Cape Town to KwaZulu-Natal Roadtrip: The Route January 11, 2010Posted by baldricman in Baldric-Man, General.
Tags: cape town, drive, howick, kwazulu natal, kzn, meander, midlands, road, route, trip, western cape
So Wifey and I got back from our epic roadtrip from Cape Town to Howick a few days ago, which you can read about here. I said I’d detail the route for anyone interested in the “proper” way to go across the country, so, here it is.
To summarise our route, for anyone planning a similar trip, you start out on the N1 from Cape Town, and after going through the engineering marvel that is the Huguenot Tunnel, turn off onto the R60 at Worcester, heading through Robertson, then Ashton, and Montagu, at which point you’re on the R62 . (Route 62, as it’s known, is a must-drive for any trip heading vaguely West-ish. Trust me on this :) ) So anyway, on the R62, you pass through a few places like the Barrydale (if towns could be pretentious…), Ladismith, Calitzdorp (Port capital of South Africa, or so they say…), and finally Oudtshoorn, which boasts many decent B&Bs, and makes a great base for those wishing to explore the world famous Cango Caves (another must…one we missed on this trip unfortunately)
In Oudtshoorn, be sure to head out North on the windy N12, taking you through some very interesting mountains, and through the very pretty town of De Rust, at which point you change roads again and go North East on the N9, toward Willowmore. Keeping on this road allows you to visit places such as Graaff-Reinet (where we stayed in decent B&B on the return trip). Anyway, your destination is Middelburg, because here you yet again switch roads, on to the R56, towards Steynsburg. And, yes, yet again another switcheroo (after Burgersdorp somewhere) you choose the R58, towards Aliwal North, which is at the border between the Eastern Cape and the Orange Free State (on the Gariep River, previously called the Orange River, downstream of Gariep Dam) We stayed at Marlyn’s B&B in Aliwal North, which is a comfortable and very affordable stopping point. (You may notice that this is beyond halfway, perhaps about 11 hours into the trip of 17 or 18 hours: This is because we like to get more driving done on the first day, so that when we arrive we aren’t completely buggered!)
From here on you strike out North along the N6, through Rouxville, and turning East on to the R726, heading for Zastron, then to the R26 towards Ladybrand (also called the N8 for this stretch) We found the potholes in this area quite atrocious, but the traffic was light enough and the road straight enough, to allow for easy swerving to avoid the not-so-little buggers. So anyway, you go through or past Ficksburg and Fouriesburg, after which you take the R711 towards the well known, artsy (and often over-priced) town of Clarens, and thereafter the R712 through the magnificent Golden Gate Highlands National Park (as mentioned earlier). After you have driven through the park, you really have 2 options left: either, you can continue along straight for Harrismith and then the N3, or you can branch off South on the R74 after Puthaditjhaba, down Oliviershoek Pass, and to Bergville, Winterton, and finally the N3, for the last few hundred kms of Gauteng drivers, large trucks, and speed cameras every few metres. Fun times. And finally, you’re in the heart of the Natal Midlands, with green valleys, hot curries, tall waterfalls, and *proper* lightning storms. Bliss. And while you’re there, you can spend a few afternoons touring the local attractions part of the Midlands Meander.
The total distance for the trip described above was 1768 kilometres, and I think we did it in about 18 hours or so (if memory serves, which it seldom does), which included all petrol, bathroom, stretch, snack and lunch stops.
To return home to Cape Town, simply retrace your steps back along the same route. We’ve done the return trip in 3 days before, simply to give us time to explore things like the Cango Caves and Valley of Desolation. If you’re travelling that far, why not do it properly?
On a final note, I have to recommend a certain site for any route planning you’re doing in South Africa. Check out www.routes.co.za for an incredibly detailed and intuitive site offering all sorts of information on pretty much any route in the country.