Top road trips to inspire you this summer

Southern Africa is vast; huge expanses of semi-desert, rolling hills and jagged mountain ranges stretching down to the endless coast. It’s begging to be explored, so why not compile a playlist, open the car windows and head out on a road trip? You never know what you could discover. Here are some brief highlights to whet your appetite.

Magaliesberg day-tripping

The Magaliesberg Mountain range extends from Rustenburg in the west all the way to Bronkhorstspruit Dam, just east of Pretoria, an hour out of the city. Hot air ballooning is also a major attraction in the area. If you’re in the mood to do something spectacular, this would be it. An old favourite, of the area, albeit not as elaborate as ballooning, would be the Hartbeespoort Dam Cable Way.

Tip: the Maropeng Cradle of Humankind is a great escape – view a slice of pre-history. 50 kilometers outside Johannesburg.

Tip: The Pilanesberg Game Reserve is around 2.5 hours outside of Johannesburg – experience Africa at its wildest.

Golden Gate National Park and Clarens

Just three hours from Jozi, this area is famous for its sandstone cliffs, caves and churches. Clarens is home to a thriving artistic community with fascinating crafts and art shops as well as restaurants offering personal service and delicious food. Explore the Cathedral Caves or take an energetic hike up the Ribbekop, or cycle and horse ride your way through nature.

The remarkable hills around Durban

Roll through the Valley of 1000 Hills, a lush, green vista that provides unspoilt nature, wildlife and wining and dining. It’s a route you can enjoy on its own or while on the way to another KZN destination such as Amanzimtoti, Margate, Umhlanga or the Drakensberg Mountain Range. The coastal region winds along the Indian Ocean and gives access to many beaches, perfect picnic spots and the annual Sardine Run, a scientific curiosity that sees millions of the fish churning up the waters and attracting other marine life.

Tip: from November to March, you could go turtle-spotting in St Lucia, about 240 km from Durban.

The wonderful south

There’s more to the south than Cape Town, you could head up the West Coast to enjoy the annual flower display or to the picturesque town of Franschhoek to enjoy a culinary adventure. The wine routes are a perfect way to explore smaller towns and the beautiful landscapes that are tucked among the mountains. Hermanus is famous for whale watching, and endless fields of the Boland offer a relaxed environment that seems to be as far away from the city as you can get.

Tip: the Garden Route is a must-do road trip for those seeking a real experience, stretching from Mossel Bay to Storms River. You can expect jaw-dropping forests, beautiful beaches and relaxed coastal towns with friendly locals. Oysters in Knysna and craft beer in Plett will keep you energized for the next leg of your trip.

The sand, sun and sky of Namibia

There’s so much more to Namibia than the famous sand dunes; quaint fishing villages dot the coastline, and many small businesses have popped up, each with a quirky charm of their own. You could spend a few days winding from top to bottom of the country, an ideal opportunity to put your 4×4 to work.

Namibia is distinguished by the Namib Desert along its Atlantic Ocean coast. The country is home to diverse wildlife, including a significant cheetah population. The capital, Windhoek, and coastal town Swakopmund contain German colonial-era buildings such as Windhoek’s Christuskirche, built in 1907. In the north, Etosha National Park’s salt pan draws game including rhinos and giraffes.

Perfect for a desert adventure

Orange dunes loom above 500-year-old camelthorn trees in Sossusvlei, while arid conditions on the Skeleton Coast have preserved the many ships wrecked on its shores. Walvis Bay is a beach town best known for its fishing and adventure sports such as shark-angling and kiteboarding. The Fish River Canyon offers more adventures, which includes a hiking trail that requires a doctor’s clearance. Prehistoric rock engravings at Twyfelfontein depict an array of wildlife still found in the area. With remote attractions and a sparse population, travel in Namibia is often done by plane or off-road vehicle.