Garden Route & Winelands, South Africa
Do Go/Don’t go
There’s no bad time to go, as the climate is Mediterranean and you’ll get about 300 days of sunshine a year. However, areas such as Plettenberg Bay can get crowded in peak season, particularly at Christmas and Easter. Winter days from March to November will still be warm but temperatures dip sharply at night. July to November is the best time for whale-watching.
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PlanesCape Town International airport (www.airports.co.za) is well served by international carriers; Virgin | BA and South African Airways fly direct | with flights taking 11–12 hours from London. Globespan has great-value flights from Manchester in high season (November–April). If you’re staying at the eastern end of the Route | you could also take the 50-minute domestic flight to George | or Port Elizabeth | a two-hour drive from Plettenberg Bay (aka ‘Plett’).
TrainsThere are limited public train services; you’re better off sticking to the road (see below). There is a vintage steam train that runs along the coast from George to Mossel Bay, the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe (+27 (0)44 801 8288), but it’s not exactly a commuter service.
AutomobilesHaving your own wheels (whether you prefer cars or motorbikes) is pretty much essential; whilst most hotels can arrange transfers and ferry you around | you’ll get far more by being independent | and car hire is cheap. The route is simple: take the N2 out of Cape Town and follow it all the way. If you’re making a detour to the winelands around Stellenbosch | take the R45. Driving is easy here (especially if you're British; they drive on the left) but watch out for speed cameras; the law is very strict and the fines will follow you home.
TaxisOut in the Garden Route towns, taxis are expensive and difficult to flag down. Find one in a taxi bay or ring ahead and book.