The Garden Route is a wonderful destination for winter. The summer holiday crowds are gone and the climate is temperate. We show you some of the best places to visit and things to tick off your travel list. By Kate Collins

Stay in paradise

Goukamma Nature Reserve

Goukamma Nature Reserve

The Wilderness Ebb-and-Flow Rest Camp is located along the famous Garden Route. With lush forests, beaches, lakes and mountainsides, it is one of South Africa’s most tranquil and beautiful destinations. Wilderness has a whole lot of activities to suit families and adventure seekers. Go whale and dolphin spotting at Dolphin Point or hire a canoe or bicycle for some exploring. The waterfall above Ebb-and-Flow Rest Camp is a must-visit while you’re here.

Located only 20km west of Knysna, Goukamma Nature Reserve is one of the jewels of the Garden Route. The reserve is an important Marine Protected Area and stretches for 18 km from Buffalo Bay to within close proximity of Sedgefield. The fully refurbished chalets and lodges boast an indoor fireplace for wintry days. A great way to explore the reserve is by kayak. You can hire one of the canoes and paddle alongside pretty vegetation and dunes. Special sightings include humpbacked dolphins in Buffalo Bay and the occasional southern right whale.

Go on an adventure

Otter Trail-Tsitsikamma-Robert Macfarlane-6

Otter Trail

The Otter Trail was one of the first official trails to be opened in South Africa and is easily one of the country’s best known and loved long distance trails. It lasts five days and covers 42km through the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park. It’s also one of the country’s most beautiful hikes. Look for dolphins, whales and otters! The trail is moderately strenuous and requires a good level of fitness. The minimum number of hikers allowed is two, with a maximum of 12 people.

The Whiskey Creek Canoe Trail is ideal for families and doesn’t require much fitness. The bird life is spectacular and paddling along the river’s calm waters makes you feel miles away from anything else.  The trail is 7km to the overnight Whiskey Creek Cottage. The cottage sleeps 10 people in four bunk beds and two single beds. There’s a spacious deck for unwinding and enjoying dinner under the stars. The cottage is for the exclusive use of the group paddling the trail and can only be reached by canoe.

Treat your tastebuds

Knysna-OysterFestival

Knysna Oyster Festival

The annual Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival is one of South Africa’s most popular festivals, drawing the attention of gourmands, families and sport fans. Oysters take centre stage: various hotspots will be offering oysters to taste and there will be oyster-related events as well as no shortage of fun for kids. There are more than 100 events that include cycling, running and adventure races.

With its large deck overlooking the coastline, the Tsitsikamma Cattle Baron must be one of the restaurants with the best views. It is situated above a protected beach leading to the famous swing bridge. In keeping with its coastal setting, the restaurant specialises in delectable seafood alongside its famous steaks. If you feel like something light over lunch there are salads and burgers to choose from. The restaurant also caters for vegetarians.