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South Africa – Two Week Road Trip Itinerary With Kids

  • April 30, 2018
  • By Matt

Everyone I know who has visited South Africa has rated it one of their favourite destinations. As we considered our South Africa itinerary they were all unanimous in saying “You have to go to South Africa. You will love it”. They raved about the beautiful scenery, the wildlife and great food and wine.

As we did more research we were excited by how diverse the country was – from wild national parks to world famous wine regions, spectacular beaches and challenging hiking. There seemed to be so many things to do in South Africa!

I was also intrigued to visit a country who not that long ago suffered through an appalling apartheid regime. Part of me was worried about stories I had heard about car-jacking and other crime but I pushed that to the back of my mind. Even with kids our friends were adamant it was a great place to visit.

South Africa Itinerary

As we researched the best places to visit in South Africa, our itinerary became a 2 week road trip. We decided to rent a car to give us complete freedom and plotted a path from Johannesburg to Cape Town.

Our general plan was to head east, past the Drakensberg Ranges, then heading south and west along the famed Garden Route. Our South Africa road trip would finish in Cape Town, one of the most spectacular cities I have visited. As we were travelling out of peak season we didn’t need to pre-book our accommodation and made bookings a couple of days in advance.

Best time to visit South Africa

We were travelling to South Africa in April. I don’t think there is any best time to visit South Africa. It really is a year round destination. Some activities are better suited to certain months (such as whale watching which is best July-November) or Safari Tours in Kruger (best August-September). We found April good for hiking as the temperatures were mild although we did encounter a lot of thunderstorms!

Our two week road trip in South Africa was one of the highlights of our 12 month trip around the world with the kids. It is one of the destinations we plan to return to one day to explore more.

We can now join the chorus of people who will tell you to visit South Africa. You won’t regret it!

We may receive a small compensation if you make a purchase after clicking the links in this post. Find more info in our disclaimer.

Days 1 – 2: Johannesburg

We arrived in Johannesburg after spending 9 days in Botswana on a self-drive safari.  After handing back our 4wd bush camper we rented a regular car through for our road trip.

We were after a little comfort and were lucky to find a great last minute deal through – staying in the suburb of Sandton at the Westpoint Executive Suites. After sleeping in tents on the roof of our 4wd for 9 nights in Botswana it felt like complete luxury to have two bedrooms, a kitchen, a laundry and even a separate dining room.

We took advantage of the great pool area, fast wifi and the comforts of home while admiring the sunset views from our balcony.

South Africa Johannesburg Westpoint Hotel Sunset

Apartheid Museum

The next day we drove across town to the Apartheid Museum. The drive took us through some super wealthy suburbs with beautiful tree lined streets and large homes surrounded by even larger walls, sometimes with security guards.

In stark contrast, at just about every set of lights there was someone begging for money. This prompted discussions with the kids about poverty, inequality and apartheid. It made for an interesting drive and was perhaps a good introduction to the museum, which is a thought provoking and moving look at South Africa’s history.

The museum documents the rise and fall of apartheid in the country and the devastating impact it has had on its citizens. Although the museum is confronting and sombre, I highly recommend a visit. It helped us understand the recent history of South Africa and was a great introduction before we set off to explore the country.

It was, however, more difficult to engage the kids at the museum. There is a lot of written text to read and many of the topics were too complex for them to fully understand.  While we moved through the museum more quickly than we normally would, it was worth a visit with the kids. It gave the kids a basic history lesson which was a good base to build on as we began our road trip through the country.

Days 3-5: Drakensberg Ranges

Although we had hardly scratched the surface of Jo’berg, we were keen to head out of the city and start our road trip to Cape Town. We drove for about 4 hours south on a motorway through fields and spectacular plains to the Drakensberg Ranges.

This is the eastern portion of the great escarpment that marks the border between South Africa and the mountainous Kingdom of Lesotho. The Drakensberg stretches for over 1000 km and includes spectacular rocky peaks over 3000 m tall.

The region is scattered with small towns with access to the surrounding mountain ranges. We stayed at Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge, a remote and quirky little place with a mix of basic bungalows, dorms and camp sites. It was basic but suited our needs and came at a great price. The name comes from the view across to the peaks and rocky walls that form the escarpment that is known as “The Amphitheatre”.

