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Written by Savi, 52 Comments

It’s tough to sum up a road trip through South Africa in a few words – It offers pretty much everything under the sun – mountains and grasslands, adventure sports and beach-bumming opportunities, wildlife safaris and tame Ostrich farms, wild bushland and turquoise lagoons, and luscious food and wine. No wonder, it makes for the road trip of a life time.

 

Here’s what we ended up doing on our road trip through South Africa:

 

South Africa Road Trip Map
South Africa Road Trip Map

 

1) Johannesburg (2 days)

Fly into Johannesburg or Jo’burg as the locals call it. Spend your time exploring the townships of Soweto and sensing the vibe of the city. Make sure to hit the Sunday crafts market in SandtonΒ and follow that up with an afternoon of playing with Lion cubs at the Johannesburg Lion Park.

road trip through south africa
We met these cuties on a township tour of Soweto

 

 

2) Safari at Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park (2-3 days)

Drive from Johannesburg to HluHluwe Imfolozi National Park for an offbeat Safari. This 550 km (approx 8 hours) stretch will take you through traditional South African villages and towns. Spend the next day on a guided safari in the HluHluwe Imfolozi National Park looking for animals. We had a field day spotting Zebras and Antelopes!

Safari at Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park. Zebras
Zebras in HluHluwe

 

 

3) Durban (3 days)

3 days is about right for Durban – you can spend your days trekking in some of the well-kept natural reserves like Umhlanga and Amanzimtoti or laze on Durban’s spectacular beaches. In the evenings, enjoy the lively night life that Durban has to offer and do not forget to try the ‘bunny chow’ – a hollowed bread loaf filled with curry – yummy! One place that you CANNOT miss is the Valley of 1000 hills

Roadtrip through South Africa
Bunny Chow in Durban

 

 

4) Addo Elephant National Park (2 days)

Aah! The best part of the road trip through South Africa (at least for Vid ;)). 900 kms from Durban lies a breathtaking natural reserve next to a sleepy village called Addo. You can easily spend a day or two doing a self-drive safari at the Addo Elephant National Park. Vid loved the experience so much that he is already planning his next self-drive safari.

Addo National Park - Elephant
Big Five at Addo National Park

 

 

5) The Garden Route (5-7 days)

If we had our way, we would drive the Garden Route three or four times over. Stretching from Port Elizabeth all the way to Cape Town, this 750 km drive is what dreams are made of. One can easily spend 5 days covering the Garden Route – we split our journey at a mystical sea-side town called Knysna. For adventure seekers, the Bloukrans bridge between Port Elizabeth and Knysna offers the world’s highest commercial bungee jump. How could we have stayed behind? πŸ™‚

Hop over to read about our adventures driving the garden route !

 

Driving The Garden Route
Ostrich Farms on the Garden Route

 

 

6) Cape Town and The Wine Route (5 days)

New York Times recently listed Cape Town as #1 in a list of 52 places to visit in 2014. We can certainly vouch for that. From hiking the Table Mountain to devouring fresh seafood at the Mariner’s wharf at Hout Bay, Cape Town has something for everyone. We even had breakfast with Penguins at the Boulders beach in Simonstown. Β Leave aside a couple of days for visits to Frankshoek and Stellenbosch, both of which boasts of some of the world’s best wineries. You MUST NOT leave the region before indulging in some wine tasting. Β Cape Town and the surrounding wine region is undoubtedly the best way to end a long, rewarding, and a little tiring road trip through South Africa.

Driving The Garden Route
Penguins at Boulders Beach, Cape Town

 

7) Fly from Cape Town to Johannesburg and back to London

21 days, 4,400 Kms (including detours and city driving), and a myriad of landscapes later, the epic road trip through South Africa came to an end. We can safely say that this trip has been the best travel experience of our lives till now πŸ™‚

 

Planning And Budgeting

A road trip spanning 3 weeks requires a fair bit of planning and organisation, especially when it’s in a diverse country like South Africa. Months before our trip, we spent hours on the internet looking for cheap rates for hotels. Given the importance of tourism in South Africa, it’s easy to find something to suit all budgets. Our approximate cost breakdown for the trip was:

  • Car Rental with Hertz: Β£20 per day for a Chevy Spark with all insurances and one-way drop off fees included
  • Fuel Costs: Approximately 200 litres of petrol at ~75p per litre = Β£150 for the entire trip
  • Accommodation: Β£20 per night per person including breakfast (we stay in local B&B’s – somewhere between luxurious hotels and backpacker’s hostels)
  • Food costs: Β£20-Β£25 per person per day
  • Safari: A guided safari will set you back by Β£75-Β£100 per person. A self-drive option is much cheaper at around Β£15 per person. We suggest you do one of each πŸ™‚
  • Miscellaneous costs: Β£15 per person

 

There you have it – a South African Road Trip itinerary that will take you through changing landscapes, beautiful scenery, scrumptious food, exhilarating wild life, and divine wine.Β To read a detailed account of each stop, including suggestions for accommodation, offbeat detours, and random fun stuff, read all our posts about our South African Road Trip.

