South African Road Trip
A South African road adventure that exceeded our expectations
Arriving in South Africa for the first time was somewhat different from our expectations because we had conjured this “Africa” movie image in our heads that placed wildlife running freely everywhere. We had a huge giggle to ourselves and felt a bit silly as we arrived in this huge city called Johannesburg, and yet we were still blown away!
We collected our car and headed out into the Metropolitan jungle of Johannesburg, with highways and byways that connected to many routes. But our Google Maps navigator took us exactly where we needed to be and just like that our road trip had begun!
At night in Johannesburg, quickly acclimatized, and had our introduction into the country with a real spoil at Chief’s Boma Restaurant – a traditional dinner with live entertainment. This really whet our appetites for more!
The next day we meandered along the Panoramic Route from Johannesburg to Kruger National Park. We took in some amazing sites and even did the gorge lift where the views were breathtaking. We spent the night in White River because we didn’t want to rush the trip and made sure we took in everything along the way. After breakfast the next day, we did a lovely drive through the little towns as we made our way to Kruger National Park, where we booked to stay at a private game lodge for our three-night safari experience. What was so great about going with this option is that we had all our meals and 2 open vehicle game drives included - with a professional ranger guide. We didn’t want to leave!
Before you could blink, we were on the road again, making our way through to Swaziland/Eswatini (a new stamp in our passport). We visited the glass factory, and the candle factory and watched some traditional Swazi dancing. Not wanting to rush this experience, we stayed the night in this little country before making our way to South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal. This time we switched it up and headed to the beach for two nights! We drove to a little town, parked our car, were collected by the lodge, and headed to a special place where we had the most amazing snorkeling experience in the world. We swam in open waters with wild dolphins and sharks. It was the best experience ever!
By this time, we had fallen in love with South Africa. It was time to be on the road again. This time, we wanted to go back to the bush for the last touch with Africa’s Big Five. We made our way down towards Hluhluwe for a 2-night safari adventure in Zululand. Not only did we learn about the animals, but our guide also kept us enthralled with stories of his Zulu culture. We left the lodge feeling like family.
En route to King Shaka International Airport, we stopped at St Lucia on the Isimangaliso Wetlands Park for a two-hour boat cruise on the Estuary, learning about this World Heritage Site. We returned the car and were on a two-hour flight from Durban to Cape Town.
Cape Town, fondly known as South Africa’s Mother City, was like being in a different country altogether. We were surrounded by breathtaking mountains and buildings that were steeped in history. We spent two days driving around the city, visiting Table Mountain and of course, the famous Peninsular, making sure we didn’t miss anything. We soon found ourselves driving in the Western Cape Winelands, where we spent our last three nights exploring and driving along jaw-dropping passes, experiencing the most breathtaking views. We stayed in Wellington and Barrydale, spending our last night in Hermanus, known as the land-based whale capital of the world.
This trip was certainly THE best experience of our lifetime... we will be back doing a different route!
SOME NOTES FROM THE TRAVEL DESK:
- South Africa drives on the right side of the road
- A valid license is required
- You can swap places to stay over, depending on the amount of time you have to explore more!
- Recommended time of year: June - November for the whales
- Compassline Africa Tours terms and conditions apply