The hostel can organise hiking trips to the nearby Tugela Falls which are the second highest in the world. They also provide maps for a number of other hikes in the area. It was a great spot to stay with the kids. With a communal kitchen, pool and plenty of space to play, it was a friendly and comfortable stop with incredible views across to the mountains.

View from Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge, Bergville, South Africa

Hiking the Cascades

The challenge we had when planning our hiking in the Drakensberg Ranges was that many of the trails seemed quite technical. We also found it difficult to find much detailed information on the hikes. We concluded from what we could find that the Tugela Falls hike might be a bit tough for the kids. I would love to come back when the kids are older to tackle this hike. Instead we set off on a self-guided 4 hour hike to the Cascades.

To get to the trailhead was about an hour drive in to Cathedral Peak Nature Reserve (120 Rand entry). On the way we passed lots of small villages of very basic housing. This was a common sight in South Africa and seems to be a sign that change is slow in the country. The locals would wait on the roadside for one of the many minibuses that ferried them from place to place. Hitching a ride is commonplace and there were plenty of people seeking a ride.

The trailhead started at the fancy looking Didma Camp lodges and went up into one of the canyons of the Drakensberg foothills. The first part of the hike was through grassland and low scrub. We were lucky to have a clear morning and the views across to the Drakensberg Ranges were gorgeous.

After just spending 9 days in Botswana where roaming wild animals included lions, wild dogs and elephants we were all a little nervous as we set off! Fortunately we were alone except for a number of baboons who looked on from a distance. It was a bit of a climb and hot in the sun. The track was overgrown in places and is obviously not used much. We only passed two people the entire time.

South Africa Drakensberg Cascades Hike

The trail eventually led into a damp forest alongside the mountain stream with big boulders and a cascading stream. We followed this for a while until we found a nice spot and had a picnic lunch on the rocks by the stream.

We hiked back the same way to the car, just making it to the car in time to beat some rain. However, it was sunny by the time we got back to the backpackers and we had a well deserved swim in the pool.

South Africa Drakensberg Cascades Hike

Royal Natal National Park

The next day we headed to the nearby Royal Natal National Park (120 Rand entry). We took a guided walk to a rock cave with 800 year old cave paintings. To be honest, the paintings were not that great. They are not well protected and have faded in the weather and been vandalised in places. However, the view of the high rock walls of the Amphitheatre was superb.

South Africa Drakensberg Amphitheatre

A short distance from here further along the road was a camp ground that was very popular given it was the start of the school holidays. From here we started a very easy 30 minute walk along a mountain stream. The path led to series of big swimming holes between some lovely cascading waterfalls.

There was quite a crowd of people here cooling down in the chilly water. We had a bit of a dip and found a big rock to have lunch before another quick swim. Amelie and I braved the cold water to go under the waterfall.

South Africa Drakensberg Waterfall

Again the bad weather rolled came in and we headed back to the car as rain threatened. We drove up the valley a bit further to try and see Tugela Falls. Unfortunately cloud and light rain meant we couldn’t catch sight of it. Next time!

We head back to the backpackers and by the time we arrived the rain had stopped and it was time for a swim in the pool and a game of ping pong.

You could spend much more time in the Drakensberg as there are loads more hikes. It is also possible to visit the mountain kingdom of Lesotho from here on guided tours.

Day 6: Aliwal North

We had debated for many days which direction to take to make our way towards the coast. The kingdom of Lesotho rises up from the plains and it is a long way round either way! We decided to head to the west and south around Lesotho. We had two big driving days ahead of us to make it to the coast. The first day would be about 5 hours to the small town of Aliwal North.

Our first stop on the way to the coast was the town of Clarens. The landscape was impressive on the drive to Clarens through the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. It was dry and rocky and the skies were big and blue. It looked similar to images I have seen of the USA around Las Vegas.

South Africa Highway near Clarens

We stopped at Clarens and it was unlike any other town we had seen so far in South Africa. Most towns we had passed though on the way to the Drakensberg had what were essentially shanty towns (or townships) on the outskirts with the centre filled with rows of identical small and basic housing.

