If you’ve read our earlier bucket list, you will know that South Africa is a country with many bucket list-worthy boxes that you need to tick off. This list begins where the other left off – with the bewitching landscapes and scenic trails that make South Africa the ideal place for road trip adventures and specialised tours. Everyone dreams of that iconic road trip where they pack their lives in the car to spend the summer touring the country with their friends and family, and this bucket list shows you the best routes and trails for the most memorable experience.
Follow the Whales in South Africa
Every year, the southern right whales migrate from the frosty Antarctica to raise their young in the warmer oceans along the Cape Coast. The whales reach South Africa in June, with the peak whale-watching season being July and August, but continuing through September and October, and thinning out in November. These magnificent ocean beasts are best seen in Hermanus, less than two hours’ drive from Cape Town, where a whale-watching festival is held every year, and in Plettenberg Bay, where you may even spot an Orca whale. There are many routes you can follow, but one of the most popular amongst locals is to begin in Cape Town and drive along the coast to Hermanus, and then to Plettenberg Bay, and stopping at all of the main coastal towns along the way. Remember to take your binoculars so that you can watch the whales from the beach side, and use a boat operator for a closer encounter on the sea.
The Cape Winelands
You don’t need to be a wine-drinker to have the lush, rolling vineyards of the Cape Winelands on your bucket list. East of Cape Town, the mountainous valleys are a vista of stunning views and encompass the popular vineyard towns of Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Constantia, with numerous smaller towns in the surrounds. The many wine farms offer wine-tasting tours and the highly acclaimed restaurants, having earned the title of ‘gourmet capital’ of South Africa, have a selection of local and international cuisine. Aside from the spectacular views and the world-renowned wines, the restaurants alone are enough to warrant a spot on your bucket list!
The Blue Train and the Rovos Rail offer an exquisite and unique travelling experience for your bucket list. The South African trains are akin to five-star hotels, except for the wheels, and they offer a luxurious and exclusive way in which to explore the country. The Blue Train has been running since the 1920’s and offers a range of modern living rooms with en-suite bathrooms. A restaurant for fine dining and a Lounge Car for afternoon high tea, as well as personal butlers throughout your duration on the train, make for unbeatable dining and service. The travel routes go between Cape Town and Pretoria, and Pretoria and Hoedspruit, and you will journey through stunning landscapes before reaching your destination. The Rovos Rail is equally luxurious and elegant, although has a larger selection of tours to choose from. Routes stop at Cape Town, Durban, and the Victoria Falls, and longer routes include golfing tours, trips to Namibia, and an extended trip to Dar es Salaam.
The Garden Route is a favourite bucket list addition amongst locals for its iconic road trip beauty. The route generally begins in Mossel Bay of the Western Cape, and meanders along the coastline up to Storms River in the Eastern Cape. The long stretch is a vista of white beaches and sparkling seas, green forests, and towering mountains, and you could not dream of a prettier road trip. Stay in beach cottages within the passing towns; stop to follow the hiking trails; and spend some time in the national parks along the way.