 

If you have any specific questions, ask them in the comments below.

 

52 thoughts on “Road Trip South Africa – A Suggested Itinerary

  1. Looks gorgeous! I’m curious…do you know what are the ostriches farmed for? Their meat? Their eggs? Both? Definitely looks like a great road trip either way. Cape Town is quite high on my list of places to visit in Africa…but probably won’t happen this year!

    1. Hey Sam,

      They are usually for the eggs and also for show i.e. for people to come and see Ostriches πŸ™‚ You should definitely do a road trip – you guys will love it !

      Cheers

  2. Brilliant! Thanks so much for the clear and detailed info. A dream of mine… Not for this year but will make it happen soon.
    Thanks again for putting up this very informative post πŸ™‚

  3. Looks fabulous. Have been wanting to do a trip to South Africa myself, especially for the big five. The road trip just makes it better. Quick one – can you share some of the hotels you stayed at? Also, what about safety measures etc.

    1. Hey Sonika – we stayed in apartments we booked off Air B&B. Safety wise- just take the usual precautions. Don’t flash valuables, keep your rental car locked, and just be aware of your surroundings at all times πŸ™‚

    2. Hey, I live in SA! There are a bunch websites for hotels, etc, for example, http://www.lekkeslaap.co.za ; but you can also just google south african accomadation! And about the safety … They make it sound worse than what it is, just don’t leave valuables in plain sight, lock doors, etc! And have fun!!!

  4. u refreshed my memory of South Africa..what a beautiful place!!Garden route is something which should be on the bucket list..did u guys manage to go to Hermanus???I was lucky to sight so many whales there:):)
    And yes as u rightly mentioned the best way to end an eventful day in cape is by sipping one of their finest wines:)
    Also i loved the drive through from chapman’s peak , unending ocean at cape point!!!aah what views…wana go back:(

  5. Love the pics.. We’ve traveled through South Africa a couple of times and always hate to leave. Our last overlanding was 3months from Nairobi to Cape Town, taking in 8 countries en-route.. absolutely epic and we can’t wait to do it again. What a magical place.

  6. Hi.. Your blog has been really helpful and inspirational for me while planning my Honeymoon trip to South Africa for December 2015 but lately a lot of people have been warning me about safety concerns in SA regarding robbery and car jacking. It would be really helpful if you could provide with any advise.

    Thanks
    Sahil Sehgal

    1. Hey Sahil – we hope you have an amazing time on your honeymoon in South Africa. To be honest, we found South Africa, especially the Garden Route & Cape Town, fairly safe. If you’re really worried, perhaps you could steer clear of Johannesburg πŸ™‚

  7. This is so useful! I’m thinking about flying from Durban to Port Elizabeth to give us more time in other places. What would I be missing if we flew?

    1. Hey Sierra,

      That’s a good idea – don’t think you’ll miss much between Durban and Port Elizabeth. You could spend the extra day in Addo National Park πŸ™‚

  8. I’m really impressed with your travel blog.Being a travel junkie myself I can relate with your experiences.

    Honestly I was contemplating between SA and Greece but your post just cliched the deal in favour of SA.

    I Had a some questions though why did you not include Kruger in your travel itinerary?

    What I was planning was that we fly to cape town enjoy the city for 3-4 days do the garden route in another 5,fly out from port elizabeth and do a night each in kruger and josburg.

    I would appreciate your suggestion on the same.

    1. Hi Randhir,

      Thanks for your comment. Kruger was not fitting well in our itinerary as we had to be in Durban for a gathering. That’s why we chose Hluhluwe.

      Your plan sounds great and you should definitely spend a couple of days in Kruger. Also, when you are driving the Garden route, spend a few days in Knysna.

      Have fun in South Africa – it’s amazing πŸ™‚

      1. Hey thanks so much for your prompt reply… really appreciate it.

        So if we are doing Kruger should we do Addo and josburg lion park or we can give them a miss?

