“There are flights from DC to South Africa for less than $400 right now. Do you want to go?”
I love that that’s usually all it takes to get Milad to agree to go on a trip with me. When The Points Guy posted about roundtrip flights from Dulles to Johannesburg for as low as $390 then that’s all we needed to know. If that isn’t an amazing deal then I really don’t know what is. So we bought first and thought about it second.
Once we had our tickets booked we finally took a breath and said…now what? Safari? Beaches? Hiking? Cities? I think what we finally settled on was an excellent mix of all of the above. Now I have to start out by saying- everyone: stop what you’re doing, hop on a quick 20 hour flight to South Africa, and do this trip immediately. It was incredible.
When I first started exploring road trip options I had a bit of pause because they drive on the left side of the road in South Africa! Uhm, were Milad and I really prepared for a 1000km drive through an unfamiliar country while driving on the opposite side of the road? We were already self-proclaimed terrible road trip buddies. He has a bad sense of direction and I have little patience for getting lost so this didn’t seem like our best idea ever. But a bad idea has never stopped either of us. So down the rabbit hole of planning I went.
I found some pretty helpful guides through this Bruised Passports blog post as well little tidbits throughout a whole slew of trip advisor posts. We were flying in and out of Johannesburg (as most flights from the United States do) so that was our starting and ending point and we of course wanted to visit Cape Town. We first planned to drive the whole way from Joburg to CT, but decided against it since that would mostly take us through the middle of the country and the coast really seemed like where it was at. (However, if we had done that drive we could have gone through Lesotho, which would have been cool in a hitting up more countries sort of way, but not in a spending 20+ hours in a car through not particularly pretty areas kind of way).
Finally we decided that about 5 days of driving would be perfect. That way we could take each day relatively easy with a few hours of driving and a few hours of seeing stuff, plus we could tack on a good chunk of time in Cape Town at the end. We waffled about spending more time in Johannesburg, but a lot of what I read said that Johannesburg didn’t have much to see, and the faster you can get out of there and enjoy the rest of the beautiful country, the better. I didn’t fully believe all the negative reviews of Johannesburg before we went but after spending two days there, I have to kind of agree. Now I know we didn’t do Joburg right, and I hate to just discredit any city, especially after only spending about 48 hours there (and myself living in and loving a city that’s biggest claim to fame is The Wire), but we had a pretty terrible experience there. I’m not going to get into all of the details but I’ll just say that it’s not very tourist friendly and I’m not really dying to go back.
It turns out there are quite a lot of pretty famous and pretty freaking beautiful drives throughout South Africa. The Wild Coast on the Eastern Cape, The Panorama Route in Mpumalanga, and The Garden Route along the Western Cape, to name a few. We decided to fly into East London, rent a car, and start our drive on the eastern cape on part of The Wild Coast, stop in some picturesque towns, and hit up the Garden Route as we got closer to Cape Town. I’m going to detail where we stopped, where we stayed, and everything in between in the next few blog posts, so stay tuned!