10 Best Places for Road Trips in South Africa

herd of giraffes crossing asphalt road


Are you ready for an exhilarating adventure through the vibrant landscapes of South Africa? A road trip is an excellent way to explore this diverse country, where breathtaking vistas, wildlife encounters, and cultural gems await at every turn. In this article, we’ll take you on a journey through the top 10 destinations for a remarkable road trip in South Africa. We’ll also provide valuable information about the International Driving Permit (IDP) requirements for driving in South Africa. So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready to discover the best of the Rainbow Nation!

1. Cape Town – The Mother City:

Kickstart your road trip from Cape Town, the picturesque coastal city nestled beneath the iconic Table Mountain. From here, you can explore the world-renowned Cape Winelands, witness the stunning Cape Point, and take a leisurely drive along the scenic Chapman’s Peak Drive.

2. Garden Route – Nature’s Paradise:

The Garden Route stretches along the southern coast, offering a captivating blend of lush forests, pristine beaches, and charming towns. Take a drive through the Tsitsikamma National Park, visit the enchanting town of Knysna, and witness the dramatic landscapes of the Outeniqua Pass.

3. Kruger National Park – Wildlife Wonderland:

For an unforgettable wildlife experience, head to the legendary Kruger National Park. Embark on thrilling game drives, spot the Big Five, and immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of the African savannah.

4. Drakensberg – Majestic Mountains:

Escape to the Drakensberg Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage site boasting awe-inspiring peaks, cascading waterfalls, and captivating hiking trails. The scenic drives through the Sani Pass and the Midlands Meander are not to be missed.

5. The Wild Coast – Untamed Beauty:

As its name suggests, the Wild Coast is a raw and untouched region filled with pristine beaches, rugged cliffs, and traditional Xhosa villages. Take the scenic route along the N2 and explore the stunning Hole in the Wall, Coffee Bay, and the majestic Mkhambathi Nature Reserve.

6. Route 62 – South Africa’s Answer to Route 66:

Buckle up for an unforgettable journey along Route 62, often referred to as South Africa’s Route 66. This meandering road takes you through charming towns, award-winning wineries, and breathtaking landscapes, including the famous Cango Caves.

7. Blyde River Canyon – Nature’s Masterpiece:

Prepare to be awestruck by the sheer beauty of the Blyde River Canyon, one of the largest canyons in the world. Drive along the Panorama Route, marvel at iconic viewpoints such as God’s Window and Bourke’s Luck Potholes, and discover hidden waterfalls.

8. Addo Elephant National Park – Pachyderm Paradise:

Venture to the Addo Elephant National Park, home to a staggering population of elephants and an array of other wildlife. Enjoy self-drive safaris, witness the gentle giants in their natural habitat, and experience the magic of the African bush.

9. West Coast – A Coastal Gem:

Indulge in the tranquility of the West Coast, where azure waters, pristine beaches, and charming fishing villages await. Take a drive along the stunning Atlantic coastline, witness the colorful wildflowers during spring, and enjoy fresh seafood delights.

10. Drakensberg Gardens – Highland Haven:

Conclude your road trip in the breathtaking Drakensberg Gardens, a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Immerse yourself in the magnificent landscapes, hike to the iconic Tugela Falls, and unwind in the serenity of this majestic mountain retreat.

International Driving Permit (IDP) Requirements in South Africa:

If you plan to drive in South Africa, it’s essential to have a valid International Driving Permit (IDP). This document, along with your national driver’s license, allows you to legally drive in the country. To obtain an IDP, you must visit your local licensing authority or automobile association in your home country. The IDP is usually issued on the spot and is valid for one year. Remember to carry both your national driver’s license and IDP with you at all times while driving in South Africa.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Do I need an International Driving Permit for South Africa?

Yes, if you plan to drive in South Africa, it is recommended to have an International Driving Permit (IDP) along with your national driver’s license. While your national license may be accepted, having an IDP provides an additional level of assurance and simplifies the process if you encounter any authorities or rental agencies that require it.

2. How can I obtain an International Driving Permit for South Africa?

To obtain an International Driving Permit for South Africa, you need to visit your local licensing authority or automobile association in your home country. The process typically involves filling out an application form, providing two passport-sized photographs, and paying the required fee. The IDP is usually issued on the spot and is valid for one year.

3. What is the validity of an International Driving Permit in South Africa?

The International Driving Permit (IDP) is valid for one year from the date of issue. After this period, you will need to renew your IDP to continue driving legally in South Africa.

4. Can I use my national driver’s license in South Africa?

Yes, you can use your national driver’s license in South Africa. However, it is strongly recommended to carry an International Driving Permit (IDP) as well. Some car rental agencies and authorities may require an IDP, especially if your license is not in English. Having an IDP ensures better communication and avoids potential complications.

5. What are the requirements for renting a car in South Africa?

The specific requirements for renting a car in South Africa may vary among rental agencies, but generally, you will need to meet the following criteria:

  • A valid driver’s license (an IDP is recommended)
  • Minimum age of 18 or 21 years, depending on the rental agency
  • A valid passport or identification document
  • A credit card for the rental deposit
    • Some rental agencies may have additional requirements, so it’s advisable to check with your chosen rental company beforehand.

6. Are there any age restrictions for driving in South Africa?

Yes, there are age restrictions for driving in South Africa. The minimum age to legally drive a car is 18 years old. However, rental agencies often require drivers to be at least 21 or 23 years old, depending on the company and the type of vehicle being rented. Additionally, young drivers under a certain age (typically under 25) may be subject to additional fees or restrictions.

7. Which side of the road do they drive on in South Africa?

In South Africa, vehicles drive on the left-hand side of the road. The steering wheel is on the right side of the car. It’s important to familiarize yourself with this if you’re not accustomed to left-hand driving.

8. What are some essential road safety tips for driving in South Africa?

When driving in South Africa, it’s crucial to prioritize road safety. Here are some essential tips:

  • Observe and adhere to speed limits and road signs.
  • Always wear your seatbelt and ensure all passengers do the same.
  • Avoid driving long distances at night, as visibility may be poor and there is an increased risk of encountering wildlife.
  • Be cautious when driving in rural areas, as animals, pedestrians, and slow-moving vehicles may share the road.
  • Keep a safe distance from other vehicles and be mindful of unpredictable driving behaviors.
  • Avoid using your cell phone while driving and never drink and drive.
  • Plan your routes in advance, especially when traveling to remote areas, and inform someone of your itinerary.

9. Are there any toll roads in South Africa?

Yes, South Africa has a network of toll roads. These toll roads are generally well-maintained and provide efficient routes between major cities and tourist destinations. You will need to pay toll fees at designated toll plazas, either in cash or using an electronic toll collection system such as e-tags or electronic tolling accounts.

10. What are the best months for a road trip in South Africa?

The best months for a road trip in South Africa are generally during the spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) seasons. The weather during these periods is pleasant, with mild temperatures and lower chances of rain. However, it’s important to note that South Africa’s climate and landscapes vary across different regions, so it’s advisable to research the specific areas you plan to visit and consider their weather patterns before finalizing your travel plans.


Embarking on a road trip through South Africa is a mesmerizing journey of exploration and adventure. From the vibrant cityscapes of Cape Town to the untamed beauty of the Wild Coast and the wildlife wonders of Kruger National Park, this diverse country offers an abundance of unforgettable experiences. With the freedom of the open road, you can uncover hidden gems, connect with nature, and immerse yourself in the rich cultural tapestry of the Rainbow Nation. So, grab your keys, plan your itinerary, and get ready to embark on an extraordinary road trip adventure through South Africa!

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