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South Africa

from Cape Town / to Johannesburg

Holiday in Africa
3 rental companies in 5 cities

South Africa

from Cape Town / to Johannesburg

14 - 21 days / 2,900 km
Best time to travel: September to April (depending on the region)

This motorhome trip begins in Cape Town and continues along the Cape of Good Hope, and through the famous wine regions of South Africa. You will also drive along the part of the Garden Route and have an opportunity to admire whales in the ocean. Through the inland, passing several national parks, you will continue to the world-renowned Kruger National Park, and then to the end point of this trip, Johannesburg.

Arrival in Cape Town and collection of the camper

Cape Town is the second largest city in South Africa, after Johannesburg. It is inhabited by 3.7 million people. Since 2004, it has served as the sole seat of the South African Parliament. In 1652, Dutchmen founded a supply station for merchant ships of the Dutch East India Company in the place where Cape Town is today. They expelled the natives and, for their own protection, built Fort de Goede Hoop, now the Castle of Good Hope. During 150 years of the Dutch rule, the settlement grew into an important and lively harbour. After losing to the British in 1806, the colony was declared a British Crown Colony on April 13, 1814. Slavery became abolished.

In the years 1869-1890, the discovery and the initial mining of diamonds and gold on the Highveld, in the inland country, changed Cape Town very quickly. The city was no longer the only and dominant major city of the colony. It also became the largest port for the country's wealth and prosperity, as more and more industrial companies settled there. The fact that the National Party won the elections in 1948, and then introduced the apartheid system, led to a series of violent clashes and court cases. As a result, the rights of the black and coloured population of Cape Town were systematically curtailed. Depending on the skin colour, there were created separate quarters and neighbourhoods.

On February 11, 1990, from the balcony of the Cape Town City Council, recently freed Nelson Mandela held his first public speech in years, in which he announced the beginning of a new era for South Africa. Cape Town has fundamentally changed since the end of apartheid. Land prices grew rapidly, the city centre became safe, and many neighbourhoods were developed by generous rehabilitation programs.

The impressive natural attractions of this metropolis on the Atlantic Ocean are the 1,086 m high Table Mountain, Signal Hill, and the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range. In Cape Town, you should visit the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. It is not only a harbour - this part of the city also serves as a shopping centre, with its shops and restaurants, and as a starting point for boat trips. Besides the historic centre with Company's Garden and numerous museums, worth visiting are also suburbs of Bloubergstrand, Clifton, and Camps Bay Beach, all of which are located by the water. Other interesting places in the area include Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Robben Island, African penguin colony at Boulders Beach as well as the Paarl Windelands, Franschhoek, and Stellenbosch, which is supposed to be the next destination of this stage.

Highlights & Tips
Stay in Cape Town
Depending on the duration of your holiday, we recommend that you schedule at least two days for Cape Town and surrounding attractions, in order to really get a sense of what this coastal city in the south-west of South Africa is like.

Day trip to the Cape Peninsula with the Cape of Good Hope
From the city centre, drive through Sea Point, Bantry Bay, Clifton, and Camps Bay to Hout Bay (a possible boat trip to Robben Island), then through the hewn in rock, 9 km long Chapman's Peak Drive, with its 114 curves, some of which slope 160 m down to the ocean. You can also choose an alternative route. Further on, continue via Nordhoek, Sun Valley, Kommetjie, and Witsand, until you reach the entry to the nature reserve, next to a car park and a valley station of the funicular. You can reach the lighthouse, with a view of the Cape of Good Hope, on foot or by train. Return via Boulders with the penguin colony, Simon's Town, Fish Hoek, Kalk Bay, and Muizenberg back to the city center.

Cape Town – Stellenbosch

Stage distance: approx. 110 km

Suggested route: Cape Town – Camps Bay – Hout Bay – Sunnydale – Fish Hoek – Wolfgat – Stellenbosch

We choose a slightly longer route via the Cape Peninsula and the coast, south of the city, past the Wolfgat Nature Reserve.

Stellenbosch was founded in 1679 by Simon van der Stel and is the second oldest city in the country. It is inhabited by approx. 150.000 people. In 1683, the first school was established in the city, in 1859 - a gymnasium, and in 1866 - a college. In 1918, the University of Stellenbosch was founded. It is the second oldest and the most important university in the country, where a medium of instruction is still Afrikaans.

