This is most probably the mother of all South African road trips.
We're refering to the 1400 km that we (more or less) cover between Johannesburg and Cape Town on the N1. As any traveller knows, after Bloemfontein, the scenery stays a bit drab until you reach Worcester.
Here is our alternative suggestion, and the best part is, you can do half of it on your way down and the other way on your way back, as it meets the N1 in the middle.
For clarity's sake, let's just get the logistics out of the way:
*Take the N1 from Johannesburg to Cape Town.
* Just past Soweto take the Potchefstroom/Kimberly N12/N14 off ramp.
* Make way your way to Kimberley.
* From Kimberley, travel along the N12 until you meet the N1 at Three Sisters (Halfway).
* Continue on the N1 through Beaufort Wes, until you reach the N12 off ramp for Outdshoorn.
*From Outdshoorn travel to George.
*From George follow the N2 back to Cape Town.
Johannesburg to Kimberley on the N12 - 459 km.
Kimberley to Three Sisters on the N12 - 418 km.
From Three Sisters to Cape Town on the N12 and N2 - 718 km.
Total: 1519 km.
So even with all the turns, it's about the same as the 1400 km of the N1
Also See: Favourite SA road trips - Joburg to Durban
Places to see:
Okay so now that that's done, here are a few things you can look forward to. For the first section, the best part is missing the heaps of traffic. You can immediately settle into holiday mode as you drive past, and stop at will at, the calm of the Bloemhof dam, the Rob Ferriera Nature reserve, the impressive Vaal Harts Irrigation canals and even maybe spend a day or two playing in the mighty Vaal River?
GUIDE: Vaal River luxury: Create your own Winelands escape in Gauteng
Suggested Pit stop: Kimberley
After lapping up the clean air of the country, make your way to one of the most important cities of our country's past, Kimberley - "The city that sparkles". In 1871 a chance discovery of a precious stone on a farm owned by the De Beers brothers would signal the rapid birth of the diamond industry in the then colony of South Africa, as thousands of miners flocked here hoping to make it big.
Although Museums have the reputation of being stuffy, the recreation of Victorian life at the Kimberley Mine Museum is really quite extraordinary. If you prefer to rather get a sense for the people that lived here, the Belgravia historic walk stops at 33 places where the "opulent lifestyle of days gone past" are reflected and divulged.
After a good night's rest you will travel through the scenic solitude of the Northern Cape, all the while passing through the likes of classic Karoo towns like Hopetown and Victoria West en route to Three Sisters, and Beaufort West beyond.
From Beaufort West, you will pass through Meiringspoort that ascend the stark Swartberge, before dropping you off at the Ostrich Capital, Oudtshoorn.
Suggested Pitstop: Outdshoorn
GUIDE: #KarooSecrets: A long-weekend in Oudtshoorn
Apart from its rich history, Outdshoorn is really a great launching pad to explore the area. Nearby is the fantastic Cango Wildlife Ranch where you can dive with crocodiles or pet live Cheetahs. Or, as the Ostrich Capital, you have no excuse to miss the opportunity of riding one of these big birds. Then, don't forget the adventure that is to be had at the labyrinths inside the Cango caves a mere 40 kms away. The town is also a stone's throw away from the Garden Route and the holiday hotspots of Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.
So for the final leg of your journey, make your way to George, where the desolation of the Karoo will be replaced by the plush greenery of the seaside towns that populate the coast all the way to Cape Town. Along the way, you can stop off at the likes of Cape Agulhas, Hermanus, Grabouw, Swellendam and even Franschoek, depending on how you drive.
Et voila! After three days you have arrived in the Mother City, having seen new things and exchanging the traditional stopovers at either Colesburg or Beaufort Wes for something more, well, exciting!
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