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Location: From the City to the Desert

Day 1 - 11 Feb 2022

Cape Town

From the City to the Desert, Cape Town
From the City to the Desert, Cape Town

Content: This past Christmas, my partner (Arlton) and I decided to take a MASSIVE road trip across the whole of beautiful South Africa, his home country and my chosen country. ❤️🇿🇦 The trip took us 5,300km, but it was SO WORTH IT! We shared vlogs of our entire trip on my Instagram @meganthetravelingwriter as an “SA Road Trip” highlight. After two years of living in Cape Town, I’ve found that many first time visitors miss out on all this stunning country has to offer because they don’t explore outside the big cities… or even Cape Town. If this is you, you’re missing out! Arlton and I read tons of guides, researched, and talked to other South Africans before hitting our list of the country’s best beaches, highest peaks, awe-inspiring waterfalls, and vibey cities on this massive cross country road trip! If you have the time, a little courage, and a taste for adventure, then this is for you! 🚘 Our road trip guide can also be broken up into smaller segments, if you want to drive through just the Eastern Cape for example. While trying to be as representative as possible, we couldn’t include everything, so do some exploring on Google Maps yourself. Some of our best experiences and memories started this way. Before you hit the road, remember to always fill your gas tank before it reached half a tank, as it can often take half a tank to reach a gas station in the more remote areas. Ask the petrol attendants to check your water, oil, and tire pressure at every other stop. (In South Africa, it’s customary to tip them R5 or R10 for this). It’s possible to do this trip in a compact car like our tiny Honda Brio, but you’ll have much more fun in a 4x4!

Location: Oudtshoorn

Day 1 - 11 Feb 2022

Oudtshoorn

Oudtshoorn, Oudtshoorn

Content: Estimated Travel Time to Oudtshoorn: 4 hours 45 minutes It’s time to visit the desert through the Klein Karoo on Route 62. Take a quick pitstop at the iconic Ronnie’s Sex Shop, a quirky local bar with bras hanging from the ceiling. Stop off at the Cango Ostrich Farm, visit the stalactites and stalagmites at the Cango Caves, feed the elephants or have breakfast at the Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, conquer your fears on the hair-raising Swartberg Pass and cliff jump at the Meringspoort Waterfall. If you want and with more time, first take the scenic route along the coast from Cape Town to Cape Agulhas, the true Southernmost tip of Africa. On your way, have lunch in Hermanus and look out for whales. Climb to the top of the Agulhas National Park lighthouse and take a picture where the two oceans meet. Find the sea cave in Arniston, and explore the sleepy beach town.

Buffelsdrift Game Lodge

Oudtshoorn, Buffelsdrift Game Lodge

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Cango Ostrich Farm

Oudtshoorn, Cango Ostrich Farm
Oudtshoorn, Cango Ostrich Farm
Oudtshoorn, Cango Ostrich Farm

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Swartberg Pass

Oudtshoorn, Swartberg Pass
Oudtshoorn, Swartberg Pass
Oudtshoorn, Swartberg Pass
Oudtshoorn, Swartberg Pass
Oudtshoorn, Swartberg Pass

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Meiringspoort Waterfall

Oudtshoorn, Meiringspoort Waterfall
Oudtshoorn, Meiringspoort Waterfall

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Location: Time with the Knysna Elephants

Day 2 - 12 Feb 2022

Knysna

Time with the Knysna Elephants, Knysna

Content: Estimated Travel Time to Knysna: 1 hour 45 minutes Your must-dos in Knysna are visiting the Knysna Heads, taking a picture at the “Map of Africa,” and taking it easy in this artsy seaside town with its misty beaches and lush hiking trails.

