Cape Town to Johannesburg (2011 ROAD TRIP!)


This post is going to be a challenge… I like to think that I have quite a good memory, and for the most part I do – but trying to remember details to a two day period 3 years ago is going to be tricky, but I think I can remember most of it. I was browsing through my hard drive the other day and came across a folder from a road trip I took with Kim Gush in mid-2011, from Cape Town to Johannesburg. We would be driving up, and then I would be flying down a few days later. This was the first time that I was ever going to see the N1 route that stretches through 4 provinces, the Western Cape, Northern Cape, Free State and Gauteng. I had heard a lot about the route before, but had yet to experience the vast expanse of nothingness that stretches for nearly 1000 kilometers.

We departed Cape Town before sunrise and began our 15 hour journey, which was going to, in essence be split into two parts. We’d be stopping along the way for a single night and then finishing the rest of the trip the next morning.

It was onto the N1 from Brackenfell, as we set off – passing through Paarl about half an hour later. The sun was still showing no signs of live, as the night sky dominated the beginning of our journey. The next milestone was Hugenot Tunnel, which is always a fun and yet strange experience.

Hugenot Tunnel
Hugenot Tunnel

Open roads....
Open roads….

The sun began to rise as we passed through Worcester, cracking over the tops of the mountains and illuminating the few clouds present in the sky.

Touws Rivier
Sunrise over the mountains near Touws Rivier

Touws Rivier area, shortly after passing through the Hugenot Tunnel

It was then on through the passes and the views around De Doorns near Touws Rivier, which are amazing. Unfortunately the sun wasn’t yet up enough to enjoy the views to their fullest.

That’s what she said…

Further towards the Karoo
Desolation at its best
The sun was no match for my foot.

Kim clearly needing that morning coffee…

The drive took us through Laingsburg and straight into the beginnings of desolation. There’s a 100km stretch of road from Laingsburg until the next tiny town, being Welgemoed. It’s then another 70 kilometers from Welgemoed to Beauford West, which is situated on the edge of the Karoo National Park.

Karoo National Park


We passed the occasional signs of human life along the road.

There was a lot of the same things throughout the trip so it’s difficult to look back and photos and say exactly where they were taken. The whole time Kim was behind the wheel and I was just drive-by shooting the landscapes, which was quite a challenge and I definitely want to re-do this trip on my own accord and stop along the way. Looking back at it I was I was more into birding than I was at the time, as I could have seen so many new species.

We passed an area of green grass while passing through near Richmond in the Northern Cape.
We passed an area of green grass while passing through near Richmond in the Northern Cape.

Occasionally you will be lucky enough to get a windmill.
Occasionally you will be lucky enough to get a windmill.

After a while everything just looks the same, for hundreds and hundreds of kilometers
After a while everything just looks the same, for hundreds and hundreds of kilometers

We stopped in Colesberg, I think it was… And checked into a B&B there. We would be sharing a large single room with 2 beds. We spent most of the evening watching Californication and then caught a relatively early night in preparation for an early morning departure.


The mo

Did I mention it’s the same thing for hundreds of kilometers?

We left Colesberg just after sunrise and soon passed over the Orange River. We encountered an accident shortly after leaving with bodybags present. It appeared as though someone was stupid enough to try overtake on a hill.

Jesus loves it when you disobey the rules. Note the ‘no yellow line driving’.

Shortly after Colesberg if I remember correctly, think this was the Orange River.

Between Colesberg and Bloemfontein there were a bit more signs of life, in the form of extremely small towns. And it’s difficult to comprehend just how conservative and traditional these towns are. They’re very reminiscent of the deep south of the United States, with crosses and religious texts almost everywhere you look. A town is more likely to have a church than it is a toilet.


We began to approach Bloemfontein and suddenly things started to liven up a bit.

The landscapes began to change drastically as we approached Bloem, and I was very happy to see the colour green after a day of yellows and oranges.

You best know that this is God fearing land.

There were even some trees now and green hills! The landscape was truly changing.
The fields started to get greener!

There were some cool clouds that were suddenly present as we started approaching Bloem.

We stopped at Bloemfontein and enjoyed the presence of trees and garages that sell hot food. A welcome relief.

More awesome bails

Bails of hay were the best part of the trip!

The drive between Bloemfontein and Johannesburg was quite enjoyable too, and there was definitely a sense of relief in approaching the final destination. Despite how great it was seeing the country, over 15 hours in the car can definitely get to you. Especially when Kim wasn’t appreciating my Miley Cyrus playlist.


Up up and away
Up up and away

My stay was only a few days and before I knew it, I was on the plane and back towards Cape Town.

In hind sight though, this road trip was really memorable and made me realize how much of South Africa I still need to experience.

One thought on “Cape Town to Johannesburg (2011 ROAD TRIP!)

  1. Wendy, Sean and I took a drive up to Durban via Bloemfoentein thirty-two years ago and I recognise that stretch outside of Colesberg – where we’d also overnighted. I stopped the car and we sat in the road as the sun came up. The emptiness was extraordinary and, in the cool of morning, all we could hear was a light breeze singing through the grass. We stuck around for all of half-an-hour to an hour. I’d hitch-hiked the route up to Jo’burg/Pretoria a few times and have several distinct memories imprinted on my mind – mostly in the morning or evening. The road out of Colesberg is one of them. It’s a beautiful country.

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