Clarens still had a township on the outskirts but the centre of town was far more developed with old buildings, restaurants and cafes. It was obviously more touristy and felt a bit like Bright (a town in northern Victoria, Australia).

We treated ourselves to a coffee and cake and bought some Dry Wors (a kind of dried thin salami stick) to try.

We continued driving through bare, rocky and dry landscapes. We arrived in Aliwal North in the late afternoon with enough time to pick up supplies and find a place to stay a few kilometres out of town at the Toll Inn Guest Farm. It was a little B&B set amongst pretty gardens that made a convenient stop on our way to the coast, complete with cats and dogs for the kids to play with.

Day 7: Addo

Another big day of driving as we headed 4 hours further south to just outside of Addo, famous for the nearby Addo Elephant National Park.

Just before we arrived in Addo we passed over a mountain pass and as we made our way down the other side the landscape was immediately different. It was much greener, although still mainly scrubby vegetation. We passed a number of private game parks and saw quite a few zebras as we made our way to Addo.

We stayed at Avoca River Cabins, a fenced oasis of villas in a beautiful garden setting by the river amongst citrus plantations. There was a kids playground with a fun (but slightly dangerous) flying fox that the kids enjoyed and we took a brief swim in the cold pool.

If we were not on a mission to make it to the coast this would have made a lovely longer stop. The cabins were basic but had everything we needed and the pool and creek were fun for the kids to play.

Days 8 – 11: Plettenberg Bay

We were not planning to visit Addo National Park to see the elephants as we had seen so much wildlife on our self-drive safari in Botswana. However, we almost reconsidered when we heard there were lions sighted the day prior. We were really disappointed not to see any big cats on our safari in Botswana and it was tempting to try again.

However, we took a vote with the kids and they decided to save our money for zip lining in Plettenberg Bay, our next destination. We had spent a lot of money on safaris in Botswana and it wasn’t the best time of year for spotting the big cats so we didn’t like our chances!

Our destination was Plettenberg Bay, a pretty town on the Garden Route where we were planning a longer stop. A 3 hour drive, we made our way through the outskirts of Port Elizabeth until we hit a motorway running by the ocean and then followed this through the city and headed further along the coast to our first pitstop, Jeffreys Bay.

Friends had given us the tip to stop at Jeffreys Bay and have lunch at a restaurant called Walskippers. The beach in Jeffreys Bay looked nice but the weather had changed and it was windy and cool – not really beach weather. But we were pleased we stopped for lunch. Walskippers is situated right on the beachfront and has an interesting setup with a sand floor and is open to the sea on two sides giving lovely views.

At Walskippers we had an incredible seafood lunch. Amelie claims it was the best calamari she had ever had and Rachel and I had delicious local fish. The fish was cooked on brais above hot coals.

The chefs retrieved the hot coals on large shovels from a chute at the bottom of a huge furnace. Wood was continually added to the top of the furnace which burned ferociously to create the coals. The view was pretty good too!

South Africa Walskippers Jeffreys Bay

As we headed further west along the coast the vegetation became lusher and greener, which made sense as this is the start of the renowned “Garden Route”. We travelled through pine plantations between the ocean and a large mountain range and into the Tsitsikamma National Park where we crossed bridges over massive gorges.

South Africa Tsitsikamma Gorge

Plettenberg Bay is a town situated on the side of a very steep headland with beaches on either side. We stayed in Plettenberg Bay for 4 nights in a 2 bedroom apartment in the River Club Villas complex. This is a series of apartments and houses in a fenced and gated community complete with a guardhouse.

The plan was to get some beach time at Plettenberg Bay but we woke to a cold and wet day. So instead we had a lazy morning. It was nice to relax after the 3 big driving days. We hoped the weather would improve (which it didn’t) so we drove into town to explore.

The main street was a lot like any seaside town in Australia with restaurants and cafes. We got take away pies and drove down to the beachfront. However, it was so cold and windy we ate them inside the car and retreated back to our apartment to watch a movie.

Ziplining at Storms River

The following day the weather was a bit better but still grey and cool with the occasional rain shower. We decided to brave it and head out to try our hand at ziplining. We chose Tsitsikamma Falls Adventure as their were prices were more affordable.

