The Garden Route and Klein Karoo have become the country's most popular tourist destination after Cape Town, drawing visitors year-round to indigenous forests, freshwater lakes, hidden coves, and long beaches, while the mountains that range along the Garden Route's northern border beckon with a series of spectacular passes that cut through to the Afrikaans hinterland of the Klein Karoo. Besides providing a stark contrast to the lush coast, the dusty dorpies (little towns) dotted throughout this arid area have developed a distinctive architectural style, the best-preserved examples being found in the tiny hamlet of Prince Albert.
The narrow coastal strip that forms the Garden Route stretches from the rural town of Heidelberg in the west to Storms River Mouth in the east; and from the shore of the Indian Ocean to the peaks of the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma coastal mountain ranges. This is the official boundary description, but for many, Mossel Bay or George marks the entry point in the west, and Port Elizabeth the eastern point.
Highlights of this region include the Wilderness National Parks Lakes District, with some of the Garden Route's loveliest coastline; Knysna's lagoon- and forest-based activities; and Plettenberg Bay, which combines some of South Africa's best swimming beaches with beautiful fynbos and forest surrounds in such areas as the Crags. The real garden of the Garden Route, however, is the Tsitsikamma National Park, where dense indigenous forests, interrupted only by streams and tumbling waterfalls, drop off to a beautiful coastline.
Time allowing, the best way to reach the Garden Route is via the Klein Karoo's Route 62.