South Africa: cape & coast
This delightful itinerary will take you 1000km through some of the most beautiful country in Southern Africa. Add excellent infrastructure and a platter of attractions to the mix, and you’ve got the South Africa of glossy-travel-brochure dreams. The loop can be done by public transport, but a car offers many possibilities for detours.
Start in Cape Town, staying in a township B&B and visiting the District Six Museum, as well as must-see icons such as Table Mountain, Robben Island and the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. Heart-wrenching though it may be to leave this gloriously scenic city, the prospect of exploring the nearby Winelands is a pretty fine reason to hit the road.
Spend a day or two wine-tasting in the fertile valleys of Stellenbosch or Franschhoek. Fancy a quick detour? Try Hermanus for watching southern right whales (from June to December); Cape Agulhas for the thrill of standing at Africa’s southernmost point, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet; or the beaches of the 34,000-hectare De Hoop Nature Reserve.
Clutching your new case of pinotage, continue east to Montagu, an artists’ enclave overlooking the Cogmanskloof mountains, then take gorgeous Route 62 through the Little Karoo to Oudtshoorn, South Africa’s ostrich capital.
Oudtshoorn makes a good springboard for heading into the Karoo via the magnificent Swartberg Pass – its road an engineering feat – and on to the 18th-century village of Prince Albert, near the N1 back to Cape Town. Alternatively, make your way south, joining the N2 along the Garden Route near Knysna, with its sylvan setting between a lagoon and ancient forests.
Further east, the come-as-you-are resort of Plettenberg Bay could have been tailor-made for brochures, boasting mountains, white sands and crystal-blue waters. If you’re not tempted to stay until you’re referring to the town as ‘Plett’ as the locals do, return to the ‘Mother City’ via the N2 or the more circuitous Route 62.
Feeling the need for speed? You could whip through this trip in about 10 days, but for maximum relaxation value, take your time and stretch things out to three weeks or more.