The kids had never ziplined before and they were both nervous as we geared up. We were in a group of 12 with 4 German girls in their 20s and an English family with kids about the same age as ours.

Harvey was especially worried at the start but loved it after his first go. The zip lines ran across and through a small gorge with most about 90m and the longest 211m. Before long the kids were grinning madly as they clipped in and whizzed away on their own. It was well run and great fun.

South Africa Zip Line

On the way back we stopped at a  service station at Storm River bridge. The bridge runs over a deep and narrow gorge and there is a (scary) narrow walkway across the bridge.

It was about 100m down to the bottom of the gorge and the trucks flew by only a couple of metres from us. Harvey and Rachel really didn’t like feeling of vertigo. The view through the gorge was impressive though!

We bought some ostrich biltong (dried meat) to try, another food that South Africa is famous for. Perhaps ostrich was not the best choice as it was very gamely and and chewy and I was the only one who ate it.

We couldn’t resist stopping again a bit further along at the road at the even bigger Bloukrans Bridge. At 216 m high, they have the highest bungy in Africa and one of the highest in the world. We watched as brave souls threw themselves into the deep gorge. That is a person on the end of the rope in the photo!

South Africa Bloukrans Bridge

Near the bungy cafe there was a company with trampolines doing inverse bungy and our resident daredevil Amelie decided to give it a go. A guy bounced on the tramp below her, grabbed her legs and then released and Amelie soared high into the air.

She had a ball and managed to do back and front flips and even one double front flip. Sign her up for the circus!

South Africa Amelie Inverse Bungy

Robberg Peninsula Hike

On our last day in Plettenberg Bay the sun finally broke through and we decided to do the Robberg Peninsula hike. I had read about this hike and the pictures looked so spectacular.

This hike goes in a loop along a long and narrow peninsular that extends from the point a few kilometres further west of Plettenberg Bay. We started along the east side of the island. The trail is along cliffs high up from the water. You could look down the sheer cliffs to the water below where hundreds of seals were frolicking in the clear seas.

South Africa Robberg Peninsular hike

We also saw some cute little dassies sunning themselves on rocky outcrops. The whole way huge colourful grasshoppers jumped away as we neared them on the trail.

It took us about 2 hours to get to the end of the peninsular, roughly the halfway point. We found a nice spot on the rocks and had some lunch with gorgeous views down to the rock platform where large waves crashed and seals were playing a dangerous game surfing in the waves.

South Africa Robberg Peninsular hike

The trail then headed back on the west side of the island where the trail mostly stayed close to the water and we had to scramble over boulders past rock pools. Occasionally we had to climb up the steep cliff where the ocean came right up to the cliff.

South Africa Robberg Peninsular hike

We stopped halfway back, where there is a massive and steep sand dune. The kids and I climbed the dune and ran down the dune at breakneck pace. Always good fun. There was a nice little beach but we felt the water and it was freezing. None of us braved it. We walked back a bit further to another little beach, played on the sand and made the obligatory sandcastle. It was fun to see seals playing in the waves only meters from us. Look closely at the photo below!

South Africa Robberg Peninsular hike

We walked the last steep climb back up to the carpark to end a really good hike, one of our highlights of South Africa. It was about 10 kilometres and steep in a few places. The kids did really well and we all enjoyed themselves.

Days 12-13: Oudtshoorn

We continued along the Garden Route for about an hour to Knysna. This was another big holiday town set on a large shallow inlet. On another tip we made our way to the East Head cafe for breakfast. The cafe is positioned close to and looking out to sea through the narrow rocky heads of the inlet.

After coffee we explored the rocky shore in front of the cafe. It was an explorers heaven, full of rockpools with anemone and big starfish. A strange light fog hung in the air and it was quite cool. However, every now and again it would suddenly get about 5 degrees warmer and stay like that for a few minutes before switching back. Weird.

We drove further down the coast to the seaside town of Wilderness. This is meant to be another nice seaside town but the weather turned very nasty as we approached. A strong westerly wind was blowing and at one stage we drove through a mini dust storm.

