Current as of: July 23, 2024 - 18:40

Cape Town & the Garden Route

Cape Town & the Garden Route Trip Notes

  • Ways to Travel: Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
  • Destination: South Africa
  • Programmes: Culture, Wildlife
  • Activity Level:

    1 out of 7 - Easy

  • 14 Days: Flight Inclusive
  • 12 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 16+
  • Trip Code: AZW
  • Carbon Footprint: 39kg CO2e

Trip Overview

Experience icons of South Africa: safari animals, dramatic coastal roads, electric cities and unforgettable landscapes

Discover the Garden Route − ‘the greatest road trip in South Africa’ – on a journey from Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) to Cape Town. This highlight-packed trip is designed for those who want iconic South African experiences: a safari in Addo Elephant National Park; a cellar tour in Stellenbosch; a visit to the penguins of Simon’s Town; and free time in Cape Town, the most absorbing city in South Africa. For an extra-special experience, join the trip between June and November for a chance to spot migratory southern right whales as you stand on the shore.

Cape Town & the Garden Route

Join us to celebrate Exodus’ 50th anniversary! The departure starting in Port Elizabeth on 29 September 2024 features extra inclusions to mark the occasion: a whale-watching boat trip from Hermanus, a local birthday celebration and a special edition Exodus kitbag.

At a Glance

  • 11 nights in hotels and guesthouses
  • Travel by private minibus
  • No long drives


  • Discover the spectacular Garden Route, the greatest road trip in Africa
  • See iconic African wildlife, including elephants, lions, penguins and whales (in season)
  • Explore diverse nature from the forests of Tsitsikamma to the drylands of the Little Karoo
  • Experience culture from quaint communities to cosmopolitan Cape Town and nearby wineries
  • Walk through the ancient limestone Cango Caves

Is This Trip for You?

This trip is graded Activity Level 1 (Easy). For more information on our trip gradings please visit the Activity Level Guidelines page. If you have any queries about the difficulty of the trip please do not hesitate to contact us.

Walks: This is primarily a vehicle-based adventure, although we can take walks in Tsitsikamma National Park, Meiringspoort Waterfall, Hermanus and Cape Point Nature Reserve. These are generally along good paths and boardwalks and take about one to two hours.

Drive times: These can vary but the maximum amount of driving in one day is approximately 5hr 30min with numerous stops throughout. On most days, we are on the road for less than three hours (not including stops or game drives).

Legal note: All group members joining this tour are asked to sign an indemnity form at the start of the trip. It’s a requirement of the South African Tourism Service Association, of which our local supplier is a member. As a client of Exodus Travels Ltd, your rights under the Package Travel Regulations (1992) are unaffected, and Exodus remains liable for the actions of our sub-contractors.

Adult min age: 16

Min group size: 4

Max group size: 16



Land Only

  • Start City: Port Elizabeth
  • End City: Cape Town

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Start Port Elizabeth; transfer to Sundays River Valley

Welcome to South Africa! Our tour begins in Port Elizabeth, colloquially known as PE, but officially Gqeberha, a Xhosa name for the river that runs through the city. We have a welcome briefing in the evening to discuss the adventures to come.

If you have time before, however, you may want to spend the day exploring. Options include several beaches within walking distance, including Humewood Beach, plus city and township tours (payable locally).

Accommodation: La Mer Guesthouse (or similar)

Day 2
Game drives in Addo Elephant National Park
Cape Town & the Garden Route

This morning, we head to Addo Elephant National Park, home to some 550 elephants (up from just 16 when the park was formed) plus black rhinos, leopards, lions, buffalos, hyenas, zebras, various antelopes and dung beetles. We enjoy a 45-minute game drive in our own vehicle, hoping to spot iconic African wildlife, and have the option of a second (at extra cost).

Accommodation: La Mer Guesthouse (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 3
Drive to Storms River; explore Tsitsikamma
Cape Town & the Garden Route

Today, we head west to the official start of the Garden Route at Storms River in Tsitsikamma National Park. Stretching along the coast, the park, which comprises rocky coastlines, fairytale forests, waterfalls and rivers, gets its name from a local Khoekhoe language meaning ‘place of abundant water’.

