June 20

Uncovering the African Counterparts of America’s Most Iconic Routes

June 20, 2023

Have you confidently conquered the vast highways of America? Looking for a new challenge? Well, we’ll tell you a little secret… Africa awaits with a collection of legendary routes just yearning to be conquered! Elevate your road-tripping prowess as you bid farewell to familiar freeways and “drive” headfirst into the heart-stirring avenues of Africa.

A meandering road engulfed by lush forest

South Africa's own "Garden of Eden", the Garden Route

1. The Pacific Coast Highway vs The Garden Route

The Pacific Coast Highway offers mesmerising ocean views, dramatic cliffs, rugged landscapes, and charming coastal towns. However, in comparison, the Garden Route boasts the same appealing attributes, with a few "wild" twists.

Beautiful coastal views of Bixby Creek Bridge

The Pacific Coast Highway is picturesque, with cliffs, gorgeous urban spaces, and the raging ocean vistas

This curvaceous coastal road trip stretches between Cape Town to Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth), but let's be real – the most mind-blowing parts are nestled between Mossel Bay and Storms River. Trust us, this is where the magic happens! Picture pristine beaches, lakes and lagoons, fairytale forests and protea-studded slopes. 

Discover delightful seaside towns like Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. Savour local delicacies, explore lively markets and luxuriate on sun-kissed Blue Flag beaches. Explore pristine rivers and lagoons, pay a visit to animal sanctuaries, spot whales and dolphins, and surrender to adventures such as hiking, canoeing, biking, boating, and much more! 

As you venture further east, you'll traverse Tsitsikamma and cross over Storms River, finally reaching the Eastern Cape, where your Big 5 safari adventure awaits. Delight in a range of splendid safari lodges and reserves like Addo Elephant Park. Alternatively, hop on a convenient flight to Kruger National Park or Phinda Private Game Reserve.

Tsitsikamma National Park on the Garden Route: where the sea meets green forests

Tsitsikamma: Where the ocean meets flourishing emerald forests

2. Route 66 vs Route 62

Get your kicks on Route 66? Well, buckle up for an adventure on Africa's Route 62! As you navigate through vineyard-dotted landscapes, charming towns, towering mountains, and peculiar rock formations, you'll discover a treasure trove of unique experiences that will make your heart sing along to its own catchy road trip anthem. 

Scenic view of America's famous Route 66

Route 66 is one of the most famous roads in the world

South Africa's Route 62 has the longest wine route in the world, which stretches from Montagu to Oudtshoorn in the Klein Karoo. Get ready to drive into a whirlwind of wonderful activities. We're talking wine tasting galore, vineyard tours, and even the chance to hang out with the coolest meerkats on this side of the Karoo!

Thrill-seekers yearning for an adrenaline rush can satiate their desires with heart-pounding zipline escapades, challenging rock climbing and bouldering expeditions. Nature enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the serenity of hiking trails, bird watching, or even embark on a safari at the esteemed Sanbona Wildlife Reserve

As you traverse this enchanting route, a culinary paradise unfolds. With an impressive selection of superb restaurants, eateries, esteemed wineries, and craft distilleries, you'll be faced with an overwhelming abundance of gastronomic delights. From gourmet burgers to delectable seafood platters, and traditional farm-style feasts, no craving will be left unsatisfied.

Landscape of the Western Cape along the Route 62 in South Africa in summer

Route 62 offers a shorter, equally scenic alternative to the N2 highway along the Garden Route

3. Rocky Mountains vs Panorama Route

The Rocky Mountains may be the bee's knees in America, but Africa's Panorama Route will have you shouting "wahoo!" at every turn. Prepare to chase cascading waterfalls and witness panoramas that redefine the word "epic." And guess what? You might just stumble upon some of Africa's most amazing wildlife along the way!

Rocky Mountains with the Loch Lake in the foreground

The gorgeous Rocky Mountains in North America

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but trust us, no photograph can truly capture the mind-boggling awesomeness of South Africa's most spellbinding road trip. The Panorama Route, tucked away in the province of Mpumalanga, is where the real magic happens!

This route will take you on a loopy ride along the legendary Long Tom Pass, which happens to be the highest tarred road in the whole country. Prepare yourself for a sensory overload as you encounter emerald-drenched rock faces, chubby boulders casually lounging around, cascading waterfalls and adorable towns snuggled up in cosy valleys.

