Each year the number of solo travellers continues to rise. In 2019, solo travel was the #1 trend in travel and tourism according to Klook Travel, with a 131% increase in the number of Google searches for ‘solo travel’.
In terms of bookings, there was a 42% increase in solo travel over the last two years – with women leading the way. That’s right: 85% of solo travellers last year were women.
In a post-COVID world, we can expect the popularity of solo travel to rise. Think walking holidays, small escorted tours, adventure travel and wellness breaks. Escaping the four walls we have been staring at for the last few months and getting away to new, open spaces is a top priority.
Solo travellers are looking for freedom, independence and flexibility – as well as memorable experiences and adventure. South Africa’s Garden Route delivers in spades.
A journey along the Garden Route is one of the most beautiful trips to do, and a haven for the solo traveller. The route delivers a fantastic combination of time alone, the opportunity to connect with new, like-minded people and the option to keep as busy (or relaxed) as you desire.
Hitting the road post-lockdown? Travelling from Cape Town, through to George along South Africa’s famed Route 62 is a safe, easy drive for those travelling alone and there really are a lot of lovely things to enjoy en route, including small-town hospitality, friendly locals and beautiful scenery. Of course, if you don’t feel comfortable taking on a solo car journey, book a shuttle. It’s the best way to kick back and relax as the Western Cape unfolds outside your window.
Franschhoek: The Ou Meul bakery stop in Franschhoek is a the perfect breakfast stop on your road trip adventure – grab a cup of coffee and one of their world-famous puff pastry pies!
Robertson: Wine lovers should consider an overnight stay in Robertson, especially if you want to enjoy the Robertson Wine Valley’s cellar tours and tastings, either on land or on the Breede River! Learn the ways of the local winemakers, enjoy great conversations and soak up the incredible views.
Montagu: This little town is great for a coffee stop, with plenty of cafés to satisfy a rumbling tummy or sweet tooth. Boasting loads of quirky shops and art studios, Montagu is a fabulous place to stretch your legs.
Barrydale: Make a stop at Barrydale along the R62, popping into the famous biker’s stop, Diesel & Crème for a milkshake before browsing the local art and crafts scene – don’t forget a quick photo op outside Ronny’s Sex Shop on your way out (originally called ‘Ronnie’s Shop’ until his friends cheekily added ‘Sex’ to the sign – instantly improving foot traffic and quickly establishing what has become one of South Africa’s most loved pubs).
Swellendam: Should you be looking for a lovely overnight stop, then Swellendam is slightly out of the way, but well worth it. It’s the third oldest town in South Africa offering loads to do, including a lovely parkrun around the dam and forest on the weekends.
Mossel Bay: Adventurous solo travellers need to head straight for Mossel Bay’s 1.1 km zipline. It is the world’s longest ‘over the ocean’ zipline, and the perfect, most adrenaline pumping way to banish any residual lockdown cobwebs.
George: The perfect base to explore the Garden Route. George is an hour and a half’s drive from Plettenberg Bay, with Wilderness, Sedgefield, Brenton-On-Sea and Knysna all in between. With Oudtshoorn less than an hour away over the spectacular Outeniqua Mountain Pass, solo travellers are spoilt for choice.
Consider a stay at Fancourt. The estate has waived single supplements until 31 March 2021 (for bookings confirmed by 31 October 2020), which means it’s the perfect opportunity for a solo stay on Fancourt. You can explore the estate’s nature trails on an eco-scooter, polish up your golf skills at The Academy at Fancourt, spend a guilt-free day at the spa – or ask the leisure team to book small-group excursions on the Garden Route.
Wilderness: Book a yoga retreat in Wilderness, row down the river of the Wilderness National Park in a canoe – or enjoy an art or photography safari. Keen walkers will love the region’s trails (including the famous Half Collared Kingfisher Trail) and bird hides.
Knysna: What could be better than oyster tasting from a boat in the Featherbed Nature Reserve, a sunset cruise or gorgeous lunch overlooking the Knysna Heads. Dip your toes in the water, calm your soul and enjoy a rejuvenating visit to one of South Africa’s favourite holiday towns.
Plett, Tsitsikamma and beyond: There is plenty for a solo traveller to explore along the Garden Route, and wonderful tour operators who can provide safe, fun and memorable experiences. Visit the Tsitsikamma National Park (and cross the Storms River swing bridge for an out-of-this-world photo op), learn the art of cheese-making, or sign up for a wildlife photography course with the Tenikwa Wildlife Centre.
Written by Olivia Gradidge