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  • Nikhil Joseph
  • "Is five days too ambitious to complete a road trip from Durban to Cape Town?"

Nikhil Joseph

Boston, Massachusetts

Is five days too ambitious to complete a road trip from Durban to Cape Town?

A friend and I have a week between our flights in and out of Jo'burg. We're planning on flying to Durban, renting a car and driving to Cape Town. We hope to spend at least a couple of nights in Cape Town. Is that stretching ourselves too thin? What are some of the must-see places along the way? Most scenic routes? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. We're both first-time travelers to South Africa. Thanks in advance!

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  • Katie Wire

    top answer by

    It's certainly doable, although not ideal. Five days could be well spent in Cape Town alone. If all you have is five days though, you'll simply have to prioritize.

    Do you enjoy wine and art? If so, one day of your adventure would be well spent on a trip through Stellenbosch and Franschhoek for wine and olive oil tastings, as well as art galleries. My husband and I particularly enjoyed the Cape Dutch architecture, beautiful estate grounds and red wines at Vergenoegd Wine Estate (Pty) Ltd. There's even a parade of ducks that are in charge of pest control. We also brought back quite a few wines and olive oils from Tokara, where great tastes and fine art come together.

    Another worthwhile day trip would be around the cape through Hout Bay and Chapman's Bay Estate to the Cape of Good Hope, where you too can have a photo taken in front of the iconic Kaap die Goeie Hoop sign while watching waves crash over the rocky shoreline. You'll want to make time to walk around and up Cape Point, where the cape views are absolutely stunning. It gets breezy, so bring a light jacket. Watch for baboons and ostriches around the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. Boulders Beach is a good place to stop for a bite to eat or drink and the colony of African Penguins is completely charming to observe. Between Millers Point and Fish Hoek, watch for Southern Right Whales during summer/fall seasons.

    In Cape Town itself, there are a few must-sees, in my opinion. On a clear day, the Table Mountain views of Table Bay and Lion's Head will make you want to linger longer than you probably have time to do. It's also a good place to see the cape floral kingdom. In addition to being moved by the Robben Island Museum experience, the District Six Museum tells a compelling story and offers a well-curated presentation of Cape Town's past. Camps Bay is a beachy and restaurant-filled paradise that sits below the Twelve Apostles. Try to make time for a meal or a beach walk in the area.

    Hope you have a terrific trip. I didn't want to leave Cape Town at the end of my visit.

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    • Nikhil J.

      Nikhil J.

      Thanks so much for the detailed suggestions! Will definitely be spending a good 2-3 based in Cape Town · (1 likelikes)

    Mentioned in this answer:

    1. Cape Town (city)
    2. Stellenbosch (city)
    3. Franschhoek (city)
    4. Vergenoegd Wine Estate (Pty) Ltd (restaurant)
    5. Tokara (attraction)
    6. Hout Bay (attraction)
    7. Chapman's Bay Estate (attraction)
    8. Cape of Good Hope (attraction)
    9. Cape Point (attraction)
    10. Cape of Good Hope (attraction)
    11. Boulders Beach (attraction)
    12. Millers Point Tidal Pool (attraction)
    13. Fish Hoek (unknown)
    14. Table Mountain (attraction)
    15. Robben Island Museum (attraction)
    16. District Six Museum (attraction)
    17. Camps Bay (attraction)

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  • jurriaan Teulings

    answered by

    I've actually driven from Durban to Capetown two years ago in 8 days, and it felt like we were rushing it. For all the empty space in the Karoo, there is a lot to see on the way! In 5 days, you'd likely end up having to skip a lot and still feel rushed in peaceful landscapes. In most cases driving after dark is ill-advised because of the wildlife on the roads. (Also, the roads south of Durban are in a terrible state.)

