SA road trips you’ll never forget

2015-04-01 07:02

According to a recent survey 38% of South African travellers are willing to drive between four and seven hours for their dream holiday. The savviest travellers, however, know that the road you choose can form a wonderful part of the vacation.

Follow these roads to see South Africa in all its incredible diversity and glory.

Clarence Drive from Gordon’s Bay to Rooi-Els (Image above, Shutterstock)

Make sure you have your camera ready in case a whale lifts its tail as you wind your way around the 22 kilometres of this breathtaking coastal drive. The mountains sweep down to the sea, with several hidden walkways, such as the intriguingly named Dappat se Gat, leading down towards a memorable beach picnic.

Upwards to the mountains are several tempting hikes, check before you go as you you’ll need a permit to set off onto these unspoilt slopes.

Read more about Clarence Drive

The Explorer’s Garden Route between Albertina and Witsand


Head off onto the N2 from Cape Town in the direction of Mossel Bay and you’ll find yourself driving through the Hessequa district, including the towns of Heidelberg, Stilbaai and Witsand.

From fynbos to forest, there’s something for every taste, and if you take it slowly you’ll find plenty of river camping spots and small town farm stalls to satisfy body and soul. If you’re a bird-watcher, Gouritsmond is a must, with around 200 bird species to spot, including the African Fish Eagle, Blue Craines and loads of other sea, land and freshwater feathered friends.

Read more about the Explorer’s Garden Route

The R518 from Mokopane to Marken


You’ll never forget your first sight of the distinctive rusty red rocks of the Waterberg Red Beds in Limpopo. The R518 forms part of the Waterberg Meander and climbs through the mountains through beautiful bushveld in the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, an eco-tourist’s delight.

Spend the night in a bush camp to get the full effect, and take a tour of Melora Hill and the Makapan Valley World Heritage Site, to get a feel of how our ancestors historically lived in this area.

Read more about driving the R518

Route 62 from Cape Town to Oudtshoorn


With mountains, vineyards and orchards, the ever-changing landscape of this route takes you past some of the most popular weekend getaways in the Western Cape. Stop off for a swim in the hot springs at Montagu, and of course don’t forget to taste the wines at some of the most beautiful vineyards of the Paarl region.

The road itself is one of the greatest achievements of the well-known engineers Andrew and Thomas Bain, with plenty of mountain views to inspire that perfect travel picture.

Discover more about accommodation and activities on Route 62.

The Panorama Route from Graskop through the Blyde River Canyon


The cliff tops of the Blyde River Canyon, one of the world’s largest canyons, offers incredible views as you find your way along the Panorama Route in Mpumalanga. Venture out in any direction from Graskop and you’ll soon find a number of dramatic natural landmarks you’ll want to take a closer look at.

Make your way to the Mac Mac Falls or God’s Window or try your luck at gold-panning at Pilgrims’ Rest.

Find out more about where to go and what to see on the Panorama Route

The Kruger Park


A self-drive through the Kruger Park offers you the best chance of seeing the big five through the vehicle window, at your own pace. The bush landscape offers peace, tranquillity and the excitement of spotting an elephant or lion as you move slowly through the park’s routes.

Find out more about self-drive visits to the Kruger Park

If you're anxious because your son or daughter is heading off for a first road trip, you'll appreciate this video from Santam:

Road trip checklist

Get your car thoroughly serviced before you go. Make sure it’s in great shape to take you over that epic mountain pass.

Check for permits, toll roads and road surface. Be prepared by researching your route in advance.

Make sure your car insurance is up to date and that you know what numbers to call if you need roadside assistance.

Inform family and friends of your planned route, and make sure your phone is fully charged so you can stay in touch.

Download the Santam app with Be Safe, a first-of-its kind app that allows you to keep your family and friends by your side, no matter where your road takes you. Available on your iOS or Android device.

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