10 unusual road trips to plan for 2018

We want you to have the most adventurous 2018 ever. We’ve carefully plotted and travelled a number of interesting routes across the country, both on and off the beaten track. These are our favourites.

The next time you find yourself with a free weekend try one of our unusual road trips or use your public holidays wisely to gain some extra days and visit one of our beautiful African neighbours.

Also read: 21 of our best road trips of all time

 

1. Surf the desert dunes of Namibia in a 4X4

How long? One week (and two days to get there from Johannesburg)

Namibia-Dune-Tour-Melanie-van-Zyl

Imagine sitting on top of a dune 35 storeys high, nose face 37-degrees down. 4X4ing through the Namib Desert on a dune tour is a heart-pumping adventure of slip faces, shipwrecks and ghost towns – you’ll love it! This unforgettable adventure combines adrenaline-filled thrills with desert exploration, but also supports a respectful, environmentally sound mentality of treading lightly.

I want desert thrills

 

2. Discover secret spots on a Sunshine Coast road trip

How long? Three days

There’s a stretch of coastline between the Tsitsikamma and Port Alfred that’s said to get more hours of sunlight than the rest of South Africa. Veer off the N2 to find unspoilt holiday spots in the Sunshine Coast. Sleep in a lighthouse, go for a free game drive and see endless coastal dunes on this brilliant seaside route.

I want endless sunshine

 

3. Pretoria to Swaziland in one weekend

How long? Three days

It takes seven hours from Pretoria, but this road trip is so pretty it’s worth the time. And then there’s wonderful Swaziland at the end of it. Find beautiful views, quiet nature reserves and waterfalls on this interesting drive from Gauteng.

I want a passport stamp

 

4. An unbeatable Langeberg road trip for rambling hikes

How long? One week

Drive the southern Langeberg in the late afternoon and it’s easy to believe it’s the most beautiful stretch of mountain in the country. For 250 kilometres, from Worcester to Mossel Bay, the procession of peaks runs at a near-perfect east-west, and light glances off those south-facing slopes in a way that may be unique in South Africa. And not just because of their orientation.

I want hiking bliss

 

5. The best whale-watching route to Cape Agulhus

How long? Two days

When it’s whale season in the Southern Cape, explore beyond Hermanus and take in the breathtaking coastline they swim past and the inland places lost in time. Explore places with strange names, like Elim and Baardskeerdersbos on this perfect coastal drive.

I want whales

 

6. This small Free State road trip can show you big things

How long? Three days

The only thing small about the Free State is what people know about it. Determined to change that, Tyson Jopson took the N3 out of Joburg on a late Friday morning to explore a part of it that he hadn’t ever visited before. The Eastern Highlands extend along the lower reaches of the Maloti Mountains and three of its towns – Clarens, Fouriesburg and Ficksburg – had been on my radar for some time. This short road trip into the eastern Free State is a perfect weekend break for Joburgers. And it’s full of very big things.

I want an easy escape

 

7. How to tackle a bucket list road trip from Nairobi to Jozi

How long? Two weeks

The Nairobi skyline – above the cacophony of chaos in the streets. Photo by Tyson Jopson.

Carla Geyser spent 100 days on the road, travelling from Durban to Nairobi with an all-female team of conservationists to connect the forces of protecting Africa’s wildlife. Life’s about the journey, right? So she plotted a route that would get them home to South Africa in about two weeks. From Nairobi, this route will take you to Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia and Botswana.

I want an overlanding adventure

 

8. The energetic way to an unforgettable West Coast road trip

How long? Four days

More than 300 kilometres of tarred road? Check. Wine tasting? Check. MTB’ing, hiking and bouldering? Check, check and check. Magnificent coastal and semi-desert environments on the Namaqua West Coast and the Cederberg? Check. Now all you need is enough space on your camera for epic pics and you can plan an epic energetic West Coast road trip. Spend four days exploring the West Coast and learn about some of its top sights and destinations. Here’s our ultimate four-day road trip itinerary for those who love to get outdoors.

I want an active escape

 

9. Camp under the stars on this easy Karoo road trip

How long? Three days

Karoo skies are among the clearest on Earth. Keep it simple with this easy road trip and get off the tar to see the stars. There’s no better place to experience it than in this wide-open land. The back roads of the Karoo have a strange effect on the mind. It’s as if mile by mile they clear you out, forcing your attention into equilibrium with the passing veld, slowly finding balance, until inside and out are united in a single vast expanse, where koppie-like thoughts appear slowly, take shape, then vanish in the mirror behind. In a sense, all roads through the Karoo are back roads – even a quiet morning on the N1 can conjure this effect – but the gravel meanderings are where everything is at its most uninterrupted.

I want to camp under stars

 

10. Easy weekend break: a marine adventure in Addo

How long? Two days

African Penguins Addo

See the biggest African Penguin colony and explore the coastal forests in this secret section of Addo Elephant National Park. You may not know it, but Addo Elephant National Park extends right down to the ocean and currently protects some important islands in Algoa Bay, namely St Croix and Bird Island. The latter has one of the largest colonies of Cape gannets in the world, and St Croix is home to the largest breeding colony of the precious African penguin (6500 breeding pairs, at last count).

I want to see penguins