    Perhaps instead of flying into Durban, you could fly into Port Elizabeth. Nearby is the Pumba Private Game Reserve, if you have a bit of cash to spend on a few game drives - it's a stunning place. After that, back at the coast, you could do a crazy bungy jump at Bloukrans Bridge Bungy Jump near Plettenberg Bay, enjoy the beach vibe at Knysnaand go a little bit inland from there to Oudtshoorn which is a great place to spend a night and have a great dinner. From here, don't follow the 'new' N1 highway to Cape Town but the stunning and incredibly scenic R62 and stop at places like Calitzdorp - and Ronnies Sex Shop for coffee and cake in the middle of nowhere beyond that - and pass through Barrydaleand Montaguuntil you end up in Franschhoek - where the Arizona-like scenery suddenly morphs into something more closely resembling Mediterranean wine country. Here you're just an hour outside Cape Town. The whole itinerary can easily be done in three days, but you'll get more out of it in four, either way leaving you with plenty of time to enjoy Cape Town.

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    • Nikhil J.

      Nikhil J.

      Thanks for your thoughtful answer, Jurriaan. We ended up flying to PE and doing most of things you suggested. Didn't manage to touch Franschoek but there's always next time! · (1 likelikes)

    Mentioned in this answer:

    1. Pumba Private Game Reserve (hotel)
    2. Bloukrans Bridge Bungy Jump (attraction)
    3. Plettenberg Bay (city)
    4. Knysna (city)
    5. Oudtshoorn (city)
    6. Calitzdorp (city)
    7. Ronnies Sex Shop (attraction)
    8. Barrydale (city)
    9. Montagu (city)
    10. Franschhoek (city)
    11. Cape Town (city)

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  • Derek Snow

    answered by

    I am sorry for this short answer I am in a rush today. I would be happy to write a longer answer tomorrow or answer any questions.

    Spend as much time as you can in towns like Knysna (Scenery) and Plettenberg Bay (Party Zone) in the Cape region (Will say about 2 Days). In Cape Town you can do all the normal touristy stuff in 2 days. Durban itself is not that fantastic but some of the surrounding areas are. I would recommend the Wild Coast Sun Resort & Casino not necessarily the casino, although it is pretty nice, but the pristine coastline.

    Also on your way there be quite wary of the Transkei District and if you decide to visit stay safe.

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    • Nikhil J.

      Nikhil J.

      Hi Derek, thanks again for your great tips! My friend and I decided we'll be flying in to Port Elizabeth and not Durban. One question: what's the best/cheapest way to rent a car to drive from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town (one way)? · (0 likelikes)

    • Derek S.

      Derek S.

      It is so cheap doing it over there. I would recommend Avis for shorter rental durations. They are one of the least expensive rental companies, they offer good on time service and given that it is you and a few mates, they offer quite spacious cars so that is very convenient. I would book well ahead of time, to make sure I get the best car. Something few people do and even less would recommend is doing a double booking under another persons name if there is no deposit at stake. It is good to be save you don't want to be left without a car, that would just screw up your travel arrangements. We once had to wait 4 hours for a car to arrive, even that is enough to screw up a tight itinerary. · (0 likelikes)

    • Nikhil J.

      Nikhil J.

      Thanks for your response mate! · (0 likelikes)

    Mentioned in this answer:

    1. Knysna (city)
    2. Plettenberg Bay (city)
    3. Wild Coast Sun Resort & Casino (hotel)
    4. Transkei District (metro area)

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  • Polly Beam

    answered first by

    Reading your question, I was thinking, "Sure, five days is easy!" But including Cape Town on one end, plus in-country flights, I'm not as sure. You could do Durban to Cape Town in three or four days, you just wouldn't have time to stop and see much along the way.

    I haven't been to Durban, so I'll leave that for people who have. The beaches near East London are absolutely gorgeous. Grahamstown is a university city, and a nice place to spend a day if you're looking for some cultural options. There are also a few private game lodges in this area if you want to try to see the big five, but being private, they can be pretty expensive.

