Want to do a roadtrip from Cape Town, but have only a few days to spare and even less money in the bank? Here’s a roadtrip worth doing that only takes 6 days and costs less than R500 a day with accommodation and fuel included. All you need is a reliable and economical car and two trusty travel buddies!

Planning a roadtrip is always a great thing to do. Planning a trip to a national park makes it even more exciting! However, it can get overwhelming trying to plan where to stay and what to see in a short space of time and on a tight budget.  So here’s a guide to roadtripping from Cape Town to Addo Elephant National Park in 6 days for less than R500 a day. All you need is a reliable and economical car (like my Hyundai Getz) and two trusty travel buddies!  


We set out from Cape Town a whopping four hours later than planned. I blame it on a birthday party the night before! As the third member of our road-tripping crew had to be collected en-route from Gordon’s Bay, we opted to drive along Clarence Drive to get to the N2 as it was a glorious sunshine-filled winter’s day and Clarence Drive must be one of the most stunning drives in the world! 

We missed the turnoff for Bot River, which would’ve taken us to the N2 (too much yakking), so we ended up going through Hermanus onto the R43 which took us past Stanford and then onto the R316 and R326.  It turned out to be a bit more of a detour than anticipated, but we were glad for it as the canola fields were in all their golden glory and as we weren’t on a highway we could stop whenever we wanted to take photos. Needless to say, there were many stops and we eventually popped out onto the N2 near Riviersonderend about three hours later!

Riviersonderend is a tempting food stop with coffee shops, Steers burgers and delicious pies at Ou Meul.  However, being on a budget, it was merely a pitstop for us as we had packed some padkos and there was hot water in a flask for our tea and coffee. There are plenty of safe and super spots to stop along the N2 between Riviersonderend and The Garden Route and if you happen to be there mid-August to the end of September, you are in for a real treat with the canola fields! However if you miss the canola, there are always sheep to look at!

After driving through fire-ravished Wilderness and Knysna (the extent of the damage was shocking and heartbreaking to see) we eventually arrived at African Array Lodge at around 18h00. Don’t believe Google maps – it seemingly takes three girls a lot longer than five hours to get to Plettenberg Bay!  Due to our late arrival, we missed watching the sunset from this backpacker’s impressive deck, but we still had a great time! 


Thanks to a fun evening at the bar, we again left for our next destination a few hours later than anticipated! This was starting to become a habit it seemed! Note:  Always factor in that you will not leave on time when planning a roadtrip so rather plan for a lesser distance to be travelled. Our journey to Hogsback was thrown in on a whim as two of us had never been there and we thought we could “just swing by” and spend a night en-route.  Turns out Hogsback is quite far from Plettenberg Bay and the Eastern Cape section of the N2 can be dicey with lorries hurtling down hills and cows ambling across the road, so driving at 120km an hour is just not going to happen!  

We stopped in Colchester at the BP for a leg-stretch and to grab a few supplies from the KwikSpar.  I recommend a stop here as from here to Hogsback there are no padstals  along the N2 to get supplies or have a breather! The KwikSpar was popular and with good reason – it is clean and well-stocked with all sorts of goodies! You could get something from here to eat or drink in the car, or you can try A Taste of Africa next door if you have the time. I don’t know what the restaurant is like, but it looks pleasant and their menu seems fairly extensive and affordable.    

From there we got back onto the N2 and turned off at King William’s Town to get onto the R63 and the R345 to Hogsback. Again, the Eastern Cape roads are notoriously in bad condition and you need to keep an eye out for livestock. Take it slow and take in the tranquil rural life! However, nothing prepared me for the main road through Hogsback! I have travelled fairly extensively in the Eastern Cape and I can say that road is possibly the worst I have ever come across. You dodge one pothole to end up in another!  A 4×4 vehicle would be an added bonus here…  

We eventually found our way to Away With The Fairies where we were staying the night and can highly recommend their pizzas! The barman at the time had great taste in music too. Away With The Fairies is, as the name would suggest, a bohemian spot where you are very likely to find fairies, dragons and goblins, along with the characters from The Hobbit. They are everywhere – on the walls, behind doors, peeking out from behind the bar and even in the bathroom.  We also had a hobbit-sized bath!  

