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:
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 Sandton and follow that up with an afternoon of playing with Lion cubs at the Johannesburg Lion Park.
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!
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
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.
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? 🙂
Hop over to read about our adventures driving 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. 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. 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.
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 🙂
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: £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 = £150 for the entire trip
- Accommodation: £20 per night per person including breakfast (we stay in local B&B’s – somewhere between luxurious hotels and backpacker’s hostels)
- Food costs: £20-£25 per person per day
- Safari: A guided safari will set you back by £75-£100 per person. A self-drive option is much cheaper at around £15 per person. We suggest you do one of each 🙂
- Miscellaneous costs: £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. 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.
69 thoughts on “Road Trip South Africa – A Suggested Itinerary”
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!
They are usually for the eggs and also for show i.e. for people to come and see Ostriches 🙂 You should definitely do a road trip – you guys will love it !
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 🙂
Thanks Catherine- glad you found it useful 🙂
This is soooo damn inspiring. Doing this for real! 😀
Abhilash go for it- you will love it 🙂
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.
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 🙂
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!!!
We totally agree – we didn’t feel unsafe in South Africa even once!
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:(
Aah Chapman’s peak – that stunner. Yep, we did all those things and reading your comment made us miss them
Wow this is fantastic! I don’t have immediate plans for South Africa yet but it’s on my wish list. I’ll be coming back to this post for reference when I make a plan!
Thanks Michelle 🙂
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.
Whoa – that sounds amazing Rhonda. How was Nairobi?
Thank for sharing pcis. I love your píc so much and will comeback to visit your site. Hope you have more useful articles for audience. I will save money to travel to South Africa one day.
Thanks. I hope our tips on exploring South Africa come handy when you visit the country 🙂
Planning a 2 weeks road trip including flying to and from Mumbai. I have a very outdoorsy, nature and adventure loving 8 year old girl. I am allergic to wine. So with the above points in mind, would you be kind enough to advise an itinerary.
Thanks for the kind words 🙂 To be honest all our suggestions (and itinerary) are in this article (as well as the other South Africa posts here: https://www.bruisedpassports.com/category/south-africa). You can tailor the itinerary depending on your preferences 🙂
Hope you have an amazing trip
Great trip! Why not travel to Brazil one day? You would thoroughly enjoy this fantastic country!
Alex Brazil tops our wish list. We hope to visit super soon 🙂
Great info. I was planning to head to South Africa either later this year or early next so this is perfect to see what there is to see. Thanks
Glad you found it useful 🙂 Let us know if you have any questions.
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.
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 🙂
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?
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 🙂
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.
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 🙂
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?
Sorry for the late reply – you can give Addo and the lion park a miss if you are visiting Kruger National Park 🙂
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 😀
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
Sorry for the late reply 🙁
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? 🙂
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
You’ll love South Africa 🙂 Well, in Knysna we stayed at Double Dutch. We didn’t stay in Capetown but 30 minutes away in Simonstown at Marianella guest house.
Have a great trip and tell us how it goes 🙂
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.
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 🙂
South Africa is a lovely place to visit.. I enjoyed the classical exhibition from soweto guyz.. Along Vikaz Street
It is one of our favourite countries till date 🙂
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?
No particular reason why we didn’t go to Kruger. Trust us, whatever you do in South Africa, you’ll love it. So don’t worry about what you’ll miss 😉
We did the tour with Soweto Bicycle Tours. You can read more here: https://www.bruisedpassports.com/africa/5-reasons-you-must-go-for-a-township-tour-in-south-africa
Have a great time in SA – it’s a beautiful country 🙂
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!
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 🙁
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
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 🙂
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.
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?
Pease read all our articles on South Africa to get an idea of what all we did during our road trip 🙂 These articles should give you a good insight!
hey- could you help me with where you stayed on the garden route and what you did?
Hey Mitali – we did this trip pre blogging days, so didn’t both to jot down a lot of names of hotels etc. However we always use a price comparison website to find the best hotel deals and book them. Here it is
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.
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 🙂
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
Hey sounds good. Yes a combination of flight and car sounds good 🙂 Savi’s brother, who accompanied us on this trip, did Bungee Jump and it was amazing
Can you please suggest an itneary for 8 days in South Africa.
Please customise the itinerary for South Africa in this article depending on your preferences and choices 🙂
I just love your blog and both of you. Reading every blog of yours makes me want to take that leap of faith out of the couch and travelling. South Africa … Mersmerised # worried about lack of money!! Can you give a rough idea of finance for this trip and do we book the hotels and other stuff through some travel agent or how do we go about it on owr own…
Looking fwd for ur reply
It’s difficult to give an idea for budget as it depends a lot on your preferences. You can stay in hostels and save a lot or you can stay in luxury hotels and spend more. We would definitely recommend booking accommodation in advance – you can easily book on your own if you like 🙂
Is Kynsya to oudtshoorn and back to kynsa possible..planning to drive from cape town to Kynsya and stay for 3 nights..please suggest
Yes it is 🙂
Hi Vid & Savi,
I am planning to visit South Africa in the month of August. I have made list of places worth exploring. But unfortunately, I cant find a way out in Cape Town especially for Accomodation and guided tours in and around the city. I am planning to stay for 4 days in Cape Town. At present my search results for accommodation has been 0 with no one to help with regard to tours, especially local representatives.
Could you please help or else offer any advise?
Not quite sure why you can’t find any accommodation. Perhaps you could broaden your search and look in neighbouring towns. We stayed in Simonstown for Cape Town 🙂
Hi, what month did you guys travel to SA in? I’m slightly confused between July-August and December periods. Help is much appreciated 🙂
We went in March 🙂
December is a good time too!
Thanks so much for this itinerary. Me and my husband will be using this for our anniversary trip next month. We only will have 10 days to do it though so what would you suggest taking out or spending less days doing?
Thanks for your time! 🙂
Hey you could skip the Jo’burg/Addo bits 🙂
I am searching for South Africa topic on the internet, and I found your blog. This is really helpfull.
Thanks for helping me to write this article. It’s about “When Is The Best Time To Visit South Africa “. Kindly check and share your thoughts.
I am planning to visit south africa but really scared after reading negative reviews about thw safety issues.
Jberg is completely out from my itwnary but evwn capetown and garden route seems unsafe post covid.
Any suggestions please
Hey Nupur – we didn’t find it unsafe. Ofc you need to exercise common caution like not flashing expensive gadgets or money, keeping car doors locked etc but otherwise we only met the nicest people