15 drives in South Africa you must do!

WOW (Women on Wheels) - - CONTENTS -

SOUTH AFRICA IS CAR-MAD COUN­TRY. WE LOVE LIT­TLE CARS, BIG CARS, FAST CARS, OLD CARS AND BAKKIES. LUCK­ILY, THE COUN­TRY ALSO HAS SOME OF THE BEST ROADS AND ROUTES TO DRIVE. TAKE YOUR PICK FROM TIM BRINK’S SE­LEC­TION. T he road trip is a South African sta­ple; from a Sun­day morn­ing drive, to the year-end jour­ney to visit fam­ily, this is a coun­try that likes to keep mov­ing. With a vast net­work of tar and dirt roads, South Africa is a mo­torin­gen­thu­si­ast’ s par­adise. With a wide va­ri­ety of land­scapes and ecosys­tems, there truly is some­thing to suit ev­ery taste, and we have the cars to match.

THE DRIVE Panorama pos­ing Lo­ca­tion Mpumalanga 60-150 km/2-6 hrs

If it weren’t for the pot­holes, Mpumalanga would of­fer the best driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in the coun­try. Still, the Panorama Route is a party on wheels, with breath­tak­ing scenery and twisty, de­mand­ing moun­tain passes that will test you and your car equally. Start in Sa­bie (with some fa­mous pan­cakes) and wind your way past Sa­bie Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Mac Mac Falls to God’s Win­dow, Blyde River Canyon, Bourke’s Luck Pot­holes and, even­tu­ally, the Lowveld. There are stop-offs every­where to keep bored trav­ellers’ whis­tles wet. Don’t miss Long Tom Pass; it’s 21 km of driv­ing nir­vana.


This route is per­fectly suited to BMW’s X5. It has all the power for al­ti­tude driv­ing, all the space for rowdy trav­ellers and their cooler boxes, and big fat tekkies for those pesky pot­holes. And you will blend in per­fectly when you stop in Dull­stroom.

THE DRIVE Chap­man’s charge Lo­ca­tion Cape Town 60 km/2 hrs

Af­ter sip­ping on your third flat white check­ing out the Camps Bay scenery and the gor­geous beach across Vic­to­ria Road, buckle up for a one of the most scenic sea­side roads in the world; through Oudekraal (don’t for­get to check out The 12 Apos­tles Ho­tel and Spa nestling on your left with it’s pris­tine po­si­tion and view) and over Suiker­bossie to Hout Bay, where you will find the craggy twists that are Chap­man’s Peak. Re­lax here – this is a gen­tle Sun­day of­fer­ing, not a race­track sub­sti­tute and there are cy­clists, run­ners and dassies every­where – and don’t for­get to whoop in the tun­nelled sec­tion be­fore drop­ping into No­ord­hoek Farm Vil­lage for fur­ther caf­feina­tion be­fore head­ing back the way you came.


An Mus­tang, vin­tage or new. The whole point of this route is to be seen, and noth­ing is more vis­i­ble than a noisy V8.

THE DRIVE Bungeeeeeee! Lo­ca­tion Bloukrans 150 km/5 hrs

Leave Plet­ten­berg Bay head­ing to­wards Port El­iz­a­beth and up to the Crags. Turn right to Na­ture’s Val­ley and en­joy the twisty, pocket-racer-per­fect roads that the con­gested N2 avoids. Grootriv­ier Pass is twist­ingly ter­ri­fy­ing (for your pas­sen­gers), but a hoot if you’re be­hind the wheel. You still have Bloukrans Pass to come, where the road is not in great nick, so wring­ing the neck of the GTI the first time is not rec­om­mended. Ei­ther head back to Plett the way you came, or along the N2. If you haven’t quite sat­is­fied your in­ner adren­a­line junkie, stop off at Bloukrans Bridge for the world’s high­est bungee jump – 216 me­tres with a rub­ber band tied to your an­kles.


Volk­swa­gen’s Golf GTI Club­sport is a mas­ter of many trades: as fast as many a sportscar, but with room for your three best mates. The per­fect hol­i­day car.


