Many of the planet’s most fabled road trips involve a ribbon of tarmac twisting and turning on the edge of the sea. Highway 1 in California does; so does the Great Ocean Road in Australia. And the Garden Route is certainly part of the club. Despite its name – which suggests hedgerows and orchards – this epic journey through the Western and Eastern Capes is all about the coastline; the Indian Ocean sparkling on one side of the car.

And yet, curiously, for something so celebrated, the Garden Route does not have an exact defi-nition. Some sources state that it runs between the seafront hotspots of Mossel Bay and Storms River – a distance of some 130 miles; others that it begins further west in Witsand, making for an odyssey of 200 miles. In truth, it doesn’t really matter. If you are planning to drive it, you are likely to set off from Cape Town – which sits 175 miles west of Witsand; 240 miles west of Mossel Bay. And the effect is much the same wherever you decide the road trip has begun, with small towns dotting the shoreline, and the vegetation-clad mountains of the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma ranges displaying their muscles inland.

In fact, the key Garden Route question is not “where?” but “how long?” You could easily sprint along it in two days; you could spend a week savouring its every curve. There are more than enough stops along the way to keep you enthralled. Mossel Bay is a pretty port with fishing boats moored in its harbour; Knysna is more of the same, but smaller, with the Knysna Lagoon supplying an extra element of water, and the Knysna River pouring its soul into the ocean. George is something of a hotspot, with stunning restaurants, where you might defi-nitely halt for an hour or two; Plettenberg Bay is another estuary town, where the Keurbooms River reaches the end of the line, and Birds of Eden (the world’s biggest “free-flight” aviary) offers bright glimpses of flamingos and parrots.

It also makes sense to continue east to Port Elizabeth – which, although not officially part of the Garden Route, is a logical conclusion to the journey. The largest city in the Eastern Cape waits 100 miles further east of Storms River. Its shore (notably Humewood, Hobie and Kings Beaches) is a great place to relax – either before or after the Lions play their warm-up against a South Africa “Invitational” XV (at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium).

Knysna Elephant Park

Enjoy a hearty breakfast in the company of the Elephant herd at the Knysna Elephant Park. Start your day with a leisurely stroll at elephant pace around the beautiful parks with your very own elephant guide. Take in the surroundings of the forest and the beautiful mountain vistas whilst feeding the largest land mammals on earth. The Elephant park has been open for over 23 years and was set up by a husband and wife team to become the first facility to care for orphaned African elephants.

Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary

Monkeyland Primate sanctuary is the first free roaming primate sanctuary in the world and has more than 700 resident primates roaming their natural forest home. Enjoy a fascinating monkey safari and explore the 12 hectares of indigenous forest that is home to 11 different species of primates including the ring-tailed lemur and the Bolivian Squirrel Monkey. You can also keep an eye on all of the 'monkey business' whilst walking along the 128-metre-long suspension bridge.

Storms River Suspension Bridge

In the magnificent coastal reserve of Tsitsikamma National Park is the 77-metre-long suspension bridge which sits less than seven metres above where the mouth of the river meets the Indian ocean. If you fancy a hike, there are plenty of beautiful scenic routes you can take that bring you to the bridge on your way to explore more of this beautiful park.

Cango Caves

Cango Caves is one of South Africa’s top 10 most visited attractions situated just outside the city of Oudtshoorn. These mysterious and strangely beautiful caves stretch over 4km and are home to some of the oldest stalagmite accumulations on the planet. At the caves there are two types of tour to choose from: the heritage tour takes visitors through the easy going chambers of this great natural wonder whilst the adventure tour takes you on a much more daring route, including a narrow 15 centimetre passage to explore this underground wonderworld.

Whale Watching

The Garden Route has some great spots for whale watching with Plettenberg Bay and Mossel Bay both great destinations to stop at. Marvel at the magnificent marine life from the great vantage points at Plettenberg Bay or visit Mossel Bay to get even closer on a boat tour. The winter months in Mossel Bay are great for whale watching as the Southern Right whales migrate to the coastal waters of the Western Cape to mate and calve – an added treat for those who are going on a Lions Tour!