On Dorp Straat, the oldest street in the historic centre, which is fully under monument conservation, you can find numerous carefully restored historic buildings and the impressive general store "Oom Samie Se Winkel", which is a must-see. The most beautiful buildings were erected between 1775 and 1820. In the Stellenbosch Village Museum, you will find original houses, along with their gardens, from four periods from – 1709 to the mid-19th century. Libertas Parvas houses the Wine Museum and the Rembrandt Van Rijn Art Gallery. Worth seeing is also the old town square called "De Braak." There, you can find a town house, built in 1797, with a small museum, the Old Coach House from 1790, and the Rhenish Mission Church, built in 1823.

Highlights & Tips
Going through the South African wine region
In the surroundings of Stellenbosch, there are numerous wineries (about 120). Almost all of them hold wine tastings, many with rich food offers. The large "Bergkelder" is built deep inside a mountain. Most vineyards are lined with rows of roses, because roses react much faster to the possible fungal infections in comparison to vines. Some of the oaks, which are planted in Stellenbosch, but also in other areas, are now up to 300 years old. They were supposed to be used in barrel production for wineries, but, due to their rapid growth in South Africa, it was not possible. As a result, oak barrels are still mainly imported from France even today. Nearby, on the way to Franschhoek, you can see the spectacular Helshoogte Pass, which is situated 366 m above sea level.

Stellenbosch – Hermanus

Stage distance: approx. 115 km

Suggested route: Stellenbosch – Pringle Bay – Hermanus

Today, you will travel through the Western Cape to Hermanus. The province is bordered to the north and east by the Province of North Cape, and to the east by the Province of Eastern Cape. Indian Ocean and the Atlantic form the borders in the south and the east. The wine-growing regions, such as the most known Paarl, Franschhoek, and Stellenbosch, and the coasts up to George are also absolute must-see places.

Penguins and seals can almost always be seen from the shore, while whales can be admired on the coast only in certain months. Cape Agulhas is a place where the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans meet. The landforms in the province are varied, from large beaches and dunes north of Cape Town and on the Garden Route, to dense forests, mountains, semi-deserts with ostrich farms, areas where wheat, wine, citrus fruits, apples, and vegetables are cultivated, to spectacular mountain passes.

Highlights & Tips
Whale watching in Hermanus
Hermanus, located in Walker Bay, was founded in 1830. It has about 25.000 inhabitants and is famous due to the presence of southern right whales, which are 11-18 m long and weigh 30 to 80 tons. They come to procreate in warmer waters from July to November. Whales can be encountered in Walker Bay and De Kelders, near Hermanus. With luck, you can see dolphins, humpback whales, and killer whales (orcas).
There are extensive offers of whale watching boat trips. Good vantage points on land are Sievers Point, Castle, and Kraal Rock. There is an official whale caller and a hotline (tel. +27 28 312 2629), where you can request information about the positions of the animals. A cliff path, starting at the Old Port, is 12 km long and goes along the coast offering some benches. In Old Harbour Museum and the new Whale Museum, you can learn more about those marine mammals. Beautiful beaches like Voelklip Beach and Groot Beach offer some recreation.

Hermanus – Oudtshoorn

Stage distance: approx. 365 km

Suggested route: Hermanus – Swellendam – Oudtshoorn

Swellendam, the third oldest city in South Africa, is located 220 km from Cape Town. In 1745, it was founded as a third settlement in the country, after Cape Town and Stellenbosch. The city is nestled in a wide valley, dominated by the mighty Langeberg Range. Particularly worth seeing are the restored magistrate buildings, and the Drostdy Museum with a group of historic buildings, including old farm and craft buildings as well as an old jail.

Oudtshoorn, situated in the Little Karoo (semi-desert), was founded in 1863. It has 65.000 inhabitants. The palatial and eccentric houses and villas are known as "Feather Palaces". Their owners became rich by exporting ostrich feathers. Today, there are about 250.000 ostriches, taken care of by about 400 farmers. However, ostrich feathers are now less exported than the healthy low-fat and low-cholesterol meat. Most ostrich farms can be visited by tourists. Those include Safari Ostrich Show Farm and Highgate.

Highlights & Tips
Cango Caves
Approx. 30 km outside of Oudtshoorn, on the R328 road, you can find the Cango Caves, 150.000-year-old stalactite caves. They were discovered in 1780 and are internationally known as one of the greatest natural wonders of the world. The caves are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Guided tours are held every full hour. You cannot visit them on your own. Experience this fascinating underworld. After you go down a long staircase from the entrance, you will reach a large hall with a height of 16 m and a length of 107 m. It is less recommendable for the disabled. The most interesting stalactites include the "Organ Pipes," "Cleopatra's Needle," and "Frozen Waterfall." Only a small part of a total of 28 chambers is open to visitors.

