The Easter holiday is known as a road-trip weekend in South Africa. As a country with one of the longest road networks in the world, it has no shortage of great destinations to offer. With COVID-19 a regular part of our daily lives, smaller towns and farming communities offer the appeal of a greater sense of health security as visitors won’t find themselves caught up in queues of people or spots dense with crowds.
And while some smaller places - towns like Stellenbosch and Franschhoek in the Western Cape and the Midlands Meander in KwaZulu-Natal - have always enjoyed popularity, other spots are gaining even more traction now as people seek to hightail it out of big cities for a break from their work-from-home routines.
Travel search engine Cheapflights.co.za put together a list of under-the-radar road trip itineraries that are perfect for an Easter escape and calculated a cost of a trip for each route.
Itinerary 1: George to Calitzdorp
The little-known Klein Karoo town of Calitzdorp has started seeing interest from visitors in recent months. It seems a pity it wasn’t recognised earlier as an appealing place to visit, since it has so much to offer out-of-town guests. Just over an hour’s drive from the Garden Route town of George – a drive that takes you through the popular town of Oudtshoorn - Calitzdorp is the home of South African port wines. In fact, being one of the stops on the lovely Route 62, this is certainly a great place to visit if you’re keen on the fruit of the vine. Other towns on this route known for their wine include Robertson, Worcester and Montagu.There’s also plenty for history buffs: the San and Khoi rock paintings found in the nearby mountains can be a particular treat. Those who love the outdoors will find themselves easily occupied with the fishing, horse-riding and mountain-biking activities available in the area.
Average length of route: about 120 km
Driving time: about 1,5 hour via the R62
Average car rental price in George: approx. R866 per day on average
Fuel price: about R21,63 per litre (LRP) and about R192 for this mileage in total
Itinerary 2: Cape Town to Cape West Coast/Cederberg
Closer to Cape Town - and well worth a drive out from the Mother City - is the Cape West Coast and the Cederberg area. Visitors to Cape Town may well want to allocate a few days for a road tour that will take them to wonderful coastal spots such as Langebaan, Paternoster, Elands Bay and Lambert’s Bay. All offer rugged coastal views and wonderful seafood treats. Further inland, towns like Citrusdal and Clanwilliam beckon. Passionate rooibos tea lovers will definitely be attracted to the Rooibos Route and those keen on serious climbing in the mountains should venture out to the Northern Cederberg – in particular, to a spot known as Rocklands, a drawcard for adventurous types keen on bouldering.
Average length of route: about 180 km
Driving time: about 2 hours via the N7
Average car rental price in Cape Town: approx. R763 per day on average
Fuel price: R21,11 per litre (LRP) and about R181 for this mileage in total
Itinerary 3: Kruger National Park to Graskop and surrounds
Far from the Cape lies Mpumalanga Province, an area with some absolutely magical spots. If you plan a trip to the Kruger National Park, it’s a good idea to add a few extra days to your itinerary to visit particular places in the province. The town of Graskop is capable of attracting visitors for its beautiful natural scenery in its Drakensberg Escarpment location. With beautiful forests a key element of the region, the area is green, green and even more green. Leaving from the Paul Kruger Gate at the Kruger National Park, it’s under an hour’s drive to the town of Graskop. From there, explore the incredible sights nearby – God’s Window, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, the Blyde River Canyon and Three Rondavels. Numerous impressive waterfalls in the area are also well worth taking a look at.
Average length of route: about 90 km
Driving time: about 1,5 hour via the R537 and R532
Average car rental price in Johannesburg: approx. R1,060 per day on average
Fuel price: R21,63 per litre (LRP) and about R144 for this mileage in total
Itinerary 4: Durban/Pietermaritzburg to the Midlands
Similar for its beauty - and also a natural product of the Drakensberg Escarpment - the town of Howick and its neighbouring areas is a treat just waiting for the eager tourist. Fly into Durban or Pietermaritzburg, hire a car and enjoy a pleasurable trip through the stunning Midlands area of KwaZulu-Natal. This is an area great for enjoying the outdoors - from horse-riding and walks in the mountains to cycling and fishing, it’s known for its clean air and amazing scenery. Many crafts have become popular among locals so visitors can enjoy numerous home-made treats.
Average length of route: about 140 km from Durban; about 80 km from Pietermaritzburg
Driving time: about 3 hours from Durban; about 1 hour from Pietermaritzburg
Average car rental price in Durban: approx. R690 per day on average
Fuel price: R21,11 per litre (LRP) and about R219 for trip from Durban in total
Being as large a country as it is, there are of course many other places in South Africa to consider visiting. The few highlighted here are easily accessible to ditch holiday heavyweights in favour of seeing a bunch of hidden gems this Easter.