“Sometimes the most scenic roads in life are the detours you didn’t mean to take.” -Angela N. Blount
When life starts becoming claustrophobic, sometimes there’s nothing better to do than get into the car and hit the open road. You can almost feel the stress evaporating as you leave the confines of the concrete jungles and are embraced by the blue sky and the wide road stretching into infinity. In South Africa, we are quite spoilt with many beautiful and diverse routes to take. They rank right up there with the best road trips in the world.
I often go on road trips with my family. My husband and I love discovering the hidden gems although the highlights for the kids are the treats they get to buy along the way.
Here are some great road trips in South Africa
1. Road trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town along the N1
Although parts of this lengthy route may not be very exciting, there are many highlights to visit en route. First are the goldfields of the Free State, named for the fields of golden sunflowers that grow there and for the gold that is mined there. Then is the photogenic Gariep Dam, the country’s largest man-made dam which I always love photographing.
Next we enter the Northern Cape where the first obligatory stop for my brood of bookworms is Richmond, Africa’s only book town, also known as the literary jewel of the Karoo. The small town is not very well-known but it boasts a treasure trove of books and historic memorabilia.
We normally sleep over at Beaufort West – where Chris Barnard was born. Then we step back in time in Matjiesfontein – another Karoo jewel. It was a health resort for the wealthy in the 1880’s and now features some fascinating museums, and the Lord Milner Hotel, which is said to be haunted.
Soon after, you know that you’re in the fair Cape when you begin seeing the green, red and gold vineyards and the first sighting of Table Mountain heralds your arrival into the Mother City.
We normally return to Johannesburg via Kimberley, where we stop over at the Big Hole Museum to see the world’s biggest hand-dug excavation.
2. The Panorama Route from Graskop through the Blyde River Canyon, Mpumalanga
This is one of the most scenic and dramatic routes on the African continent. The meandering route passes through towering pine forests and mountain ranges. It boasts spectacular natural geographic formations like the Blyde River Canyon, one of the world’s largest canyons, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and The Three Rondawels, as well as stunning waterfalls like the Berlin Falls, and Lisbon Falls. Don’t miss the incredible views from viewpoints like God’s Window.
3. Self-driving through Kruger National Park
If you are a bush addict like me, then you’ll love this one. Coming from Johannesburg we normally enter Kruger National Park through the Numbi, Phabeni or Paul Kruger gates. We drive for hours on end, at our own pace, stopping at the camps for breaks and seeing amazing wildlife. Sometimes we get really lucky and see a leopard take down an impala right before our eyes. But even when we don’t, the bush landscape is peaceful and serene and the poor mobile reception is a bonus.
4. Route 62 from Cape Town to Oudtshoorn
Route 62 is the scenic tourist route between the Western and Eastern Cape. It meanders between Cape Town, Oudtshoorn and Port Elizabeth. The magnificent landscapes, towering mountains, rivers, orchards and vineyards will take you past some of the most popular weekend getaways in the region. A multitude of diverse attractions, ranging from game reserves and hot springs to ostrich riding and caving, will ensure that there is something for everyone.
5. The Garden Route
Close to Route 62 is the Garden Route, one of South Africa’s most picturesque routes. It follows the N2 highway along the coast, from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to Storms River in the Eastern Cape, through pretty towns like Knysna, George and Plettenberg Bay. Expect a lot of jaw-dropping moments as you pass beautiful beaches, lush green forests, breathtaking gorges, lagoons and mountains. There is no shortage of adventure and activities here either and the Garden Route boasts two national parks – Tsitsikamma and Wilderness and the Bloukrans Bridge Bungy, which is the world’s highest commercial bridge bungy.
Sometimes it is as much about the journey as the destination. These are just a few road trips you can do in South Africa. Rent a car with Around About Cars and explore this great country.
Check out this great guide to road trip essentials before you go.
The best way to enjoy these road trips is at leisure, sleeping over en route and exploring each beautiful village, town, and city in depth. With Accommodirect.com , you’ll be sure to find a place that suits you and your budget, wherever you are in South Africa. Check here for great deals in Cape Town , Plettenberg Bay, Knysna or plug in whatever destination you prefer.
Click here to read about my road trip to Lesotho.
Find cheap flights to South Africa here.
Do you enjoy road trips? What are your favourite road trips in South Africa – or anywhere else?
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