The Best Rated Country Routes in South Africa
Like a meandering river, slowly majestically winding its way in a round about route to its final destination. Every drop not knowing where it’s going until it arrives and after arrival there is every trace of its journey mingled into every atom.
This is what happens when you go on those glorious and relaxing country drives whether it is with a picnic or just stopping in route there is nothing better than soaking up all that the country side has to offer.
When country side is mentioned, the image that comes to mind is of beautiful emerald green hills and soft cloudy days. This is a fantasy the country side is alive and vibrant with textures and hews that dazzle the eyes, diversity that’s as unique as an abstract oil painting and beauty that takes your breath away.
In this article I’ll include some of the more interesting drives in each of the provinces in #South Africa with a slight overview of what each drive entails.
The Magaliesberg Circular is a 200km circular route which encompasses the Witwatersrand botanical garden, Krugersdorp, Krugersdorp Game Reserve, The Sterkfontein caves, Rhino Park, hekpoort valley and the Magaliesberg and Hartebeespoort Dam.
The Crocodile ramble route which includes Croc City crocodile farm.
Soutpansberg birding route, for all those birding enthusiast and nature lovers. The route includes Eastern Limpopo River valley, Eastern Soutpansberg, Kruger national park, North Western Flats, North Eastern Venda and the South Western Flats.
Ribbola Open Africa Route, for lovers of #African curious such as arts and crafts.
Rixile Open Africa Route, a slow meandering route with mind blowing scenery and unbelievable cultural experiences.
Zoutpansberg skirmishes route, a definite must for those who adore history. Follow the last days of the Anglo-Boer war in the Zoutpansberg.
Cosmos country route, although this area is one of the biggest mining areas in South Africa, it suddenly bursts with pink and white when the cosmos flowers open in late summer. Some points of interest are that it is home to the big five and is the only area in the world that makes petrol out of coal.
The wild frontier route boasting discoveries of some of the oldest life on earth. The area in which the route takes place is also known as the cradle of life and home to the historic towns of Barberton, Badplaas, Komatipoort and Kaapmuiden. The Mkonja Mountain range is considered of the oldest in the world with its immense and imposing beauty.
The Panorama is a route of what can only be said, eye candy. Its beautiful backdrops and natural scenery draws tourists by the hoards and is generally just one of the most amazing places to visit. It is home to places like Gods window and the world’s third biggest green canyon, Bourke’s luck potholes which are formed by the meandering river, and lastly of the 3 rondawels.
Lowveld Legogote is a route where you can find the oldest dolomite caves, Sudwala Caves, in the world, a botanical garden that boasts an African rain forest and what is considered as some of the oldest living plants species in the world, the cycads.
Highlands Meander boasts some of the sub continents rarest bird species, rock climbing, extravagant wild flowers and the fly fishing Mecca of South Africa. This route is definitely meant for those who have a great love of nature.
The cultural Heartland route is one of those routes where you can immerse yourself in the culture of the area, the Ndebele, and experience life in the Homesteads of the people. Within the route you can also learn more about the Boer war and enjoy some of the best that nature has to offer.
The grass and wetlands route, a bird watchers paradise, historian’s playground and nature lover’s escapade. This route boasts the largest freshwater lake in South Africa, with a frog watching festival in summer and a star gazing festival in winter. You can also witness a reenactment of the Boer war annually.
Apart from beautiful coastlines and vibrant city life the Kwazulu Natal countryside is exquisitely beautiful.
The midlands meander is an arts and crafts route that was started in 1985. The main aim of the route is to bring people inland for a bit and to show the master craftsman at their best. Apart from arts and crafts you can also experience incredible lush scenery, beautiful towns and even a Botanical Garden in Pietermaritzburg.
The battlefields route boasts the largest concentration of battlefields in South Africa and goes out of its way to show visitors how South Africa was shaped and how South Africa also rocked Europe to its core. But apart from battlefields you can enjoy a wonderful sub tropical climate, beautiful scenery and wildlife galore.
The KZN Zululand route gives visitors a unique view of the life, culture and history of the Zulu People and shows how from a minor tribe of the Eastern Nguni people it became a powerhouse to be reckoned with.
The Free State:
Although this area has no formal routes it has some incredible scenery and a lot to see. The scenery changes from open grass lands to exquisitely weathered Sandstone hills. It is abound with surprising picturesque valleys and has some definite highlights such as the Golden gate national park, Harrismith, Ficksburg (cherry capital of the country), Clocolan (the centre of SA’s asparagus production), and Fouriesberg (with stunning scenery and beautiful game and national parks).
Although with out formal routes this is a land of bountiful splendor with loads of entertainment. Here you can visit places like Lichtenberg, which was the scene of the last truly great diamond rush. The gold mining town of Klerksdorp. Pochefstroom with its incredible university and learning centers. If you want to take in a bit of fun and entertainment then why not visit Sun City and the Pielansberg national park where the most successful game stocking ventures, coined operation genesis, in South Africa took place. Sun City has everything from Casino’s, game rides, crocodile farm, golf course (where incidentally the Nedbank Million Dollar takes place) and hotels to beautiful scenery and exquisite luxury. The North West is also an agricultural hub with rolling maize and grain fields and much more produce to be found.
Northern Cape Routes:
Augrabies route is a sub-Saharan route with all the splendor of a dessert. Witness how animals survive extreme temperature fluctuations from up to 45 degrees Celsius in summer to below zero temperatures at nigh in winter and sometimes in summer to.
