Julie Kynaston, the founder of Heart Mama Blog, takes us on a cross-country journey, Here are her top tips for the best road trips in South Africa.
The summer holidays are around the corner and there is no better time to embark on different road trips in South Africa. While the prospect of travelling with kids can be daunting (cue “Are we there yet?” on repeat). The trip itself, let alone the destination, is a treasure trove of memory-making opportunities for you and your family.
Your kids won’t remember the shiny new toy they got for their birthday, but the memories you make of adventuring together will stick with them throughout their lives. So, we say, go for it!
Whether it’s a day trip or an epic cross-country journey, here are some tried and tested road trip gems around SA (including top tips on those must-have snacks!).
1. Midlands Meander
The Midlands Meander is a collection of tourist routes in KwaZulu-Natal offering arts and crafts, fine cuisine and family experiences. This is a perfect day trip outing, but you’re also spoilt for choice with stunning accommodation options if you have time to stay longer. Enjoy the Midlands all year round – visit in spring to see the wildflowers, in summer to see the baby farm animals, or plan a winter trip to play in the snow!
Top attractions: Feed the goats at Swissland Cheese or visit Karkloof Canopy Tours for a zipline thrill.
2. Sani Pass
This day trip is recommended for adventurous families with self-drive or who like guided tour options. The Sani Pass lies between South Africa and Lesotho and is high-altitude stuff, so be prepared for icy weather at the summit all year round. If you’re up for the challenge, the reward is an incredible drive through some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in South Africa. The route is from the Underberg, KwaZulu-Natal and the entire Sani Pass is on South African soil.
Main attraction: An 8km 4×4 route to the summit at 2837m and find the highest pub in Africa.
3. Golden Gate
Golden Gate Highlands National Park is secretly tucked away in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains in the Free State and is surrounded by breathtaking scenery of wildlife and lush vegetation. The vast sandstone formations shine golden-yellow in the evening sun, giving the area its name. It’s truly spectacular. Accommodation options range from rest camps, guest houses or Golden Gate Hotel accommodation – something for everyone.
Top attractions: Visit the Living Museum, known as the Basotho Cultural Village, situated in the park and enjoy a guided walk to the Cathedral Cave.
WESTERN AND EASTERN CAPE
4. Cape Route 62
A tourist route that stretches across the Western and Eastern Cape of South Africa. Hop in your car to travel from Cape Town to Gqeberha (or vice versa) and enjoy the scenery and directness of the route while driving. Cape Route 62 lends itself so well to self-drive holidays because of the excellent road conditions and easily accessible accommodation. Attractions include wineries and game reserves, tribal art, cultural tours and museums. If you are more adventurous there are hiking trails and mountain climbing, 4×4 routes, canoeing, horse riding, even ostrich riding, fishing and caving.
Top attractions: Pop into the Ostrich Farm just fifteen kilometres outside the Karoo town of Oudtshoorn and check out the stalagmites in the Cango Caves.
5. Garden Route
The 200km stretch of coast connecting Mossel Bay to the Storms River Mouth is commonly referred to as the Garden Route. Think pristine beaches, lagoons, indigenous forests interspersed with picturesque little towns, and an ocean-hugging highway. You can’t go wrong with a road trip along the Garden Route. Drive it in a day or stop and spend a night or two at Mossel Bay, Knysna, Oudtshoorn, Plettenberg Bay, Nature’s Valley or George.
Top attractions: Book a stay and game drive at Garden Route Game Lodge. Make sure to visit East Head Café in Knysna for a meal on their deck overlooking the sea.
Top Travel Tips for Road Trips in South Africa
Snack Ideas for kids over 6
Travelling is hungry work, and you’ll be grateful you packed snacks ahead of time – they’re cheaper than farm stall snacks and can help break the trip up for the kids.
- Pack healthy snacks into separate snack boxes for the kids and release them slowly.
- Create a fun, new game with Amajoya candy and have a competition to see who can suck their sweet for the longest!
- Don’t forget the driver! Stash some Amajoya candy in the cubbyhole to keep them going.
Inspire the Imagination
Take screens as back up but remember that boredom is the gateway to the imagination, so keep it simple with audiobooks and family card games like I Spy, 20 Questions and the License Plate Game. You can also make a scavenger hunt list for the kids to complete during the trip. Why not reward them with an Amajoya toffee when they’ve spotted everything on the scavenger hunt list?
Drive While the Kids Sleep
Try travelling super early in the morning, later at night, or overnight, when the kids are more likely to sleep through some of the drive.
Take Plenty of Breaks
Make sure to take breaks along the way so the kids can get out and stretch their legs. It will also give them a chance to use the bathroom. Be sure to plan your stops ahead of time – choose petrol stations with a jungle gym or space to run around.
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