Oudtshoorn – Knysna

Stage distance: approx. 125 km

Suggested route: Oudtshoorn – George – Knysna

The provincial capital of George, founded in 1811 and named after the British King, George III, is located 8 km from the coast, at the foot of the Outeniqua Mountains.

The trip continues to Knysna, which is pronounced "Naisna." It is a popular and large holiday resort located between ancient woods on 21 hectares of the Knysna Lagoon. As a result of the presence of sandstone formations known as "The Heads" (100 and 200 m high), it has an only 60 meters wide access to the sea, which sealed the fate of many ships. Oysters from Knysna are well known and loved - the annual Knysna Oyster Festival takes place from 5th to 15th July, and approximately 200.000 oysters are eaten during that time. The town was founded in 1825 by George Rex, a British immigrant. A timber sawmill was built there, and the lagoon became an important port of export. It was closed in 1953, because the railway line was more important. The line runs through the large lagoon. It was used by nostalgic passenger trains (not running anymore) and for timber transportation. Before Knysna Quays Hotel, there developed the "Waterfront," where also boat tours are offered.

Highlights & Tips
Dolphin Point
Before Wilderness, coming from George, go over a river, continue up to the hill on the road, and then, straight to the Dolphin Point. From here, you can take a look at the most famous railway bridge in South Africa located over the Cayman River, which flows into the ocean.

Knysna – Plettenberg Bay – Addo

Stage distance: approx. 325 km

Suggested route: Knysna – Plettenberg Bay – Addo

The province of Eastern Cape, formerly homelands of Ciskei and Transkei, has approx. 170.000 km2. It is bordered to the north-east by the KwaZulu-Natal Province, to the north by the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Free State Province, and to the east by the Provinces of Northern Cape and Western Cape. The province is dominated by agriculture. The interesting highlights of the area are nature reserves, such as the Greater Addo Elephant Park near Port Elizabeth or the Mountain Zebra National Park.

Plettenberg Bay, situated on the Garden Route, was named after the governor Joachim von Plettenberg, who put the bay under the administrative authority of the Dutch East India Company in 1778. The Company used the site primarily as a port for timber shipping. Later on, a whaling station was built there, but in 1920, its activities ceased. The small harbour was also used by the whalers going to the Antarctic. This fact is commemorated by a small plaque on the large Beacon Island Hotel, as it was built on the ruins of the whaling station and small hotels that used to stand there. It is located on a small island, which is connected to a beach with a bridge, and the 20 km long sandy beaches can be seen from a vantage point above the bustling city. The water is relatively shallow near the shore and during the South African summer, it is very good for swimming. This cosmopolitan resort is called "Plett" by South Africans. Offered water sports in the area are varied, and often, it is possible to observe whales and dolphins (between July and September; not guaranteed) in the wide bay.

Highlights & Tips
Whale watching near Plettenberg Bay
In the area of Plettenberg Bay, there are offered Whale watching tours, which, however, should be attended only when the sea is calm, unless you are an experienced sailor. Approximately 8 km further, you can find the Robberg Nature Reserve,which is located on a peninsula with good hiking opportunities, sensational views on the Indian Ocean from almost 150 m high rock outcroppings, and the seal colony that gave the area its name.

The Greater Addo Elephant Park
The Greater Addo Elephant Park, is located approx. 70 km from Port Elizabeth, in Sundays River Valley, at the foot of Zuurberg Mountain. It was founded in 1932, after elephant herds were decimated by hunting. A short way to a public rest camp and two sightseeing tracks within the park are paved. Another way that is good to drive by car leads to waterholes. The speed of 40 km/h is allowed. You can also book an accompanying ranger. After the expansion of the park, it now has a 50 km long coast with high sand dunes, accessible via Woody Cape near Alexandria or Sundays River Estuary near Colchester. It also includes the Algoa Bay Islands, known for breeding colonies of Cape gannets and black-footed penguins. With luck, you can also see white sharks and, at certain seasons, whales. Both species are included in the "Big Seven." Today, the park is inhabited by more than 500 elephants, 15 rhinos, 600 kudus, 280 buffalo, more than 30 zebras, 100 warthogs, hippos, jackals, ostriches, hartebeest, oryx gazellas, but no giraffes. In dry periods and on hot days, the elephants come to the waterholes. Ask at the front desk about the last place, where the elephants and other animals have been spotted. Do not take any citrus fruit to the park (it is forbidden).

Addo – Graaf Reinet

Stage distance: approx. 230 km

Suggested route: Addo – Graf Reinet

The tranquil Graaff-Reinet lies in the Karoo, at the foothills of the Sneeuberge. It is surrounded by meanders of the Sundays River on three sides. In the vicinity of the town, there is the Valley of Desolation. This small town has more than 200 architectural monuments, most of which are buildings in Cape Dutch or Victorian style. Graaff-Reinet is an important economic and commercial centre. A big economic sector is animal husbandry (mainly sheep and ostrich farming). In addition, the town is a centre of the South African wine industry.