We highly recommend you make a stop at God's Window, where you'll be treated to heavenly vistas. And let's not forget about the legendary Blyde River Canyon and its Three Rondavels. Oh, and don't even get us started on the Blyde River Dam and Bourke's Potholes –nature's very own rock pool playground that's centuries in the making!

Viewing point of the Three Rondavels along the Panorama Route

The Panorama Route is a natural wonder in South Africa and one of the world’s most beautiful driving routes

4. Grand Canyon vs Namibia

While the Grand Canyon proudly claims its title as the largest canyon in the world, Namibia's Fish River Canyon confidently takes second place. But hold on tight 4x4 aficionados! Because beyond the Fish River Canyon, Namibia boasts an abundance of natural wonders out of this world!

View over the south and north rim part in grand canyon from the helicopter

The Grand Canyon reveals millions of years of geological history

Imagine a country twice the size of Germany, with vast stretches of uncharted desert and landscapes straight out of a sci-fi flick. Namibia is the ultimate playground for those who dare to take the wheel and embark on a self-drive extravaganza. 

When it comes to bucket-list destinations, Sossusvlei and the Namib Desert are the cherry on top! Prepare to be humbled by towering dunes that seem to stretch infinitely into the horizon. And for an extra dose of excitement, the Skeleton Coast is the place to be, offering shipwrecks, ancient rock art, and a cast of creatures perfectly adapted to this desert realm.

And, if an epic safari experience is what you seek, look no further than Etosha National Park and its surrounding reserves, along with the enchanting Waterberg region, which offer jaw-dropping wildlife sightings around every bend. All that's left for you to do is pack your bags, buckle up, and hit the intergalactic highway of Namibia.

Sunset over the Fish River Canyon in Namibia, the second largest canyon in the world and the largest in Africa.

The Fish River Canyon, located in the south of Namibia, is the largest canyon in Africa

5. Florida and Hawaii vs Zanzibar and Mauritius

With all those miles of road, it would be nice to end your self-drive journey in a tropical paradise, no? While Florida and Hawaii may be the go-to destinations for a beach holiday, let us introduce you to two African gems, namely Zanzibar and Mauritius. These tropical havens offer a tranquil retreat that will have you bidding farewell to the open road and saying "hello" to pure island bliss.

Beautiful Tropical Island Paradise Photo from Swimming In Clear Aqua Blue Ocean Water with Colorful Sky and Orange Clouds at Sunrise with Sun Rays Coming Through Bright Green Palm Trees in Maui Hawaii

Beautiful tropical island paradise of Hawaii

Think pristine beaches with soft, white sands, swaying palms and turquoise waters gently lapping the shoreline. And, beneath the crystal ocean waters, a kaleidoscopic world of coral reefs and colourful marine creatures can be found. But it's not just the natural beauty that sets Zanzibar and Mauritius apart.

These islands are infused with a unique cultural heritage that adds a touch of mystique to your escape. Zanzibar, known as the "Spice Island," will entice you with its aromatic markets, where the air is filled with the scent of cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stone Town, a maze-like old quarter that whispers tales of the island's rich history.

Meanwhile, Mauritius offers a melting pot of flavours and traditions. Indulge in delectable Creole cuisine, a fusion of Indian, African, and French influences, as you bask in the warmth of Mauritian hospitality. Discover the island's lush landscapes, from cascading waterfalls and verdant tea plantations to dramatic volcanic peaks, all creating a backdrop of natural splendour.

Mauritius and its crystal clear waters

Palm-fringed oasis of beautiful white sands and sapphire waters of Mauritius

Are You Strapped in and Ready to Go?

From the rugged deserts to the winding coastal roads, Africa's epic routes are eagerly awaiting your arrival. So, fuel up your adventurous spirit, fasten your seatbelt, and get ready to answer the call of Africa. Unforgettable encounters and untold wonders lie just around the bend.

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Panorama Route, Safari, self-drive

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About the author 

Michelle Welvering

Growing up, Michelle always wanted to become a world-renowned artist, a kickboxing-champion and an eccentric explorer – aka a Kickboxing Exploring Artist! After pursuing an education in Fine Arts and opening her own Kickboxing gym in Pretoria, an unexpected twist led her to a six-year stint as a travel consultant in South African tourism. She believes that all things happen for a reason and, driven by adventure, she was eager to find a more “wild” and cultural space to call home. This led her to wander the Western Cape coastline, fall in love with the city of Cape Town and, of course, her workplace, Rhino Africa.

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