Plan your ultimate South African road trip

Nine months spent travelling around South Africa means we’ve made some pretty good contacts along the way. We’ve been wowed by the level of expertise and excellence of South Africans in the travel and tourism sector, but most importantly, we’ve been amazed by their warmth, friendliness and hospitality. We’re delighted to be able to share our list of travel contacts with you to help you plan some South African adventures of your own.

 

Regions

KwaZulu-Natal  •  Mpumalanga  •  Limpopo  •  Free State

Eastern Cape  •  Western Cape  •  Northern Cape

 

KwaZulu-Natal

The Kingdom of the Zulus – a province that is as rich in history and culture as it is in landscapes, wildlife and activities. From subtropical beaches and world-class diving to big 5 game reserves and the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg mountains, this truly is a province for outdoor adventure!

 

 

 

Destinations are listed alphabetically:

Battlefields Region

Central and northern KZN boast the highest concentration of battlefields in the southern hemisphere. The rich military history of the KZN interior includes battles between all three of the major powers present in the country during its early history, these being the Voortrekker-Zulu Conflict (1838), Anglo-Zulu War (1879) and the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), as well as a number of Zulu civil skirmishes.

Accommodation and Tours: Fugitives Drift Lodge

 

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Parks

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife is the province’s conservation body. KZN has a number of game reserves that are open to day and overnight visitors. Whether the reserve is a big 5 game reserve or something a little smaller, time spent in the bush is always highly rewarding.

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, uMkhuze, Ndumo, Ithala

 

iSimangaliso Wetland Park

South Africa’s first World Heritage Site, this 332 000 ha park encompasses a number of interlinking ecosystems that include coastal forest, unique estuaries and a freshwater lake, a subtropical coastline and offshore environments as well as big 5 game areas. Moreover, the park is managed in such a way as to uplift and be inclusive of the communities that live in this area, leading the way in responsible conservation in South Africa.

 

False Bay

The False Bay section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, at Lake St Lucia’s northwestern end, reportedly was named by early visitors who, due to the lake’s great size, believed they were looking at the sea. It is an area of incredible natural beauty, rich in marine fossils and far less visited than the eastern shores and mouth of Lake St Lucia.

Accommodation: Wildebees Ecolodge

Horse and hiking Safaris: Hluhluwe Horse Safaris

 

Kosi Bay

A unique estuary comprising four interlinking lakes, Kosi Bay is one of the wildest places in South Africa. As well as being home to the rare palmnut vulture, it offers incredible hiking, snorkeling, boating and fishing opportunities on the lakes and adjacent coastline. Added to this it is the only place to view the traditional fish traps of the Thonga people – a fishing technique that remains unchanged for over 700 years.

Accommodation: Utshwayelo Lodge (and three lakes boat cruise), EKZNW Kosi Bay Campsite

 

Mabibi

The Coastal Forest section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park includes a significant stretch of KZN’s Elephant Coast. This remote and relatively undisturbed coastline is home to a number of incredible beaches including Lala Nek and Black Rock. Mabibi is one of the few points offering accommodation to visitors along this stretch. A 4×4 vehicle is required for the sand roads in the Coastal Forest Reserve.

Accommodation: Mabibi Beach Camp

 

Sodwana Bay

Sodwana Bay is a marine playground. Golden subtropical beaches and warm water not to mention world class coral reef diving, fishing and boating opportunities make Sodwana Bay a popular holiday destination. Its offshore canyons and reef complex are important for the conservation of a number of species including the prehistoric Coelacanth that was discovered in the marine canyons close to shore.

Accommodation and diving: Adventure Mania

 

St Lucia

The coastal town of St Lucia is situated at the mouth of Lake St Lucia, and provides easy access to both the Eastern and Western Shores sections of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park as well as water-based activities at the mouth. Lake St Lucia is South Africa’s largest estuary, being 80 km long and 23 km wide at its widest point. This unique system is home to a wide diversity of plant, animal and bird life and an important conservation site. On top of this, it is incredibly beautiful and unlike anything else the country has to offer.

Accommodation: Forest Lodge, EKZNW Campsite

Activity Operators: St Lucia Kayak Safaris, Shakabarker Tours, Advantage Tours, Safari and Surf, Bhangazi Horse Safaris, Heritage Tours and Safaris, Shoreline Boat Safaris

 

Lake Jozini

Bordered by the Pongola Nature Reserve and Pongola Game Reserve and with the Lebombo Mountains to the west, Lake Jozini is an incredible setting for fishing (bream, barbel and tiger fish) and boat-based game viewing opportunities.

