Road tripping through South Africa

Whether you’re a teenager with a brand new driver’s licence, a nine-to-fiver or a retiree, road trips represent a certain kind of freedom and adventure that not many other types of vacation can provide.

Part of what makes a road trip so much fun is that you can choose a route and destination(s) to suit your particular tastes and interests. South Africa offers such a wide variety in terms of landscapes, climates and attractions that any lover of road trips really should take a journey through this beautiful country at least once in their lifetime.

There are two main approaches to road tripping – the carefully laid out itinerary and the “wherever the road may lead” philosophy. Regardless of which of these sounds like more fun, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to road trips through South Africa.

The Garden Route with its mixture of big game, stunning coastal areas and lovely climate is one of the most popular choices. If you choose this route you will have the opportunity to face your fears and have the experience of a lifetime by jumping from the highest commercial bungee jump site in the world. Then there’s the West coast, which offers an entirely different coastal atmosphere and unique culture with quaint and picturesque fishermen’s villages.

For the more introspective types the mystical desolation of the Karoo may hold a special attraction. This vast area boasts national treasures like the world famous Owl House at Nieu Bethesda. Then there’s the lush tropics in the North of the country. Here you will be surrounded by tropical vegetation, red earth and an abundance of wildlife.

These are but a few of the options available. Other popular areas for road trips include the Overberg which will take you to the southernmost tip of Africa, the KwaZulu Natal coastal region with its rich heritage, and the arid areas in the north-west of South Africa.

Wherever you choose to go, there are certain must-haves on any road trip destined for legendary status. These include a camera – stills and video if possible – and extra batteries so you’ll always be able to capture those magical memories. If you like to write, a travel journal can become a life-long treasure and even an heirloom.

Naturally, having a map or GPS at hand is always good idea, regardless of how confident you are about your knowledge of the area. If you’re the type who likes an itinerary you will naturally have done your homework on unmissable attractions in the areas through which you will be travelling. If you like to throw caution to the wind and follow the road wherever it may take you, you can always stop at any tourism bureau to find out about sites and activities that can’t be missed.

Most important of all, of course, is to make sure your vehicle is in a good condition and not likely to leave you in the lurch in the middle of your journey. It is well worth the effort to take the time before departing on any road trip to make sure all the major working parts of your vehicle are in sound working order. You should also check details like the condition of your tyres and windscreen wipers.

Road trips are the stuff of lifelong memories. Even winging offspring will someday become a funny memory. South Africans are lucky to have such a wide variety of options available, so you can be sure you’ll be able to take to the road and have the adventure of a lifetime.

  • Andrea is a South African who enjoys traveling throughout Africa, preferably by car. This article was written during her latest road trip which ended up with her car breaking down in the middle of nowhere and having to get tyres in Vereeniging.

Author: Muzi Mohale

Hi there, am your host and I blog about the tourism industry in South Africa. You're also welcome to contribute your expert content on matters affecting the industry. You can reach me on muzi[at]tourismedition.com

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