A word of advice: Whilst Away With The Fairies has its own charm and really good pizza, you may want to consider staying in a cottage or private room close to the main backpackers. Our accommodation at Striders Cottages was disappointing (we were graciously upgraded after complaining) and these cottages are also a fair walk from the main area, which is not so much fun in the dark with little to no lighting. That said, it’s worth a visit and you really should try out their bath with a view! 


The following morning we set about a whirlwind tour of Hogsback and discovered that a few days are definitely needed here to enjoy what this little hamlet in the Amatola Mountains is famous for – the hikes, waterfalls and forests. We didn’t have time to enjoy a hike to a waterfall, but after looking at Ken Harvey’s photographs, I feel we missed out on the best part. I can recommend a visit to The Eco-Shrine (paintings and sculptures that pays homage to the Earth) and to Mirrors gardens, with a huge crystal shop, a stone circle, a labyrinth and a photo gallery of Ken Harvey’s magical photographs of Hogsback. 

We also enjoyed a very affordable lunch (less than R50 for a triple decker toastie) at the Hogsback Inn in their tavern. Even if you don’t eat there, it’s worth a visit as it’s steeped in history (it was established in the 1880s) and has a wonderful olde worlde charm. 

We took the back roads through Alice and Fort Beaufort to get to Grahamstown and found them to be in fairly good condition (although any road would be after Hogsback!) with only a few stop-go’s to get through. We can’t complain though as that means they are upgrading the roads! We stopped in Grahamstown to get supplies for our next two nights at the TiPi Bush Camp and found everything that we needed at the local Checkers. Except for wood, which we got in Paterson (albeit the wettest wood on the planet). Note: If you go this route, rather get supplies in Grahamstown as Paterson doesn’t have a lot to offer in the way of groceries. Paterson does have a garage for a top up of fuel, but you will also find a fuel station in Addo Elephant National Park.  

We got to TiPi  Bush Camp, once again, as the sun was setting. The gate guard was as pleased to see us as we were to see him! Turns out we had the whole place to ourselves, which was a good thing as us three girls probably made as much noise around the braai as the jackals did in the valley that night! 


We awoke to sounds of birdsong after listening to the jackals and hearing a lion in the night. We really did feel like we were on safari now! We meandered down to a bench by the lower tipi and enjoyed our morning coffee while searching through binoculars for game across the road in a section of Addo. We saw plenty of warthogs, some kudu, zebra and ostriches, although we needn’t have looked far – TiPi Bush Camp is set within its own private game reserve, complete with its own giraffe, ostriches, impala, warthog, eland, waterbuck and more. Considering it’s only 15km away from Addo’s main gate and at a fraction of the price of staying in Addo, it’s very worth looking into this as a budget accommodation option. Plus you get to sleep in a tipi!

Read my post on TiPi Bush Camp here

After breakfast and ensuring that all our food was safely tucked away in the monkey-proof tin chest (the vervet monkeys can be naughty here) we set off with much anticipation for our first day in Addo. Twenty minutes later we were outside the Main Gate and armed with our map got ready to spot some elephants! We didn’t have to go far – as we entered the game park area, there  they were!  Quite relaxed and used to throngs of visitors, the small herd ambled past and up to cars or serenely munched their way through leaves and branches on the side of the road. What a great welcome to Addo!

It took a while to get used to the map and the road signs, but we made our way through various loops and lookout points, spotting plenty of game and stopping for coffee along the way. There’s an Animal Sightings Game on the map, which showed we are all quite competitive – some light-hearted squabbling ensued through the day as to who saw the warthog or buffalo first. Nevermind the children, adults will enjoy this one too!  

The Spekboom Hide was a great success with elephants at the watering hole (we got there a little late to see them all so there was actually only one at the watering hole with the others having moved a short distance away) and then it was time for a lunch stop at Jack’s Picnic Site.  In Addo, you can opt to eat at the Cattle Baron at Main Camp, but if you are on a budget then Jack’s Picnic Site is a great option. There are various picnic spots with a table under a cover and there’s even a braai! We were most impressed with this setup and vowed to return armed with firewood, chops and chips the next time we luncheoned here! Jack’s also has an ablution block (the only one in Addo other than the Main Camp so it’s popular) and there’s plenty of space for kids to play with a football or ride their bicycles.  We had a wonderful time munching away on our boerewors rolls (from the braai the night before) and cheese and biscuits while watching juvenile mousebirds who came to visit.  

