One great way to see South Africa is behind the wheel of a car. Taking a scenic route at your own driving pace will give different views and perspectives of where you’re going and presently at. Here are five must-do driving routes in South Africa to take, especially in order to take in your surroundings.
1) The Garden Route
The Garden Route is often a recommended must-see stretch in South Africa, and for good reason. This beautiful coastal section of the N2 (a national route) runs from Heidelberg in the Southern Cape, to Storms River Village on the Eastern Cape border. It’s also known for its lush vegetation, mixture of topography and outdoor activity options. Stops along this way are equally noteworthy, particularly aligning seaside towns. Mossel Bay, which starts the Garden Route, is considered to be a major holiday destination. Knysna is well regarded for its Knysna Lagoon, based in the middle of two sandstone cliffs known as “the Knysna Heads.” Visit Garden Route National Park, which contains hiking routes and incorporates the Tsitsikamma and Wilderness national parks plus Knysna Forests.
2) Chapman’s Peak Drive
In being also all about scenery, this mountainside coastal route will not keep your eyes alert on the road, but also has pullout locations where it’s safe to head over on the side. Approximately nine kilometers (or 5.5 miles), the curvy Chapman’s Peak Drive starts from Hout Bay, a fishing harbor town, and does a windy trek to the village suburb of Noordhoek. As a modern engineering marvel, the drive’s construction started in 1915 and was completed in 1922. While driving along, consider keeping your windows down to hear the crash of the surfing wind beneath. And also note that it’s a toll road so keep some extra rand ready.
3) The Panorama Route
In the province of Mpumalanga, the Panorama Route clearly lives up to its name with geological formations, green valleys, and mountain peaks, and links to historic towns. It coincides with Blyde River Canyon, said to be the third largest canyon in the world and situated in the Drakensberg escarpment region. Bourke’s Luck Potholes is a series of eroded bedrock formations at the conjunction of the Treur and Blyde rivers. The Three Rondavels, a trio of mountaintop peaks, are shaped like African grass huts. God’s Window is a spectacular panoramic viewpoint of plunging cliffs, where seeing over Kruger National Park is possible on a clear day. Towns along this route have their respective offerings. Graskop, a former mining town, is particularly noted for its eatery, Harrie’s Pancakes. Sabie is a forestry town with impressive pine plantations and cascading waterfalls. Pilgrim’s Rest relives its gold mining boom via museums.
4) Swartberg Pass
Heading over this east-west pass through the Swartberg mountain range is a once in a lifetime drive. Running between the plains of the Great Karoo and valleys of the Little Karoo, the Swartberg Pass is a gravel route that takes drivers through this semi-arid area, linking the towns of Oudtshoorn (in the south) and Prince Albert (in the north) together. The rock-centered ride may seem a little nerve wrecking, due to its hairpin bends and narrow sections, but take the journey carefully – and enjoy the geology. Be sure to notice vegetation such as aloe plants, dry stone retaining walls, and vertical cliff faces such as the Wall of Fire.
5) The Friendly N6 Route
This amicably named national motorway connects the Free State and Eastern Cape and reflects what you’ll find along the journey. Running between East London and Bloemfonten, the Friendly N6 Route passes by farmlands, outdoor wonders, and small inland towns. With the latter, Stutterheim has become a magnet for nature lovers, primarily due to its forestry areas. It’s the same with Lady Grey, which has good ops for hiking and fishing. Smithfield appears to carry more of a hospital feel, with a mixture of lodging ranging from B&Bs to self-catering homes, and an artsy side, with various galleries and cafes/restaurants.
Now let’s get going. To rent a car with Around about Cars and explore this incredible region of South Africa click here: Car Rental South Africa.