The Garden Route is an ideal antidote for the stress and fear associated with much of 2020. This is laid-back Knysna. Image: Adobe Stock

Festive getaway: Scenic Garden Route spoils sure to lift the spirits

The pandemic has taken a toll on all of us. Where better to restore body and soul than on the picturesque Garden Route?


The Garden Route is an ideal antidote for the stress and fear associated with much of 2020. This is laid-back Knysna. Image: Adobe Stock

The COVID-19 pandemic has put everybody’s resilience to the test and there still is no end in sight.

Luckily, as lockdown restrictions continue to ease and the travel industry begins its revival, there is no longer a need for people to remain locked away in their homes.

Instead, they have the opportunity to venture out in search of some hard-earned spoils to lift the spirits and melt the stress away. Here are some options from South Africa’s scenic Garden Route.

Luxury stay at The Manor House at Fancourt 

Some travellers will be looking for an adrenaline-inducing adventure while others will be hoping to sit back, relax and indulge in life’s more sophisticated pleasures.

Those seeking the latter should consider a stay at The Manor House at Fancourt, near George, where they can savour stunning Garden Route views and warm, generous hospitality at its finest. 

“The Manor House was built in the 1850s in the style of a Cotswold mansion and it has served as a restful, romantic haven for guests for many decades. 

“The most notable aspects of the Manor House include its gorgeous garden complete with a peaceful gazebo, its private dining decks, swimming pool and library – just calling for you to curl up with a good book,” Fancourt sales and marketing director Peter Dros said.

“Guests can enjoy five-star, moonlit dinners, organise a soothing massage in their room or stroll through the winding garden paths appreciating the sunshine, all the while enjoying each other’s company with the beauty of the Garden Route as the backdrop.”

Plettenberg Bay Lookout Beach
Plettenberg Bay does not just boast fantastic spots like Lookout Beach, but its wine route has grown significantly in the last two decades. Image: Plett Tourism

Whimsical wine tasting  

The Garden Route is earning a reputation for its expansive winelands and award-winning wines, so a tasting or two should definitely make it onto every traveller’s itinerary. The Plettenberg Bay area, in particular, has made great strides in building up its wine industry since the first estate opened here just 20 years ago.

Explore the wine route by hopping from estate to estate, or book a picnic and enjoy platters of cheese, charcuterie and local produce. 

Alternatively, try your hand (and palate) at a wine and chocolate pairing, wine and candyfloss pairing, and, of course, wine and cheese pairing.  

Candyfloss and wine pairings are offered at Jakkalsvlei in Herbertsdale, just outside Mossel Bay. Tantalise your tastebuds with passion fruit, coffee and Turkish delight-flavoured candyfloss paired with some of the farm’s best-known wines, including its Sauvignon Blanc, Pinotage and Muscadel. 

Sunset and sunrise game drives 

Wildlife is most active at dusk and dawn, which is why sunset and sunrise game drives are so popular. Early birds will have the opportunity to observe animals rousing from their slumber, heading towards the waterhole or preparing to hunt.

Sunset game drives promise sights of herds retreating to their resting places for the night. Obviously, both options also have incredible views of the African landscape in store, and with any luck you’ll have a morning coffee or sundowner in hand!  

Botlierskop Private Game Reserve, Garden Route Game Lodge, Garden Route Safari Camp and Gondwana Game Reserve are just some of the options along the Garden Route for those keen to explore wildlife in an entirely malaria-free part of the country.

horses beach
The Garden Route has numerous horse-riding opportunities. Image: Adobe Stock

Galloping horse rides 

The Garden Route is home to a variety of scenic hiking and horse trails, providing travellers with a chance to get up close and personal with nature.

These horse trails, such as the Black Horse Trails which can be found at the foot of the Outeniqua mountain range, see tourists trotting through fragrant eucalyptus forests and pine plantations before hopping off to marvel at the resident birdlife.

Some trails even take travellers galloping along the region’s glistening shores right up to the warm, welcoming waters of the Indian Ocean. 

Ocean-fresh oysters 

Oysters are one of the most indulgent treats served up by the sea and there are plenty opportunities to sample them along the Garden Route.

Travellers can make their way to a well-known seafood restaurant like Oysters R Us at Boven Lange Valley Farm or book a more comprehensive oyster experience, such as the Knysna Heads Oyster Experience, which includes a slow cruise from Thesen Island Harbour towards the Knysna Heads, followed by a seafood dinner enjoyed on board beneath the soft glimmer of the moon. 

As we head towards the end-of-year holidays, everyone deserves some time off to indulge, reflect and recover.

No matter what, 2020 will be a year to remember. Head to the Garden Route, support local and make it a time to remember for the right reasons!