Adventure Nature

5 Best South African Road Trips For Every Adventurer

Long road
Written by Abraham Odhiambo

From the vast natural landscapes, stark deserts and sparkling oceans to amazing wildlife, the best South African road trips provide a memorable experience to intrepid travellers. 

We can all agree that there is no adventure like being behind the wheel in a foreign land where you don’t know what’s around the bend.

Long road

A road trip. Photo/ Gateway Magazine.

South Africa is a country that calls for driving due to its incredible road trips and amazing wonders off the beaten path, along the coast, in the mountains and countryside. 

But it’s not just the land that is exciting when on a road trip in South Africa. The country’s diverse cultural groups and friendly people cement its reputation as one of the world’s best road trip destinations. 

Here, we’ll look at some of the best South African road trips where you’ll see world-class attractions, historical landmarks and cultural attractions. 

1. The Panorama Route 

The Panorama Route is approximately 200 kilometres and travels from Lydenberg to Mpumalanga. 

It is one of the best South African road trips for travellers interested in a natural landscape. The top attraction in the Panorama route is the Blyde River Canyon, the third largest canyon on earth.

Blyde River

The Blyde River in Panorama route. Photo/ Rhino Africa.

Other attractions on the route include the stunning Bridal Veil Falls, Bourkes Luck Potholes, Mac Mac Falls, The Three Rondavels and Gods Window. 

2. The Garden Route 

The Garden Route, a 200 kilometres stretch between Mossel Bay and the Storms River Mouth, is certainly the best-known road trip route in South Africa. 

The route is popular for its lush vegetation, picturesque lagoons, sublime beaches and dense mountain vegetation. On your road trip, you’ll come across the enchanting Knysna Forest, which is home to forest elephants. 

The Garden Route is home to burgeoning coastal towns and pristine road beaches. This road trip offers access to some of the world’s most surprisingly beautiful settings. 

3. Route 62, Western Cape

The name Route 62 comes from the R62 road, which cuts across the lovely vineyards of the Cape Winelands. 

Despite being less popular, Route 62 is one of the best South African road trips due to its untamed eccentricity, dramatic mountain passes and old-fashioned rural towns. 

On your road trip, you’ll come across the historic spa town of Montagu, which is known for its hot springs and beautiful colonial architecture. 

When on a road trip on Route 62, do not miss a game drive from Oudtshoorn due to its amazing wildlife and the fascinating views of the Swartberg mountains. 

4. The Waterberg Meander 

The Waterberg Meander is a few hours’ drive from the pulsating urban hub of Johannesburg. 

The route, which locals refer to as Africa’s Eden, is 350 kilometres long. It goes through the Waterberg Biosphere tucked away in Limpopo Province.

The Waterberg Meander

The Waterberg Meander. Photo/ South African Tourism.

The Waterberg Meander, one of the best South African road trips, comprises plunging river valleys, sandstone rock formations, soaring mountain peaks and golden savannah plains. 

When on a road trip on this route, you’ll come across some of the finest cultural and historical sites and stellar Waterberg vistas. 

5. The Sani Pass 

The Sani Pass is one of the most scenic drives in South Africa. The pass starts at 1,544 metres (5,065 feet) above sea level, and the peak is at 2,876 metres (9,435 feet).

The Sani Pass

The Sani Pass. Photo/ Wikipedia.

The Sani Pass is a gravel mountain road covering 48 kilometres and best tackled on a 4WD. You’ll need to be extra careful when driving on this route because of the meanders and the unpredictable weather. 

The rushing feeling of excitement and adrenaline simultaneously makes the Sani Pass one of the best South African road trips. 

If you are afraid of driving on the Sani Pass, consider joining a guided tour where you’ll also enjoy hikes. The trip, which starts from the town of Underberg, often ends in Lesotho. 

Is South Africa Safe for a road trip? 

Yes, South Africa is one of the African countries that are safe for road trips. As a tourist, ensure you take the usual safety precautions when in South Africa. 

How Do I Plan a Road Trip in South Africa? 

  • Decide where you want to go and what you want to do. 
  • Pick the best season for your road trip in South Africa. 
  • Hire the right vehicle. 
  • Ask around for insider tips. 
  • Pick your accommodation according to your budget. 
  • Plan to be spontaneous. 

Where is The Best Place To Take a Road Trip? 

The Pacific Coast Highway in California for an exhilarating driving experience. The route starts in San Diego and allows you to go through Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Hearse Castle and the iconic Highway One. 

How Many Days Are Enough For South Africa? 

As a starting point for international travellers, we recommend 8-12 days since South Africa offers a wide variety of attractions. 

About the author

Abraham Odhiambo

Abraham Odhiambo is a writer with interests in nature, travel, African safari and sports. I'm pursuing a bachelor's degree in Media and Communication at Egerton University.

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