With our thoughts of visiting the beach again dashed, we stopped at the lookout on the cliff driving out of town. The rain was holding off and we enjoyed the view back down the beach and noticed a huge pack of about 100 dolphins playing in the waves. There were a bit far away but it was great to watch them surfing and jumping out of the water.

We passed through the outskirts of George and headed over a spectacular mountain pass towards Oudtshoorn. As soon as we crossed the mountain pass the scenery turned arid, rocky and dry like it had been before Addo. We stopped in Oudtshoorn for a late lunch and then headed about 30 minutes out of town to Oudemuragie Guest Farm where we were staying the next 2 nights.

We turned off the main road onto a dirt road heading down a valley through some olive plantations. After about 9 kms we turned into a driveway that went through an olive plantation then over a causeway and then up a hill to expose some verdant green fields and a large house set in nice gardens. The backdrop was spectacular with rocky mountains shooting up from the far edge of the paddocks.

We were greeted by Maggie as though we were long lost friends. It was Maggie’s farm and as she showed us our cabin she gave us a fresh loaf of bread. The only issue was the electricity which was not working since a storm went through the previous night. Staying on the farm was one of our most memorable stops of the trip.

South AFrica Oumaragie Farm

We setttled in and at 4:30pm we (along with 2 other families and a couple staying there) went and helped herd the sheep into their pen for the night. There were a number of lambs, including one that had been born the night before.

The kids took turns feeding some of the lambs with a bottle of milk because their mothers did not have enough milk to feed them. The whole time Maggie was talking, mixing between Africaans and English. She was a real character and full of energy. She had some help from a couple of farmhands but you could tell she was the kind of person that never stops.

South Africa Oumaragie Farm

That night we lit a fire on the brai (barbeque) to cook a curly sausage. We had no electricity and were using candles for light and the gas stove to cook some potatoes. To the west we could see a big electrical storm with lightning but it was quite still and it seemed the storm would pass us by. However, it became increasingly obvious this would not be the case as the lightning came closer and and wind picked up.

South Africa Oumaragie Farm

Finally there was a huge gust of wind and the heavens opened. I grabbed the sausage off the fire and ran inside for cover. We closed all the windows as the rain drove in. It was bucketing down and the rain came through some of the windows and under one of the doors. I finished cooking the sausage in the stove and we had dinner under candlelight as the storm raged and thunder boomed.

Eventually the rain stopped and the wind dropped. The kids went to bed and I could hear a roaring noise. I opened the window and realised it was the stream, about 100 metres away at the bottom of the paddock. With all the rain running down from the mountains it sounded like a raging river torrent.

The following day we planned to drive to Cango Caves and Amelie wanted to visit an Ostrich farm. We drove down the driveway, nervous about the state of the causeway which we had crossed on our way in. Muddy water about shin deep was rushing across the causeway. I was not going to chance losing the rental car down the creek so we turned around. Instead we spent the day exploring the farm, wondering how long we may be stranded for!

We walked up to the dam, set in the hillside above the farm at the base of the huge mountains. On the way we realised the extent of the damage from the storm the previous night. The water level had risen by a couple of meters and branches and whole trees were fallen and strewn across the stream.

We used a fallen tree to cross the creek and followed the path upwards into a blackened and bleak landscape. We found out later from Maggie that a fire had destroyed the vegetation earlier that year and narrowly missed wiping out her farm.

South Africa

The next morning the kids were up early to help Maggie, who had promised them a long ride on the tractor and an ice cream. Rach and I were packing and heard the tractor and looked out to see Harvey sitting on Maggie’s lap driving the tractor up the road.

The tractor was towing a trailer with Amelie, two dogs and two other young girls and their parents. Amelie also took a turn driving the tractor. For two city kids this was heaven! They loved every minute. We were sad to leave the farm. The lovely Maggie gave us a bottle of jam and suggested a few places we should stop on our drive and wished us well. She is an amazing lady and we were so glad we stopped here.

South Africa Oumaragie Farm

We drove back through Oudtshoorn and on through arid countryside and mountains with a brief stop in Ladismith where we bought some cheese and dried fruit (which they are famous for).

