From the dunes of Tunisia to the rainforest of Rwanda, we look at some of Africa’s best spots for an amazing road trip.
If you’re in it for the wildlife, then a road trip through Botswana is sure to tick all your boxes! The contrast between the vast Kalahari Desert on one end, and the lush Okavango Delta on the other, means this special part of Africa provides a home for an amazing range of creatures. Undertaking a self-drive safari means you can hop from one national park to the next at your leisure. Chobe National Park, the vast Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Moremi Game Reserve should all be on the agenda.
For an experience like no other, spend a night camping on the Makgadikgadi Pan – a salt pan the size of Portugal! Major roads are tarred, (although you’ll have to keep an eye open for goats and donkeys!) and minor roads are graded fairly regularly, but you will need a 4×4 to get around in the game reserves.
Aside from the incredible diversity of South Africa’s biomes – from the lush jungle of KwaZulu-Natal to the magical semi-desert of the Karoo – the country also has some of Africa’s best-kept national roads. Many of these are set to get even better, as billions of Rand have been set aside for road design in South Africa. The N3, which connects Johannesburg with Durban, and acts as the primary conduit for holidaymakers journeying towards the warm Indian Ocean come the December holidays, will enjoy a major upgrade. The N2, which connects Cape Town with Durban and Port Elizabeth, is also set for an upgrade, which is specifically designed to allow for participation by small businesses in the area too.
Some of South Africa’s best road trips include:
The Panorama Route
If you’re looking for some really breathtaking scenery, then you can’t do better than the Panorama Route, which lives up to its name (and them some!) thanks to the region’s soaring mountains and plunging canyons. Located in the province of Mpumalanga, it’s within easy reach of the famous Kruger National Park – making it the perfect addition to a safari holiday.
This spectacular route features the highest tarred road in South Africa, 2,149 meters or 7,050 feet above sea level, and offers incredible views of the Blyde River Canyon – the third largest canyon in the world. No less than 10 jaw-dropping waterfalls can be found along the route, and those keen on photography must make a point to stop and see Bourke’s Luck Potholes in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve. Thankfully, these are the only potholes you can expect on your Panorama road trip!
Thanks to its great highway system, running from the Mediterranean Sea in the north to the Sahara Desert in the south, Tunisia is fairly easy to get around. It’s also a great option if you’d like to avoid the throngs of tourists that other nearby destinations like Morocco attract. Once the great Roman Empire’s breadbasket, Arabic influences are also evident in the country’s many examples of Islamic architecture. Just some of the attractions to add to your itinerary include:
- Roman ruins at Carthage, Dougga, Mustis, Bulla Regia and many more
- Sea, sand, sun and shopping on the island of Djerba
- Roman and Byzantine art and mosaics at the National Bardo Museum in the capital, Tunis
- Feel like you’ve stepped right into a postcard at Sidi Bou Said, with its picturesque whitewashed buildings and Mediterranean backdrop
- Enjoy the dunes of the Sahara with a camel trek or dune buggy adventure!
With its exceptional highways and superbly organized inner city, the Rwandan capital of Kigali never fails to impress those arriving for the first time! As you leave the well-maintained major routes and head into more rural areas, however, expect the journey to get a little rougher. Known as the ‘land of a thousand hills’, the going can be a little slow – but the scenery is well worth it!
Just a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is renowned for its incredible mountain forests – and this makes it the ideal destination for anyone interested in primates in particular. Gorilla and chimpanzee treks are a specialty, and with 13 different primate species, the Nyungwe Forest National Park is one of the best places to encounter them.
Whichever destination you choose, an African road trip is unlike any other!