Travel Guide South Africa: Mossel Bay, Western Cape

Mossel Bay as a charming town is the gateway to the well-known Garden Route along the south coast of South Africa. The iconic road trip swirls along the coastline of the Indian Ocean and gives you plenty of opportunities to be once more spellbound by South African’s biodiversity.

Travel Guide


Name: Mossel Bay

Location: 300 km from Cape Town and halfway to Port Elisabeth along the Garden Route and the Indian Ocean

Size: 2007 square kilometres

Animals: Elephants, Lions, Leopards, Rhinos, Buffalos, Elands, Blesbok, Impalas, Southern Right Whales, Humpback Whales, Killer whales, Great White Sharks, Heavside’s Dolphin, Common Dolphin, Blue Crane, African Oystercatcher, Cape Sugarbird, Long-billed Lark

Best travel time: The Mossel Bay area is a year-round destination to visit. The most crowded time is from mid-December to mid-January while the South Africans are on their Summer break and enjoy the warm Indian Ocean. From June to October is South Africa’s wildlife season and the best time to spot the big 5 on land and the incredible marine life in the Ocean

Highlights: The Mossel Bay region is well known for its combination of game viewing and marine life observations. The area is great for hiking along the coast with plenty of multiple-day hiking trails or for a Sunday afternoon walk. A zip-line over the ocean or sand-dune boarding is available for adrenaline-seeking people, while the history-rich region offers the ones who like it calmer to learn more about the Portuguese settlers and the Khoi’s.


Mossel Bay is a Municipality in the Western Cape with 20 settlements in the area including Mossel Bay itself and Hartenbos. As the starting point of the famous Garden Route, it is the perfect getaway for travelers enjoying bush and ocean life alike. In the region, one can find plenty of Game Reserves to watch the unique land wildlife of Africa such as the famous big 5 (elephant, rhino, lion, leopard, and buffalo), a diversity of Antelopes and predators either during a game drive, bush walks or on a horse-back safari. The Indian Ocean provides a variety of sightings of marine life such as southern right whales, great white sharks, common dolphins, or seals from ashore or during boat trips. If you are interested in birds, you are most likely to be in a great spot. Within the Fynbos region, you can find Cape Sugarbirds, along the shore or within estuaries, you are most likely to spot African Oystercatchers or other waders, while a bit more inland allows you to see Denham’s Bustard and South Africa’s national bird the blue Crane.

The town of Mossel Bay is not only rich in biodiversity and allows one to see South Africa’s iconic Fauna and Flora, but it is also rich in history. Mossel Bay is the first city known that Bartolomeu Dias, the Portuguese explorer set foot on South African ground on his journey to India. You will find remnants of these historic events in some of the museums. Human history in this region can be tracked back over 100’000 years ago and some cave rock paintings will explain you a little bit more about life back then.

If you are looking more for some adrenaline-rushes between game viewing and wine tasting then you are in the right place. Mossel Bay offers a diversity of adrenaline-driven experiences such as a ride on the longest zip-line over an ocean in the world, sand-dune boarding opportunities or hiking on multiday-trails. At the same time one can find great waves for surfing and a vivid underwater world to explore on diving excursions.


Visiting Mossel Bay

Location, geography, and climate

Mossel Bay is situated halfway between the coastal cities of Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Its western boundary is the Gouritz River and its northern boundary is the Outeniqua mountains. To the east, it stretches to the Maalgate River. The sandstone of the mountains provides the perfect growing grounds for the Cape’s Fynbos and grassland area, which fall within the Cape Floral Kingdom.

Mossel Bay is the gateway for the well-known Garden Route along the N2 which winds past the Indian Ocean and is greatly visited by locals and internationals alike.

The weather and climate are strongly influenced by the two ocean currents the cold Benguela from the Atlantic Ocean and the warm Agulhas from the Indian Ocean. This refers to cool, moist winters (May to August) with temperatures between 8-19 degrees and mild, humid summers (September-April with temperatures from 12-26 degrees. With over 300 days of sun, it is a year-round destination to visit.


Flora and fauna

The Cape Floral Kingdom is a global diversity hotspot and with its indigenous forests home to a diversity of mammals such as bushbucks, bushpigs, blue duiker, and chacma baboons. Even Leopards and Caracals can be found amongst it. The fynbos biome brings along many endemic reptiles, amphibians, and birds. Some of the endemic birds are the Cape Sugarbird, Cape Rockjumper, and the Protea Canary. Within the grassland area, where most game reserves are situated you can also find Roan Antelopes, Elands, Elephants, and Rhinos. The Cape in general is famous for Ostriches and they can be spotted regularly on game reserves and farms. The karoo area also brings the opportunity to find south Africa’s national bird the Blue Crane or Dunham’s Bustard.

The two ocean currents bring lots of marine life with them and make the Mossel Bay region an exquisite spot to watch marine mammals from ashore. One of the best-spotted baleen whales is the migratory southern right whale. Even Humpback whales and the occasional blue whale can be seen. There are plenty of dolphin species such as Killer whales, Common dolphins, Dusky Dolphins, and bottlenose dolphins that can be observed swimming past the shorelines. There are also regular sightings of the famous great white shark hunting one of the over 2500 seals. The coastlines are also great birding hotspots to watch curlew sandpipers, pied avocet, white-winged tern, and lots more.

The Fynbos Biome boasts at least 45’000 different plant species of which over 60% are endemic and can’t be found anywhere else on this planet. One can also find bitter aloe, which is used for skin-care products, and cape reed which is locally used for the traditional thatch-roof. The area’s indigenous forests are the largest complex of natural, closed-canopy forests.



The history-rich area will teach you a lot about the first explorers from Portugal and Spain, especially Bartolomeo Dias and Vasco Da Gama, and the earliest settlers of the region. In Mossel Bay itself, you can find within the Bartolomeo Dias Museum a replica of his ship. At the same time, you can visit some of the rock paintings in the area from the Khoi-people.

Mossel Bay is the perfect combination for beach and bush life. You can go on game drives in the mornings to observe Africa’s unique wildlife, take a zip-line ride on the world’s only zip-line across an ocean, and in the early afternoon go on a sailing trip to watch majestic whales and playful Dolphins during the sunset.

The Cape region is well known for its seafood delicacies and wine. Mossel Bay is a multi-functional escape region for adventure and nature seekers alike.

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