Road trip in South Africa

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A South Africa road trip is a brilliant way to get up close to amazing wildlife, such as lions, hyenas, and elephants, and enjoy the freedom of a self-drive vacation. Whether you want to relax in a hut in the middle of a jungle, lounge on golden sand beaches, or tour vineyards to taste exquisite wines, there’s a road trip for everyone in South Africa. 

What makes South Africa a great destination for a road trip?

Exploring South Africa by car offers both comfort and convenience—you'll enjoy the freedom to travel at your own pace. You can drive from Johannesburg to Cape Town and visit countless points of interest on the way, such as the Wild Coast, the Drakensberg Mountains, or Kruger National Park. Road conditions are generally good here, and navigating your way around the country is straightforward with good signage and large highways.

The best road trips in South Africa

With changing landscapes, wide-open spaces, and plenty of exciting towns and cities to explore, a South Africa road trip promises plenty of variety and excitement. For a little inspiration, check out these five outstanding road trip ideas.

The Garden Route

This is by far the most famous road trip route in South Africa. Tackling the picturesque 125-mile stretch from the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape means you'll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy numerous sublime beaches, beautiful lakes, dense forests, and varied scenery along the way.

Route 62, Western Cape

An alternative to the Garden Route is Route 62, which also travels between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. It takes in quaint rural towns, farms, lush green mountains, and lovely vineyards of the Cape Winelands, with far less traffic than the traditional Garden Route. 

The Wild Coast, Eastern Cape

This 218 mile route will take you from the beautiful coastal city of East London to Kwa-Zulu Natal. Most people spend about one week completing this fabulous South Africa self-drive trip, the highlights of which include wide sandy beaches, warm welcomes from the indigenous Xhosa people, and the unique ‘sardine run’ which takes place in June and July (South African winter). 

The Waterberg Meander

This South Africa road trip route will take you through the heart of Waterberg Biosphere, where you can enjoy an excellent view over the vast Kalahari bush savannah below. Don't miss the chance to get up close to the animals at Marakele National Park.

The Panorama Route

If you want dramatic vistas and tranquil walks in pristine nature, take the Panorama Route across the Blyde River Canyon. As the name suggests, you can enjoy a panoramic view over the whole region from this brilliant road. Or, stop off at Kruger National Park, one of South Africa’s most famous wildlife spotting destinations.

Tips and advice for touring South Africa by car

Plan your road trip in South Africa well in advance. Renting a car here is easy—you can pick one up from any major city or airport—but be sure to book your vehicle before arriving to secure the best deal. South Africans drive on the left, and driving long distances at night is not recommended. 

When to go in South Africa?

South Africa is marked by two seasons: a hot and humid summer (November to March) and a dry cooler winter (April to October). The Western Cape region has winter rainfall from June to August. The good thing is that South Africa has something to offer for each season. Safari season is from April to October. From November to March, the beaches of the Western Cape are idyllic. If you come between June and September there is a fair chance you will see whales… And then there is the Kwazulu-Natal coast, perfect for bathing all year round.
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