We can take a 1.2mi (2km) hike in the forest and along suspension bridges, which should take around an hour – other optional walks are also available. The area is a great place for bird enthusiasts with a variety of sea, forest and fynbos (scrubland) species present. Other resident animals include vervet monkeys, chacma baboons and clawless otters.

Accommodation: Storms River Mouth Rest Camp chalets (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 4
Free day to relax, walk or explore the region

We spend the day at Tsitsikamma, where several adventures await. Options include kayaking on the Storms River, zip-lining through the forest or swimming in the ocean.

There are also several self-guided walks available, the easiest of which is the suspension walk. The most challenging is the Otter Trail, a well-marked four-hour trek with some small ladders and boulder hopping. This is the only walk that has rocky shoreline sections to it, plus it goes through the forest and passes the Strandloper Cave and ends at a waterfall dropping into the ocean – this trek is only recommended for fit walkers with a good sense of balance.

Accommodation: Storms River Mouth Rest Camp chalets (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 5
Morning visit Knysna Heads; afternoon to Oudtshoorn

We start our day with a visit to Knysna Heads, two tall sandstone cliffs that form a channel through which the turbulent Indian Ocean enters the calmer Knysna Lagoon.

We have a bit more time to relax in town before leaving for Oudtshoorn after lunch.

As we head inland and over a pass, the landscape changes drastically and we enter the Little Karoo, a much dryer, hotter region. Oudtshoorn itself became renowned for its trade in ostrich feathers and is still the ostrich capital of the world. Our guesthouse is out of town in De Rust, a tranquil, rural Karoo village.

Accommodation: Housemartin Guest Lodge (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6
Visit Cango Caves and Meiringspoort Waterfall
Cape Town & the Garden Route

We spend today discovering Oudtshoorn and the surrounding highlights. We start by visiting the Cango Caves, an extensive complex of caverns with stalactites and stalagmites. A local guide takes us on an hour’s journey through the limestone caves, which are millions of years old.

We then enjoy lunch at Buffelsdrift, where we overlook a waterhole occasionally visited by elephants, giraffes and springboks. In the afternoon, we visit the beautiful Meiringspoort Waterfall and enjoy a 1,640ft (500m) walk along a well-maintained path, which takes about 30 minutes each way. The order in which we do these activities may be reversed.

Accommodation: Housemartin Guest Lodge (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7
To Hermanus via Mossel Bay
Cape Town & the Garden Route

Returning towards the coast, we stop at Mossel Bay and the Dias Museum Complex, which reveals the influence of early Portuguese sailors on South Africa. It’s also home to the Post Office Tree (a 500-year-old milkwood, where seafarers once left letters to be taken home by Portuguese sailors).

We then continue to Hermanus, the whale capital of the world. It’s been a long travelling day, so we stretch our legs with a walk along the cliff path.

Accommodation: Windsor Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 8
Free day; whale watching in season
Cape Town & the Garden Route

Today is a free day to relax and enjoy Hermanus. From June to November, southern right whales are easily spotted from shore as they frolic in Walker Bay. A whale crier sounds his kelp horn when he spots whales off the coast. Those who want can also do a boat-based whale-watching trip. There are also several other activities available from hikes to river cruises and lagoon kayaking, which are available year-round. You could also visit the Whale Museum to learn about the most famous visitors to these shores, or walk the 7mi (11km) cliff path, where you could see indigenous plants, tortoises and mongoose.

Accommodation: Windsor Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 9
To Stellenbosch; afternoon wine tour and on to Cape Town

Our next destination is the much-celebrated wine region of South Africa. The industry here, which dates to the 17th century and was heavily influenced by French Huguenots, produces some of the best wines in the world. We have free time to explore the oak-lined streets of Stellenbosch on foot and eat at one of the many restaurants in town.

In the afternoon, we enjoy a cellar tour with a sommelier at one of the nearby vineyards. Of course, we also taste a selection of their wines before continuing our journey to Cape Town, the Mother City.

