Seven South African road trips to add to your bucket list

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South African road trips

After months of collecting data from South Africans, MotorHappy, a subsidiary of Imperial, has created the ultimate road trip route around South Africa. Knowing that few South Africans can enjoy the privilege of completing the entire route all at once, the MotorHappy team analysed the data further to outline seven mini-routes along the main route.

“We asked South Africans to tell us about their favourite road trip destinations and we had an overwhelming response, with more than 2000 locations added to the Ultimate Journey website,” says Barend Smit, Marketing Director of MotorHappy. “Participants could also vote for locations already added to the site, and we received over 37000 votes for the various locations added.”

One of the hardest parts of planning a road trip is deciding where to stop along the way. The Ultimate Journey website (www.ultimatejourney.co.za) takes away the guess work – and adds particular value since every destination was loaded to the site and voted for by South Africans. The seven road trip routes are as follows:

Route 1 – Sun City to Kruger National Park (1110km)

Start in the North West province, exploring well-known gems like Sun City, Pilanesberg Game Reserve and Hartebeesport before heading towards Joburg. On your way, stopover in Soweto, “the township that never sleeps” and explore true South African urban culture at one of the many vibrant restaurants. Pass through the city towards Mpumalanga, a paradise of natural scenery, with charming towns like Dullstroom and Sabie along the way. Before arriving at the Kruger National Park, be sure to view some of the region’s most spectacular waterfalls.

Route 2 – Kruger National Park to Saint Lucia (1173km)

On this road trip, enjoy some of Mpumalanga’s delights – after enjoying game sightings in the Kruger and Marloth Park, be sure to visit the Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Eden and the Sudwala Caves. Cross over into Kwazulu-Natal at Paulpietersburg, a pretty little town nestled in the foot of the Dumbe Mountain. Take up some fishing at Lake Jozini or Sodwana Bay as you head down to the final destination on this route, Saint Lucia.

Route 3 – Saint Lucia to Port Saint Johns (1788km)

While much of this route enjoys coastal scenery in popular destinations such as Umhlanga and the rest of the Dolphin Coast, it includes a detour inland towards the Drakensberg – a road trip that offers the best of both worlds with sea and mountains on the itinerary.

Route 4 – Port Saint Johns to Tsitsikamma National Park (1725km)

For the first portion of this road trip, explore the Eastern Cape coastline with visits to Coffee Bay, Hole in the Wall and Kenton on Sea. Travel inland to explore the quaint town of Nieu Bethesda and explore nature at its best at the Valley of Desolation, Hogsback and the Addo Elephant Park. Head back to the coast for a drive through Jeffreys Bay, Cape Saint Francis and Storms River Mouth before ending your journey at Tsitsikamma National Park.

Route 5 – Tsitsikama National Park to Cape Town (1555km)

Hugging the coastline for the first part of this road trip, make your way through coastal gems such as Plettenberg Bay, Knysna and Wilderness. After Mossel Bay, head inland over the Swartberg Pass towards the Karoo. This route will take you back in time with little towns like Prince Albert, Matjiesfontein and Montagu. Before arriving in Cape Town (the most popular destination on the Ultimate Journey website), enjoy the Cape Winelands in and around Franschoek and Stellenbosch.

Route 6 – Cape Town to Richtersveld World Heritage Site (1384km)

This route includes a number of must-see towns and villages on South Africa’s west coast, like Darling, Yzerfontein, Langebaan and Paternoster. A small detour inland will take you to Beaverlac and the Cederberg Mountains. Drive through Honderklip Bay and Port Nolloth before arriving at the mountainous desert area of the Richtersveld World Heritage Site.

Route 7 – Richtersveld World Heritage Site to Pilanesberg National Park (2775km)

The longest journey by far, this road trip cuts across South Africa’s interior. Plan your trip around August to October so you can enjoy the magnificent display of flowers at the Goekap Nature Reserve and Namaqualand. Soak up the natural hot springs at Riemvasmaak Hot Springs and the Eye of Kuruman in the Northern Cape, and enjoy the history of the Big Hole at Kimberley. As you get closer to Pilanesberg National Park, stop off at Mountain Sanctuary Park and Hartebeesport Dam.

South Africa is consistently voted as one of the most beautiful countries in the world, owing largely to the diverse landscape. “Take the time to explore our incredible country – add these routes to your bucket list and slowly make your way through them,” advises Smit.

After months of collecting destinations and votes for the Ultimate Journey website, MotorHappy chose one lucky winner of a R50,000 road trip around South Africa: Henk Vellentgoed.

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