Everyone I know who has visited South Africa has rated it one of their favorite destinations. They were unanimous in saying “You have to go to South Africa. You will love it”. They raved about the beautiful scenery, the wildlife and the great food and wine.
As we started planning a trip to South Africa we were excited to discover how diverse the country is.
From world class cities, the opportunity to go on safari, UNESCO National Parks, world famous wine regions, spectacular beaches to challenging hiking. The list just went on and on! There are so many options for a road trip in South Africa in 2 weeks!
Here we share our 2 week itinerary and recommendations for an incredible South Africa trip.
- 1 Itinerary Overview: South Africa in 2 Weeks
- 2 Days 1 – 2: Johannesburg
- 3 Days 3-5: Drakensberg Ranges
- 4 Day 6: Aliwal North
- 5 Day 7: Addo
- 6 Days 8 – 11: Plettenberg Bay
- 7 Days 12-13: Oudtshoorn
- 8 Day 14: Cape Agulhas
- 9 Day 15: Franschhoek
- 10 Days 16 – 18: Cape Town
- 11 Best time to visit South Africa
- 12 South Africa Itinerary options
- 13 Parting thoughts
Itinerary Overview: South Africa in 2 Weeks
As we researched more about the best places to visit in South Africa, we settled on a 2 week road trip. We could easily have spent more time, and throughout this itinerary we highlight where you could make changes with more or less time.
Our two week itinerary started in Johannesburg. Our plan was to head east, past the Drakensberg Ranges, then head south and west along the famed Garden Route to Cape Town.
The trip would finish in Cape Town, one of the most spectacular cities in the world.
Map created at travellerspoint.com
Days 1 – 2: Johannesburg
We handed back our 4wd bush camper and rented a car through Rentalcars.com for two weeks in South Africa. There is no doubt we had some fears about driving in South Africa, but we actually found the country very easy to explore independently. The car gave us complete freedom to road trip at our own pace.
Seeking a little comfort we were lucky to find a great last minute deal staying at the Westpoint Executive Suites in Sandton. There are a large number of serviced apartment buildings in the Sandton area, which is considered one of the safest places to stay in Johannesburg.
After sleeping in roof tents in Botswana it felt like complete luxury to have two bedrooms, a kitchen and a laundry in our apartment.
On our first night we took advantage of the great pool area, fast WI-FI and the comforts of home while admiring the sunset views from our balcony.
|Expert Tip: If you want to add 2 days in Kruger National Park, we suggest you reduce time in Johannesburg and head straight to Kruger NP, 4-5 hours drive away.|
If you have time to explore Johannesburg, we recommend a trip to the Apartheid Museum across town. The drive took us through wealthy suburbs with beautiful tree lined streets and large homes surrounded by even larger walls, often protected with security guards. In stark contrast, at just about every set of lights there were people begging.
It is a confronting sight coming from a country like Australia. It prompted discussions with the kids about poverty, inequality and apartheid. It made for an interesting drive and was perhaps a good introduction to the Apartheid Museum, which offers a thought provoking and moving look at South Africa’s tumultuous history.
The Apartheid 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 somber, I highly recommend a visit. It helped us understand the recent history of South Africa and was a timely history lesson before we set off to explore the country.
It was, however, difficult to engage the kids. There is a lot of written text to read and many of the topics were too complex for them to fully understand.
While it meant we moved through the museum quickly, 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 hardly scratched the surface of Jo’burg, 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.
The Drakensberg is the eastern portion of the escarpment that marks the border between South Africa and the mountainous Kingdom of Lesotho. It stretches for over 1000 km and includes spectacular rocky peaks over 3000 m tall. The uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park was listed as a UNESCO heritage site in 2000.
The region is peppered with small towns with access to the surrounding mountain ranges offering spectacular hiking and walks. We made our way to the Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge just outside Bergville, our base for a few days.
If you love the outdoors and hiking, a few days visiting the Drakensberg Ranges is a worthwhile inclusion in your South Africa itinerary.
Hiking Rainbow Gorge to the Cascades
The challenge when planning our hiking in the Drakensberg Ranges was that many of the trails seemed technical. We also found it difficult to find detailed information about the hikes to confirm if that was the case.
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 from Bergville to Cathedral Peak Nature Reserve (120 Rand entry).
On the way we passed many small villages with 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.
Parking is at the luxurious Didima Camp Lodges and the trail makes its way up into one of the canyons of the Drakensberg foothills. The staff at Didima have a hiking register you can sign before you set off.
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 spending time in Botswana where roaming 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 was obviously not used much. We only passed two people during the hike.
