With a sense of adventure and some planning you can get out the house or break up the long stretches of a road trip. Remember the roads are notoriously busy over the long Easter weekend, so it is always advisable to plan your route and keep your loved ones up to date to ensure a safe outing every time.
“South Africa is filled with unique and cost-effective ‘leg stretching’ locations,” says Charlette Roetz, Tracker’s head of marketing, “so when you are planning a road trip, factor in safe rest stops that are also fun for the family or friends you may be travelling with. Even if you are planning on keeping it local this coming Easter weekend, with a little imagination you can also enjoy activities fit for all ages in your neighbourhood and beyond.”
Tracker recently asked Mzansi for budget-friendly ‘on the road’ activities and the suggestions below showcase a glimpse of the best that the country has to offer:
- Hiking trips: These are a brilliant way to get into nature and enjoy the summer weather at the same time. Choose a safe route based on your fitness level and use it as an opportunity to rack up your 10 000 steps. Try the Tsitsikamma National Park and make your way over the famous Storms River suspension bridge.
- Waterparks or public pools: As the mercury rises, you’ll be seeking ways to stay cool. A day of super tubing or lounging by the pool is just what the doctor ordered for your daily dose of vitamin D – just add sunblock and watermelon. The Wild Water Fun Park in Plettenberg Bay is a great option just off the N2.
- Visit the Owl House in Nieu-Bethesda. The owner, Helen Martins, turned her house and the area around it into a visionary environment, elaborately decorated with ground glass and containing more than 300 statues including owls, camels, peacocks, pyramids, and people.
The Free State
- Bloemfontein is nicknamed ‘The City of Roses’ for its abundance of roses. It is also the judicial capital of South Africa that has a plethora of museums and cultural attractions. The National Museum which was established in 1977 invites you to discover the natural, cultural and art history of South Africa. If you want to spend some time outdoors, your best bet is to explore the many beautiful plants at the Free State National Botanical Garden.
- Basotho Cultural Village: Set in the Qwaqwa National Park, the Basotho Cultural Village depicts South Sotho lifestyle from the 16th century to the present. As a visitor, you will be guided through the village to experience the Sotho’s way of life. Take a journey through four centuries of Basotho history, culture and tradition.
- Let your inner book worm squirm and visit the cutest independent book store, Bibliofile in Clarens. It will allow you a relaxed atmosphere to browse and the pretty red corrugated iron building makes for a lovely Instagram moment.
- Get your game on at an arcade: A fun way to embrace your competitive spirit and cost effective too with certain games costing as little as R5. We can suggest The Fun Company in Menlyn, Pretoria.
- A game drive – if you are fortunate enough to live close to a nature or game reserve, consider making a day of it. The Lion & Safari Park just outside of Johannesburg offers the option of a guided drive or self-drive with senior citizens receiving a 50% discount and kids under 12 can enter for free.
- Picnics: Many parks and picnic locations have a small or no entry fees so gather your friends and family, pack a cooler box and remember your picnic blanket to take advantage of the warm weather and enjoy a meal al fresco. Try The Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens in Gauteng.
- Local landmarks: How often have we heard about an interesting landmark a short drive away but never visited? Now is the time to jump in your car and head out to places like the Upside-Down House in Hartbeespoort – the perfect backdrop to shoot some TikTok videos!
- Camping: Find a site close by and meet up with a group for a weekend of camping. Pack the braai grid, headlamps and marshmallows and make the most of going off grid and enjoying evenings under star-filled skies. Consider Gibaland in Durban.
- Nelson Mandela Capture Site: This is a cultural and historical exhibition that is situated at the site at which Nelson Mandela was apprehended for his anti-Apartheid activism acts in August 1952. The sculpture at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site comprises 50 steel columns that are between six and 9.5 metres in height and cover a width of almost 30 metres. These have been cut by laser to form an image of the former president when viewed at the correct angle.
- uShaka Sea World: For R99 you can explore the underground viewing galleries while meandering through a ship wreck. Prepare to be astounded by ocean water tanks populated with over 300 species of marine life and 10 000 sea creatures!
- Tzaneen: Home to Modjadji, the Rain Queen. A lush haven of nature reserves of cycads and baobabs. With nickname including “Land of Silver Mist” and “Tropical Garden Town “ you get an idea of its unspoilt beauty and why making a stop here is an absolute must.
- The Kruger Park: You are able to visit the Park for the day with entrance fees ranging from just over R50 for children and R100 for adults. Do a self-drive adventure and take advantage of the scenery, wildlife and the designated picnic zones at one of South Africa’s much-loved parks.
- Feeling adventurous? Keep the blood pumping with a visit to The Big Swing in Graskop. With views for days, launching yourself off this waterfall will be something you will remember for a lifetime.
- If you find yourself in Mpumalanga, a popular pit stop is Milly’s. At the restaurant you can find all the usual farmstall fare, but it’s the trout that everyone speaks about. Try the popular trout pie, a trout sandwich or indulge in a cheese platter with trout pate.
- Photo opportunities at God’s Window: Gods Window forms part of a 250km long stretch of breath-taking cliffs. There is a small entrance fee to access the viewpoint and there are stalls and toilet facilities available making it the perfect place to stretch your legs and capture road trip memories.
- For the architecture junkies: Standing tall in Du Toitspan Road in Kimberley, the St Cyprian’s Cathedral is a must see. This building has the longest nave of any church in South Africa. It is hard to miss with the beautiful hues of its stained glass windows.
- Find the best ice cream: When they say it gets hot in the Northern Cape, they’re serious as 40 degrees is not uncommon. Fill your car with ice cream connoisseurs and set out to find the best soft serves or milkshakes. This could be at a local ice-cream shop, or even heading to a new area to try the McDonalds McFlurry you once heard about on a hot summer night.
- Pilanesberg Game Drive: a short drive from Rustenburg takes you to the Pilanesberg National Park. It’s perfect for a day outing or camping overnight in the Manyane Resort within the park. Expect to see rhino and elephants on your morning and afternoon game drives.
- Local markets: Over the holiday period, many communities gather to host gift fairs, pottery markets and outdoor concerts. They are a lovely way to spend a morning browsing for locally made gifts before discovering a new spot for lunch close by.
- Museums: On certain days, many museums are free to enter. Meet at a central spot and head out with friends to discover your local museums and find out more about your city. The Iziko Museum in Cape Town which includes the Planetarium is a must-visit!
- Walking tours: Take advantage of the sunshine and head into Woodstock for the graffiti tour, or wait until night falls and join the ghost walk in Simon’s Town, if you dare…
- Ronnies Sex Shop – an iconic landmark in the Klein Karoo: The story goes that Ronnie’s painted the name ‘Ronnies Shop’ on the side of the building with the aim of selling fresh produce, but business didn’t get off to a good start. So his friends decided they would add the word ‘Sex’ to the name for a laugh, making it read ‘Ronnies Sex Shop’. And the rest is history.
“No matter where you are travelling, it is important to have a few things handy to ensure a smooth journey. A power bank will help to keep your phone charged for taking selfies and the kiddies iPad to keep them entertained in the backseat. Installing a personal safety or vehicle tracking app will also allow you to effortlessly keep your loved ones up to date with your movements on the road. Lastly make sure that you stock up on car-friendly games and update your favourite road trip playlist for the best festive getaway yet,” concludes Roetz.