South Africa has an incredible amount to offer visitors, both local and international. And what most people don’t realise; is that nothing beats hitting the road for seeing South Africa in all its glory. A roadtrip in our beautiful country is so much more than highways, freeways and the final destination – the roadtrip is about the journey; the people and places you discover along the way; and the memories you make that are intrinsically tied to off-the-beaten-track locations you’d be hard-pressed to discover on any map.
With 9 provinces to explore, and around 15 national routes as well as a few paths less travelled, no two roadtrip itineraries will ever be the same, whether planned or spontaneous, but you can be sure that a roadtrip through South Africa will feature high on your list of favourite holidays. South Africa is a vast expanse of road networks, and can be traversed as quickly or as slowly as your heart desires. Whether you stick to tried-and-tested routes, or embrace the art of getting lost, a scenic drive is your one guarantee…
Travel South Africa by road
South Africa is a breathtaking mosaic landscape of epic mountains, sweeping coastlines, beaches and bush, grasslands and desert towns, African villages and urban developments. From historical settler towns, to wildlife safaris just a stone’s throw from a city, there’s something for everyone. Every trip holds the potential to discover a heretofore hidden gem, and it’s impossible to travel South Africa by road without using the word ‘adventure’ at least once.
We’ve curated just a few of South Africa’s popular roadtrips below, but these are just the tip of the iceberg – there are literally hundreds of ways to see South Africa, and these are just a few itineraries you can borrow from to start planning your own roadtrip adventure…
Cape Route 62
Cape Route 62 is a tourist route that spans ± 850km between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, via destinations such as Paarl, Tulbagh, Worcester, Montagu, Oudtshoorn, and Uniondale, taking roadventurers through both the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape. As the inland counterpart to the well-known coastal Garden Route, Cape Route 62 is the shorter, scenic alternative to the N2 highway, known also as the Wine Route, winding as it does through the wine-growing areas of Wellington, Tulbagh, Worcester, Robertson, and the Klein Karoo.
Route 62 is a charming meander of stopover towns and activities such as wine tours, safari drives, art and culture tours, hiking, mountain climbing, horse riding, ostrich riding, fishing, and so much more. Depending on how much time you give yourself, your trip could feature views of the Breede River Valley, exploring the Cango Caves, dramatic twists and turns through the Swartberg Pass, the wildlife of the Karoo National Park, stargazing in Sutherland, and other delightful detours that memories are made of.
The Limpopo province
South Africa’s northernmost region borders Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and a roadtrip following the Great North Road along the Limpopo River will take you through some of South Africa’s best bushveld. A few days in the immense landscape of rich culture and incomparable wildlife will open up a whole new world of South Africa’s stark beauty. The driving route follows the Great North Road, now known as the N1 highway.
If you start at Hoedspruit, you’ll be in close proximity to the Blyde River Canyon and the Panorama Route, but also the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre where you can interact with cheetahs or go on an elephant back safari nearby. From there, head to Moholoholo before exploring the Great Ruins of Mapungubwe and the great Mapungubwe National Park, a World Heritage Site.
From Mapungubwe, visit Modimolle and Tzaneen on your way to Polokwane or “place of peace”, the capital city of Limpopo province. Through Ohrigstad and the Makapansgat Caves of Mokopane, alongside empty roads, you can see some of South Africa’s oldest and largest baobab trees, not to mention the Giant Baobab of Duiwelskloof, South Africa’s largest baobab.
The final stop is Kruger National Park, South Africa’s most iconic game reserve and home to Africa’s Big Five: elephant, lion, rhino, leopard and buffalo. The park covers nearly 2 million hectares, and is two thirds of the Limpopo province. It definitely makes the top 10 list of things to see and do in South Africa.
A roadtrip from Bloemfontein to Durban is around 670km, and will take you through some of South Africa’s most scenic farmlands and mountain ranges. From the flat landscape of the Free State, to the rolling hills of KwaZulu-Natal, Clarens makes an unforgettable stopover, a town that is just overflowing with art, culture, history and charm. The Golden Gate Highlands National Park is a beautiful attraction for outdoor enthusiasts, providing epic opportunities for hiking, camping, and just generally admiring the spectacular views.
From Clarens, head towards Durban via the Drakensberg, South Africa’s biggest mountain range spanning 200km. On a clear day, you can see for miles, and with plenty of walking and hiking trails, mountain streams and clear mountain air, the Drakensberg is paradise for nature-lovers. It also holds a lot of history with around 40,000 examples of Bushman rock art along the various footpaths you can traverse.
Share your stories, tips and roadtrip adventures
Here at City Lodge Hotel Group, we believe that South Africa is a smorgasbord of potential for travellers who like to get behind the wheel and see the sights at their own pace – that’s why we’re encouraging you to get out there and see what’s on offer, and share your insights with like-minded travellers and intrepid roadventurers… We want you to tell us where the good stopovers are, the hidden gems that you’ve discovered, and the must-see or must-experience things that other travellers should add to their roadtrip itineraries.
Whether you’re a tourist in your own city, or a traveller with tips to share, we want to hear the stories that stand out in your mind as synonymous with South Africa’s scenic drives; and we want to share in your journey so that other travellers can follow in your footsteps.