Planning the Great South African Road Trip

June 2015

South Africa is a country built for road trips. Endless stretches of road through some of the world’s most breath-taking scenery are just a highway away for most of us. Whether you like beaches or the Berg, deserts or tropical rain forests, there is a road waiting to be travelled and years of memories to be made. Find out how to plan your next road trip right here.

What is a road trip?
Perhaps we should start with a definition of the Great South African Road Trip. Technically a road trip is defined as a car journey. However, leaping into your car at 4am on Good Friday morning and dashing to Durbs or driving up to the Kruger in a day are not considered road trips. Any true-blue road tripper knows that driving through South Africa can be a holiday in itself. This is the essence of a road trip: two or more days of easy travelling, a scenic route, top-notch stay-overs along the way and kilometres of some of the best relaxation a holiday has to offer. 

Where do I start?
Planning your road trip means some planning and lots of research. Work out how many days you have to spend driving and what distance you can cover in that time (plan on doing no more than 300km – 400km each day), then plot your route and find suitable accommodation. Or, if you already have a holiday destination in mind, find the quietest roads that will take you there and build your travel time into your holiday. 

Be adventurous and plan to see parts of South Africa that you have never seen before. Perhaps you would like to drive down to Cape Town through the Karoo or up the West Coast of South Africa. You could explore the Natal Midlands and the South Coast, or even head for Swaziland or Lesotho. Be sure to take note of must-see attractions along the way and build them into your itinerary. 

The AA has all the tools you need to plan your trip. Try the AA Distance Calculator to calculate the distance between popular South African destinations and the Road Conditions Report to check your route. Use the AA’s online or print maps. And if it’s accommodation you are after, try AA Travel Quality AssuredAccommodation

The 10 golden rules of every road trip

  1. Give your car a service, if it is due for one, or take it for a pre-holiday check.
  2. Make sure that you have the following in your car: fully inflated spare wheel, wheel jack and spanner, two reflective triangles, jumper cables, a torch, a bottle of water and a first aid kit.
  3. Your safety comes first! Don’t plan to travel after dark and make sure that you have accommodation booked at all your stop-overs. 
  4. Don’t travel on roads if you are unsure of their condition – unless you have a 4 x 4 vehicle. You can check the condition of the road using the AA Road Conditions Report.
  5. Make sure that you can call an emergency roadside assistance service if you break down, or download the AA Rescue Service mobi app on your phone.
  6. Make sure that your maps are up to date, whether they are printed or on your GPS.
  7. Share your daily itinerary, including stop-overs, with a friend or family member. 
  8. Take along a spare key for your car!
  9. Check that your vehicle and drivers’ licences are up to date.
  10. Pack all your favourite music and snacks for along the way. 

And last but not least, relax and take it easy. Remember, it is the journey and not the destination that counts! And don’t forget to take lots of photos when you stop!

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