South Africa is an amazing destination that has a lot to offer. If you are planning a holiday in South Africa, then you are probably going to stay in a number of different places. You will find that public transport is limited. And domestic flights can be expensive. So driving in South Africa is usually the best way to explore the country. If you have safety concerns, then read my post: Is it safe to drive in South Africa. Let’s take a look at the top 10 tips for driving in South Africa.
Choose the Right Vehicle.
I always go for an SUV style vehicle. If you are going to be doing a lot of driving, or plan to visit a wildlife reserve. Then it can be essential to get a 4WD car. You will benefit from the view that a bigger car provides, and also feel safer in it. There is usually plenty of boot space too. Avoid rental companies that have signage on the vehicle you will be driving.
Never Leave Valuables On Display.
It is never a good idea to leave your valuables on display in any country. When I am in South Africa, I keep everything in the boot of the vehicle, except anything I will need for the drive. Most cars will have a parcel shelf, use this to cover your bags. When you arrive at your destination, go to the hotel first to drop off your bags. Then you can explore the area with all of your possessions safely in your room.
Drive In Daylight.
There a few reasons why I like to drive during the day. It is fair to say that it is safer to drive during the day. It is also much easier to get lost in the dark. If you are visiting South Africa, you will want to enjoy the spectacular scenery. That is not easy to do in the dark.
Plan Your Route.
It is important to research your route to ensure that you have adequate time to get where you are going. Without having to drive at night. Remember to leave time for sightseeing and meal breaks. If you are venturing off the beaten track it is a good idea to seek guidance from where you are staying. They can advise you where to fill up, and what the best route is. Do not always trust your GPS.
Book A Hotel With Secure Parking.
It is never much fun to drive in circles looking for somewhere to park. Especially after a long drive in an unfamiliar place. Always try to book accommodation that provides secure parking. This will take a lot of stress out of your holiday. It is always a good idea to let the hotel know when you will be arriving.
Have Change Handy For Tipping.
It is customary to tip in South Africa. It is advisable to have some change with you in the car. This will prevent any awkward moment with valets, and car parking attendants.
Know When To Pay For Parking.
Some car parks will have paid parking. Many will just have parking attendants. These are usually people wearing a high visibility safety vest. They will often instruct you where to park. Unemployment in South Africa is high, and unofficial car park attendants are quite common. It is customary to tip them 5 or 10 rand. They will usually also act as security so that your vehicle will be safe while you are exploring.
Check For One Way Fees.
Most car rental companies will charge a one-way fee. This is when you collect the car from one location, and drop it off in another. These fees are usually payable locally. It is important that you check the small print of your rental agreement so that you are aware of how much you can expect to pay.
Check The Inclusions
When renting a car anywhere it is important to check the inclusions. It can often end up being more expensive if you are adding additional cover and services when collecting the car. One top tip for driving in South Africa is to go for the maximum coverage possible.
Watch Out For Wildlife
Depending on where you are going, there can be a lot of wildlife to see from your car. Whilst this is very exciting, it is important to remain focused on driving. Try to avoid having food in the car, especially open food. Baboons have been known to climb into car windows and steal items. If you are driving to a safari lodge, be extra vigilant. My top tip for driving in South Africa is, always give way to elephants!
Those are my top tips for driving in South Africa. If you are planning a trip to South Africa, I’d recommend reading this. Have I missed something? Please add your suggestions to the comments section below.