Tiger fishing: Shayamanzi Houseboats

 

Umzumbe

Umzumbe is a quaint little town on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast. Other than the incredible coastline, the South Coast is also home to such attractions as the Oribi Gorge and Vernon Crookes Nature reserve.

Accommodation: Umzumbe Surf House


Mpumalanga

With the mountains of the Kingdom of Swaziland to the southeast, the flats and coast of Mozambique to the east and encompassing the endless plains of the southern section of the Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga’s attractions are undoubtedly its culture, scenery and wildlife. Spend a little bit of time here though and be surprised by what else you may find, including stories of gold fever and ghosts.

 

 

Destinations are listed alphabetically:

Barberton

A little removed from the main tourist route, Barberton is a gem for anyone wanting to get to know the area. It has a rich and ongoing gold mining history and is home to one of the richest gold mines in the world. Somewhat linked to this, the area around the town has a fascinating geological history and attracts visitors from all over the world. The Makhonjwa Mountains provide spectacular scenery and 4×4 driving opportunities, and Barberton is the ideal base from which to visit the northern regions of Swaziland.

Tour Operator: Dusty Tracks Off Road Adventures

Accommodation: Fountain Baths Guest Cottages, La Fortuna Guest House

 

Graskop

Set atop the Mpumalanga escarpment, the town of Graskop is frequently shrouded in mist. When the mist clears, the views from the plateau onto the Kruger Lowveld below are breathtaking. Like Sabie, Graskop’s attractions lie outdoors. A number of waterfalls and hiking trails can be found in the hills around town and the dramatic escarpment terrain is home to geological wonders like God’s Window and the Blyde River Canyon.

Restaurants: God’s Window Restaurant, Canimambo Restaurante

Accommodation: Graskop Holiday Resorts, Graskop Hotel

 

Hazyview

With Kruger National Park’s Numbi and Phabeni Gates in close proximity, Hazyview’s main attraction is undoubtedly the park. Day visitors use Hazyview as an overnight stop for safaris into Kruger National Park or to explore the surrounding area. There are also plenty of restaurants and activities in and around the town itself to keep visitors entertained.

Accommodation: Gecko Lodge

Activity Operators: Elephant Whispers, Skyway Trails, Elephant Herd Safaris

 

Kruger National Park

This icon of South Africa’s game parks needs little introduction. The vast reserve is the largest in the country and spans both Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces. Kruger is home to the big 5 and a host of other smaller animals and birds not to mention a number of important floral biomes. Due to their accessibility, the park’s southern regions are the busiest. The variety of camps scattered throughout Kruger however mean that there is plenty of opportunity to escape the crowds.

Kruger National Park

 

Pilgrims Rest

In the late 1800’s the discovery of alluvial gold triggered a rush of prospectors into the area. The gold rush town of Pilgrims Rest is today a national monument and the whole town is preserved as it would have been during its gold rush heyday. Although a little run down in sections, it is still a charming place to visit for a taste of this period of South Africa’s history.

Restaurants: Pilgrim’s Pantry, The Vine Restaurant

Something different: Kuzzulo’s Emporium, Brummer Tours

Accommodation: The Royal Hotel

 

Sabie

This hillside town is surrounded by one of the largest man-made forests in the world. It offers superlative outdoors activities that include hiking in the plantations and indigenous forest patches, mountain biking and exploring the many waterfalls around town. Added to this its proximity to other attractions in the area make it an ideal base for exploring the Kruger Lowveld region.

Fanie Botha Trail: Komatiland Ecotourism

Brewery: Sabie Brewing Company

Accommodation: Floreat Lodge, Sabie Self Catering Apartments, Misty Mountain

 


Limpopo

South Africa’s northernmost province, Limpopo borders Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Limpopo is well-known for its natural scenery and wildlife and is home to the northern section of the Kruger National Park as well as the impressive Blouberg Mountains. It also has a rich early human history with fossil-rich caves and other evidence of early inhabitants.

 

 

Destinations are listed alphabetically:

Greater Kruger National Park

This icon of South Africa’s game parks needs little introduction. The vast reserve is the largest in the country and spans both Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces. Kruger is home to the big 5 and a host of other smaller animals and birds not to mention a number of important floral biomes. Due to their accessibility, the park’s southern regions are the busiest. The variety of camps scattered throughout Kruger however mean that there is plenty of opportunity to escape the crowds.

Kruger National Park, Mtomeni Camp in the Letaba Ranch

 

Thohoyandou

Thohoyandou is one of those places you remember for its warmth and hospitality. This bustling region in Limpopo is home to the rich Venda culture and heritage, and is the best place to experience it. As well as spending time with the Venda people, there are a number of fascinating cultural and spiritual sites in the area that can be visited with a local guide.

Accommodation: Fundudzi Camp

 


Free State

The rich farmlands of the Free State province have led to it being dubbed ‘South Africa’s breadbasket’. The Drakensberg and Maluti Mountains provide a dramatic backdrop to its crisp, clear blue sky, yellow grain fields and flowing rivers lined with weeping willow trees.

 

 

Golden Gate Highlands National Park

This SAN Park is set in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains bordering Lesotho, near the town of Clarens. The park itself offers plenty of hiking and game viewing opportunities as well as spectacular scenery.

Golden Gate Highlands National Park

 


Eastern Cape

The Eastern Cape province is a blend of many things; the mountains of the southern Drakensberg, Sneeuberge and other ranges, the dry inland Karoo and the lush and rugged coastline, large cities like Port Elizabeth and East London to the undeveloped Xhosa homelands of the Wild Coast. This province has something to offer everyone, but nature lovers and outdoors enthusiasts in particular will love it.

 

 

Destinations are listed alphabetically:

Cape St Francis

Cape St Francis (and nearby Jeffrey’s Bay) are a surfer’s paradise. This small coastal town has spectacular beaches and unspoilt surroundings, and is the ideal place to escape the busyness of nearby Port Elizabeth.

Accommodation: Cape St Francis Resort

 

Hogsback

This small town set high above the surrounding landscape is a magical world all of its own. Surrounded by indigenous forest and cascading waterfalls, Hogsback is a dream for hikers and nature-lovers alike.

Accommodation: Away With The Fairies

 

Morgan Bay

Just north of East London and on the banks of the mighty Kei River, Morgan Bay has all the wonder of the Wild Coast with ease of access. Spend time hiking the coastline, paddle on unspoiled rivers, rock climb world-class routes or enjoy a lazy sundowner from the top of the cliffs – you will never want to leave!

Accommodation: Mitford Hotel

 

Mountain Zebra National Park

This small SAN Park was established for the protection of the Cape mountain zebra, whose numbers have increased from a near-decimated state. As well as viewing this iconic animal, the reserve boasts incredible landscape views, 4×4 driving trails and the chance to interact with wild cheetah.

Mountain Zebra National Park 

 

Storms River

Inside the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park, Storms River mouth is a must-see. A suspension bridge stretches across the steep river gorge, giving visitors an aerial perspective of the mouth as well as access to hiking trails along the coast. Storms River town itself is home to a number of activities operators and restaurants.

Garden Route National Park

 


Western Cape

Flanked by the Indian and Atlantic oceans, the Western Cape has an incredible coastline that includes popular regions like the Garden Route and West Coast. Cape Town itself is possibly South Africa’s most beautiful city with plenty of attractions to offer visitors and residents alike. With incredible mountain scenery, a number of protected areas, plenty of history and the famous Cape winelands we would strongly recommend a visit… just not in winter!

 

 

Destinations are listed alphabetically:

Garden Route

As the name implies, the Western Cape’s Garden Route covers a section of the province’s most picturesque coastline. Unspoilt beaches and waterways merge seamlessly with mountain slopes covered in lush indigenous forest. Everything about this region encourages you to get outside and experiencing nature, whether it is hiking, cycling, birding, or just enjoying the beautiful beaches or a lazy lunch in one of the coastal towns.

 

Knysna

Knysna is one of the more popular holiday towns along the Garden Route, and offers access to beautiful beaches, iconic settings like the Knysna Heads and Knysna Lagoon waterfront and the forests of the Garden Route National Park.

Knysna Lakes section of the Garden Route National Park

 

Plettenberg Bay

The scenic town of Plettenberg Bay has some of the loveliest beaches along this stretch and with a town set up for visitors and plenty of restaurants on the beach, is the ideal spot to rest and take in the surrounds.

International Surf School

 

Overstrand

Gansbaai

Without a doubt, one of the highlights of this coastal town is its marine life. With Dyer Island close offshore, visitors can view Cape fur seals, African penguins, Great white sharks, migrating whales and coastal dolphins on boat excursions that launch from town.

Marine Dynamics

 

Onrus

Practically joined to Hermanus, Onrus offers easy access to this popular holiday town but a chance to escape the crowds when things get a little too busy! Onrus has great surfing, walking and whale watching opportunities (seasonal) as well as one of the best municipal campsites we’ve ever come across.

Accommodation: Onrus Caravan Park

 

West Coast

The Cape West Coast is an amazing area with plenty to offer. From white sand beaches and quaint fishing towns to the impressive Cederberg mountains and inland farming and wine-producing areas, this region will definitely not disappoint! And let’s not forget about its flowers in spring!

 

Clanwilliam

One of the oldest towns in the country, Clanwilliam has a rich history. Flanked by the Cederberg mountains, the main industry of this picturesque town is agriculture with the star of the show being the production of Rooibos which cannot be grown anywhere else.

Rooibos Teahouse

Accommodation: Beefwood Corner

 

Doringbaai

Doringbaai is a small fishing town close to Strandfontein. As well as its wild coastline and beautiful sunsets, one of its attractions is the old canning factory in the harbour that has been converted into a restaurant and winery.

Accommodation: Thornbay Accommodation

 

Jacobs Bay

Nestled on the peninsular, Jacobs Bay is the perfect antidote to industrial Saldanha and touristy Paternoster. Small and relaxed, the long beaches and rocky bays of Jacobs Bay offer the chance to relax and unwind completely.

Accommodation: Jacobsbay Backpackers

 

Koringberg

The yellow wheat fields and sheep dotted across the hillside make for a peaceful setting for the agricultural town of Koringberg. Explore the town and overnight on a guest farm to really appreciate the peace and beauty of the area.

Accommodation: Vleidam Guest Farm

 

Lambert’s Bay

One of the larger fishing towns on the West Coast, Lambert’s Bay is home to a beautiful coastline and a popular open air seafood restaurant. Don’t forget about Cape Nature’s Bird Island Nature Reserve – the only Cape gannet breeding colony easily accessible to the public.

Bird Island Nature Reserve

Accommodation: Eagle’s Nest Guest House

 

Paternoster

Paternoster is everything you’d imagine the West Coast to be – white sand beaches, whitewashed fishermens’ cottages with blue accents and seafood straight out of the ocean. This town is popular among tourists with good reason. Neighboring Cape Columbine Nature Reserve is an absolute gem with a rocky wild coastline perfect for exploring by car or on foot, and the unmistakable smell of salt and drying kelp in the air.

Accommodation: Farr Out Guesthouse (Paternoster), Sea Shack (Cape Columbine)

Ocean Kayaking: Gecko Kayak Adventures (083 795 4198)

 

Piket-Bo-Berg

An unexpected find, Piket-Bo-Berg is a little further past the town of Piketberg up the Versfeld Pass. Its elevation provides stunning views of the landscape below as well as the ideal micro-climate for fruit and nut farming. Visit the monthly farmers’ market or learn about sustainable living and farming methods at Kruistementvlei Farm.

Farm Accommodation: Kruistementvlei Farm

 

Riebeeck Valley

Incorporating the towns of Riebeeck-West and Riebeeck-Kasteel, the Riebeeck Valley is a picturesque farming area characterised by wheat fields, vineyards and olive groves. There is plenty of wine and olive tasting to be done in the area and the Kasteelberg Mountain provides a beautiful backdrop for this culinary journey.

Swartland Winery

Accommodation: De Langenhof Guest House

 

Saldanha

Saldanha Bay is the deepest natural harbour in the southern hemisphere. On its shores, Saldanha is a bustling town with a number of large industries. With its range of accommodation options and central position on the peninsula, Saldanha is an ideal base from which to explore the surrounding areas.

Accommodation: Protea Hotel Saldanha Bay, Villa-Mari Accommodation

Activities: !Khwa ttu San cultural centreThali Thali Game LodgeWest Coast Fossil Park

 

Velddrif

The mighty Berg River ties together neighboring Velddrif, Port Owen and Laaiplek, with their long history of fishing, abundant aquatic bird life and unique fish delicacy of bokkoms. Slightly further north, Rocherpan Nature Reserve teems with birdlife attracted by the seasonal vlei, and long empty beaches offer a chance to relax and unwind at Draaihoek.

Draaihoek Lodge and Restaurant, Skipskop, Tranquility 

Rocherpan Nature Reserve, SA Fisheries Museum, Tollie’s Boat and River Cruises

 

West Coast National Park

The main attraction of the West Coast National Park is undoubtedly Langebaan Lagoon. This saltwater lagoon teems with fish and aquatic birds that feed in and around its sheltered waters. The lagoon is flanked by a beautiful coastline and natural area that is home to eland and a variety of smaller game. Close to Cape Town, it is an ideal destination for a day trip from the city or as a weekend break.

Duinepos, West Coast National Park

 


Northern Cape

A land of contrasts, the Northern Cape is equally as harsh and unforgiving as it is beautiful and enticing. Hot summers, icy winters and a wind that blows almost year-round have created a unique environment characterised by diamonds, desert and wildflowers.

 

 

Noup

Noup is a gem on the Northern Cape’s coastline, just north of Hondeklip Bay. Like the rest of the coast, it is barely inhabited and a cluster of renovated diamond divers’ stone huts offer refuge and a base from which to explore this wild coastline.

Noup