The trail eventually led into a damp forest alongside a 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 returned the same way, just making it to the car in time to beat the rain. It was sunny by the time we returned to our accommodation we had a well deserved swim in the pool.
Royal Natal National Park
The next day we drove to the nearby Royal Natal National Park (120 Rand entry).
Our first stop was a guided walk to see some of the famed rock art by the San people who called the Drakensberg home since the stone age. There are many rock art sites throughout the area and educational centers at Didima and Kamberg.
To be honest, the paintings were in a dilapidated state. The ones we saw are not well protected and been vandalized in places. However, the guide provided a good history lesson and the view of the high rock walls of the Amphitheatre was superb.
A short distance from here further along the road was a campground where we parked and started an easy 30 minute walk along a mountain stream. The path led to series of swimming holes between some lovely cascading waterfalls.
There was quite a crowd of people here cooling down in the chilly water. We had a dip and found a spot for lunch before another quick swim. We braved the cold water to go under the waterfall but didn’t stay under for long!
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.
We head back to our accommodation 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.
Other things to do in the Drakensberg Ranges
You could spend much more time in the Drakensberg as there are loads more hikes. The hike to Tugela Falls is on our list for next time.
It is also possible to organize a guided tour to visit the mountain kingdom of Lesotho from here via the renowned Sani Pass.
Where to Stay in Drakensberg Ranges
We stayed at Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge, not far out of the town of Bergville. It is a remote and quirky little place with a mix of basic bungalows, dorms and campsites.
The Lodge was simple but suited our needs and was very affordable. The name comes from the view across to the peaks and rocky walls that form the escarpment known as “The Amphitheatre”.
The hostel can organize hiking trips to the nearby Tugela Falls, the second highest waterfall in the world. They also provide maps for a number of other hikes in the area.
With a communal kitchen, pool and plenty of space to play, it was a friendly and comfortable stop with incredible views across the mountains.
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 around 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.
|Save time: Drive back to Johannesburg and fly to Port Elizabeth. It would be possible to achieve this in a single day instead of spending two days driving to the coast!|
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 the landscapes in South Western USA.
We stopped at Clarens and it was unlike any other town we had seen so far in South Africa. Most towns we passed through on the way to the Drakensberg had townships on the outskirts of town with the center filled with rows of identical small and basic housing.
Clarens had a township on the outskirts but the center 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.
The drive continued through bare, rocky and dry landscapes. The scenery was spectacular and made the long journey much more bearable.
We arrived in Aliwal North in the late afternoon with enough time to pick up supplies and find a place to stay a few kilometers out of town at the Toll Inn Guest Farm. It was a little B&B set among pretty gardens and made a convenient stop on our way to the coast. Click here to read more about Toll Inn.
Day 7: Addo
Another big day of driving as we head 4 hours further south to the small town of Addo, famous for the nearby Addo Elephant National Park.
As we got closer to 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.
Addo Elephant National Park is a great park to visit and see elephants, lion, and rhino if you didn’t include Kruger National Park in your itinerary. There is a range of accommodation available close by from basic to luxury. It is possible to do self-guided or guided game drives in the park. You can find more details here.
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. 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
Our next destination was Plettenberg Bay, a pretty town on the Garden Route where we planned a longer stop.
If you are short on time, you could easily pack more into a shorter visit at Plettenberg Bay than we did. I would recommend at least a 2 night stop to have time for some of the many outdoor activities.
It was a 3-hour drive from Addo to Plettenberg Bay. We made our way through the outskirts of Port Elizabeth until we hit a motorway running by the ocean and followed this through the city and headed towards the garden route and our first pitstop, Jeffreys Bay.
Friends had given us the tip to stop at Jeffreys Bay and have lunch at a restaurant called Walskippers. It is 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.
The seafood lunch was wonderful. The fish is cooked on brais above hot coals. The chefs collect 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!
As we headed further west along the coast the vegetation became lush and green, which made sense as this is the start of the renowned “Garden Route”.
We traveled through pine plantations between the ocean and a large mountain range and into the Tsitsikamma National Park where we crossed bridges spanning massive gorges.
Plettenberg Bay is a town situated on the side of a very steep headland with beaches on either side.
It is a popular holiday destination for South Africans and our plan was to get some beach time. Unfortunately, we woke to a cold and wet day. So instead we had a lazy day, explored the small town and chilled out hoping the weather was going to improve!
Ziplining at Storms River
The following day the weather was grey and cool with the occasional rain shower. The area around Plettenberg Bay is renowned for its many adventure activities including bungee jumping, rafting, and ziplining.
We decided to brave it and head out to try our hand at ziplining. We chose Tsitsikamma Falls Adventure as the prices were more affordable than other companies in the area.
