Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, both major cities of South Africa, are joined by several routes - but “R62” is often considered the best and most scenic way to travel between them. It doesn't follow the coast but heads further inland than the N2, right through the winelands, mountains and the “Klein Karoo” semi-desert valley.
The diversity of this route is what makes it amazing, passing through a range of different regions and landscapes. It is also less popular with tourists than the nearby Garden Route, making the R62 less crowded and a little more untouched.
The entire drive between the cities is close to 900 kilometres, and it is best to take at least five days to enjoy it fully.
On the way out of Cape Town towards Worcester, take a few detours to visit Stellenbosch and Franschhoek and the other towns of the wine region. Of course, if you are travelling by car, it is always necessary to have a sober driver or park up for the night and then use public transport to go anywhere you are intending to drink.
The two previously mentioned towns are the most well-known centres in the region, but there are many more. The area has a climate that is great for wine production and as a consequence it is packed with vineyards, making varietals which range from sauvignon blanc to pinotage. There are often wine-related events happening, plenty of cellar doors to visit and myriad cute places to stay thanks to the many visitors the region receives.
Towns of note
All along the route, there are places to stop, get something to eat and perhaps stay the night. Here are just a few of the highlights.
- Montagu, nestled in the mountains, is well known for hot mineral springs where travellers can wash off the dust from the road.
- Ladismith is the centre of a farming community, overlooked by the peak of Towerkop.
- Calitzdorp is a gateway to the incredible Klein Karoo region, and is also home to production of some of the country’s best port wines.
- Oudtshoorn is, interestingly, the “Ostrich Capital of the World.” It is also the biggest town in the Klein Karoo region.
- Uniondale has an interesting story behind it: it is reportedly haunted by the ghost of a young woman who died in a car accident nearby.
These and other towns along the road can offer road trippers refuge, sustenance and a bit of culture too.
The Klein Karoo region is one of the landscape highlights along Route 62. The name is cute but not very informative for those who don’t speak Afrikaans - it refers to an area of semi-desert, a long valley bordered by the Swartberg Mountains and the Langeberg-Outeniqua range. You will pass through it between Barrydale and De Rust along the R62.
Natural beauty of the Klein Karoo includes towering cliffs, clear streams and interesting flora, with a range of succulent-style vegetation. The Cango Caves just outside of Oudtshoorn are a must-visit feature.
There are also several Nature Reserves to visit along the route: Anysberg, Towerkop, Groot Swartberg and Kammanassie to name a few. Each one offers up some of South Africa’s natural beauty to explore.
Allow plenty of time to drive Route 62, because there is a lot to do. Horse riding tours and expeditions are popular, and the Ceres Valley offers ziplining to the adrenaline lovers. 4x4 tours are also available in places along the route.
Wining and dining is plentiful along the R62. The trip kicks off (or ends) with the winelands near Cape Town, but there are additional wineries closer to Port Elizabeth. The area around Ceres near the Cape Town end is full of orchards where you can get all kinds of fresh fruit in season, and the towns on the route are well-versed in feeding tourists with all the flavours of Africa.
Drop in to the museums and art galleries you discover along the way, and enjoy the well-known quirky attractions such as Ronnie’s Sex Shop between Barrydale and Ladismith, and ostrich or elephant rides in Oudtshoorn.