5 South African Road Trips – That you have to go on!

I’ve compiled a comprehensive guide on 5 of the best South African road trips that you can take your family on or just go it alone for some “me time”.

In this list you’ll find trips that could keep you busy for a quick weekend away or even that much needed week long road trip that you’ve been dreaming of for years. Either way this list is sure to help you get off the beaten track!

Top 5 South African Road Trips

The Panorama Route, Mpumalanga (2 days)

If heights aren’t a problem for you and you find yourself leaving the Kruger National Park – Mpumalanga’s feature destination for wild life lovers.  You should consider taking a – not so far off the beaten track – detour along the highest tar road in South Africa.

The Panorama Route speaks for itself; with “almost literal birds eye view” landscapes of the Blyde River Canyon as well as the Historical mining town of Graskop.

You can look forward to experiencing the sound of plummeting water in the shape of waterfalls; eagles soaring high above the earth “where you will be, so you better keep an eye on your surroundings”, take a walk through the indigenous forest of Blyde River Canyon – the third largest canyon “IN THE WORLD”, or you can enjoy some yellowtail and carp fishing at the picturesque Ohrigstad Dam Nature Reserve.

Pan for gold like they did back in 1873 at the National Museum in Pilgrims Rest – a former mining town – and maybe find enough to fund the next trip on this list.

Route 62, Western Cape (3 days)

We’ve all seen those classic American movies, where they climb into an old school Cadillac and drive off into the desert along Route 66 right? We’ve drawn inspiration from those movies that we grew up with and placed the South African version of it on our list as one of the best South African Road Trips.

Rightly named Route 62 because it runs along the R62 cutting across open vineyards and narrow mountain passes, sending you into the dusty wild heart of the Little Karoo. Here you’ll find quaint rural towns and some of the friendliest people that you’ve ever come across.

Route 62 is significantly less popular than its American counterpart, due mostly to the fact that people prefer to travel along the Garden Route – which we will be telling you about shortly.

Route 62 is a personal favorite of ours, with its un-manicured authenticity as well as the obvious lack of traffic (which we know you’ll appreciate).

You’ll be heading through historic little towns like Montagu which is famous for their natural hot springs and colonial architecture; Barrydale where you’ll find a number of good old fashion roadside café’s like none other than the Diesel & Crème Diner – best known for their American memorabilia and of course the milkshakes – because what type of diner would it be if they didn’t make the best milkshakes you’ve ever tasted?  Heading out of the towns you’ll be experiencing some of the greatest stretches of raw “semi” desert landscapes on earth.

The star studded night skies will keep you mesmerized to the point where you won’t even realize that Netflix has been loading for the last three hours. If camping is your style; you’ll find no better spot than alongside the Breede River Valley.

The Garden Route, Western Cape (4 days)

If dust farms and American styled café’s aren’t your cup of tea then the Garden Route is probably for you. With 200km stretch along the N2 that will provide you with unparalleled scenery between the Storms River Mouth and Mossel Bay.The Garden Route is South Africa’s best known road trip and it’s not hard to see why.

With its varied vegetation, multiple mountain forests, lazy lakes and lagoons and an abundance of outdoor activities for all ages. Knysna offers amazing camping locations inside forests that come straight from a fantasy novel, here you can go hiking, mountain biking and if you’re very, very quite you may just be fortunate enough to experience the ever elusive elephants that live there.

If you plan your trip in the right time of the year you might even be able to enjoy the annual Oyster Festival.Be sure to stop off in Plettenburg Bay, grab a board and enjoy some epic riffs and barrels for days, or if you’re looking for more of grounded experience you can pull off at Bloukrans Bridge and leap off of the World’s Highest Bridge Bungee. Obviously there is an endless amount of vineyards and small wine estates that you can visit for tastings, but be sure to have some room left in your boot for the boxes of wine you take home with you.

The Waterberg Meander, Limpopo (5 days)

Africa’s Eden, or at least that’s what the locals call it and we haven’t found any reason why its name shouldn’t be officially changed because that’s exactly what this area is – it’s paradise.A few hours outside of the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg you’ll find The Waterberg Meander securely hidden in the province of Limpopo.

This 350km long route is rich in dramatic mountains, dense forest vegetation, sun soaking savanna plains and gorgeous river valleys.

The route will take you directly (or mostly indirectly) through the heart of the biosphere taking you to destinations such as the Marakele National Park and Welgevonden Game Reserve. There are numerous historical and cultural sites for you to check out along the way, not to mention loads of community projects that you can pull over and get involved with.

The Wild Coast, Eastern Cape (7 days)

The last and longest trip on our list of the Best South African Road Trips had to be The Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape.  The wild coast is aptly named due to its wild nature and landscape. This trip stretches for about 350kms between the border of KZN and the city of East London.

This trip with have you covering roads that feel like rivers as you run through the hills along the jagged coast line. If you’re feeling adventurous and you think your vehicle can handle it; then turn off of the N2 onto the old gravel/dirt roads and experience life like it was a hundred years ago – because nothing has changed.

The hillsides are littered with traditional huts that are painted with ludicrously bright colours like turquoise – small farming plots.

Don’t let the peaceful nature of this region fool you as it is rich with a violent and bloody history and is the birth place of the Father of the Nation, Nelson Mandela. You can revisit Madiba’s past at a number of heritage sites.

Be sure to turn off when you get to Oribi Gorge for some action packed adventure including: white water rafting down the Mzimkhulwana River.

Hurling yourself off of a waterfall that runs in the middle the gorge. The Wild Swing stands 165m above the gorge below making it the highest swing in the world.

Hang out on a cable as you slide along to the middle of the ravine (also from 165m above the ground below you) and catch a bird’s eye view of your surroundings without the rush of the ground racing towards you.

If you’re looking for a more laid back and relaxed environment then you should definitely check Port St Johns out. Pristine and idyllic beaches make this spot a one of a kind backpacker’s paradise.

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