Route 62 Lo­ca­tion Ka­roo and East­ern Cape 850 km/2 days Make a trip of one of our best-kept mo­tor­ing se­crets. Start in Cape Town and make Bar­ry­dale your first lunch stop, be­fore head­ing to Oudt­shoorn for the night (and Jes­sica’s for din­ner), via the time­less Sewe­week­spoort Pass, where you will un­leash your in­ner racer. Day two takes you down Langk­loof – miles and miles of open-road bliss, with plenty of cof­fee stops be­fore you hit the bustling metropoli of Ka­ree­douw and Hu­mans­dorp. Fin­ish your out­ward jour­ney with a surf in Jef­frey’s Bay, and then head back again along the Gar­den Route, and re­alise why the other way is bet­ter.


Jaguar’s F-Pace SUV will keep your surf­boards safe at thrilling speed on the free­way, and slightly side­ways on the gravel of the ‘Poort. And it has room for ev­ery­thing you need. You might even be tempted to come back via Bavi­aan­skloof.

THE DRIVE Call me Clarence Lo­ca­tion Her­manus 21 km each way/2 hrs

Re­cently re­built, the rib­bon of tar from Gor­don’s Bay to Rooi Els is a dream run for an ex­pe­ri­enced petrol head. Smooth tar, crazy cor­ners, ups­downs-fly­ing-arounds – Clarence Drive has it all. But, it re­ally does de­mand con­cen­tra­tion and res­traint, no mat­ter how tal­ented you think you are – the re­tain­ing walls are low and the sea wet. Cars don’t like get­ting wet. Un­less you have ac­cess to 007’s Lo­tus Esprit. Make a day of it by head­ing through to Her­manus, or just drive the road to-and-fro. Week­ends are busy – nat­u­ral speed­con­trol mea­sures in the form of sen­si­ble road users every­where – so a week­day run is the dream. Un­wind and re­cover at a choice of beau­ti­ful ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions, like Mo­saic Pri­vate Sanc­tu­ary.


Toy­ota’s 86 is per­fect – light, mod­er­ately pow­er­ful and nim­ble. A driver’s car that re­wards skill over a heavy right foot.

THE DRIVE Bright city lights Lo­ca­tion Cape Town 35 km/2 hrs

Head up Kloof Nek Road from the Cape Town CBD and turn left to the ca­ble car sta­tion, fol­low­ing the rib­bon of tar to its very end. Find a spot to park and just soak up the view across to the Ceder­berg in the north and the Hot­ten­tots Hol­land Moun­tains fur­ther south. Head­ing back past the ca­ble car, cross Kloof Nek care­fully and head up to Sig­nal Hill to spy on the mul­ti­mil­lion-rand houses be­low be­fore de­scend­ing into The Glen and Camps Bay for sun­down­ers. If it is al­ready dark, this drive is dou­bly good – just don’t con­tem­plate stop­ping to make the most of it; the boo­gie­man roams here prey­ing on court­ing cou­ples.


Cape Town in sum­mer is cabrio city, and this route keeps you away from the South­easter. Roll the top back on the Fiat 500C and you have the best of both worlds – the sun on your shoul­ders and the abil­ity to find park­ing in Camps Bay

THE DRIVE Flat … not Lo­ca­tion Free State Var­i­ous/2- 6 hrs

So the Free State is flat. That’s what we learned at school, right? Not around Clarens, it isn’t, as the hippest vil­lage south (only by three hours) of Hill­brow nes­tles up to Golden Gate Na­tional Park, the Drak­ens­berg and Le­sotho. You can ei­ther head south into the park – with quiet roads and crazy scenery (and a vul­ture restau­rant) – or north to­wards Lady­brand via Ficks­burg (eat some cher­ries), Fouries­burg (pop over the bor­der to Le­sotho and make it an in­ter­na­tional week­end) and Clo­colan (hit the gen­tle 4x4 trail). And then head back to Clarens for good food and craft beer.


