Popular cities in South Africa
People might not automatically equate South Africa as being a suitable place to tour by motorhome. It is, however, the best way to get about since public transport is not great and the place is huge. There are also a lot of caravan parks and camp sites, especially around the coastlines of the Western Cape and near Kruger National Park.
South Africa is diverse boasting some interesting cities, eye-popping reserves that are loaded with big game, and long, often empty, roads that traverse dazzling scenery. The north and south of the country's Johannesburg and Cape Town's have the best scope for touring, along with the southern coast.
While the quality of the roads is generally good, signage can be poor in cities and local drivers tend to be aggressive behind the wheel (tailgaters and speeders are common). There is a high rate of traffic accidents and caution is required while driving urban areas at night due to car-jackers as well as, in rural areas, stray animals.
The climate is diverse, ranging from desert in the north to subtropical in the coastal east. The rainy season is mostly in summer (November to February), though the Western Cape, where Cape Town is, experiences most rainfall in the winter. Note: South Africa has its summers and winters reversed from Europe due to it residing in the southern hemisphere. It is naturally colder inland in the winter and hotter there in summer.
There is a decent infrastructure of motorhome sites within the main tourist areas, less so within the Northern Cape. All major cities have them nearby, including Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, and there are also camping options for motorhome rentals within some national parks.
The Western Cape is the main area for touring by self-contained van. It occupies the southern tip, taking in Cape Town and a large number of wildlife reserves, along with winelands like Stellenbosch. The latter make for wonderful touring, with delectable scenery and exotic wildlife. Spend at least a week touring this region and be sure to drive the Cape of Good Hope and Chapmans Peak Drive.
The Eastern Cape contains the fun coastal town of Port Elizabeth and the surf-friendly Jeffreys Bay. Many tourers drive through the Garden Route from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape, through Knysna and onto St Francis in the Eastern Cape. Tsitsikamma National Park is a highlight of this route.
Much of the Eastern Cape coast is tough to access and some visitors take in the Northern Cape instead. It features the diamond mining town of Kimberley as its capital and the curious Big Hole. You can access the Kalahari Desert from this province. The Free State butts the Northern Cape and has Bloemfontein as its capital, which makes a natural stop-off en route between Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Johannesburg has plenty of touring opportunity, a rich gold mining town and economic mainstay of the region. It is surrounded by worthwhile attractions, including the World Heritage Cradle of Humankind and Sun City in the northwest. Pretoria, the SA capital, is off to the north but is not really worth a special trip aside from a visit to the nearby Cradle of Humankind.
These are the main touring areas, while KwaZulu-Natal (for Durban and the Drakensberg Escarpment) and Mpumalanga (Kruger National Park) are also big destinations by motorhome. The latter requires a good three days.
Driving is on the left and UK (with photo) licenses are accepted. Distances can be huge, especially in the Northern Cape, so always ensure you are fuelled up and carry spare water for yourself and vehicle. Do not drive at night in the city or country due to crime, bad driving and wandering animals. Note: no turning on a red signal is allowed in South Africa.
- Speed limits in the city: 50kph.
- Speed limits on national roads: 110kph.
- Help number: 112