The country of South Africa is absolutely chock-full of incredible photography destinations. Whether you are interested in landscape photography, wildlife photography, or prefer to spend your time taking pictures of cityscapes, the country has great places to do it all. One of the spots I am most excited about photographing during my upcoming trip to South Africa is the infamous Garden Route. Few other destinations in this world have as incredible a coastline as this stretch of South Africa. As I begin to plan my trip, I am going to share my thoughts on the best Garden Route photography spots with you.
If you follow my blog closely, then you are probably familiar with this exercise that I like to do before big trips. Before visiting a destination, I am a firm believer in not only researching my travel plans but my photography plans as well. While many of the photographs that you will take during your travels will be impromptu, spur-of-the-moment decisions, it can be hugely beneficial to have an idea of what you would like to photograph before you arrive at your destinations.
Knowing which spots are the prettiest to photograph, where the sun will be rising and setting during your visit, and what type of access you will have to those locations will help you plan what type of photography equipment to bring and when and for how long to visit each destination. In this overview of the top Garden Route photography spots, I am going to tell you which spots I am most excited about photographing and what type of photography research I have done on each of these locations. For more information on how I plan for my photography when I travel, please be sure to check out my guide on planning your travel photos, which I have linked to below.
|Guide to Planning Your Travel Photos|
|Essential Gear for Traveling Photographers|
Resources I Used
One of the first steps for any travel photographer who is planning the shots they want to take on their trip is to do some research into the locations they will be visiting. When I started to look into the top Garden Route Photography Spots, the first thing that I did was some research on the Garden Route in general. I was looking for the top places of interest, beautiful landscapes that other photographers have captured, unique landscapes that may be worth photographing, and photography advice from other photographers who have visited the Garden Route in the past. To assist you in doing some additional research of your own on the Garden Route, I have included a list of some of the resources I used in my planning for you to review below.
- 15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions on the Garden Route
- THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Garden Route – TripAdvisor
- 14 Things to do in Garden Route National Park | Bookmundi
- Top 10 Attractions of the Garden Route National Park
- The Most Scenic Spots Along the Garden Route, South Africa
- 15 Inspiring Photos of the Garden Route
Photography Spots I’ve Identified
The Garden Route is located on the South coast of South Africa, about a 4-hour drive west of the city of Cape Town. While driving to the Garden Route from Cape Town is doable, you will likely need to spend at least one night in the area if you plan to make this drive because it is a little too far to really see the area on a day trip. There is also an airport located in the city of George, so you can fly into the area to explore the Garden Route if you would prefer not to drive. Flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town to George are fairly reasonably priced if you plan in advance.
When we visit South Africa later this year, we are going to spend a few nights in George, South Africa while we explore the Garden Route. The Garden Route stretches from Mossel Bay in the west to just beyond Plettenberg Bay in the east. It is roughly a 2-hour drive from one end of the park to the other, with many incredible stops along the way. To explore the park to the fullest, you will need at least a full day, if not more in the area. If you would like to know what order to hit the top photography locations in the Garden Route, I have included a map of the Garden Route photo spots for you to review below.
|Robberg Nature Reserve|
|Storms River Suspension Bridge|
|Tsitsikamma National Park|
|Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary|
|Featherbed Nature Reserve|
|Dolphin Point Lookout|
The city of Knysna is one of the top destinations for travelers visiting the Garden Route in South Africa. In addition to being a very cool town to explore, its stunning location on the coast means that there is a wealth of places to take spectacular landscape shots. Some of my favorite Garden Route photography spots are located in and around the city of Knysna. If you are starting to put together your plans to visit the Garden Route and plan to stop in Knysna, here are some photo spots you won’t want to miss.
|The Red Bridge|
|Whale Spotters Viewpoint|
|Buffels Bay Beach Viewpoint|
|East Head View Point|
|Bollards Bay Beach|
Robberg Nature Reserve
Located near Plettenberg Bay in the Western Cape province, the Robberg Nature Reserve is another location in the Garden Route that has some truly spectacular coastline to photograph. Because it is a peninsula, the nature reserve has an abundance of coastline, which is mostly rugged and rocky. In addition to the many amazing landscape photography spots, the nature reserve is also a great place to spot wildlife such as seals and other marine wildlife. If you are planning on visiting the Robberg Nature Reserve and are interested in learning about the top photography spots, please review my suggestions below.
|The Wreck Beach Viewpoint|
|Viewpoint in Memory of Ted and Peggy Sceales|
|The Gap – Robberg Nature Reserve|
|Seal Lookout Point|
|The Island – Robberg Nature Reserve|
Storms River Suspension Bridge
One of the most amazing stops that you can make while touring the Garden Route is the incredible Storms River Mouth. This is where the Storms River empties into the ocean and the views along this stretch of rocky coastline are nothing short of jaw-dropping. There is a viewpoint where you can get some amazing views of the river mouth from up high and a suspension bridge that crosses the mouth of the river for those who would like to get up close and see this beautiful stretch of coastline a little closer. For an overview of the recommended photo locations at the Storms River Mouth, please see the map I included in my Garden Route photography spots guide below.