See Addo Elephant National Park Photoblog here

We popped into the shop at Main Camp on our way out as we had run out of wine (no surprise there) and were impressed to see that the prices of goods were generally on a par with most supermarkets. The wine was a little pricey, so make sure you stock up before you leave. If you are a smoker, cigarettes are very much more expensive with only a small selection available. Otherwise, if you need cool drinks, bread, crisps, meat and any basics, the shop is not a bad option. Other than supplies, there was also the usual curios and mementos, some of which were also not badly priced. In addition there’s an interesting information centre and a rather quaint “elephant” jungle gym that kids will love!

Then it was back to our bush camp for another evening by the fire and under the stars with the jackals continuing their nightly serenade. This time we made the sunset and it didn’t disappoint!


Reluctant to leave our rather nice tipi abode, but looking forward to more elephant encounters, we left TiPi Bush Camp for a final drive through Addo from the Main Gate to the Matyholweni Gate,  where we would be reunited with the N2 for the start of our journey home.

This time we were rewarded with a sighting of a fairly large herd of elephants including a new baby that was only a few days old. There were much shenanigans at the watering hole, including a very brave warthog! 

Just before our exit we saw plenty of kudu, warthog, a huge herd of red hartebeest and a pair of elephants giving a few zebra a spray. All in all it was a great last day in Addo, complete with plenty of sightings of the endangered dung beetle. I love the signs everywhere telling you that they have right of way! 

See Addo Elephant National Park Photoblog here

We got back onto the N2 just outside Colchester, so made another pitstop at the KwikSpar, along with a windscreen clean, before heading swiftly onto Elalini Backpackers just outside Knysna on the Buffelsbaai Road. Once again we arrived after dark, but they were very kind and made us a delicious pancake dinner. The restaurant at the backpackers, Flippin’ Knys, is well-known for their pancakes and it’s not surprising why. They were so good I also opted to have one for breakfast.

Note: Elalini has applied for their liquor licence, but in the interim guests are allowed to take their own drinks, so we finished up the last dregs from our cooler box. This included a much-welcomed half bottle of Rooiberg Muscadel which was perfect for the freezing temperatures!

Read my post on Elalini Backpackers here


After exploring the grounds of Elalini Backpackers, complete with chickens scratching about on the now disused railway track, we had breakfast (included in the tariff) and then gave some thought to returning to the city. By now living life on our terms was rather appealing, so we dragged our heels and opted to rather go for a walk on the beach at Buffelsbaai, followed by a beer at the Riverdeck Restaurant, another one of my favourite discoveries from previous trips to The Garden Route. After that it really was time to go! However,  it was all so sublime that we collectively agreed to come back to Elalini Backpackers and stay for a few days to relax and explore the area rather than always rushing to get back on the road!

In our usual style, we got back to Cape Town after dark. 

Looking back, it really was a roadtrip as we were on the road more often than not! But we all had a fantastic time and felt like we had experienced so much in just a few days. And for less than R500 a day to do and see all of that, I would do it all again. I think you should too!

You could skip Hogsback to save time and fuel and spend an extra day in Addo Elephant Natioal Park or in the Garden Route. To be honest, Hogsback is a bit out of the way and a roadtrip all on its own!



African Array Lodge               
Away With The Fairies          
TiPi Bush Camp                      
Elalini Backpackers (breakfast included) 

Fuel and Tollgates

Fuel (R2 880 in total) 

Addo Elephant National Park    

Park fees (R62 per day for SA citizens)   


Breakfast at African Array   
Pizza at Away with Fairies    
Toastie at Hogsback Inn       
Groceries and wood              
Pancake at Elalini                   





R  32




R  55 
R  60
R  40
R  35

R2 606 / 6 days = R435 per day