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 we were all grinning madly as we clipped in and whizzed away. It was well run and great fun.
Storm River Bridge
On the way back to Plettenberg Bay we stopped at Storm River bridge. The bridge runs over a deep and narrow gorge and there is a (scary) narrow walkway across the bridge. You can park at the service station on the Plettenberg Bay side of the bridge and walk back a short distance to walk across the bridge.
It was about 100m down to the bottom of the gorge and the trucks flew by only a couple of meters from us. It is a disconcerting walk but the view through the gorge is worth it.
We also bought some ostrich biltong (dried meat) to try, another food South Africa is famous for. Perhaps ostrich was not the best choice as it was very gamely and chewy and I was the only one who ate it.
Bungee Jumping at Bloukrans Bridge
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!
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 and released her legs and Amelie soared high into the air.
She had so much fu and managed to do back and front flips and even one double front flip. Sign her up for the circus!
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 peninsula that extends from the point a few kilometers further west of Plettenberg Bay.
If you like to get outdoors we highly recommend you add this hike to your South Africa itinerary.
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.
We also saw some cute little dassies sunning themselves on rocky outcrops. The whole way huge colorful grasshoppers jumped away as we neared them on the trail.
It took us about 2 hours to get to the end of the peninsula, 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.
The trail then wraps back on the west side of the island where the path hugs the waterline 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.
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!
We walked the last steep climb back up to the carpark to end a really good hike, one of the highlights of our 2 weeks in South Africa. It was about 10 kilometers and steep in a few places. The kids did really well and we all enjoyed themselves.
Where to Stay in Plettenberg Bay
We stayed in Plettenberg Bay for 4 nights in a 2 bedroom apartment in the River Club Villas complex near town. This is a series of apartments and houses in a fenced and gated community complete with a guardhouse.
We were able to secure a great deal as it wasn’t peak season. There are a large number of rental apartments in the area as it is a local holiday destination and it is worth contacting local real estate agents to secure the best deal.
Days 12-13: Oudtshoorn
Along the Garden Route there are countless great stops on the way to Oudsthoorn. We continued along for about an hour to Knysna. This is 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.
Farm Stay at Oudtshoorn
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 as it had been before Addo.
Oudtshoorn is famous both for its Ostrich Farms and The Cango Caves. If you want to visit the Cango Caves you will need to book in advance as they are very popular. We had intentions to visit both an Ostrich Farm and the caves, but were thwarted by a flash storm, as we explain below!
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. Our stay at the farm was one of our most memorable stops of the trip.
The farm is a little hard to find, but we found it eventually! As we turned off the main road onto a dirt road we head 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 up a hill to expose some verdant green fields and a large house set in nice gardens. The backdrop was spectacular with rocky mountains soaring up from the far edge of the paddocks.
We were greeted by Maggie, the owner of the farm, as though we were long lost friends. She showed us to our cabin and 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.
Helping out on the Farm
We settled in and at 4:30pm we (along with 2 other families and a couple staying there) helped herd the sheep into their pen for the night. There were a number of lambs, including one born the night before.
The kids took turns feeding the lambs with bottles of milk as 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.
That night we lit a fire on the brai (barbeque) to cook dinner. We still 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 wind picked up.
Finally, there was a huge gust of wind and the heavens opened. I grabbed our food 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 dinner on 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 realized it was the stream, about 100 meters away at the bottom of the paddock. With all the rain running down from the mountains it sounded like a raging river torrent.
Stranded on the Farm
The following day we planned to drive to Cango Caves. As we drove down the driveway, we were nervous about the state of the causeway 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 realized 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.
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. As we packed we 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 of it.
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.
Day 14: Cape Agulhas
We decided to skip the Cango Caves as we needed to keep making our way to Cape Town. So we made our way back on to the Garden Route and to Cape Agulhas on the coast.
The drive took us 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.
From Barrydale we turned towards the coast up and over an incredibly scenic mountain pass.
The road followed a canyon that cuts 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 southernmost tip of Africa.
At sunset, we drove down to the cape to where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet.
The coastline is very rugged and windswept. The kids played on the rocky shore and we stopped by a shipwreck to watch the sunset. It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon. It felt pretty special to arrive at the southernmost tip of Africa.
Day 15: Franschhoek
From Cape Agulhas we drove the coastal road towards Cape Town. The weather was still grey so unfortunately, the famed coastline did not look at its best.
We may be biased but we all agreed the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia 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.
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 breathtaking. 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. .
The town is a busy little place with many stores and restaurants.
Where to stay in Franschhoek
There are many guesthouses, lodges and hotels in Franshhoek. We stayed at La Bourgogne Wine Farm a few kilometers out of town.