Tsitsikamma National Park
In addition to the Storms River Mouth, which in my opinion is a destination worthy enough to stand on its own when touring the Garden Route, there are several other photo-worthy sights to explore when you are touring the Tsitsikamma National Park and surrounding area. The Otter Trail is an incredible coastal hiking trail that is definitely worth the time if you have it. You will get to see a cool cave and a breathtaking coastal waterfall that will take your breath away with its beauty. For more information on what to photograph within the Tsitsikamma National Park, please see the photo map that I have included in my Garden Route photography spots prep guide below.
Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary
While most of the photo opportunities that you will find in the Garden Route involve breathtaking coastal landscapes, it wouldn’t be a South African photo adventure without some wildlife photography opportunities. In my opinion, some of the best wildlife photography spots in the Garden Route are located around the city of Kurland. There are several excellent wildlife sanctuaries in the area that give visitors an excellent chance to photograph some of Africa’s most incredible animals up close. This includes the renowned Monkeyland, which showcases some of Africa’s most incredible primate species. For an overview of which wildlife sanctuaries, you can visit in the area, please check out the map I have included in my guide of the top Garden Route photography spots below.
Another beautiful spot along the coastline in the Garden Route that I definitely wouldn’t recommend missing if you are into photography is the incredible Plettenberg Bay area. There are several stunning beaches, lookouts, and even an arched rock that are just screaming to be photographed in this area. For more information on what to photograph within the Plettenberg Bay area, please see the photo map that I have included in my Garden Route photography spots prep guide below.
One of the areas that I am most looking forward to photographing when we visit the Garden Route this year is the renowned Mossel Bay area. Infamous for its breathtaking coastline, the Mossel Bay area is an area that I am certain will live up to its hype of being one of the most beautiful coastal cities in the world. If you are up for doing some walking, the St Blaize Trail allows you to get a better view of some of the prettier areas of the coastline, with several amazing viewpoints that you can stop at along the hike.
I am also very excited to photograph the Cape St Blaize Lighthouse, which appears to be a breathtaking light on an incredible stretch of coast. If you would like to learn more about the top photography locations in the Mossel Bay area, please refer to the photo map that I have included in my Garden Route photography spots prep guide below.
|St Blaize Trail Danabaai Starting Point|
|Point of Human Origins|
|The Big Cave|
|Cape St Blaize Lighthouse Complex|
Featherbed Nature Reserve
I have already covered the city of Knysna and its many incredible photo viewpoints in this Garden Route photography spots prep guide, but there is one spot in the Knysna area that is so beautiful that it deserves its own section of the guide to cover. The Featherbed Nature Reserve is a section of forested coastline that has breathtaking sandstone cliffs and mesmerizing sea caves that hikers can explore and photograph. There are several wonderful hiking trails within the nature reserve for hikers to explore and a seemingly endless supply of viewpoints to photograph the coastline. It is definitely a can’t miss spot when visiting the Garden Route in South Africa.
Dolphin Point Lookout
If you are flying into the city of George to explore the Garden Route, one of the first places that you will want to stop is the amazing Dolphin Point Lookout, which is located just outside the city. This spot offers visitors an incredible view down the beautiful coastline and is a great vantage point to spot dolphins, whales, and other marine wildlife from up above.
The lookout is located at the spot where the Kaaimans River enters the ocean and the Kaaimans Grotto is beautiful enough to warrant a visit to the viewpoint on its own. The Dolphin Point Lookout is certainly a great way to get your Garden Route visit started with a bang! For more details on where to photograph at the Dolphin Point Lookout, please see the photo map in my Garden Route photography spots guide below.
The final photography location on my list of the top Garden Route photography spots to visit is the most out of the way of all the spots in this prep guide, but the beauty of the views is definitely worth putting in the effort to get there if you have the time. Located about 114km inland from the city of George, the Swartberg Pass is the pass thru the Swartberg mountain range that runs along the coast near the Garden Route. At the top of the switchbacks along the R328 road, you will find some truly awe-inspiring views that will take your breath away. It will take you a few hours to get there and back if you are staying along the coast, but it definitely has a big payoff in terms of beauty.
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