Accommodation: City Lodge Hotel Victoria & Alfred Waterfront (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Days 10 - 11
Two days exploring Cape Town, Table Mountain, the Cape Peninsula and Simon's Town penguins
Cape Town & the Garden Route

We spend the next two days in and around Cape Town, the most exciting city in South Africa. Our activities in Cape Town will, to some extent, be dictated by the weather as visits to the top of Table Mountain, which has its own micro-climate, are determined by cloud cover and wind. Because of this often-temperamental weather, it is best not to prebook the cable car but to buy tickets on the spot (not included). Those staying in Cape Town post-tour may opt to visit Table Mountain later if the weather looks as though it may improve.

There is also the option of visiting Robben Island on one of the days; however, we recommend you prebook Robben Island with us before the trip (but pay the tour leader locally).

On one of the days, we head down the Cape Peninsula. We follow the Atlantic Seaboard past the areas of Camps Bay, Llandudno and Hout Bay to the Cape Point via Chapman’s Peak drive, if it is open. The highlight is our visit to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, home to elands, bonteboks, springboks, wildebeest, baboons and ostriches. Rugged cliffs, unspoiled beaches, shipwrecks and beautiful flora are the main features of the reserve. We walk through the reserve for approximately two hours. We first head to the new lighthouse for the panoramic views, before following the pathway to the old lighthouse, which offers spectacular cliff views. Once we leave the park, we stop at the former Royal Navy base at Simon’s Town and visit the resident penguin colony at Boulders Beach.

Accommodation: City Lodge Hotel Victoria & Alfred Waterfront (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 12
End Cape Town
Cape Town & the Garden Route

On our final day, we have the option of doing a township tour, strolling along the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront or exploring various other parts of Cape Town.

Meals included: Breakfast


Hotels and guesthouses

Cape Town & the Garden Route

We spend 11 nights in a range of hotels and guesthouses, each well located for our activities and to keep the drives between destinations relatively short. Properties are comfortable and many have fantastic views. The normal accommodations used on this trip can be found on the day-to-day itinerary; however, below are a couple of the notable places we stay.

De Rust: Housemartin Guest Lodge (nights 5-6)

Cape Town & the Garden Route

In the small Karoo town of De Rust is the quaint Housemartin Guest Lodge. Owners Theresa and Jan personally welcome every Exodus group that comes to their home and they take great pride in making guests as comfortable as possible. The property has 12 rooms, each with a private veranda leading into the garden. There is also a swimming pool plus beautiful indoor and outdoor dining areas. The meals at the guest lodge are a particular highlight with seasonal ingredients sourced from local farms to create classic South African dishes.

Hermanus: Windsor Hotel (nights 7-8)

Cape Town & the Garden Route

The 120-year-old Windsor Hotel in Hermanus sits opposite Walker Bay, one of the best whale-watching destinations in the world when southern right whales migrate to the bay to breed (July to November). Whale-watching is even possible from the comfort of the hotel restaurant. However, the location of the property is also ideal out of season with a central setting within town and quick access to the 7.5mi (12km) Hermanus Cliff Path.

Single supplement from £ 380

Food & Drink

All breakfasts and two dinners are included.

Food on this trip is very similar to the kind of food you are used to at home, though there may be the opportunity to try local meats such as ostrich, kudu or eland. Vegetarians and vegans can be well catered for on this trip – please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests so our local team can be well prepared.

The provided water is safe, clean drinking water, normally from boreholes. It is not bottled water, however. If you would rather have bottled water then this will be at your expense, though we would encourage you to make use of the safe drinking water provided as this helps diminish plastic consumption.


We use a minibus for this trip. Each is fitted with forward-facing seats and tows a luggage trailer. They have large windows for good views while touring.

Weather & Seasonality

Summer is from October to April and the average daytime temperature is 25C-30C (77F-86F). The average night-time temperature is 10C-20C (50F-68F). Winter is from May to September and average temperatures are colder. In general, however, the Cape Town climate is quite mild. Summer is typically dry and warm, but the southeasterly wind can blow up to 43mph (70kph) at least a few times a month. This helps to cool things but can be a little unpleasant if one is walking in exposed areas. Most of the rainfall is in winter but it is frontal rain off the Atlantic. Therefore, it can rain solidly for two days, and in between there will be warm, sunny days. It is fairly common to experience tabletop clouds on the higher mountains. Our programme is flexible enough to accommodate any major changes in weather, and still make it enjoyable.