Kalahari Red dunes routes, for nature lovers. Witness the game, bird life and other wildlife while traveling over the rust red dunes of the Kalahari.
Kamiesberg Route is where you can find some incredible rock formations, fascinating plant life and all the wildlife you’d ever want to see. Hire a vehicle with air conditioning as temperatures can get stifling.
Richtersfeld route, ever wanted to see the moon? Well this route come close to it with its desert and rocky mountainous landscape.
Cape Karoo route, if you’re looking for great contrasts and incredible beauty then this is it. The route takes you through famous towns such as Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, mountainous scenery with contrasts of lush Winelands and semi arid desert.
There are also many routes in and around Cape Town. From the North, South, East, West and central routes to further ranging routes such as the Winelands route and whale route with each route offering its own special bit of scenery, history and beauty.
The Cape Garden Route is a beautiful route that is approximately 800km’s long. It boasts a landscape of forests, mountains, water and fynbos, hence its name. The best part of the trip is that the route is largely untouched by industry so the natural wonder is immense. The trip will normally take about 4 days but you can make it as long or as short as you want to.
The Cape Town route 62 is characterized by open area and mountainous scenery. It is an inland route that stretches about 600km’s and is filled with diversity and beauty. It is also known as the world’s longest wine route going through most of the central wine growing areas such as Paarl, Tulbach, Wellington and many more.
The Cape West Coast route. Do you enjoy your fresh seafood, beautiful flowers and much more then the West coast route is perfect for you. Although these 2 items aren’t the only pleasures you’ll find most Cape Town Locals will name them as the biggest attraction of the West coast route. The route stretches for about 600km’s and usually takes about 5 days to complete.
The Cape Whale route is a route of dramatics where you will find or hear about things like the ghost ship the Flying Dutchman which is forever doomed to try and round the Cape bend. You will also see things like the wreck of the Birkenhead where the nautical tradition of woman and children first began. Considered to be South Africa’s most scenic and interesting drive, the route stretches for about 400km’s and will take you about 2 days to complete.
Tsitsikama Falls Adventure Park, this is a route which leads you back into the garden route and is home to the highest commercial bungee jump in the world (standing at 216m), the highest narrow gauge bridge in the world, South Africa’s first natural marine park and South Africa’s first tree top canopy tour. Tractor rides and horse trails will astonish you with tours into the heart of the forest.
The Kouga Route, here you can drive along routes with pastoral scenery, beautiful seashell beaches and natural wilderness with national and game parks. The route goes past Jeffrey’s bay which holds the annual Gunston 500 (also known as the Mr Price surf classic), St Francis and nearby Cape St Francis where you will witness things such as whale watching surfing and angling. Along the route you can also see rock art or the place where Khoi San Sarah Baartman has been reburied. The story of Sarah Baartman is that in the 1800’s she was deported to Europe where she was put on as a living specimen of native Southern Africa. People were intrigued by the big bottoms and coloring of the people. After her death she was preserved and housed in France and eventually after years of negotiating she was bought back to South Africa and given a traditional burial.
Sundays River Valley route, from beautiful Citrus farms to an elephant park. This route will show you everything from white dunes, lakes and thorny bushveld. The biggest attraction being the Addo Elephant Park which incorporates a 120000ha marine reserve. It is the first park that introduces the big 7 which are lion, buffalo, rhino, elephant, leopard, Southern right whale and Great white sharks.
The Sunshine coast route is found within 45km’s of the city centre of Port Elizabeth. It has a lot to offer, nature reserves with forests and cape fynbos regions, exquisite beaches, picnic areas, place where you can safely swim, dolphin and whale sightings and rock pools. You can also visit the popular Sacramento Shipwreck which occurred in 1647 at Schoenies.
The frontier Country route. A distinct feature of this trail is that it has arid farms that have been saved and turned into big 5 game reserves. The history of the area is incredible as it is the place where the British fought their longest and most expensive frontier wars. You can visit many towns along the route such as Grahamstown which is known as the city of saints because of the occurrence of its numerous churches.
Karoo heartland route. Sometimes referred to as God’s own Cathedral the heart of Karoo boasts open arid plains with vast dolomite spires that’s shadow barely touches sides. A place where 9000 different plant species have adapted to living in the harshest conditions and the only other distiller of tequila outside of Mexico can be found here. Here the spirit is called Algave spirit.
The Friendly N6 route which is set of the beaten track is ideal for outdoor activities. Activities on offer are fly fishing in cold trout streams, hiking on beautiful mountain trails, skiing at the only ski resort in Southern Africa, viewing San rock art and reviving in natural hot springs. Guest farms also boast beautiful conical hills, white rhino, horse riding, hiking and much more.
Amathole Mountain escape. For the adventurous souls or for those just seeking peace and solitude then this is perfect for you. You have abseiling, mountain bike riding, hiking, fly fishing and much more. The setting will take your breath away with majestic, forested mountain slopes and that fresh air that tucks you in at night.
The Wild Coast route is one for the ancestors. Here you can really get back to your routes with untouched and undeveloped lands and a host of activities. Activities include but are not restricted to hiking, horse trails, cliff jumping, salt water fly fishing, canoeing, water sports such as surfing, scuba diving and all the good things in life. For those interested in history then come and see where Nelson Mandela lived most of his free life and find out more about this great visionary leader at the Nelson Mandela museum.
For all these routes you will need different car type requirements please don’t hesitate to contact us at www.southafrica-carhire.com for a no obligation quote on a car to suite your needs for the time you’re here.
By Author: Justin Pretorius