Before starting your South African road trip, learn some of these key rules first to make your trip run so much more smoother. The African continent is full of surprise and you must know how to navigate around this country to maximize your enjoyment and safety.
Information #1: South Africa drives on the left hand side
If you live in North America, chances are, you drive on the right hand side of the road. When you start driving in South Africa, it will take some time getting used to driving on the left hand side. My suggestion is that you start driving on the highway right away after you get your car from the airport. That will give you plenty of time to get accustomed to driving on the left side of the road.
Information #2: Most cars are manual transmission
If you really want to save money on car rental, then learning how to drive manual transmission before coming to South Africa will really come in handy. I personally don’t know how to drive manual so I ended up renting an automatic transmission vehicle.
Information #3: Rent your car for your South African Road Trip from Hertz or Avis to avoid headaches
Recommended by the hostel I stayed at in Johannesburg, renting with Hertz or Avis will prevent any headaches when you return the car after your big South African road trip. I noticed this to be true because the vehicle return process was very quick and painless. This is definitely a good recommendation when renting a vehicle in South Africa.
Information #4: Cars will move out of the way to let you pass
Drivers in South Africa can be quite friendly. If the roads are single lane, they will still move aside and give you enough room to pass. I was confused at first when I saw this but this is prevalent in the entire country.
Information #5: Move out of the fast lane because cars will tailgate you
Drivers in South Africa can also be quite a jerk. They tend to speed really quickly on the fast lane. If you are driving on the fast lane, they will not move around you and pass you. In South Africa, the cars on the fast lane will tailgate you like crazy until you move out of the way. That’s just how it works in this country and it’s best you abide by this rule.
Information #6: Don’t leave valuables visible in your car
South Africa is known for car jacking, theft and robberies. The criminals are typically opportunist and will only steal your stuff if you present it to them. Make sure to hide all your bags, luggages and electronics safely in the trunk of the car to avoid attention. If you need to use a GPS, it’s best to use a cell phone and just hide it from sight if you enter a city. Highways are probably okay to have it visible.
Information #7: Don’t drive at night
Most car jacking and murders happen at night. Just be smart and don’t stay out at night, especially in the Johannesburg area.
Information #8: Places like Swaziland, Lesotho, Coffee Bay, Tugela Falls, Golden Gate Highlands National Park have awful roads so rent your vehicle accordingly
While driving through Swaziland and Coffee Bay, the roads is some of the worst I’ve seen in my life. The roads are not paved and are full of potholes and rocks. You certainly don’t want to damage your rental. It might be a good idea for you to segment your car rental depending on your destination. If you plan on going to Swaziland, Coffee Bay and Drakensberg for example, then it’s best to rent a higher vehicle and just return it for a cheaper rental when driving elsewhere.
Learn these driving information and your South African road trip will go much smoother and a lot more fun!