Joining Instructions

Key information

Start hotel: La Mer Guesthouse, 24 Driftsands Dr, Humewood, Port Elizabeth
Phone: +27 (0)41 45 000 90
Recommended arrival time: You can arrive at any time today. There will be a welcome briefing in the evening, but if you miss it the leader will update you separately
Airport: Port Elizabeth (PLZ)

Getting to the start hotel

The start hotel is approximately five minutes’ drive from the airport. Exodus provides one group arrival transfer from the airport, which is timed to coincide with the arrival of a chosen flight from London, UK. You may join this transfer at no extra cost, provided you can be at the airport before the transfer leaves. Speak to your sales representative for the group arrival transfer times or to arrange a private transfer.

If you would like further information on joining this trip, please speak to your sales representative.

Flying via Johannesburg
If you are travelling on flights via Johannesburg, please note that you will need to collect your baggage in Johannesburg, even if your bag has been checked all the way through to Port Elizabeth (and even if you are told you do not need to pick it up). After collecting the bag, you are required to clear customs, and you should then drop it off at the bag drop for the onward flight. This only applies to the outbound flight – you do not need to do this at the end of the trip on the return flight.

Catching your return flight

There’s a group departure transfer to Cape Town airport for customers who Exodus booked onto a chosen flight to London, UK. Please speak to your sales representative if you wish to join. If the group departure transfer does not suit your flight time, speak to your sales representative to arrange an alternative transfer.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start: Port Elizabeth
Location end: Cape Town

What To Take

Essential Equipment

  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Backpack for the daytime
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Binoculars
  • Camera
  • Water bottle
  • Fleece top for cooler days and nights
  • Waterproof
  • Windbreaker: For your backpack should the cooler winds pick up
  • Warmer clothes for winter
  • Head torch (headlamp), spare batteries and a portable charger for potential load shedding (power blackouts)

Water included

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill or get burned. Both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. For your trip, we provide an alternative to single-use plastic bottles to reduce the plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout; all you need to do is bring a bottle to refill along the way. Please add this to your packing list.

Practical Information


South Africa

Travellers from the UK, US and most (though not all) EU states normally do not need a visa to enter South Africa. Please note, visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.

Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.

• Australia:
• Canada:
• United Kingdom:
• USA:

Please note, all travellers to South Africa who require a visa need at least two consecutive blank pages in their passport (ie a left- and right-hand page) to enable an entry visa to be issued.

Additionally, any child under 18 travelling to South Africa needs to be in possession of an unabridged birth certificate with the names of both parents. If a child under 18 is only travelling with one parent, they will also have to have an affidavit, no less than three months old, from the absent parent confirming the child can travel with the other parent; a court order granting full legal guardianship of the child; or a death certificate of the deceased parent.

Vaccinations and Health

South Africa

There are no required vaccinations. However, recommended vaccinations include hepatitis A, tetanus, typhoid, cholera, hepatitis B, rabies and tuberculosis. You will also need a yellow fever vaccination certificate if you’re arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission or transiting for more than 12 hours through a country with risk of yellow fever transmission. Please confirm with your doctor or travel clinic.

Malaria prophylaxis is essential if travelling in the greater Kruger area; seek advice from your doctor or travel clinic about which tablets to take. The rest of South Africa, including the Garden Route, has a low risk of malaria.

Dengue fever, a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes, is also a known risk in places visited. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, so we recommend taking the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Bilharzia is known to occur in some of the lakes or rivers visited on this itinerary, we therefore advise all to take advice from your guide or leader locally before venturing for a swim.

Local Time

South Africa's time zone: Africa/Johannesburg (UTC +02:00)


South Africa's electricity: Plug types C (two round pins), D (three round pins), M (three round pins) and N (three round pins) – 230V, 50Hz

Cape Town & the Garden Route


South Africa's currency: South African rand (ZAR)

ATM Availability

ATMs are fairly widely available throughout this trip but not necessarily every day so please advise your leader in advance if you want to use one.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

Meals not included: Dinners cost on average 340-510 rand (US$20‐US$30) per person and lunches are around 135-220 rand (US$8-US$13).
Incidentals: Allow about 170 rand (US$10) per day.

