the farm, and be surprised at just how strong ostrich eggs are, as you're invited to stand on them with all your weight.

Ostrich riding demonstration © jomilo75 - Flickr Creative Commons
Ostrich riding demonstration © jomilo75 - Flickr Creative Commons

Lighter (and braver) members of the group can watch carefully as the experts demonstrate how to ride ostriches before you get the chance to pilot the birds yourself, though it's quite a challenge to avoid taking a tumble!

In the curio shop you can pick up some useful as well as unusual souvenirs and gifts in the shape of ostrich feather dusters and cuddly toys, which won't peck at you like the real thing.

3. Crawl through the Cango Caves

Go for the ultimate underground African adventure by exploring the Klein Karoo's Cango Caves, a collection of limestone formations, near the town of Oudtshoorn at the foothills of the Swartberg Mountains.

There are around 4 km of subterranean tunnels here, although only about a kilometre can be accessed by the public with an experienced guide, so there's no chance of getting lost.

Botha's Hall, Cango Caves - photo courtesy of South African Tourism
Botha's Hall, Cango Caves - photo courtesy of South African Tourism

Claustrophobes need not apply as the smallest passage is just 27cm high (yes, really). You can take one of two tours which are conducted daily, either a standard hour-long exploration called the Heritage Tour or an extended journey to the smaller and deeper recesses on the Adventure Tour.

4. Jump off the world's highest bungy bridge

Bloukrans Bridge Bungy, right in the heart of the Garden Route, is the world's highest commercial bungy bridge. It's the location for the world record for the most bungy jumps in both an hour (19) and 24 hours (a staggering 107!).

Things to do on the Garden Route - bungy jumping © Håkon Stillingen - Flickr Creative Commons
Things to do on the Garden Route - bungy jumping © Håkon Stillingen - Flickr Creative Commons

Driving along the highway, it's hard to believe that people are actually launching themselves off this roughly 216 m-high bridge over Bloukrans River but they do, come rain or shine. Alternatively, you can walk across the bridge for some epic views of jumpers and the surrounding scenery.

Weather along the Garden Route

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Maximum daytime temperature °C
Hours of sunshine (daily)
Days with some rainfall
Sea temperature °C

Dwelling in the southern hemisphere, the Garden Route in South Africa is at its best from December to January. Find out more about the weather along the Garden Route, plus uncover details about the very best time to go.

Keen to explore the alternative sights of the Garden Route? Why not mix it in with an escorted trip to South Africa with TUI Tours. See the country's majors attractions, from national parks to Cape Town, before trying some of these exciting activities for yourself.

More about South Africa

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  • South Africa climate averages by month
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  • Best time to go to South Africa
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Jaillan Yehia

Jaillan Yehia
Article updated on Wednesday 31st July 2019 in: Adventure Africa Excursions

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