At the end of our first year in Joburg we headed to the Transkei for Christmas. It was the longest road trip we had ever done. We drove the route over 2 long days which looking back will be one of the most memorable trips we have taken for good and bad reasons. Good: Beautiful scenery and the sense of adventure in the new routes undertaken. Bad: locking the keys and the dogs in the car, a burst oil pipe and driving through the largest thunder storm over Van Buren pass (at night) in years. What a journey, loved (in hindsight) every minute.
After we finally arrived we met our lovely neighbours. They were a South Africa family that have been coming to the same spot for generations, and they all had driven down in one go, it was clear that South Africans know all about road trips!! Our Zimbabwean friends make our road trips look tame, and border crossing are for a whole new post!. We are learning, and now Road Trips are something we have come to love and don’t think twice about jumping in the car for a weekend away to Durban (5/6yrs) or out to Madikwe (4/5yrs).
But this year we are driving 16 hours down to Cape Town with twin boys (2yrs) and our girl (4yrs) and ridgeback dog, which is going to take some preparation.
So here is my research to date, which covers - route selection, places to stay and other tips for making it the best road trip ever!!
I would love to hear your favourite places to visit on route (whether for coffee or stop over, as well as any tips or advice) in the comment section at the bottom of the post.
Johannesburg to Cape Town some 1400 km on the N1 - put it into your sat nav and it will say continue on this road for 1,401 kilometres.......
Option 1: N1
- Leave Joburg on M2
- Take M1 N to Christian Barnard St/M60
- Take N1 exit to Cape Town
- Pass through Bloemfontein
- Beaufort West
- In to Cape Town via the Wine Lands
Route 2: 1519km
Not much more than standard 1400km on N1, route taken from Traveller 24
- Joburg - Kimberley
- Kimberly N12 to N1 at Three Sisters
- Continue N1 through Beautfort west
- N12 - Outdshoorn
- Outdshoorn to George
- George - N2 - Cape Town
Route 3: The Ultimate Road Trip of South Africa
Around 2,500Km Route supplied by South Africa To
Leave Joburg N3 - Vaal River
- Head onto R26 towards Bethlehem
- Clarens - R712 - R711 towards Ficksburg
- Fouriesburg change from R711 onto R26 (again)
- At Ficksburg you will enter Lesotho
- Lesotho visit Maseru
- Head back into SA back on R26
- Rouxville - N6
- Then head onto R58 crossing the Orange River
- R56 towards Middelburg
- N9 South to Graaff Reinet
- N12 to Oudtshoorn
- George - Mossel Bay
- N2 Heidelberg (start Garden Route)
- Cape Town
Going to Eastern Cape - Portfolio collection
Not heading to Cape Town but Plet or Port Elizabeth - Click here for Back Road Route, highlighting some wonderful stop overs and places to eat along the way.
Where to Stop
N1 route: Day 1
1. Windmill casino in Bloemfontein (the Spur) has a good play area for the kids and off the road so the dogs can run around a bit.
3. Service Stations / Petrol Stations - usually have a Steers which is good for quick stop
- Beaufort West (small town in Cape Karoo) - 930Km from Joburg and 460Km to Cape Town, so majority of your drive will be done on day 1
If this is too far to drive in one day - you can stop off in Colesberg at Kuilfontein Stable Cottages
or half way at the Bloemhof
Take the additional day to head to Graaf Reinet and Camdeboo National Park, fellow blogger 2summers has a great write up of this beautiful stop over. READ IT HERE
Or slight D Tour to Gariep Dam - DeStijl Hotel
Day 2 stops: standard N1 route:
1. Matjiesfontein - very cute little town. Nice to grab lunch at the coffee shop, dogs can sit out back with you. Nice to walk around the town as well.
Kimberly Route 2:
Stay at Country Club Kimberly
There are also lots of little Farm Stalls on route, selling uniquely South African items such as Rose Geranium Cordial, Lamb and mint Pies, Fig Jam and Biltong. Check out Food Jams post by Jade de Waal
• Leave early to avoid queues at the tolls
• Have a map and backups to your GPS
• Take enough small change / cash for the tolls (don’t accept foreign credit cards, and only some accept south african credit cards)
• The big petrol stations have grassy areas for the dogs so make great pit stops.
• Stick to Speed Limit (usually - 120km/h major routes / 100km/h secondary roads, and 60km/h in towns)
• Pull over into hard shoulder (yellow line) to let cars pass and then thank other drivers by flashing your hazard lights.
• Make sure you have your drivers licence on you and certified photocopies of your passports (or actual passports)
• Don’t leave your bag or valuables in the car when stopping at service station and double check manually your car is locked as car jammers (systems that block your automatic central locking) operate over the holiday season.
• Avoid traveling in the dark (the conditions of the roads aren’t always great, and often deserted).
Emergency Numbers to have in your phone:
• ER24 paramedics: 084 124
• Police/Fire Department: 10111
• Ambulance: 10117
• Arrive Alive Call Centre: 0861 400 800
• Netcare Emergency: 082 911
Also your insurance details, who to call in emergency and break down.
Please note - most of this article is advice I have collected over the years, I personally haven’t driven the route (my husband and father stayed at Kuilfontein Stable Cottages and loved it - but the other suggestions are all word of mouth)