Optional excursions

All prices listed are subject to change:

  • Robben Island: 600 rand (US$35). If you would like to book this excursion, please advise us at least four weeks before travel (ideally when you book the trip). We will take all names and the tickets will then be payable locally – this is to avoid disappointment as it is a popular tour. Once you have signed up, we cannot accept cancellations. Refunds will only be issued if we are refunded by the ticket office for adverse weather conditions etc.
  • Cape Town township and Robben Island tour: 1,600 rand (US$86) per person
  • Cable car up Table Mountain: 360 rand (US$21)
  • Zip‐lining at Tsitsikamma National Park: 730 rand (US$43)
  • Hermanus whale watching by boat (in season): 1,220 rand (US$72)
  • Extra game drive in Addo: 340 rand (US$20) or 470 rand (US$27.60) depending on the game drive
  • Schotia Tooth and Claw game drive (near Addo) and bush dinner: 2,500 rand (US$146)


Our local staff are paid well and fairly for their work. Tipping is optional but we recommend approximately 80-100 rand (US$4.70-US$5.80) per person per day. You may also want to budget for porter tips if you need help taking your luggage to your rooms.

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips that improve life for the people and places we visit and look after the planet we explore. To read more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice, click here, and to find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation click here.


How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • The use of a local guide means our customers will be well informed about local traditions, and cultural-social sensitivities.
  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally owned hotels, vineyards and restaurants, the emphasis on eating locally produced food and support of other local enterprise.
  • In Cape Town, there is the option to visit a local shebeen, which originally meant an illegal drinking den, and now refers to a legal tavern as part of a township tour. Our visit here really gives an insight into the life of many South Africans that a lot of tourists don’t get to experience. Small local businesses really benefit from this type of tour as we pay for a homecooked, typically South African meal. Travellers can also buy souvenirs here, which further supports this establishment.


How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • Read about our commitment to nature protection and restoration here, including our rewilding commitment for every customer who travels.
  • By travelling in a small group, led by a local guide, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment.
  • We do several wildlife-oriented activities, such as game drives in Addo Elephant National Park and exploring the waterfalls and forests of Tsitsikamma National Park.
  • Our trips adhere to ABTA’s industry-leading animal welfare guidelines to ensure the best possible practices regarding working animals and wildlife viewing. Our animal welfare policy can be found here.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively eliminate or reduce waste, for example eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles and instead providing refills for reusable bottles.
  • Our local partners support the Save Our Sausage Trees initiative in Botswana, which aims to address the issue of depleting forests in the area. The mokoro is a canoe used by the people of the Okavango Delta and it is crafted traditionally out of a single, mature kigelia Africana tree (or sausage tree). Although increased tourism has had some obvious benefits to the area, this has also brought a higher demand for mokoro boats and therefore more trees are being cut down. As a wooden mokoro only lasts about five years, there are hundreds of these trees being felled per year and not enough to sustain this. We have consulted with the Okovango community, and we have agreed to pay half the price of a fibreglass mokoro if a poler wants to purchase the other half, in order to save the trees.


How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Read about our climate action here, including our carbon reduction and compensation commitments.
  • By favouring smaller, locally run hotels and guesthouses we have a much smaller impact on the surrounding environments.
  • We encourage guests to try local specialities such as ostrich sausages, traditional pap (maize and water) and snoek fishcakes. As these foods are all sourced locally, it means there will be a reduction in food miles.

Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

Extra steps you could take to minimise your impact when travelling.

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish behind in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, we’d ask you to consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring your own reusable water bottle on this trip; filtered water will be provided where tap water is not drinkable.

Important Information

Optional activities and excursions

If you would like to join an optional activity or excursion outside those listed in the itinerary, your leader may be able to assist with selecting a provider. However, Exodus has not assessed the safety standards of activities or excursions that are not listed in the Trip Notes. All optional activities or excursions are undertaken at your own risk.

Water safety

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. You should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim. Open-water or wild swim spots should be treated with extreme caution. Information on how to keep yourself safe while swimming is shown here.

Important Information

Your safe participation 

When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary. 

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity. 

By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

How to Book

  1. Check availability: Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.
  2. Secure your place: You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.
  3. Complete your booking and payment

When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.

After booking

You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.

Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.

Trip Note validity

These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.


Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.