The town was founded on July 19, 1786, by the authorities of Dutch settlers. It was, therefore, under the authority of the Dutch East India Company, making it, after Cape Town, Stellenbosch, and Swellendam, the fourth oldest city in South Africa. It was named in honour of the Dutch Governor, Cornelis Jacob van de Graaff, and his wife, Hester Cornelia Reinet. The Dutch Reformed Church congregation in Graaff-Reinet was founded in 1792. Honoratus Maynier became the landdrost of Graaff-Reinet in 1793. He tried to restore peace between European farmers and the Xhosa people. In 1795, the British settlers in Graaff-Reinet rebelled against the Dutch East India Company and founded the Republic of Graaff-Reinet. It was the first Boer Republic.

The Karoo Nature Reserve, located outside the city and known under the name of "Camdeboo", became in 2005 the 22nd national park in South Africa.

Highlights & Tips
Accommodation
Campsites are located either directly in Graaff-Reinet or in the Camdeboo National Park. You can find more information here.

Graaf Reinet – Bloemfontain

Stage distance: approx. 425 km

Suggested route: Graaf Reinet – Springfontein – Bloemfontain

Bloemfontein, with over 460.000 inhabitants, is the sixth largest city in the Republic of South Africa. It is also the capital of the province of Free State. It is known as the "City of Roses" because of its floral wealth and the annual Rose Festival. Its name translates from Dutch as "a fountain of flowers." On the other hand, in Sesotho and Pedi languages the city is called Mangaung, which literally means the "place of cheetahs." Mangaung is also the name of the city municipality of which Bloemfontein is a part.

Before the arrival of European settlers in the wake of the Great Trek in 1836, mostly San, Griqua, and Sotho people lived in the area of Bloemfontein. In 1840, Johannes Nicolaas Brits, a Voortrekker, established a farm there, which he named "Bloemfontein." From 1846, British immigrants began to arrive under major Henry Douglas Warden. In 1850, Bloemfontein was officially founded as a municipality. It was four years before the official founding of the Orange Free State, with the city as the seat of government. On March 13, 1900, during the Second Boer War, Bloemfontein fell into the hands of British troops. Ten years later, Bloemfontein was part of the South African Union and was given city status in 1945.

In Bloemfontein, there are numerous parks, such as Kings Park with more than 4.000 varieties of roses. Among older buildings representing a distinctive architectural style, there is the City Hall. It is considered a symbol of the city and was built in 1935 using marble and teak. Even older is the surviving original First Raadsaal, where once the People's Council held its meetings.

In Freshford House Museum, there are presented living conditions of a wealthy family from around 1900. Contemporary works by South African artists can be seen in the Oliewenhuis Art Gallery. Additional attractions include the National Museum, President Brand Street, the National Afrikaans Literary Museum, and a zoological garden.

Highlights & Tips
On Naval Hill
Naval Hill is located in the middle of the city and it is home to giraffes, ostriches, antelopes, and many other herbivores. From there, you also have a good view of the city. On Naval Hill, there are also the Natural History Museum and a botanical garden.

Bloemfontain – Ermelo

Stage distance: approx. 550 km

Suggested route: Bloemfontain – Warden – Standerton – Ermelo

Ermelo is a town in the municipality of Msukaligwa, Gert Sibande District, in the Mpumalanga Province. It has around 84.000 inhabitants. It lies on the upper reaches of the Vaal River, at the junction of the national roads N2, N11, and N17.

Near the town of San, there have been found rock paintings and stone cottages that date back to the 14th century. They were built by the Leghoya people, a Batswana tribe. The modern city developed around a church that was built in 1871 by Reverend Frans Lion Cachet. He named the place after the hometown of his friend, the town of Ermelo in the Netherlands. Because of the numerous small lakes and rivers in the region, the site between Lydenburg and Natal was used before its official founding as a rest area for carriages. The area was known for its horse and cattle breeders, and the first agricultural exhibition took place there in 1889. Ermelo was completely destroyed during the Second Boer War and later, rebuilt at the same spot. Even today, Ermelo is a centre of agriculture.

Highlights & Tips
A very welcomed stopover
Ermelo offers a stopover on the way to the Kruger National Park: information about accommodation can be found here.

