21 of the best road trips in South Africa

Posted on 12 July 2017

Everyone loves a good road trip – and with a country as beautiful as South Africa, it’s easy to see why. So here we’ve collected some of our favourite road trip stories from Getaway’s years of travelling, and now it’s your turn. From barrelling across the North West province in search of the perfect beer to a pet-friendly wander down the Garden Route, what’s next on your list?

Ed’s note: some of these stories were published a year or two ago, so make sure to check the details before you hit the road!

Driving not your thing? Have a look at our ultimate South African hiking bucketlist


1. The Waterberg


A chilled evening at Matamba Bush Campsite.

Just three hours from Johannesburg is a place that will make any wildlife enthusiast rejoice. Melanie van Zyl returns to her childhood stomping ground.

Read the story: A road trip through the Waterberg


2. The Panorama Route

A view of the hut-shaped Three Rondavels in the distance. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

If the name hasn’t got you packing a suitcase already, then the rest of Ishay Govender-Ypma‘s story will. The sights were comparable to paradise and the imminent lowveld clouds added to the sought-after feelings of peace and isolation.

Read the story: Head in the clouds: road tripping the Panorama Route


3. Joburg to North West (Beer Route)

One of my favouritea of the trip – Lazy Lizard’s American Pale Ale.

Chris Davies was determined to find a local beer that any Belgian would approve of. His trip took him through Gauteng where he tested nine microbreweries. You can bet he found a winner.

Read the story: The ultimate Beer Route from Joburg to North West


4. Clarens

Snow in the Golden Gate National Park.

Winter is the perfect reason to stay indoors: unless you’re Getaway’s Melanie van Zyl. She decided to break the ice and make snow the subject of her roadtrip to Clarens.

Read the story: Find snow this weekend: follow the cold to Clarens


5. The ultimate Kruger roadtrip

The ramp leading up the hide that overlooks Sable Dam.

If you’ve been dreaming of a lengthy stay at Africa’s largest game reserve, you’ll want to read about how Madeleine van Heerden pulled off 18 days at eight Kruger campsites, from north to south. There are some really useful tips and recommendations for an unforgettable visit.

Read more: The best Kruger campsites, north to south

6. Or a week-long Kruger trip

Kruger experts, Villiers Steyn and Tabby Mittins, devoted seven days of travelling from the south to the north of the national park on an atypical path. Moving in the opposite direction proved to be rewarding.

Giraffes are especially fond of knob-thorn trees, which are very common in southern Kruger, especially in the vicinity of Crocodile Bridge. Photo by Villiers Steyn.

Read more: See the best of the Kruger National Park in a 7-day road trip


7. Howick

When viewed from directly in front, the cluster of columns set at different depths align to create a perfect portrait of Nelson Mandela.

After reading this you’ll want to do more than just pass by. Paul Maughan-Brown  befriended a few of the locals to find out if there was more to the often overlooked town of Howick.

Read the story: Life just off the road: a guide to Howick


8. Midlands Meander

Cappuccino and cheesecake is a must at Blueberry Cafe.

It seems there is a story at every turn along the Midlands Meander. Getaway photographer, Teagan Cunniffe discovered this when she spoke with a few of the locals who guided her around the place they know best.

Read the story:  A local’s guide to the Midlands Meander


9. Karoo to Durban in a campervan

We loved having a home on wheels and never having to unpack.

It sounds like the plot to a family comedy but for the Rogers clan, it turned out to be a convenient way to travel. There was plenty of room to explore as they made their way from the Western Cape to KwaZulu-Natal in their hired camper van. What better way to travel than with a house on wheels?

Read more: Why camper vans make for the best family road trips


10. The Karoo

Finding fossils-Compassberg 1

Compassberg. Image by Karoopark

Helen Walne offers insightful advice on how to travel with your pet from Cape Town to Cradock. With plenty of highs came hilarious lows thanks to her dog, Lily. Find out how they took on the Karoo.