    To the west of Port Elizabeth, the Garden Route starts. There's a lot to do and see in this area. Tsitsikamma National Park is beautiful and has some nice hikes. Bloukrans Bridge is nearby and offers the world's highest bungee jump.

    I'd try to manage at least three days in Cape Town, giving yourself enough time to see Table Mountain National Park, Robben Island Museum, and Cape Point.

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    • Nikhil J.

      Nikhil J.

      Thanks for your great answer, Polly! I think my friend and I will probably end up flying to Port Elizabeth rather than Durban. That would make the drive a lot shorter and give us time to see the places you've suggested. · (1 likelikes)

    Mentioned in this answer:

    1. East London (city)
    2. Grahamstown (city)
    3. Port Elizabeth (city)
    4. Tsitsikamma National Park (city)
    5. Bloukrans Bridge (unknown)
    6. Cape Town (city)
    7. Table Mountain National Park (attraction)
    8. Robben Island Museum (attraction)
    9. Cape Point (attraction)

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  • Liam Poole

    answered by

    Allot has been covered in this thread but no one mentioned Coffee Bay and this is one of the most amazing places to visit in South Africa. I have done the Durban to Stellenboschroad trip 15 times, and almost every time we stayed in coffee bay for a couple of days. For a more rural flavour (quite difficult to get to) but another gem of the Wild Coast, Mtentu Lodge, you would definitely need more than 5 days though...maybe next time.

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    • Tanya M.

      Tanya M.

      Agree with Liam, Coffee Bay is a unique and very amazing part of SA. · (0 likelikes)

    • Tanya M.

      Tanya M.

      Hi Nikhil, 5 days is too short if you're planning to have a holiday, even for an American I think. After 16 years living abroad I returned to SA and now live in Durban. Although most everyone suggests you see Cape Town and I do agree that it's a special part of the Country I think Durban has allot of charm and offers a very South African experience. There is plenty to do in 5 days and it really does depend on what you want to experience here on your holiday. I'd be happy to provide you with a list of options, can't find a date on your post so guessing you might have completed your trip already. · (0 likelikes)

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    2. Durban (attraction)
    3. Stellenbosch (city)
    4. Mtentu Lodge (hotel)

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  • JOHN BUTLER

    answered by

    A quick answer.....

    We live in Durban. For perspective, one can technically drive to Cape Town in one day - 15 hours or so. Thats with no stopping en route. The route is very varied and picturesque. Roads are very good except in Eastern Cape / Transkei area via Mthatha (very rural with livestock commonly wandering onto narrow winding roads - fine if you are able to drive leisurely).

    Spend more time in CT than Durban (many more iconic things to do!) Choose 2 or 3 stops en route out of the following:


    Enjoy.....

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    • Nikhil J.

      Nikhil J.

      John, thanks so much for your tips. They were extremely helpful. What do you reckon is the best way to rent a car to drive from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town? · (0 likelikes)

    • JOHN B.

      JOHN B.

      Nikhil, car rental is very easy. Book online easiest. Airlines offer car rental deals sometimes. Europcar, AVIS, Budget are all excellent. PS: All roads are hard-top; but you could choose the off-road route if more adventurous. Plenty of gravel mountain passes that might need a 4x4!! · (1 likelikes)

    • Nikhil J.

      Nikhil J.

      Awesome. Thank you! · (0 likelikes)

    Mentioned in this answer:

    1. Durban (city)
    2. Mthatha (city)
    3. Knysna (city)
    4. Plettenberg Bay (city)
    5. Oudtshoorn (city)
    6. Graaff-Reinet (city)
    7. Karoo National Park (attraction)
    8. Stellenbosch (city)
    9. Franschhoek (city)

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  • Stephan Erasmus

    answered by

    Oh my, that is quite thin... You're going past the best parts of the country. Ive spent a week in the eastern Cape and it was still not enough.

    It is definitely possible, I recommend Chintsa, Kei Mouth as a stopover, as well as Nature's Valley. Then you still have three nights in CT.

    hope your trip goes well

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