Ermelo – Hazyview (Kruger National Park)

Stage distance: approx. 270 km

Suggested route: Ermelo – Nelspruit – Hazyview (Kruger National Park)

Hazyview is one of the starting points for visiting the Kruger National Park. It was founded in 1898 by Paul Kruger as Sabi Game Reserve. It stretches for over 300 km from north to south and 40 to 80 km from east to west. The total area has 2 million hectares and the road network includes 2300 km of asphalt and gravel roads. Fences surrounding the neighbouring private concession areas were dismantled in 1961.

Within the park, there are seven private concession areas with very comfortable camps (Jock, Imbali, Shishangeni, Tinga, Lukimbi, Rhino Walking Safaris, Singita Lebombo Lodge, Parfuri Camp, the Outpost). There are also fourteen large, state-owned rest camps (among others Skukuza, Lower Sabie, Satara, Olifants, Letaba, Mopani, Shingwedzi, Puna Maria), eight medium-sized, and three smaller ones. Each rest camp provides restaurants with beverage services, shops with everyday items, and often also take-away services and swimming pools. Hours-long animal observation tours in open vehicles and walks are offered in the camps as well.

Highlights & Tips
In the Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park is open from sunrise to dusk. An entrance fee is mandatory. It is advisable to purchase a brochure with detailed maps, ecozones, historic sites, maps of camps, and pictures of animals. Your stay at the park is at your own risk. At the entrance, you have to sign an indemnity form. The check-in time in the camps and rest camps is 12.00 p.m. and the check-out time is 09.00 a.m.

Hazyview – Johannesburg Airport

Stage distance: approx. 380 km (direkter Weg), optional alternative Route mit weiteren Stationen

Suggested route (direkt): Hazyview – Nelspruit – Emalahleni – Johannesburg Airport

If you have more time for the final stage of the trip, you can take the shortest route to Johannesburg, and still incorporate some additional attractions.

Through Graskop, you can get to Pilgrim’s Rest. The village, with a population of about 1.500, is basically a living museum. It is a perfect replica of an early mining settlement. Gold was discovered there in 1873. The heart of town is the Royal Hotel, which has recently been lovingly restored and is a popular overnight spot. The bar of this hotel is a popular meeting place. It is originally from Mozambique, where it used to serve as a church. It was then dismantled, transported to Pilgrim's Rest, and opened as a bar. Stroll the street and let yourself be taken back in history to the times of gold discoveries.

Going back to Graskop and then, taking R 532 north, you will come to the viewpoints: the Pinnacle, God's Window, and Wonder View, as well as various waterfalls. It is about 130 km from Hazyview. If you still want to continue on R 532 to Bourke's Luck Potholes and the Blyde River Canyon in the nature reserve with the same name, you have to drive 115 km more. Bourke's Luck Potholes are giant's kettles at the confluence of the Treur and Blyde Rivers, named after the former owner of the territory. Over millions of years, stones rotating in the flow of the river have created cylindrical holes that can now be seen from pedestrian bridges. The Blyde River Canyon, situated in the nature reserve of the same name, is the third largest canyon in the world. The area is famous for its impressive rock formations and diversity of lush plants, and is inhabited by equally rich and varied fauna. It was discovered in 1840. From the vantage point, there is a view on 800 m deep and 26 km long canyons and the rock formation "Three Rondavels".

Information to Johannesburg
Another option is a stay in Johannesburg, which, however, is not a traditional tourist destination. The city serves mostly as a hub for connecting flights to Cape Town, Durban, the Pilanesberg and Kruger National Parks, and the neighbouring countries of South Africa. With over 957.000 inhabitants, Johannesburg is the largest city of Southern Africa. Also its metropolitan area, with about 4.43 million inhabitants, is the largest in the region.

The Carlton Centre has 50 floors and around 220 metres above sea level. It is the highest building in Africa and offers a panoramic view of the Downtown Johannesburg and the surrounding area. Since 1976, the former market building in Newtown, west of Downtown, houses the Market Theatre and the Museum Africa. In addition, tourists can take organized tours through Soweto. South of the Downtown area, there lies the Gold Reef City, a large entertainment complex and theme park. The park was built around the old shaft no. 14 of the Crown Mine. There, you can visit the mine on a depth of 200 meters and get an impression of what life and work of miners looked like. In close proximity to the Gold Reef City, there is the Apartheid Museum.

The Cradle of Humankind which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located around 25 kilometres north-west of the city. The Sterkfontein Caves are famous for discovered there fossils of an early ancestor of the genus Homo (Hominini).

Highlights & Tips
Last stage to Johannesburg
If you want to drive from Hazyview directly to the Johannesburg Airport, we recommend an early departure, as the route is about 380 km long and in the afternoon hours, you can expect increased traffic congestion in Greater Johannesburg.