Cape Town or Johannesburg, Kruger National Park, or the Garden Route? South Africa is a vast and wonderfully diverse country. Embarking on a road trip is the optimal way to uncover its many facets. Here, we present ten must-see highlights that should not be missed on a journey through South Africa.


Cape Town

Cape Town stands as the top destination for visitors in South Africa, and rightfully so. Nestled in the southwest of the continent, this coastal metropolis offers a unique atmosphere that beckons European and mainly German tourists, especially during the Central European winter. Relax in the shadow of the dramatic Table Mountain on one of Cape Town's many beaches, and savor the vibrant, laid-back atmosphere of the city. Interestingly, Cape Town is one of South Africa's three official capitals, and many travelers use it as a starting point for their South African road trip.


Kruger National Park

For many travelers, a journey through South Africa is incomplete without a visit to Kruger National Park. This colossal wildlife sanctuary, located in the far northeast, allows you to witness the "Big Five": Elephant, Rhino, Lion, Buffalo, and Leopard. Stretching approximately 350 kilometers from east to west, the park warrants multiple nights for a thorough exploration.


Garden Route

One of the reasons road trips through South Africa are immensely popular is the enchanting Garden Route. Alongside California's Pacific Coast Highway, it stands as one of the world's most renowned coastal routes. This picturesque journey spans approximately 300 kilometers along the southern tip of the African continent, from Port Elizabeth in the east to Hermanus in the west (a popular whale-watching spot). Travelers encounter several national parks and idyllic beach towns like Mossel Bay.



Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa by far. Despite its size, the metropolis often resides in the shadow of Cape Town. While it may not compete in picturesque scenery, Johannesburg offers a tangible connection to the country's tumultuous past, spanning the colonial era, apartheid, and the fight for freedom. Additionally, Johannesburg serves as the ideal flight destination for Kruger National Park. Northwest of the metropolis lies the Sterkfontein Caves, considered a cradle of humanity since the discovery of early hominid bones.


Swaziland (Eswatini)

Formerly known as Swaziland, Eswatini is a tiny landlocked state in South Africa. A popular stop on South African road trips, this small nation south of Kruger National Park underwent a name change in 2018, reverting to its original name in celebration of the 50th anniversary of independence from Britain.


Hluhluwe Game Reserve

For travelers who find Kruger National Park too crowded or wish to explore other nature reserves, the Hluhluwe Game Reserve comes highly recommended. Established in 1895, it is one of South Africa's oldest wildlife reserves, renowned for its rhinoceros population, offering the chance to observe the "Big Five."


Drakensberg Mountains

Whether expansive plains or dramatic rock formations, South Africa's landscape captivates visitors worldwide. A must-stop on any road trip is often the Drakensberg Mountains in the east of the country. As the highest mountain range in South Africa, rising up to approximately 3,500 meters, the emerald-green "Dragon Mountains" are known to the Zulus as the "Wall of Spears." Part of this mountain range is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.


Route 62

The famous Garden Route has an equally charming sister, Route 62, running parallel to the coastal road through the country's interior. Travelers pass through picturesque towns and the semi-desert Karoo, which covers nearly a third of South Africa's land area. Those who stay overnight are rewarded with a breathtaking night sky. Route 62 also traverses wine regions and passes by ostrich farms.


iSimangaliso Wetland Park

While many national parks in South Africa showcase open savannah landscapes, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park provides insight into the flora and fauna of South Africa's wetlands and coastal areas. Stretching along the east coast of KwaZulu-Natal province, this area by the Indian Ocean has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1999. At its center lies Lake St. Lucia, South Africa's largest estuarine lake, where visitors can observe zebras, buffalos, hippos, as well as turtles and dolphins.


The Winelands

South Africa also lures many wine enthusiasts. Besides the vineyards along the Garden Route, the Winelands, east of Cape Town, sprawl across the hills around the town of Stellenbosch, founded in 1679 by French Huguenots. Stellenbosch is the second oldest European-founded settlement in South Africa after Cape Town. Renowned for excellent wines, the Winelands are equally famous for good food, cozy guesthouses, and hot thermal springs.


As you conclude this virtual tour through the diverse landscapes and vibrant cities of South Africa, envision the possibilities that await you on your own road trip adventure. From the majestic Table Mountain in Cape Town to the untamed beauty of Kruger National Park and the enchanting Garden Route, South Africa invites you to explore its rich tapestry. Whether you seek the thrill of wildlife encounters, cultural immersion, or simply the joy of the open road, South Africa's allure is boundless. So, pack your bags and set forth on a road trip of a lifetime, where each turn reveals a new chapter in this captivating tale.

Comments (0)
No login
Login or register to post your comment