Escape Winter with Car Hire in South Africa
The northern hemisphere may be heading into the darker days of the year, but it’s spring in South Africa! Warmer weather is taking hold of the country and creating a bright tapestry across the landscape. Rent a car in South Africa now and you too can put off winter for another while.
Perched at the far end end of the world’s most epic continent, South Africa offers enough stunning scenery to fill dozens of road trips. Hire a car in South Africa at this time of year and take in everything from Kalahari moonscapes to the iconic Table Mountain, and the wildlife dramas of Kruger National Park.
Here are some of our favourite places in South Africa at this time of year:
The Namaqualand is a massive section of the Northern Cape that experiences a total personality change in spring. Edged by Namibia and the Orange River to the north and the wild coastline of the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Namaqualand is a barren landscape with a harsh climate for much of the year, but it undergoes a miraculous transformation in August.
Once the first drops of spring rain fall, South Africa’s “outback” turns into a rainbow-hued paradise of daisy-carpeted valleys and vast granite outcrops wreathed with colourful birds and butterflies. The blank desert canvas becomes a riot of innumerable flowers, which continues until late September. Most of the organised wild flowers tours are reserved months in advance, but you can take your own rental car tour of Namaqualand up the N7 from Cape Town or along the N14 from Johannesburg.
Goegap Nature Reserve
Goegap Nature Reserve is a 15,000-hectare semi-desert reserve located 15km east of Springbok. As well as being home to some 45 mammal species (including Hartman’s zebra, gemsbok, aardwolf, and Brant’s whistling rat) and 94 kinds of bird, Goegap is one of the best places to explore during the spring flower season.
Perfect both for 4x4s and standard cars, Goegap also offers circular 4km and 7km hiking trails so you can really appreciate the floral display. The Hester Malan Wildflower Garden features a rock garden and indigenous succulents such as quiver and Halfmens trees. The granite peaks and sandy plains provide the ideal backdrop for a feast of native colour.
Hermanus, 121km south-east of Cape Town, is a jewel of the so-called Whale Coast, and it truly sparkles in spring, when – apart from verdant rolling hills, a wine route, quirky shops, and the fresh sea air – Hermanus also offers unrivalled whale watching.
Indeed, the best time for whale watching in Hermanus is around September, when southern right whales whales frequently travel in family packs, accompanied by their new calves. Watch them frolic in the surf all the way up to Port St. Johns, either from the 12km cliff path or on a whale cruise.
Popular whale watching sites include Dreunkrans (south on Westcliff Road, in the direction of New Harbour), Gearing’s Point overlooking the Old Harbour, and Old Harbour itself. Siever’s Point is the closest land-based viewing point, with whales sometimes seen playing just five metres from the shore. Other good spots are the Kwaaiwater lookout point and the beaches at Voëlklip and Grotto
Cosmos Country, Mpumalanga
When a place is called after a flower, it bodes well for your car hire trip! Cosmos Country lies in the south western part of the Mpumalanga Province, about 150km from Johannesburg and includes the towns of Secunda, Delmas, and Greylingstad. Don’t be put off by its reputation as Mpumalanga’s energy belt: Despite the dominance of the crude oil and coal mining industries, Cosmos Country has a particular beauty, especially at this time of year.
From August, the open grasslands explode with colour, as millions of magnificent cosmos plants burst into bloom – hence the name. Hire a car in Johannesburg and head out along roads lined with pink, purple, and flame-coloured flowers.
One of the Free State’s most attractive towns, Kroonstad is particularly attractive at this time of year. Located along the N1 between Bloemfontein and Johannesburg, Kroonstad appears to burst into flame around September and October, when the sunflowers come into bloom.
Admire the swathes of gold from the highway as you drive into Kroonstad, located on the banks of the Vals River, about a two-hour drive from Johannesburg. The surrounding area is wonderfully open and marked by lush and varied vegetation, and the town itself makes an appealing stopover for any trip between Johannesburg and Bloemfontein. Explore the flea markets and tea garden, go fishing, follow the walking trail, or watch the lion and tigers at Boskoppie Lion and Tiger park.