outh Africa is a country of incredible natural beauty and perfect paradises that are just waiting to be discovered. The diverse country, which is the size of France and Spain combined (and about twice the size of Texas!) isn’t usually on the top of the tourism list, but it should be–and here’s why.
From the picture-perfect Garden Route towns and the subtropical coast of KwaZulu, to the bustling modern city of Cape Town and the rich outdoor landscape of the Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa offers a variety of sites and destinations that are a must-see for every nature-loving traveler and culture vulture alike.
The country has an excellent infrastructure, which makes it easy and ideal for traveling independently, especially if you are planning to reserve a rental car in Cape Town to see the country. Excellent roads and great hotel accommodations exist across the country, which means you don’t have to worry about where to stay when visiting some of South Africa’s more remote tourist spots.
Explore these top attractions in South Africa for your next road trip adventure:
Cape Town is a great city for nature-lovers and summer-sunners alike. Not your typical urban landscape, Cape Town has beaches, mountains, harbors and plenty of gardens to chill out in. One of the city’s greatest assets is the impressive view, and if you aren’t keen to hike in the summer heat to the mountain top then you can take the city’s cable car to the top of Table Mountain and get the same view of the beautiful beaches of Cape Town. And guess what: there is a beach just outside of the city that is filled with penguins!! Check out the 3,000 critters at Boulders Beach to complete your Cape Town experience.
The Garden Route
The Garden Route of South Africa stretches from the south-eastern coast of the county to the Storms River in the Eastern Cape. Great for a driving adventure and exploring the country in your own time, discover golf courses, ancient forests and craft centers, secluded mountain spots, and beaches. Plenty of interesting folk have made this area home, and you can explore the secret destinations and spots for yourself by following the N2 on this extremely scenic route.
The Drakensberg Mountains
The Drakensberg area, all south, central and northern parts, are filled with hiking trails that capture the incredible natural beauty of the region. Located on the western edge of Kwazulu Natal, the peaks rise to 3,000m and extend 180km across. By taking these hiking trails you can view some of the area’s endemic wildlife, through the forests and mountainous landscape. The mountains have been a World Heritage Site since 2000, and so you will have to pay a fee to enter the park, but the small fee is worth it for the views.
To get to the mountains take the N3 from the coast towards Johannesburg, or if you are coming from Johannesburg then you can head south towards the coast. The mountains are very well signposted. It is important to note that winters in the mountains do receive a lot of snow, and can be very cold. Summers are usually very hot, but the evenings are still cool.
Hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains
There are a number of different hikes you can take in the region, from easy to advanced. Try the 3km Devil’s Hoek hike or the easy hike to McKinley’s Pool, Gudu Falls, and the Grotto. You can also take an hour-long hike to Otto’s Walk, through the Sigubudu Valley, where you can see San rock art. For an intermediate hike of around 12km you can take the route over Sigubudu Bridge (taking around five hours) or the route from Glen Nature Reserve to Mahai (that takes around six hours and is around 14km).
For experienced and advanced hikers there are plenty of options too, such as the 20km-hike to Mont-Aux-Sources via Basotho Gate and The Chain Ladder. The hike should take around 10 hours and is not for the faint of heart. Be sure to buy a hand-carved hiker’s cane from the side of the road after your hike to remember your incredible experience in South Africa.
Camping in the Drakensberg Mountains
It’s perfectly possible to spend a night in one of South Africa’s most spectacular regions under the stars and at one with nature in a tent! One of the best campsites in Drakensberg Park is located in one of the region’s most beautiful valleys. The Mahai Campsite has all of the modern amenities you could need from a campsite, electricity sockets, water and washing-up areas. A great spot for fly-fishing and for taking all levels of hikes, just be aware that you may come back to your tent to find a Chacma baboon in your camp so keep that tent zip locked!
Backpacking in the Drakensberg Mountains
Many backpackers have actually taken to slack-packing the mountains, and if you haven’t heard of slack-packing yet it essentially means you have a pit-stop to leave your bag so you don’t have to hike and walk with a bag, much easier… However, if you insist on taking your bag with you then the mountains are a great place for backpackers. With plenty of pit-stops, camping possibilities and lots of hiking trails (see above), you can enjoy the great outdoors with everything you need to travel at your fingertips.
Other Activities in the Drakensberg Mountains
You can also do whitewater rafting, hot air balloon rides and art tours in the mountain region if you prefer to take part in something organized and brand new!
Enjoy South Africa with Auto Europe
With so much to explore, a rental car in South Africa is imperative. Pick up an SUV rental, pack the trunk with camping gear, and get out into the verdant Drakensberg mountain wilderness–leaving the hustle and bustle of the modern world behind you to enjoy the peaceful embrace of nature. Whatever your travel needs may be, Auto Europe is here to help, and with prices you just can’t beat. Give us a call today at 1-888-223-5555, and get your vacation planning process underway.