Road trip from Cape Town to Parys and back via Karoo and Garden Route Jarastyle travel



The month was December, and the mission was clear: Dodge the bustling crowds of Cape Town before Christmas. The plan? Hide out on the tranquil riverbanks of Parys, Free State. But with Luna in tow, a bundle of energy border collie mix (rescue dog, so who really knows?) I had to plan my trip carefully. No hopping on a quick flight this time. Plus, I would need regular pit stops and dog-friendly accommodation along the way.

Here’s how we pulled it off.

Travelling alone and with a Ford Figo, I stuck to main roads.

Leg 1: Cape Town to Hanover via N1

Distance: 705km

Time travelled: 9 hours, including two coffee stops and one lunch stop

Stay over: 

Budget- Karoo Uitsig Guesthouse

Luxury – Boutique Guesthouse Hanover

Highlight: The Three Sisters hills near Victoria West are a lovely landmark, and the Travalia farm stall next to the road was a welcome respite for driver and co-pilot, with a lawn to stretch the legs on.

Picture: flowcomm/Flickr Commons

Leg 2: Hanover to Parys via N1

Distance: 607km

Time travelled: 8 hours, including two coffee stops and one lunch stop

Stay over: 

Budget – The French Affaire

Luxury – Parys Golf & Country Estate, Unit 3003

Highlight: Arriving in Parys! This quirky town just grows more charming every year. Here, I spent my days browsing through antique stores and buying too many second-hand books.

The Vaal River offers soothing summer hangout spots. Picture: Getaway gallery

Leg 3: Parys to Graaff Reinet via N1 and N9

Distance: 730km

Time travelled: 9 hours, including two coffee stops and one lunch stop

Stay over:

Budget – De Graaff Manor 

Luxury – Onbedacht Cottage 

Highlight: The Karooroos Farmstall is the perfect spot to grab some jams, tasty pickled foods and unique dips and sauces.

READ: Stoep sitting in Graaff Reinet 

Leg 4: Graff Reinet to Plettenberg Bay via N9 and N2

The shortest route would be via Uniondale, but the pass is known to be in bad condition and with recent heavy rains potentially making it even worse, I decided to take the longer way over George.

Distance: 465km

Time travelled: 7 hours, including two coffee stops and still-standing holiday traffic in Knysna

Stay over:

Budget – Masescha Country Estate

Luxury – The Plettenberg Hotel 

Highlight: The Outeniqua Pass is especially green this year, and as dazzling as ever. Be sure to pull over at a lookout point.

READ: 7 fun things to do in pretty Plettenberg Bay

Picture: Konstantin’s Europe/Flickr Commons

Home run: Plettenberg Bay to Cape Town via N2

Distance: 520km

Time travelled: 6 hours 30 min, including one lunch stop

Highlight: Peregrine Farm Stall has delicious eats and treats. Oh, and getting home and sleeping in my own bed.


The ultimate Eastern Cape road trip

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