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A Road Trippers Guide to Exploring South Africa

Travelers Today       By    Joseph West

Updated: Apr 08, 2021 04:11 PM EDT

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Route on asphalt

(Photo: Pixabay)

If you're looking for a break that delivers big value for money, you can't go wrong with a road trip around South Africa. This vast country offers some of the most beautiful road trips worldwide, with multiple gorgeous ecosystems to explore and an abundance of attractions.

Here's where you should go with South Africa car hire.

Setting Out on South Africa's Best Road Trips

Getting to your starting destination on any one of the airlines which offer Domestic flights South Africa is easy with some of the cheapest flights now on offer in SA.

If you're planning a road trip around SA though, the first thing you'll need is affordable car hire. You'll find an abundance of choices at most airports including Avis, Budget, and Bidvest rental cars.

An SUV or 4x4 will get you further in South Africa, but most roads are good enough for an ordinary sedan car. Once you've found the ideal set of wheels, these are your top choices for exploring:

Self-Drive Safaris

Let's deal with the elephant in the room first. Most people automatically think of Big Five safaris when their thoughts turn to South Africa.

While guided safari trips are a wonderful way to lap up the luxury of an all-inclusive safari, some road trippers swear by self-guided adventurers among the country's wonderful wild spaces.

The Kruger National Park offers 2 million hectares of unspoiled wilderness for nature lovers to enjoy, and it's interspersed with good tar roads as well as well-maintained gravel thoroughfares. You'll find a wide range of accommodation to enjoy within its boundaries too, from camping to luxury guest houses.

If you'd like to try something different, you'll find opportunities for self-drive safaris in every part of the country, whether you're planning a day trip or an extended stay.

The Cape Winelands

You can lose yourself among the lush abundance of this pastoral paradise for several days or enjoy it as part of an extended trip around the Western Cape.

The winelands dish up a wide range of outdoor activities, fine-dining, and opportunities to sip and savor some of the world's best wines.

Route 62 spans some 850km and holds the distinction of being the world's longest wine route. It traverses the landscapes of the Garden Route, Oudtshoorn, Port Elizabeth, and Cape Town, offering a snapshot of some of the country's most diverse fauna and flora along the way.

Some of the major features along Route 62 include:

  • The Little Karoo with its jagged red hills
  • The Cango Caves sculpted over millions of years
  • Montagu with its hot springs bordered by the Langeberg Mountains
  • The stunning Cogmanskloof Pass
  • Historic Prince Albert at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains
  • Kareedouw for American diner-style food
  • Port St Francis where you'll find wildflowers and gorgeous beaches

Of course, the cherry on top is Cape Town, where you can continue your culinary indulgence complemented by historic, artistic, and adventure activities.

The Beer Route

You can link up with the beer route in any one of South Africa's provinces. This trail of brewing excellence extends from border to border, offering abundant opportunities for sipping unique artisan creations at 160 different breweries and dining on local foods.

Be sure to nominate a designated driver for your forays into the world of South African craft beer though, the authorities take a dim view of drinking and driving in South Africa.

Some of the don't-miss stops along the way include:

The list goes on and on, so ask at your accommodation where you can link up with their leg of this route.


Midlands Meander

The KwaZulu-Natal Midlands runs from Pietermaritzburg toward the towering Drakensberg, offering an abundance of pastoral pleasures. Here you'll drive among waving fields of wheat, corn, and alfalfa, lush lopping pastures filled with cows and horses, and pristine grasslands backed by often-snow-bedecked mountains.

Arrive hungry, the breadbasket of the country abounds with artisan eats. Here you'll find cheese, chocolate, wine, beer, nougat, and grass-fed beef. You can stock up for your pantry or stop off at one of the excellent local eateries with views over the lush landscapes for a top up.

Top notch hotels and B&Bs abound in this part of the world, including quaint establishments filled with treasures from yesteryear. Don't miss the following attractions while you're driving through:

  • Howick Falls which equals Victoria Falls in height
  • The Nelson Mandela Capture Site
  • Piggly Wiggly Farmstalls and restaurants
  • Nottingham Road Hotel with its resident ghost

When you're done trawling these verdant sites, you can keep heading north to enjoy the crags and cliffs of the Drakensberg Mountains with their opportunities for hiking, fishing, and sightseeing.

The Eastern Highlands

Head to the golden interior to explore a different kind of abundance altogether. The golden grasslands of the Free State, dotted with cosmos and sunflowers, overflow with opportunities for scenic enjoyment.

Stunning sandstone cliffs punctuate the horizon in this part of the world, where you'll find plenty to see and do. The Eastern Highlands are an artistic treasure trove of craft breweries, artisan eats, and unique art galleries.

Here, you can fish lazy trout out of their mountain-stream hideaways, visit the historic tourist town of Clarens, or the cherry capital, Ficksburg. Nature lovers can head to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, home to one of the country's most important vulture conservation schemes.

Large dams abound in the Free State, offering opportunities for water skiing, kitesurfing, or river cruising par excellence. Principal of these is the Sterkfontein Dam, although almost every town has their own version of watery abundance.

Plan the Road Trip of a Lifetime with South Africa Car Hire

Including South Africa car hire in your trip allows you an abundance of opportunities to see the country at its best, without the fanfare that organized tours offer.

As you drive along, you'll see a side of the country that these formal excursions often miss, get to meet the locals, and see things the way they really are - gorgeous, mostly unspoiled, and filled with opportunity.

See Now: The U.S. had the highest number of Most Wanted properties, dominating the Loved By Guests Awards 2018

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