Here is one coun­try drive where Maserati’s new Le­vante SUV might not draw gawk­ers, and its power and lux­ury make the trip from Jozi a breeze. Boot space? Plenty. Stock­pile that craft beer.

THE DRIVE In-Sani-ty Lo­ca­tion Le­sotho 20 km/all day

South Africa’s gnarli­est drive is doable in a nor­mal bakkie, but a 4x4 is re­ally the tool of choice as you climb 1 300 me­tres in just 9 km of loose, rocky “road”. You will need pass­ports and you will need to stop at the high­est pub for a beer, be­fore com­ing back down even more gin­gerly than you went up. This is a proper ad­ven­ture. Bring sur­vival equip­ment and snow gear in win­ter. There will be plenty of bik­ers and cy­clists to keep you com­pany, on the way up and back down; smile and wave from your air-con­di­tioned com­fort.


Africa’s tough­est off-roader is the un­der­stated Toy­ota Land Cruiser 70 series. They look out of place in Sand­ton, but they will get in any­where those other Land-ve­hi­cles get.

THE DRIVE Four passes Lo­ca­tion Fran­schhoek 160 km/3 hrs

Leav­ing Som­er­set West, start with Sir Lowry’s Pass and turn left through Grabouw to en­ter the un­her­alded Viljoen’s Pass, which takes you up through the or­chards and onto a stark plateau, be­fore drop­ping into the Vil­liers­dorp val­ley. A left turn af­ter the dam bridge takes you on a fun, fast stretch to the foot of Fran­schhoek Pass, 15 km of driv­ing heaven. A leisurely lunch in Fran­schhoek and on to the Fran­schhoek Mo­tor Mu­seum, where you will find nearly 200 cars you’ll want to take home, but can’t af­ford. The fi­nal squirt over Helshoogte Pass needs to be con­trolled and there is a per­ma­nent cam­era as you en­ter Stel­len­bosch.


There is only one car for this route: a Porsche 911, new or old. The grunty flat-six and the svelte han­dling are al­most cus­tom-de­signed for Fran­schhoek.

THE DRIVE Get a grip Lo­ca­tion Boland 140 km/4 hrs

The Cape has more on of­fer than a flat moun­tain and the sea. Look in­land, just 50 km, and ex­plore some der­ring-do moun­tain passes and lush green val­leys pep­pered with bril­liant farm-stall lunch spots. Head out of Paarl and up Du Toit­skloof Pass – 20 km of tight, nar­row, ex­cit­ing driv­ing, and then take a right to Raw­sonville, and dou­ble back up through Slanghoek Val­ley, end­ing up over Mitchell’s Pass in Ceres for re­fresh­ments. The trip back is over the im­pos­si­bly pretty Bain­skloof, which is twisty and bumpy and best suited to an ox wagon, or a tightly-sus­pended sportscar. Fill­ing-rat­tling stuff, but thrilling as the en­gine echoes in the ‘Kloof. The Fer­rari Cal­i­for­nia T means you only have to choose one buddy for the trip, so you can con­cen­trate on the joy and power.

THE RIDE THE DRIVE The last out­post Lo­ca­tion Kwazulu-Na­tal Var­i­ous/hours or days

Leave the Dur­ban coast be­hind with it’s per­fect beaches and iconic Oys­ter Box Ho­tel temp­ta­tions and head west, into ru­ral KZN, for a med­ley of craft shops, restau­rants, ac­tiv­i­ties and ad­ven­ture that will ap­pease even the grump­i­est trav­el­ling part­ner. The Kark­loof Canopy Tour is a must, as is a visit to Kam­berg for some fly-fish­ing. Golf can be fun, too, with the right com­pany, and the cour­ses here are un­pre­ten­tious – they wel­come some well-man­nered fun. Pack the moun­tain bikes and ride in the foothills of the Drak­ens­berg, or hike up to the Am­phithe­atre. Ad­ven­ture abounds on a clas­sic SA road trip.