Here they grow pears, olives, grapes and make wine. They have a lovely set up 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.
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).
We were a bit sad to leave Franschhoek as it was stunning and there were so many beautiful wineries to visit. A stay in Franshhoek to visit the wineries and experience South African hospitality at its best is essential in a two week itinerary South Africa.
Days 16 – 18: Cape Town
We head into Cape Town, just 2 hours drive for our last stop in Africa. We spent 4 nights in Cape Town and loved it. The city has a spectacular setting, located on a big bay at the foot of 1000 meter 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 enjoyable city. To see a full list of activity ideas and prices for Cape Town click here.
Cape Town Waterfront
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 the retail and restaurant district. The shopping center was full 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.
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 took a Lindt chocolate bunny away at the end!
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
For lunch, we drove to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens where we had lunch at Moyos. This is a large restaurant chain that specializes in African cuisine.
On our South Africa road trip we mostly self-catered so this was our chance to try some local specialties. 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 so many different local foods. For the kids, the treat was to keep going back for more! Amelie made at least 3 trips to the dessert bar!
Afterward, we walked our meal off in the gardens. Kirstenbosch 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. It is easy to spend a couple of hours here so plan an afternoon to explore and relax.
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 many roads were blocked for the annual marathon so we couldn’t plan a day trip out of the city either. So we stuck with our plan to hike Table Mountain and drove up and parked just down the road from the lower cable car station.
The cable car was closed so we had to hike both up and down the mountain. We were confident the kids would manage and were also pleased it meant the top wouldn’t be as crowded!
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, the blue 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!
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 hours we made it to the top. We were rewarded with spectacular views out to sea and over the city.
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.
Booking tickets for the Table Mountain Cable Car
If you plan to take the cable car to the top, keep an eye on the weather. Table Mountain is notorious for being blanketed in cloud. Which is why we don’t recommend you book tickets in advance. Watch the weather and when you have a blue day, book online and make your way up.
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 and good choice if you need a relaxing day while in Cape Town.
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.
There are seafood restaurants all the way along the promenade. We had lunch here, bought the obligatory ice creams and head back to the apartment. It was a great way to finish our trip to Cape Town.
Where to Stay in Cape Town
We booked an Airbnb apartment in Cape Town. It was located in a small old block of apartments at the base of Table Mountain.
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 girl who lived there.
There are a lot of accommodation choices in Cape Town, from Airbnb, serviced apartments and hotels.
It is a popular tourist city, so it is best to book in advance, especially during holiday periods. Click here to get an idea of hotel prices and availability.
Best time to visit South Africa
I don’t think there is any best time to visit South Africa. It really is a year-round destination.
We visited South Africa in April. We found April good for hiking as the temperatures were mild although we did encounter a lot of thunderstorms!
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).
As we traveled during shoulder season we didn’t need to book our accommodation and we made bookings a couple of days in advance along the way.
Our two week road trip 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!
South Africa Itinerary options
Okay, ours was a 2.5 week road trip! But the travel itinerary is easily customized to become a 1 week, 2 week or 3 week South African itinerary.
If you have a week in South Africa we suggest you fly to Port Elizabeth and drive the Garden Route, finishing in Cape Town.
To shorten this to a 2 week itinerary, we think you are best to reduce the number of nights in Johannesburg and Plettenberg Bay. You could also consider flying between Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.
If you have 3 weeks in South Africa, we suggest you head straight to Kruger National Park straight from Johannesburg then drive to the Drakensberg Ranges via St Lucia.
If you are lucky enough to have a month for a South Africa trip, then on top of adding Kruger and St Lucia we recommend exploring the Wild Coast on the eastern side of the country, more time in the Drakensberg Ranges and longer in Cape Town.
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, kept our valuables secure and didn’t have any problems.
There were some long driving days which were challenging with the kids, but driving really is the best way to see the country. So as long as you prepare for the drives they are manageable.
The people we met were friendly, upbeat and happy. We learned 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 a spectacular place to visit with amazing scenery and great outdoor activities. I have no doubt we will be back to this country to explore more of what it has to offer.
Plan your trip: South Africa in 2 weeks
Flights to South Africa – Skyscanner is our favorite site to search for flights. It compares hundreds of sites and millions of flights to show you the best deals available.
Most international flights arrive into Johannesburg, but there are a number of budget airlines operating within South Africa including Mango and SAFAir. Click here to review current ticket prices and availability.
Car Rental in South Africa – Rentalcars.com 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. Click here to search for South Africa car rental prices and availability.
What do you love about South Africa? Is there anything you would like to know? Leave us a comment!
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