One of the best ways to discover the hidden gems of South Africa is to plan a road trip.

We’ve covered everything that you need to know in our South Africa road trip planner.

South Africa Road Trip Planner

There are a few things you should know when planning your trip, but here are the essentials for your South Africa road trip planner.

1. Where are you going?

You may have the technological advantage of a NavGat directing you on Maps but before it can tell you where to go, you need to tell it where you want to be.

Destination is the obvious first question you should be asking yourself when planning a South African road trip. It sets the tone for vehicle choice, selected companions, amount of needed leave (this is a roadtrip, not a runaway) and it’s what will get you excited.

South Africa is abundant in adventure with different climates, oceans, terrain and wildlife to accommodate any possible preference you may have.

You know what the big cities are like, they’re pretty much the same in every province, some slightly bigger than others but generally universal. If you want to go on a real adventure, go all “Dora the Explorer” in South Africa, you need to find the little towns.

There some incredibly scenic drives for a road trip in South Africa.

The Western Cape has Oudtshoorn, Tulbagh, Paternoster and Knysna hiding inland and along the coast.

Travel into the Eastern Cape and discover Jeffreys Bay, Nieu Bethesda and the magical village of Hogsback.

In KwaZulu-Natal, there is the beautiful beach and Natural World Heritage Site of St Lucia and further north in Mpumalanga you can drive along the Panorama Route and stop at Pilgrim’s Rest.

There really are many small towns in South Africa with so much to offer. Clarens in Free StateRichmond in Northern Cape and Bela-Bela in Limpopo, they’re all waiting to welcome you.

Read more about our ultimate South African road from Johannesburg to Cape Town, via the Garden Route.

What a friend we have with the internet! Research and find where you want to go, what roads you will be taking to get there and start red-pinning all the towns you want to stop in along the way.

Cape Town road trip, Hout Bay
Cape Town road trip, Hout Bay

2. Which wheels will be best for your South Africa road trip?

Next up for the South Africa road trip planner. Seeing as it is a roadtrip, you will be needing a roadworthy vehicle to get you there. Size, mileage and extra features are key characteristics to approve before signing off on buying or renting your roadtrip vehicle.

The number of people you are taking with you will determine the size of the vehicle you need. If it is just you, there is a variety of small cars that can suit your travel needs. If it is the whole family, dog included, you may want to consider something along the lines of an RV for more seating and storage space.

To get the most out of your bucks, take into consideration the mileage of the car you choose. You won’t look good speeding down a long open highway in your Mustang GT, only to have to pull off to the side, in the middle of nowhere, because you ran out of gas after just filling up. Find a car where you can get the most out of your tank and extend the course of your trip.

Regarding the extra features of your roadtrip vehicle, consider Bluetooth, decent sound speakers, air-conditioning, cruise control and maybe even a 4X4 wheel drive setting if your destination includes some unpaved, possibly unexplored, paths.

Make sure you’re clued up on financing a recreational vehicle, car insurance plans when renting and every aspect involved in the admin of securing your wheels. This shouldn’t hold you back from seeking adventure.

South Africa road trip planner
South Africa road trip planner

3. What are you waiting for?

Exploring South Africa is not something you should keep to yourself but you must also be sure to bring the right kind of people with you. Family is normally a safe bet, but if your friends are on your case about “getting out there”, tell them to pack their bags and prepare for your definition of “out there”.

What is a roadtrip without the all-time best roadtrip songs? Music is essential for every part of a roadtrip. Sing-alongs are a great way to pass the time and the classics are what keep the driver sane while the rest of the passengers snore away.

Got your people? Got your playlist?

Seatbelts buckled and off you go.

Related Read: The Ultimate Collection of Road Trip Tips


  • Melvin

    Melvin is the founder and CEO of Travel Dudes, co-founder of the Social Travel Summit and the former COO of iambassador.

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