Location: Knysna

Day 2 - 12 Feb 2022

Knysna Elephant Park

Knysna, Knysna Elephant Park
Knysna, Knysna Elephant Park
Knysna, Knysna Elephant Park
Knysna, Knysna Elephant Park

Content: One of my favorite places to visit along the Garden Route in Knysna is Knysna Elephant Park! 😍🐘 They’re preserving the African elephant population in Tsitsikamma. Estimates say there are only 3-5 wild elephants left in the region, maybe even 1. 😢 You can meet the herd for 360 rand (SA Resident rate) or 430 rand for internationals. A 5 - 6 hour drive will take you here from Cape Town. 🚗 Visit when it’s less busy (like I did in September 2020), and have more time getting to know these elephants one-on-one. 🐘❤️ December 2021 was a busy month to see them, but it was worth it! 😱

Location: Into the Eastern Cape

Day 3 - 13 Feb 2022

Eastern Cape

Into the Eastern Cape, Eastern Cape

Content: Estimated Travel Time to the Eastern Cape: 55 minutes The rugged magic of the Eastern Cape will steal your words and leave you speechless. A lot of people miss out on this untouched natural beauty when they visit South Africa, and that really is a tragedy. Some people skip the whole region all together! But those people don’t get to watch the sunset above rugged cliffs in Coffee Bay, listen to the waves crash in The Hole in the Wall, hang out with cows beachside on rugged coastline, watch baby elephants play in watering holes of Addo Elephant Park, or test their nerves on Tsitsikamma suspension bridge. Those people miss the mesmerizing cascade of Magwa Falls as it spills into a deep gorge cut through the heart of the Eastern Cape. In doing so, they not only miss out on some of the country’s best natural beauty but also on South South Africa’s history, on Nelson Mandela’s homeland, the place of his birth, and the place that raised him. I couldn’t recommend adding this province to your list of must-sees in South Africa enough. I already can’t wait to return!

Location: Robberg Nature Reserve

Day 3 - 13 Feb 2022

Robberg Nature Reserve

Robberg Nature Reserve, Robberg Nature Reserve
Robberg Nature Reserve, Robberg Nature Reserve
Robberg Nature Reserve, Robberg Nature Reserve

Content: On our way, we stopped at Robberg Nature Preserve to stretch our legs and watch dolphins on a seaside walk over cliffs beside stunning beaches.

Location: Bloukrans Bridge

Day 3 - 13 Feb 2022

Bloukrans Bridge

Bloukrans Bridge, Bloukrans Bridge

Content: As you cross the Bloukrans Bridge, mist descends upon you and you know you’ve made it to the Eastern Cape. If you think you can take it, sign up to bungee jump off the bridge. Arlton did it before, but it’s definitely not for me (I’m afraid of heights!). This is the third highest bungee jump in the world. *All travel times in the Eastern Cape are estimated, as the roads are often made of dirt, full of potholes, hair-raising bends and cattle, sheep, or goats.

Location: Tsitsikamma Suspension Bridge

Day 3 - 13 Feb 2022

Tsitsikamma National Park

Tsitsikamma Suspension Bridge, Tsitsikamma National Park
Tsitsikamma Suspension Bridge, Tsitsikamma National Park
Tsitsikamma Suspension Bridge, Tsitsikamma National Park
Tsitsikamma Suspension Bridge, Tsitsikamma National Park
Tsitsikamma Suspension Bridge, Tsitsikamma National Park

Content: Don’t leave here without visiting Tsitsikamma National Park, and its famous suspension bridges, three bridges hanging seemingly precariously across narrow cliffside edges, where the sea rushes in and laps the rocky shores. I’m afraid of heights, but these bridges felt comfortable enough to walk on. If you have time, stop to swim in the little beaches along the trail.

Location: Journey with the Elephants

Day 4 - 14 Feb 2022

Addo Elephant National Park

Journey with the Elephants, Addo Elephant National Park
Journey with the Elephants, Addo Elephant National Park
Journey with the Elephants, Addo Elephant National Park
Journey with the Elephants, Addo Elephant National Park

Content: Estimated Travel Time to Addo: 2 hours 40 minutes We stayed for the night at The Kraal Addo, which was basic but affordable lodging close to the main camp of Addo Elephant Park. We drove up along the west side of the park to The Kraal Addo, so we could make our way down through the park the next day all the way to the South gate. Addo Elephant Park is the third largest national park in South Africa, and it’s yours to roam from the comfort of your car. Keep an eye out for elephants, zebra, ostriches, kudu, and more animals then you can probably name. One of our favorite stops in the park was stopping at a “hide,” where you can view some of the park’s watering holes from the safety of a fenced area. Peering through the narrow slits in the walls, perfectly placed over benches, is where we saw our first Addo elephants. *Word to the wise. Make sure only to get out of your car in designated areas, or you will have to pay a hefty fine.

