There’s something about hitting the road and discovering new places with friends or family that make roadtrips one of the best ways to spend a holiday. With snacks, music and the view of the sea, plains or city scapes out of your window, what more could you want?
South Africa is definitely one of those “see a little bit of everything” countries. Travel inland or along the coast and your view can be different every single day. Here are some of the best roadtrip roads in South Africa, in no particular order.
Starting in Mpumalanga, we find the beautiful Panorama Route starting in Lydenburg, Sabie, Graskop, Pilgrim’s Rest, Acornhoek and Hazyview are a few of the towns along the way.
Most interesting of these is the provincial heritage site of Pilgrim’s Rest. The entire town is treated as a museum with building and object preservation from the 1970s providing you with a throwback experience.
But the true beauties of this roatrip route are the surrounding nature and the Blyde River Canyon. With plenty of waterfalls to admire, the Bourke's Luck Potholes, the God’s Window view and the Graskop rock, there are plenty stops and trails to explore along the way.
Moving down to the Western Cape, we have the popular 300km garden route that provides ocean and forest views alike. If you’re an avid hiker, one way to experience the garden route would be to hike the Dolphin, Otter or Tsitsikamma Trails.
Otherwise, stay in the car and drive through the different towns of Albertina, Ballot’s Bay, Belvidere, Dana Bay, George, Glentana, Hartenbos, Knysna, Mossel Bay, Nature’s Valley, Plettenberg Bay, Still Bay and Wilderness… just to name a few.
If you love the serenity of being outdoors and surrounded by nature, then the Garden Route is the roadtrip for you.
An unofficial and “new” route made famous by Chris Davies, travel writer and photographer for Getaway magazine, is a roadtrip for beer lovers, starting in Johannesburg and travelling to the North West province.
The route takes you from Johannesburg to Magaliesberg, Hartbeespoort, and then back to Pretoria. Along the way, you can stop at nine different microbreweries: the Thirsty Fall’s eco pool, The Magaliesberg Mountains and Hartbeespoort dam and aerial cableway.
KwaZulu-Natal is another province with plenty to offer any and all roadtrippers. The Midlands Meander route takes one through the best of nature, arts and culture, landmarks and wildlife. With five different routes to choose from and a map as your area guide, you can most certainly make a holiday out of it.
In Karkloof you can take the whole family for an adventurous canopy tour through an indigenous forest. Or, you could take the relaxing route and stop at one of the many spas where relaxation with a view seems to be the norm for most of them.
Regardless of where you go along the route, you can change your transportation from car to horse to foot if you want to get a more up close and personal experience of what the Midlands Meander really has to offer. Wander through the ZuluWaters Game Reserve, Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve, Giant’s Castle Game Reserve and the Kamberg Nature Reserve if you enjoy African wildlife.
Back to the african roads for a trip through the Western Cape and Eastern Cape. Travel through the towns of Barrydale, Bonnievale, Calitzdorp, Ladismith, Joubertina, Montagu, Outdshoorn, Robertson and Tulbagh – each with their own attractions and activities for you to do along the way.
In Oudtshoorn, for example, there are the Cango Caves, Ostrich farms and Cango Wildlife Ranch for the whole family to enjoy. Or you can stop and take a picture at the famous Ronnies Sex Shop sign in Barrydale and go in for a refreshing drink before you carry on down the road.
It’s definitely one way to catch a glimpse of, and experience, a part of the Karoo.
If you’d like to focus your roadtrip on finding and observing wildlife and nature at it’s best, then the Waterberg Meander route is the roadtrip road for you. In the northernmost part of South Africa, we have Limpopo and this is where you’ll find “Africa’s Eden” and the Waterberg Meander.
Find yourself travelling along a 350km route and experiencing all of Africa along the way. Mountain peaks, sandstone, river valleys, savannah plains and forested areas can be expected. And with the Welgevonden Game Reserve and Marakele National Park you’re sure to see it all.
It may not be the most touristy and popular route, but that adds to its beauty and exclusive-like experience.
So, grab a few people, pack the car and pick your route. Try to do one a year if you can afford it. And, who knows, maybe you’ll discover a new “best route” along the way.