I am so so excited! We’ve just booked flights to South Africa for the beginning of January and have an epic trip planned. This is a big trip for us—it’s our first time in Africa and we’ll be taking at least a month off work, much of it offline and sometimes even without electricity.
I may have gone a bit overboard with the planning, but I love planning and the more I do now, the less I have to worry about on the road. We’re currently housesitting for two months in a tiny village in Spain (again) with nothing much to do, so researching South Africa keeps me from getting too restless.
Please let us know your thoughts on our plan and any tips you have for anywhere we’re visiting along the way (vegetarian food, beaches, hikes, off-the-beaten-track activities etc).
We’ll have a total of 90 days in South Africa (the maximum you get on arrival). We’ll start with a few days in Johannesburg where I think we’ll rent an Airbnb in the artsy Maboneng Precinct. A Soweto tour seems like a must—let me know if you have any recommendations for good guides/tours.
We’ll then rent a car for just over a month to road trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town. This is our rough itinerary. Other than the first Kruger section we won’t book too much in advance to give ourselves the option to stay places longer. We don’t usually travel at such a quick pace so I’m not sure how we’ll get on.
UPDATE: We’ve completed our trip and here’s our detailed South Africa road trip itinerary.
- Graskop 2 nights – Visit Blyde River Canyon and the Panorama Route.
- Umlani Bushcamp 2 nights – An all-inclusive lodge in the private Timbavati Game Reserve on the edge of Kruger National Park. This is one of the more affordable lodges and is off-the-grid and eco-friendly. We’re hoping to spend a night in their treehouse!
- Klaserie Sands River Camp 3 nights – A more luxurious safari lodge in Klaserie Private Nature Reserve. This family-run, intimate lodge only has four rooms and looks beautiful.
- Kruger National Park 3 nights – We’ll self-drive and stay in bungalows in rest camps (Olifants and Lower Sabie). The budget Kruger experience.
- Wakkerstroom 1 night – Just to break up the long drive to the Drakensberg mountains.
- Central Drakensberg 3 nights – Inkosana Lodge looks like a good base for hikes.
- Southern Drakensberg 2-3 nights – To break up the drive down to the Wild Coast. Possibly stay at Khotso Backpackers for horse riding.
- Coffee Bay 2 nights – To hike to the Hole in the Wall.
- Cintsa 3-5 nights – The sea view rooms at Buccaneers Lodge look gorgeous. Possibly a good place to stay for a while and relax.
- Hogsback? 2-3 nights – If we have time we’ll take a detour inland to this hippy mountain village. I like the look of eco-friendly Terra Khaya and their natural horsemanship, but I don’t know if we could deal with the lack of electricity/wifi and shared long drop toilets.
Or alternatively we could stop at Addo Elephant Park if we wanted to see more wildlife.
- Nature’s Valley 3 nights – Wild Spirit Backpackers has been recommended to us. Possible activities in the area include hikes, zip lining, and swimming with seals.
- Wilderness 2 nights
- Oudtshoorn? 2 nights – If we have time we’ll go inland to the Little Karoo to drive the scenic Swartberg Pass to Prince Albert and possibly do the Meerkat Adventure.
Cape Town will be our final stop. We’ll spend just under two months here and it looks like there is tons to do and eat. We’ll probably rent an apartment in advance on Airbnb as it’s easier, even though it’s more expensive. I haven’t found any other way of finding an affordable short-term rental and we don’t want to waste time and energy searching when we arrive. I’m leaning towards the Sea Point neighbourhood as we’d love to be by the sea and the promenade looks like the best and safest place for walking and running.
We’ll also do side trips to wine country and Cape Point.
South Africa Road Trip Map
I figured out this route by entering all the places I was interested in visiting into this custom Google map. We won’t be able to visit everywhere but it helps to have all the options laid out.
Please let us know if you have any thoughts on our route, special places to stay, tips for places to eat and visit along the way, or advice on finding a Cape Town apartment. Thank you and we look forward to sharing details of the trip with you once we’re underway.
Check out our South Africa road trip itinerary for the final route we took and all the details you need to recreate it yourself.
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Main photo of Cape Point by Nicolas Raymond.
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