Read the story: Discover the Karoo on a pet-friendly road trip


11. The Garden Route

Finding places to travel with your pets is not always easy, especially during the holiday exodus. A little bit of planning can make the journey so much more rewarding when you get to take them along for the ride.

Megan King  and her dog set out to find pet-friendly and affordable accommodation on a meander down the Garden Route and through the Eastern Cape. Their finds were well worth the trip, not to mention the picturesque surrounds of the Garden Route.

Read the story: A pet-friendly road trip through South Africa


12. Karoo and the Garden Route on a motorcycle

Parked beside the Nelsrivier Dam, Calitzdorp.

Tyson Jopson discovers what it is about the Karoo that sees him returning time and again. This time it’s on a classic motorcycle with two of his favourite people revving beside him. He found out why the magic of the Karoo never wears off.

Read the story: The Karoo on wheels: a magic route for repeat for offenders


13. The ‘other’ Route 62

Uniondale Poort.

Getaway’s Associate Editor, Caroline Webb resisted the urge to head to the coast from Port Elizabeth and meandered along the path overshadowed by its more famous counterpart, Route 62. These backroads took her through the Langkloof where she found many rural delights.

Read the story: The other Route 62


14. Lesser-known wine routes near Cape Town

If you can’t get enough of wine but have exhausted the popular wine farms, try these new routes. This extensive list by Rachel Robinson tells you all that you need to know about from Elgin to Breedekloof.

Read the story: 10 wine routes near Cape Town you don’t already know about


15. Surf the West Coast

Surfers emerge from a playful session at Sunset Beach, just north of Cape Town. Photo by Justin Fox.

Justin Fox  relives his days as a student and hits the waves of the West Coast – Blouberg, Melkbos and Langebaan to name a few spots. His road trip also goes beyond the surf and into the other exciting stops that you must take along the R27.

Read the story: The great escape: take a surf safari up the West Coast


16. Overberg motorbike route

Just south of the N2, the quiet, well-graded gravel roads are perfect for biking.

Tyson Jopson and Chris Davies tackled the gravel roads of the Overberg, trying to get as far from the highway as possible. Their goal to find the best route was challenging and unpredictable but they wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Read the story: The ultimate Overberg motorbike route: Cape Town to Mossel Bay


17. SANParks off the N2

Each of the 19 family chalets at Mountain Zebra National Park has a wide stoep, braai place and great views. Photo by Chris Davies.

What’s the best way to experience wildlife? A SANParks-themed road trip of course! Chris, Tyson and Scott Ramsay spent a week off the N2 from PE to Cape Town and stopped at our best national parks along the way.

Read the story: Off the N2: the best route for a wild road trip


Outside of South Africa

18. Namibia

The road between Hobas and Ai-Ais. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

An opportunity to travel off-the-beaten track is irresistible but Chris Davies chose to stick to what he knew best when it came to the Fish River Canyon. It’s a road he’s very familiar with, but his sense of wonder was renewed as he took in the Namibian landscapes. He started his action-packed adventure from another southern African delight, the Orange River.

Read the story: A road well travelled: Orange River to the Fish River Canyon


19. The best of Botswana in ten days

The Mokoro trips into the delta are a great way of getting to grips with the channels and spotting wildlife hiding in the papyrus. Photo by Melanie van Zyl.

A 10-day self-drive through Botswana is just as adventurous as it sounds. Pore over Melanie van Zyl’s  itinerary to see how she pulled it off and why she can’t wait to do it again.

Read the story: How to see the best of Botswana in 10 days


19.A baobab roadtrip

All that you need to know about a road trip to Nxai Pan National Park if you want to get out there to see the iconic baobabs.

Read the story: An intriguing case of mowana mania


21. Mozambique

Here’s how you can horseback ride from bush to beach, kayak across Nhambavale Lake and eat as many prawns as you possibly can. Inhambane is the Mozambican town that South Africans love and Evan Haussmann made it his destination on a 12-hour road excursion.

Read the story: Road tripping from Joburg to Mozambique’s cowboy town

Also read: Things to do in Cape Town

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