        1. Hi Randhir,

          Sorry for the late reply – you can give Addo and the lion park a miss if you are visiting Kruger National Park πŸ™‚

  9. Thank you so much for this detailed blog post. My husband and I are planning to South Africa this Jan 2016
    we are still in the planning step as I am doing so much reading on the garden route, our initial plan is as follows:

    Cape town ( 8 days)
    Garden routes (8-10 days) still not sure about the duration

    I thought we might stay first in Knsyna for 3 nights and travel back and forth, then move to wilderness for another 3 nights and travel back and forth, and then maybe to Elizabeth port? your suggestion is highly appreciated πŸ˜€
    we don’t like to change accommodations a lot, we don’t have kids yet, but we hate the hassle of checking in and out off hotels.

    then we will spend 2-3 days at a Safari lodge

    What do you think? will love to hear back form you

    1. Hi Maha,

      Sorry for the late reply πŸ™

      Your plan sounds great. Even we don’t like moving from one hotel to the other every day, so we did something similar. We made Knysna our base for 3-4 days and explored the surroundings. We did the same when we were in Cape Town too.

      Which Safar Lodge are you planning to visit? πŸ™‚

  10. Hey guys – I LOVE this post so much and it’s made me really excited for a trip i’m taking there in a couple of weeks. Do you have any awesome B&B suggestions in Cape Town or along the Garden route?
    Thanks so much, aly

  11. Hey,
    I regularly visit your site and really impressed with it.
    I want to have 7-8days tour of SA.Please suggest the must see cities/falls/safari/gardens/monuments/shopping to visit(not to say I visited SA bt missed it ie must see places).Also kindly suggest me the itinerary. We are a group of 10 from a family.
    Thank you

    1. Hey Chetan – if you have just 7-8 days we’d suggest spending it in the Cape Town-Garden Route area. We have a detailed article on driving the Garden Route. It offers a bit of everything, so it’s perfect for you πŸ™‚

  12. So excited about our 3 week family road trip next year. Is there a reason why you didn’t go to Kruger? Having a hard time deciding what to miss out on. Who did you do the Soweto tour with?

  13. Hi Savi & Vid,

    This is quite useful for us as we plan a 3 week trip to South Africa. Just had a couple of queries on the itinerary

    – Durban To Port Elizabeth is a really long distance. Did you guys just power through that drive or did stopovers?

    – If not Hluhluhwe, any other safaris you would suggest? Ones that can be done on a budget.

    Thanks in advance and enjoy your time in USA!

    1. Hey Guys,

      Just power through Durban to PE, not much to see there. Not sure if there are any other safaris around Hluhluhwe that will be cheaper. Kruger is definitely more expensive.

      Have a great trip and apologies for the late reply πŸ™

  14. I am planning to visit south africa for 10 days in last week of august.Is it a good time to self drive garden route .Will it be possible for us to visit capetown ,do garden route and visit Kruger for 2-3 days in a span of 10-11 days. and if not kruger which other national park can I visit for a good game view?
    Is it really safe to self drive from capetown to port elizabeth as I have heard a lot of safety concerns

    1. Hey Ayushi,

      We did not face any safety concerns while driving through South Africa. As long as you are sensible and take the usual precautions, you should be fine πŸ™‚

      It might be a bit crammed to do all that in 10 days. That said if you spend 3 days in Cape Town, drive the garden route over 3 days, then you can fly from Port Elizabeth to Kruger/nearby airport and do a few safaris there.

  15. Hi! Thank you for the detailed road trip itinerary. I am looking for a road trip of about 12 days in SA. Also, I wish do enjoy all the adventures that the country has to pffer! Can you please guide me regardig that?

    1. Hi Surbhi,

      Pease read all our articles on South Africa to get an idea of what all we did during our road trip πŸ™‚ These articles should give you a good insight!

  16. Hi Savi and Vid,
    I would like to know whats the best time to go to south africa? We want to do the garden route which includes (shark cage diving) as well as kruger national park. So whats the best time to ensure that the weather permits all of this? Also is it safe to self drive in SA? any words of caution.

    1. Hey Manali – we found it safe to drive in South Africa as long as one exercises caution (don’t flash valuables, camera gear etc). The best time to visit is b/w July and November for animal sightings πŸ™‚

  17. Any reason you didnt do Bungee Jumping? Also We are planning to visit in Jan end February for 15 days. Was thinking of only driving through The Garden Route and rest of the tour by other flight or car. Do u think think that will be fine? Any suggestion for 15 day itenary. Thanks

    1. Hey sounds good. Yes a combination of flight and car sounds good πŸ™‚ Savi’s brother, who accompanied us on this trip, did Bungee Jump and it was amazing

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