We then continued on a bit further to Barrydale where Maggie said a place called Diesel had the best milkshakes in SA. It was an interesting little roadside place with old petrol pumps, signs and paraphernalia. The milkshakes indeed were awesome and I had a good burger there too.

South Africa Diesel Milkshake

Day 14: Cape Agulhas

From Barrydale we turned towards the coast up and over an incredibly scenic mountain pass. The road followed a canyon that cut through the mountain range. There had been fires here too and once we crossed the mountain pass we left the arid terrain, now replaced by fields of farming land. We continued on for a bit over an hour to Cape Agulhas, the southern most tip of Africa.

South Africa Cape Agulhas

At sunset we drove down to the cape to where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. The coastline was very rugged and windswept. The kids played on the rocky shore and we stopped by a shipwreck to watch the sun set. It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon.

South Africa Cape Agulhas

Day 15: Franschoek

From here we drove the coastal road towards Cape Town. The weather was still grey so the coast did not look at its best. We may be biased but we all agreed the Great Ocean Road in Victoria was better! However, the last stretch between Rooi-Els and Gordon’s Bay was very spectacular with the tall mountains plunging down to the sea and the road clinging to the side of the mountain.

South Africa

Instead of heading to Cape Town we drove on to Franschhoek, a small town set in a valley of vineyards and fruit farms between huge rocky mountains. The setting is absolutely breath taking. We stopped at Moreson Wine Farm, where they have a restaurant and cafe called Miss Molly. There we treated ourselves to charcuterie and cheese boards with wine tastings. It was a real treat.

The town had a lot of expensive looking shops and restaurants and obviously gets a lot of wealthy visitors, being one of South Africa’s premier wine districts less than an hour from Cape Town. We stayed at La Bourgogne Wine Farm a few kilometres out of town.

Here they grow pears, olives, grapes and make wine. They have a lovely setup with tables overlooking a grassy area with kids play equipment. As we were staying at the Farm we were treated to a complimentary wine tasting and a free bottle of wine. Plus there was a pool. We were all in heaven. It was the absolute bargain accommodation of the trip.

Franschoek, South Africa - La Bourgogne WIne Farm

Next morning we stopped in town to have a browse through the shop windows and stopped at De Villiers chocolate shop where the kids did a chocolate tasting (and gave us a bit too). They got 5 different flavours each and enjoyed ranking them from 1 to 10. We were a bit sad to leave Franschhoek as it was stunning and there were so many beautiful wineries to visit. Next time…

Days 16 – 18: Cape Town

We headed into Cape Town for our last stop in Africa where we would be spending 4 nights in an airbnb apartment. The city has a spectacular setting, located on a big bay at the foot of 1000 metre high Table Mountain. There is so much to do in Cape Town. We underestimated how much and could easily have spent more time in this very enjoyable city. To see a full list of activity ideas and prices for Cape Town click here.

Our nice 2 bedroom apartment was in a small old block of apartments at the base of Table Mountain. The owner was going away for the weekend. It was the first Airbnb we rented that was an actual lived in house. It felt cozy and the kids loved playing with the toys and reading the books of the 4 year old girl who’s room they stayed in.

The next day we considered hiking up Table Mountain but the weather was overcast and cold so we postponed it for another day.

Instead we went to the waterfront to explore what is a big retail and restaurant district. The shopping centre was full of lots of high end retail stores. This was a bit of a surprise but I guess the relative wealth in Cape Town is quite high compared to much of the country and they get many tourists.

Cape Town waterfront, South Africa

Continuing the chocolate theme, we went to the Lindt shop where the kids did a workshop to make their own gold chocolate bunny. It was 2 days before Easter so this was a fun activity for them to do. Plus they take a Lindt chocolate bunny away at the end!

South Africa Lindt bunny

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

For lunch we headed to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens where we had lunch at Moyos. This is a large restaurant chain that specialises in African cuisine.

On our South Africa road trip we had mostly been self-catering so this was our chance to try some local specialities. We decided to splurge and purchased the banquet which had over 50 meals to try. The food was OK but the real treat was tasting many of the different foods and for the kids the treat was to keep going back for more! Amelie made at least 3 trips to the dessert bar!

