How To Plan The Perfect South African Road Trip

south african road trip

Need help to plan the perfect South African road trip? We travelled from Cape Town to the Winelands and along the Garden Route, over sixteen days. Find out where to stay, where to eat and lots more tips and tricks in this post.

 

South Africa has to be one of the world’s best travel destinations. Where else can you combine one of the world’s most iconic cities with stunning beaches, an abundance of wildlife, adrenaline pumping activities and such diverse landscapes. And let’s not forget the wine – that’s pretty good too 🍷. We took two weeks to explore this amazing country and only scratched the surface. We decided on the typical tourist trail for a few reasons, to see Cape Town and the Garden Route and also to stick to Malaria free zones. We flew to Cape Town, spent four nights exploring the city before chilling out in a stunning wine estate in Wellington. Like most tourists, we then drove the Garden Route which culminated in a three night safari in Amakhala Game Reserve. I have written posts on some of our individual stays and have added links below to help you plan the perfect South African road trip.

Cape Town

Our first stop was Cape Town, which was a great start. We arrived energised and were able to see the highlights in four days. It would have been nice to have one extra day to see Robben Island, but other than that, I think we nailed it 🙂  I would advise you to stay at the Waterfront. We stayed at the Waterfront Village apartments and they were superb. The Waterfront is safe, central and great for dining out at night time.

south african road trip

No visit to Cape Town would be complete with a trip to Table Mountain. We took the easy route and went by cable car, but if you are feeling energetic you can hike up to the top. However no matter how warm it is in Cape Town, it is a lot colder up there – so bring a jumper with you! Although you don’t need a car in Cape Town, I would recommend getting one for your last day – if for no other reason that to drive the Cape Peninsula drive. This was one of our highlights. The scenery is spectacular. We went to Cape Point, swam with penguins and found the coolest beach bar. I also managed to paraglide off Signal Hill during my stay! Read my blog post to find out all my tips and tricks on Cape Town where to stay, where to eat and safety here.

Winelands

After an action packed four days, we enjoyed a two night relaxing break in Val du Charron, a magnificent wine estate in Wellington. We explored Franschoek, Stellenbosch and the neighbouring countryside as well as sampling some of South Africa’s best wines. I wasn’t a fan of Stellenbosch, it was more like a built up holiday resort than a country town. It was not at all what I had imagined. Val du Charron turned out to the be perfect choice. You can read all about my stay at Val du Charron wine estate here.

south african road trip

The Garden Route

We then drove the Garden Route, which depending on the time of year you travel, can be a tough nut to crack. The drive itself is idyllic, with dramatic mountain passes and magnificent landscapes. We had no issues with safety along the Garden Route, in fact there were police cars everywhere and we felt at ease throughout our journey. Towns like Hermanus are ideal for whale watching – but make sure you choose the right season! We decided to drive straight to Oudtshoorn. Although a five hour drive, it was ideal for us as we wanted to stay further along the Eastern Cape. Oudtshoorn is not the prettiest of towns and is probably best for a nightly stopover. It is famous for it’s ostrich farms and for being the main town of the Klein Karoo area of South Africa’s Western Cape. We stayed in De Zeekoe, a lovely hotel with traditional guest rooms, chalets and cottages.

south african road trip

Pretty towns like Kynsna and Wilderness are definitely worth exploring and for a true South African adventure, I would recommend an overnight stay in the Tenequia Tree Tops. We decided to go straight to Plettenberg Bay, a famous upmarket seaside town to get some much needed beach time. Although a small town, there is a nice sprinkling of high quality restaurants and bars. If you do decide to stay here – don’t miss dinner at The Fat Fish! We stayed in the Robberg Beach Lodge, which is ideally situated right on the beach and was the perfect place to catch the sunrise.

The surrounding area is ideal for day trips. We stopped at Tsitsikamma National Park and witnessed people jumping off the highest bungee bridge jump in the world. You can also go white water rafting or visit the famous Addo Elephant National Park.

Cape St Francis

As much as we liked Plettenberg Bay, it was not a patch on our next stop, Cape St Francis Resort. This was like a little piece of heaven and it is somewhere I would love to go back to – I don’t say that very often! We stayed in a stunning beach house with miles of white sand on our doorstep.  Read all about our family stay in Cape St Francis Resort here.

south african road trip

Game Reserve

We were reluctant to leave Cape St Francis but our South African adventure was not over yet. We finished off the trip with a three night stay at Amakhala Game Reserve. We decided to treat ourselves at the end of our trip and stay the five star Bush Lodge. We had an incredible family experience. We stayed in a luxurious ‘tent’ (tent does not adequately describe what we were staying in!) and saw some amazing animals. You can read all about our luxury safari at Amakhala Game Reserve here.

south african road trip

I learned lots of tips and tricks, where to stay and where to avoid, in our sixteen day adventure. I have advice on travelling with kids, taxis, car minders (yes there is such a thing) and lots more. I have published my top tips for travelling in South Africa in this post – I hope you will find it useful.

south african road trip

How to get there:

We flew with Ethiopian Airlines who offer a service four times weekly from Dublin airport via Addis Ababa. Their flight prices are one of the lowest on the route, and include two 23kg checked bags with free meals and drinks on board. At the time of issue return flights from Dublin to Cape Town are €474 including taxes. We booked all our accommodation in Cape Town and throughout South Africa, through The Safari Expert. The meet and greet service at the airport was excellent where we received a full travel digest of things to do in Cape Town and in all of our stops. This also contained travel distances, maps with Sat-Nav coordinates and top travel tips – the perfect combination for a South African road trip.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert