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23 Apr 2019 15:19
South Africa is made for road trips. From weekend getaways to extended holidays, there is so much to explore across the country.
We’re lucky enough to have good roads traveling to most parts of the country, making for fantastic road trips.
There are literally hundreds of different road trip routes. One of the popular routes starts in Johannesburg and heads down to the Western Cape along the Garden Route. This route also lends itself to including a few stops along the way.
Another option is to take a detour before heading to the coast, and stopping off somewhere in the Drakensberg, followed by a stop along the Wild Coast and a quick stop in Hogsback before heading to the Garden Route and the Western Cape. Here is a two-week road trip itinerary doing just that.
Two nights in Underberg
Starting off in Johannesburg, the drive to Underberg is just over six hours. While here, book a cabin at Mkomazana Mountain Cottages. This small resort is located at the base of the Sani Pass and the cottages are cosy with everything that you need for a self-catering stay, including a small lounge with fireplace and a kitchenette. The grounds here are beautiful, with the farm featuring a small lake and stream, ancient trees, and stunning mountain views. The property used to be a trading post dating back to the 1800s, when the Sani Pass first started being used.
While here make sure to take a trip up the Sani Pass into Lesotho. If you don’t have a 4x4 to drive up yourself, then book a tour. The managers at Mkomazana are able to organise a tour with Sani Pass Tours. The trip will cost R790 per person and includes a quick tour to a nearby Basotho village at the top, and a lunch stopover at the Highest Pub in Africa. The tour takes most of the day; you leave at about 9am and are back at around 4pm.
There are also nearby hiking and walking trails to keep you busy and a few restaurants in nearby Himeville.
Three nights in Coffee Bay
Next up, join the N2 and start heading towards the Wild Coast. Here is where you can completely chill out and enjoy the laid-back beach vibes. Accommodation is basic. For a truly great experience, book a rondavel at Coffee Shack Backpackers.
While in Coffee Bay make sure to do the day hike to Hole in the Wall. It’s about an 11km hike one-way along the rolling hills along the coastline. The hike is fairly tough, with a total of about six hills to trek up and down. The green hills are scattered with the occasional colourful rondavel, there’s free-roaming cows along the beaches and the dramatic cliff drops are a special sight to see.
There are other hiking routes to explore in the area that have great surfing conditions.
Two nights in Hogsback
After completely relaxing on the Wild Coast, it’s time to join the fairies for a bit. Get back on the N2 and later the R63 for a six-hour drive to Hogsback. A favourite accommodation choice in this magical forest town is Away with the Fairies. It’s a backpackers but has two private chalets (book ahead to get these rooms). Hogsback is all about hiking through the forests, with highlights being the Big Tree, the Madonna and Child Falls, 39 Steps Falls and the Arboretum. Later, end your day with a quick “bath with a view” at Away with the Fairies, followed by a delicious pizza from their bar.
DID YOU KNOW that Hogsback is said to be the inspiration behind JRR Tolkien’s magical fantasy land in The Lord of the Rings?
One night in Jeffrey’s Bay
Finally, time to start heading towards the beautiful Garden Route. To break up the journey a bit, make a quick stop at Jeffrey’s Bay (a four-hour drive from Hogsback). It’s a relaxed coastal town, renowned as a surfing hotspot. You’ll also find several factory shops here, so stock up on some beach and swimming wear for the rest of the trip.
Book accommodation at one of the apartments along the Supertubes beach to get quick access for a sunrise surf, swim or beach walk.
Three nights in Plettenberg Bay
Plett is always an enjoyable stay along the Garden Route. It has beautiful beaches, top-class restaurants, boutique shopping, and some great accommodation options. The Robberg Nature Reserve is also the perfect spot to enjoy sundowners or perhaps a full day hike. It is centrally located to enjoy the other areas along the Garden Route, including Storms River, Bloukrans and Tsitsikamma National Park. The drive from Jeffrey’s Bay to Plettenberg Bay is about two-and-a-half hours.
Two nights in Knysna
Just a 30-minute drive from Plett is the quaint and classy town of Knysna. Knysna is another great stop for its restaurants and scenic views. Take a drive up to see the Knysna Heads, venture into the Knysna Forest, cruise along the estuary or stroll around The Waterfront Knysna Quays.
The Turbine Hotel and Spa is a great choice of accommodation, located on Thesen Island. It offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy life on the canals, including kayaking and sunset cruises.
One night in Graaf-Reinet
Sadly, it’s time to head back to Johannesburg. To break up the long drive, spend a night in Graaf-Reinet on the way back. It’s just a four-hour drive from Knysna, allowing you enough time to explore the area on the same day. The main reason for stopping here is to visit the beautiful Valley of Desolation. Spend the night at Roode Bloem Farmhouse, an old farmhouse 10km outside of Graaf-Reinet.
After a good night’s sleep head out early to start the eight-hour drive back to Johannesburg.
Read more from Bridget Langer
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