Afterwards we walked it off in the gardens. It has to be the best botanical garden in the world. It is huge and beautifully laid out on the lower slopes of Table Mountain. Highlights were the treetop walk of a metal gangway that swayed as you walked and climbing the huge wild almond trees.

South Africa Kirstenbosh Botanical Gardens

Hiking Table Mountain

The wind howled overnight and we woke to clear blue skies but it was still quite windy. We had hoped to hike up Table Mountain and catch the cable car down but it seemed unlikely the cable car would run with the high winds and gusts up to 100km/hr.

We knew that lots of roads were blocked for a marathon so it would be difficult to go and drive down to the Cape of Good Hope which was our plan B. We decided to stick with plan A and drove up and parked just down the road from the lower cable car station. It would mean hiking up and down the mountain but we were confident the kids would manage. It would also mean the top wouldn’t be as crowded as only the hikers would be there!

It was warm in the sun as we started the steep climb up to the contour path at the base of the rocky cliffs. Below us the blue water of the bay glistened in the sun. We made it to the contour path and then followed it along for maybe 1km to Platerklip Gorge.

Here the path zig-zagged pretty much straight up a narrow gorge culminating in a narrow canyon right at the top of the mountain. There were loads of people doing the hike. A few guys were even trail running it!

South Africa Table Mountain Hike

The climb was very steep on a seemingly endless number of rocky steps. The icy wind blew down the gorge straight into our faces. A few times it gusted so much we lost our balance.

It got pretty cold and we were happy to have fleeces and our rain jackets in the top section that was in the shade and very windy. Amelie grumbled a bit on the climb and there were a few moments when I wondered if we would make it but after 2 hour we made it to the top. We were rewarded with spectacular views out to sea and over the city.

South Africa Table Mountain Hike

Because the cable car was not running the cafe and toilets at the top were also closed. Fortunately we had brought our own food which we ate in a sunny spot out of the wind and we found some bushes for a toilet stop.

It was too cold to stay at the top for long so down we went. Thankfully it took less time but was still tough and Rachel’s legs were like jelly by the bottom. It was not easy but I am glad we did it.

Camps Bay

The next day was sunny and the wind had dropped a bit so we took a day trip to Camps Bay. It is quite a beautiful beach. We found a spot, made sand castles and played soccer. Hawkers on the beach with eskies (coolers) were selling cold drinks and ice creams. People were sunbaking to get the last rays before winter. The water was freezing and a few people in full wetsuits were riding body boards in the small waves but we did not brave the cold for a swim.

Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa

We had a nice seafood lunch at Oceans Basket, a restaurant on the waterfront. There were some quite expensive looking restaurants along the strip but this was good value. We got the obligatory ice creams and headed back to the apartment. The kids watched movies and we started packing, ready to leave early the next morning. It was a great way to finish our stop in Cape Town.

Parting thoughts

Okay, it is a 2.5 week road trip! We thoroughly enjoyed our trip through South Africa. It is an easy country to self-drive and despite our initial fears we found it to be quite safe. We took the necessary precautions and didn’t have any problems. We had some long driving days which were tough with the kids sometimes, but driving really is the best way to see the country. So as long as you prepare for the drives they are okay.

The people we met were friendly, upbeat and happy. We learnt about the history of the country and saw how the country is recovering from the apartheid period. We spent a week in Botswana to get our fix of wild animal safaris but this is all possible in South Africa as well.

South Africa is an absolutely spectacular place to visit with amazing scenery and many great outdoor activities. I have no doubt we will be back to this country to explore more of what it has to offer.

Originally published July 2017. Updated April 2018.

Planning a trip to South Africa

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South Africa Accommodation – In South Africa we found the largest range of accommodation on SafariNow. Check the latest properties and prices here.

Car Rental in South  is the world’s biggest online car rental service and searches all the biggest brands to bring you the best deals. We have used them all around the world and consistently find the best deals through their site.

Travel Insurance for South Africa – we use World Nomads for all of our travel insurance needs.

What do you love about South Africa? Is there anything you would like to know? Leave us a comment!

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Everything you need to know to plan a 2 week itinerary for South Africa including where to stay and highlights along the way #southafrica #itinerary #gardenroute


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