Pack pic­nics, cousins, girl­friends and even a dog into the huge new Mercedes-Benz V-Class. A crack­ing sound sys­tem, com­fort­able seat­ing and power to burn make it the ul­ti­mate road-trip­per.

THE DRIVE Week­end spe­cial Lo­ca­tion Cra­dle of Hu­mankind 120 km/a morn­ing

Crank Ma Brr to 11 and head out through Krugers­dorp and the Cra­dle of Hu­mankind to the quaint town of Ma­galies­burg for the most pop­u­lar wheeled jol in Jozi: the break­fast run. You will spend the morn­ing be­ing gob­bled by su­per­bikes and Har­leys, but that is cool. Re­sist the temp­ta­tion to join in (and ev­ery­one lives); just en­joy the spec­ta­cle. Break­fast? Well, we rec­om­mend you leave a lit­tle later than the masses, so the roads are a bit qui­eter (in your di­rec­tion) and the An­gels have eaten their fill by the time you get there. Make it a brunch run.


Haul out the other Honda, a spir­ited Civic Type-R, wind down the win­dows and you will en­joy the drive just as much, but with­out that em­bar­rass­ing crack show­ing.

THE DRIVE Ka­roo crank­ing Lo­ca­tion Ka­roo 170 km/6 hrs

From your cutesy Prince Al­bert cot­tage, head out and through Meir­ingspoort – a gem drive no­body ever talks about. You will cross the Groot River 25 times in less than 20 km, as it (and you) carve a route through the once-im­pen­e­tra­ble Swart­berg. Vis­i­tor cen­tres are usu­ally booooor­ing, but stop at this one. The ‘Poort con­quered, head for Oudt­shoorn and make your way over the scary – 25 km up, all gravel with great views and even greater drops on your left – and then take it easy as you head back into the Ka­roo to Prince Al­bert.


The only car we would want to tame both the swoops of the ‘Poort is a Subaru WRX. Grippy and grunty (and cool).

THE DRIVE Kom ons brei Lo­ca­tion North­ern Cape 500 km/many days

Head out of Cape Town in early spring for a road trip of note – to the North­ern Cape and the fes­ti­val of flow­ers. This is not a lux­u­ri­ous trip, but it’s a good ex­cuse to spend a few days chilling and pre­tend­ing you care for na­ture. Head for Niewoudtville, to start, and seek out Protea Mo­tors and its in­sane mo­tor­bike mu­seum (see, not just daisies) and then just en­joy the peace, spend a cou­ple of nights and in­ter­act with the tourists.


Bor­row a vin­tage VW Kombi, chuck a mat­tress in the back and pre­tend you are re­trac­ing the steps of David Kramer and his rooi veld­skoen. Ex­plain the his­tor­i­cal im­por­tance of this trip to your new Swedish friend In­grid.

THE DRIVE Free ride Lo­ca­tion Lim­popo 165 km/3 hrs

Swop ze­bra cross­ings for ze­bras cross­ing the road. It’s big-sky coun­try north of Gaut­eng. Ac­tu­ally, it’s big-ev­ery­thing coun­try! Gear up for spec­tac­u­lar scenery changes from the heart of Pre­to­ria with its ur­ban ar­chi­tec­ture, mall cul­ture and great re­treats along wide open roads with tunes pump­ing, be­fore reach­ing game-re­serve ter­ri­tory. You can cover the dis­tance from Men­lyn to Water­berg in un­der four hours and watch the grey turn to green. Fi­nal stop can be a choice of game re­serves; new on the block is 57 Water­berg Lodge.


To prove the lo­cal no­tion that three litres a bakkie doth make, bring your VW Amarok 3,0 TDI V6 and crush.


A night’s stay at The Last Word Fran­schhoek To en­ter go to womenon­wheels/WIN


A night’s stay at Oak­lands Coun­try Manor To en­ter go to womenon­wheels/WIN


A night’s stay at De Hoek Coun­try Ho­tel To en­ter go to womenon­wheels/WIN


A night’s stay at The Oys­ter Box To en­ter go to womenon­wheels/WIN

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