If you love the open road and epic scenery, then South Africa should be at the top of your list for road tripping. This dramatically diverse country has amazing road trips by the bucket load, filled with incredible landscapes, adventures, wildlife, beaches and mountains. Here’s our pick of South Africa’s best road tripping routes to put on your driving bucket list!
1. Garden Route
Stretching across parts of the Western and Eastern Cape, the Garden Route is undoubtedly South Africa’s most popular road tripping route, and it’s easy to see why. A meandering stretch of 300 kilometres between Mossel Bay and Plettenberg Bay along the scenic southeastern coastline of the country, the route offers beautiful scenery – golden beaches, forests, lagoons and inland lakes, mountains and rolling hills – as well as great outdoor activities, from multi-day hikes and extreme bungee jumping to zip lining and surfing world-renowned waves and wildlife spotting opportunities.
Inspired to travel to South Africa’s Garden Route? Check out our budget overland tours to the Garden Route:
2. Midlands Meander
An 80-kilometre route winds its way between the towns of Pietermaritzburg and Mooi River KwaZulu-Natal Province through a gorgeous landscape of cow-dotted farmland, rolling green hills, mist-wreathed valleys and charming little villages. This fantastic road tripping route is great for food, beer and wine lovers, with numerous gourmet restaurants, country eateries, farm stalls, bakeries, chocolate shops, a boutique wine estate and craft breweries, where you can taste the brews alongside hearty pub food. That’s not all the Midlands Meander offers though – there are also lots of adventure activities to do, including hiking, horse riding, zip lining through the forest, fly fishing and mountain biking.
3. Route 62
If you like quirky and offbeat, Route 62 is the road trip for you. The route, which spans 850 kilometres heading east and inland of Cape Town all the way to the coastal city of Port Elizabeth through the semi-desert area of the Karoo, which is all about huge blue skies and open horizons. Along the way are majestic mountain passes, award-winning wine farms, ostrich farms (where you can take a wild ride on one of these huge birds), eccentric little pubs such as Ronnie’s Sex Shop, hot springs, mountain zip lining and caves to explore.
Ready to explore Route 62? Join our 7-day Garden Route Explorer trip, where we drive along Route 62 and stop off at some of its best roadside attractions.
4. Panorama Route
This spectacular road tripping route scores top marks for scenery. The Panorama Route takes in some of Mpumalanga’s most amazing landscapes of mountains, gorges and cascading waterfalls, providing endless photo opportunities. Highlights include God’s Window, a magnificent vista from high cliffs down into the dramatic Blyde River Canyon (one of the world’s largest canyons), three round mountaintops named the Three Rondavels, and the river rock formations known as Bourke’s Luck Potholes.
If you’re keen to see the Panorama Route, book a spot on our 7-day Durban, Swaziland and Kruger adventure.
5. Namaqualand Wild Flower Route
At the end of winter every year, after the rains, the arid desert of the Northern Cape – in an area called Namaqualand – is transformed by carpets of colourful wild spring flowers. Drive due north of Cape Town on the N7 highway for several hours at the right time of year, and you’ll enter into a blooming wonderland. On the road trip, be sure to visit Namaqua National Park, which has over a thousand unique plants and spring flowers of every colour of the rainbow. Part of the Namaqua National Park is the Skilpad Wildflower Reserve, which has an incredibly high concentration of blooms and a famous panoramic view over an epic landscape of desert and flowers.
Take in the beautiful Namaqualand on our 32-day overlanding tour from Johannesburg to Cape Town via Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia.
Keen to do some longer road tripping? We have budget overlanding African tours that range in length from a few days to a few months, covering a wide spread of South Africa, and almost everywhere else in southern and east Africa. Have a look at all of our African overlanding tours here.