The legendary highway Route 66 in the United States conjures up images in traveller’s mind of the open road and adventure. Everyone dreams of taking a road trip through new landscapes, visiting strange destinations, and cruising towards the horizon. South Africa has equally majestic roads to travel along, and one that is becoming increasingly popular is the N14, writes Andrew Macfarlane.
Starting in Pretoria, Gauteng, the road travels through the North West province, into the Northern Cape and ends in Springbok – a two hour drive from the ocean. Roughly 1186 kilometres in length, and a 12-hour drive, the majority of the highway is in the country’s largest province, which (fun fact) is larger in size than Germany. As you head through the Highveld, Kalahari, and the Richtersveld, the scenery changes dramatically throughout the journey.
But before any long road trip can take place you need to plan. With the road passing through towns, some nature reserves, and areas where animals cross the highway freely, it’s a good idea to take some time to rest and take in the scenery. Here are five stop-over points on the best road to chase the setting sun across South Africa:
Situated in the North West province just outside the small town of Delareyville, the Baberspan Bird Sanctuary is a great stop-over spot. The reserve has over 365 species of birds and is one of the largest waterfowl sanctuaries in South Africa. Travellers can make a trip to the park into an overnight stay. There are multiple accommodation options including camping along the shoreline of the dam where you can do a spot of fishing, set up your caravan, or book yourself into one of the guesthouses (the Flamingo or Pelican house). The Baberspan Bird Sanctuary is 200 hectares of pristine bird watching paradise.
When travelling through the sun-baked Kalahari, it’s a good idea to head towards the oasis – in this part of the world that’s Kuruman. The town was established in this region due to the natural underground spring, the Eye of Kuruman. The N14 runs straight through the centre of the town and a great stop-over spot is the Dream Lodge. Recently opened by professional motivational speaker and life coach Godfrey Madanhire, the venue caters to multiple workshops and seminars on a wide range of topics. Spending the day at this destination will leave you refreshed and with a new set of life skills. Up the road from the lodge is the Moffat Mission Station, steeped in history it has been frequented by none other than legendary explorer Sir David Livingston.
Just 25 kilometres outside the centre of Upington, the African Vineyard Guest House is something different from other locations on your journey through the Kalahari. Situated on an island in the middle of the Orange River (the largest river in South Africa), the African Vineyard is a bit of opulence that you’ll welcome on your journey across the Northern Cape. Surrounded by grape and fruit orchards, it is an easy hour’s drive from Augrabies Falls. With wine tasting, game drives, and river rafting on the itinerary list for the area, this is something completely different from what most South Africans expect from the Kalahari.
Located right in the centre of Springbok at the foot of the Koppie, South Africa’s first copper mine, this is a true home away from home. Annie’s Cottage is an old manor house that has been painstakingly restored to its former beauty. It is a great hop-off point to take in the sights and sounds of the Namaqualand. The area is graced with an awesome flower show like no other from August to October when hills are covered with brightly-coloured flora. The N14 officially ends in Springbok, but then again it’s very close to the ocean if you wish to make your journey just that little bit longer.
The small seaside town of Port Nolloth is a remote and charming destination, as well as an easy two-hour journey via the R355 from Springbok. Established as a port for copper exports, and eventually diamonds, the town’s commercial days have subsided. If you’ve travelled straight across the country (as per the directions of this guide) you’ll want to be right on the beachfront. The Scotia Inn is situated right on the coast, with an uninterrupted view of the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. Expect to wake up to majestic misty mornings as the winds from the ocean meet the warm desert air close to the Namibian border. But, best of all, you can enjoy the sunsets on a pristine beach – you’ve earned it after chasing the sun across the countries biggest province.