Explore the Coolest Winter Road Trips with Car Hire in South Africa

In South Africa, winter is no time to wind down your travel aspirations. Rather, it’s time to try something different.

Whether you love the cold, prefer a warmer climate, or want to chill with a view of snow-capped peaks, you’ll find a road trip to satisfy your wanderlust somewhere in the country.

Keep reading to explore our best ones.

Rixile Culture to Kruger Route

Winter is a wild time to travel among some of South Africa’s top wildlife destinations, so why not add a dash of culture to the experience along the way?

The Rixile Route traverses ancient trade routes linking Giyani, Kruger National Park and Phalaborwa in Limpopo Province with the option to travel further afield to Mozambique’s Xai Xai coastline.

You can start your journey by flying to Hendrik Van Eck Airport at Phalaborwa and picking up your rental car at the airport. From there you can travel directly into Kruger National Park from the city or head toward Giyani first.

Along the way, you’ll find an abundance of places to explore, like:

  • Bakone Malapa Northern Sotho Open-Air Museum
  • Baleni Salt Pans
  • Mapuve Pottery
  • Foskor Mining Museum

If you travel north into the Kruger Park on your way towards Mozambique’s Giriyondo Gate, you can also pop in to see Thulamela Hill near Pafuri Gate, about four hours’ drive from Phalaborwa.
From Giriyondo, the route traverses Limpopo National Park and Chokwe before ending at Xai Xai.

This is Marula country, so apart from wonderful curios, you’ll find abundant ways to stock up on jams, liqueurs, and other drinks featuring this delicious fruit along the way. You’ll also get to enjoy sights of towering Baobab and Mopane trees scattered across the plains and the riverside as you go along.


Wine and Dine in the Western Cape

Summer is a fantastic time to visit the Western Cape, but winter is best if you want to avoid the crowds. Cape Town and the surrounding winelands open up a wealth of fine fireside dining and wine sampling opportunities for all tastes at this time of year.

Cape Town International Airport is your gateway to the 850 km Western Cape wine route which incorporates thousands of wineries between the Mother City and Port Elizabeth.

Some highlights you’ll find among these beautiful pastoral scenes include hiking, biking, eating, drinking, and shopping, as well as many exciting winter events, like:

  • Christmas in Winter at Tulbagh
  • The Nut Valley Festival in Worcester
  • Franschhoek’s Bastille Festival
  • Calitzdorp Expressed Festival

The unique Stoep-Sitting Festival in Graaff Reinet sees winemakers from across the country setting up tasting stations along the main thoroughfare for patrons to enjoy.

Pick up your car hire on arrival at Cape Town International Airport or at any one of the car rental collection points in the Mother City and feast your eyes on the scenery as you wind your way across this diverse winter wonderland.

The Elephant Coast Route

The Kwa-Zulu Natal coastline has a warm temperate climate and experiences most of its rain during the summertime. So, winter is a wonderful opportunity to bask in the sunshine all day long in this part of the world.

Apart from golden beaches, this province offers ample opportunities for unique natural experiences in its northern reaches, where you’ll find the famed Isimangaliso World Heritage Site. This vast wetland habitat is a playground for wildlife enthusiasts, anglers, scuba divers, and those wanting to discover traditional Zulu culture.

Natural highlights in these parts include:

  • Charters Creek
  • Enseleni Nature Reserve
  • False Bay Park
  • Giant Raffia Forest
  • iSimangaliso Marine Protected Area and Wetland Park
  • Isiphaphalazi Butterfly Dome
  • The Kosi Bay Nature Reserve
  • Lake Sibaya
  • Mapelane Nature Reserve
  • Maputaland Marine Reserve
  • Muzi Pan


Eastern Cape Coastal Route

The Eastern Cape abounds with malaria-free wildlife excursions and gorgeous beaches. It’s also a fantastic winter destination, showcasing its wild spaces at their windswept best. The Wild Coast is awash with unspoiled environments, adventure activities, and cultural highlights.

Horse trails, hiking, fly-fishing, quad- and mountain biking are among the most popular past times, and you can catch up on local culture at one of these pit stops along the way:

  • Tsitsikamma National Park
  • Addo Elephant National Park
  • Great Fish River
  • Port Alfred, Kenton-on-Sea, Cape St Francis, Jeffreys Bay
  • Hogsback village

The Amathole Mountains are another highlight of travel to the area, forming a welcome backdrop to scenes stretching all the way from Stutterheim to Adelaide in the east.

Booking the right car for your road trip around the Eastern Cape means that you’ll be able to pick up your rental on arrival at East London Airport and really make the most of the long windy roads of this breathtaking landscape.


The Midlands Meander

The KwaZulu Natal Midlands is one of the few places you could get to see snow in South Africa, it’s also one of the rainiest places to visit in summer. This makes winter the perfect time to drive around this pastoral wonderland, where artisanal eats are the order of the day.

Here you’ll find plenty of reasons to fill your shopping basket at markets, farm stalls, and quaint shops featuring a vast range of foods, handcrafts, ethnic creations, and antiques.

Cheese, yoghurt, charcuterie, and fine foods are abundant and easy to come by along this route, or you can opt to dine at upmarket or laid-back restaurants along the way instead.

The Midlands are home to the Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Howick and Karkloof Falls, and the Midmar Dam and are located on either side of the arterial highway, halfway between Johannesburg and Durban. It’s an ideal jumping-off point for the Drakensberg as well as coastal adventures and a worthwhile stopover on the way to these touristic highlights.

Some of the activities on offer include fishing, boating, canopy tours, horse trails, mountain biking, wine tasting, and bird watching.


Plan Your Travels Now

The cooler winter weather offers boundless opportunities to explore the country in comfort and enjoy the slower pace of life that this season brings. It’s also why we love winter in South Africa so much.

Get started planning your next excursion by viewing our Car Hire South Africa price comparison pages to secure the best deals for your winter travels, wherever you choose to roam.