Wide-open plains, meandering rivers and lush green covered hills are some of the features of the countryside seen when driving around South Africa. Whether touring the country for the first time, or just looking for a fun way to spend the day, many routes pass pleasant landscape while journeying to interesting destinations.
The Magaliesberg Circular covers 200 kilometres and initially ventures to the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden in Witwatersrand. The facility spans approximately 300 hectares and offers various garden themes along with bush, forest and water garden trails. Continuing down the road, travelers encounter the Krugersdorp Game Reserve, which offers well-established roads that cut through grasslands and a forest covered valley. The many species of animals residing here include antelope, buffalo and giraffes along with hippos, zebras and a large quantity of bird species. Next on the route includes the fascinating Sterkfontein Caves, which not only offer subterranean tours, but additionally include archaeological exhibits dating back millions of years.
The lush forest filled route through the Eastern Limpopo River Valley remains a favourite with bird watching enthusiasts. Elevations vary from seven to 2,000 metres along the way. Drive through Kruger National Park, which covers over two million hectares of diverse terrain, some of which requires a 4WD vehicle. Northeastern Venda lies about 75 kilometres from Kruger and features everything from mountains to forested river valleys.
Historically known as a major mining area, the landscape in late summer transforms into a blanket of pink and white wildflowers. The area also features big game viewing opportunities. The spectacular scenery along the way includes a massive green canyon and the Bourke’s Luck Potholes, natural hollows made by the force of the river. Nature lovers also enjoy visiting the Highlands Meander where wildflowers abound and cliffs provide the chance to indulge in rock climbing. Numerous bird species also make their homes here. By choosing the grass and wetlands region for a drive, visitors encounter the biggest freshwater lake in this part of the continent.
This area of the continent features amazing coastlines along the Indian Ocean on one side and majestic peaks on the other. Venture through the Valley of 1,000 Hills, which reminds many of the Scottish Highlands. Here, the landscape consists of layers upon layers of hills separated by lush valleys. Drive to the Shongweni Resources Reserve and see the dam that flows into a massive body of water formed by three different rivers. The Nagle Reserve lies at the foot of the historic Table Mountain and holds the perfect fishing hole. PheZulu Safari Park offers the opportunity for viewing authentic Zulu huts and perhaps a chance for taking the time to experience the hospitality of the local people. Quaint, attractive communities lie along the way and Pietermaritzburg features a botanical garden.
Travel along the Augrabies route and enter a world of sub-Saharan desert. Daytime temperatures here often rise to 45 degrees Celsius in the summer and drop to sub-zero temperatures after sundown and during the winter. Though arid, the area has a unique population of wildlife. Venture over the red dunes of the Kalahari and see a variety of bird and mammal species. The Kamiesberg route offers an unusual array of natural rock formations and interesting plant life that serves as home to many wildlife species. The strange but picturesque Richtersfeld route consists of desert and rugged mountainous landscape that some equate with the terrain on the moon.
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