Location: Coffee Bay

Day 5 - 15 Feb 2022

Coffee Bay

Coffee Bay, Coffee Bay
Coffee Bay, Coffee Bay
Coffee Bay, Coffee Bay
Coffee Bay, Coffee Bay

Content: Estimated Travel Time to Coffee Bay: 6 hours 50 minutes The Eastern Cape, previously known as the Transkei, is not on the itinerary for many travelers or even South Africans, but this part of the country, called the Wild Coast is one of my absolute favorite places. It’s stunning natural beauty is largely untouched. You’ll be blown away by the warm hospitality of the people here, as well as the rugged cliffs, green mountains, hills dotted with rondavels, and secluded beaches they call home. When we finally reached Coffee Bay late at night, thanks to dirt roads, cows, sheep, goats, and a plethora of potholes in my little Honda Brio, we had no idea the beauty we would wake up to the next morning. Visiting Coffee Bay is a must, and so is staying at Coffee Shack Backpackers, where you can sleep in a charming rondavel, shaded from the morning sun by quirky Nelson Mandela curtains. If I could choose one place to come back to and stay for longer, this would be it! The backpackers has delicious food, coffee, and a welcoming, relaxed vibe that’s as inviting as their group activities. Think hikes to the Mapuzi Cliffs with jumps into the warm sea and explorations of secret caves. From what I’ve heard, their surf lessons are a must.

Location: Hole in the Wall

Day 5 - 15 Feb 2022

Hole In The Wall

Hole in the Wall, Hole In The Wall
Hole in the Wall, Hole In The Wall
Hole in the Wall, Hole In The Wall
Hole in the Wall, Hole In The Wall
Hole in the Wall, Hole In The Wall

Content: What you really need to do while you’re here is take the drive to the famous “Hole in the Wall” just under an hour from Coffee Bay. You’ll walk a short 10 minutes to a secluded beach, where your only company may be long-horned cattle, and watch as the waves rush through an arch into the sea.

Location: Magwa Falls

Day 6 - 16 Feb 2022

Magwa Falls

Magwa Falls, Magwa Falls
Magwa Falls, Magwa Falls
Magwa Falls, Magwa Falls
Magwa Falls, Magwa Falls
Magwa Falls, Magwa Falls

Content: Estimated Travel Time to Magwa Falls: 4 hours 50 minutes From Coffee Bay, your next stop should be at what I’ve declared The Most Beautiful Waterfall in South Africa, Magwa Falls. It took us about 2 hours to reach the area of Magwa Falls from the nearest town, Lusikisiki. We drove over potholes and down dirt roads past cattle, sheep, goat, and horses. 🚘💦 But it was so worth it! If you’re planning to visit and you have a small car like us, we suggest staying overnight at Louis at Magwa Falls. You can learn about organic gardening 🌱, wake up to incredible panoramic views of lush green mountains stretching into the sea 🐆, and visit Magwa Falls in Louis’ open air 4x4!

Location: Beaches and Curry in Durban

Day 7 - 17 Feb 2022

Durban

Beaches and Curry in Durban, Durban
Beaches and Curry in Durban, Durban
Beaches and Curry in Durban, Durban

Content: Estimated Travel Time to Durban: 5 hours 20 minutes Durban is known for its warm water, curries, and influence by its large Indian population. If you’re in Durban, you’re hitting the beach, eating curries, trying the Durban delicacy - bunny chow (no bunnies are harmed in the making of bunny chow; it’s curry inside a loaf of bread kind of like a Durban Indian bread bowl), and “special sandwiches” at Kara Nicha’s. (Just try not to go to Kara Nicha’s more than once. I dare you). Your other must-dos are visiting the uShaka Marine World, walking the Golden Mile, and spending time with the zebras at the Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve.