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Driving in South Africa

Travel Forums Africa and The Middle East Driving in South Africa

1. Posted by ritchies69 (Budding Member 11 posts) 7y

Hi,

I am going to SA for the World Cup next year. Probably a lot of people are asking questions about this but there's a good reason, it's a logistical night mare.

My friend and I are going to most games in Jo'burg and one in Polokwane.

Would it be safe to hire a car in JB and drive to Kruger National Park for a few nights and then drive to Polokwane and then back to Johanessburg?

This really is the most difficult and complicated holiday I have ever had to deal with and the first one that has ever made me think booking with a tour operator would have been much better.

2. Posted by xAx (Budding Member 38 posts) 7y

The roads from Jo'burg to Kruger and Polokwane are excellent and well taken care of and sign posted so you will be fine driving on them, if you are worried about safety in terms of car jacking etc. I really don't think you ought to be, crime isn't as bad as people are always making out and once you are out of Jo'burg and on the highway there shouldn't be anything to worry about plus being the world cup I can imagine that routes between stadiums are going to be very highly policed. Driving in Jo'burg is not for the faint hearted however, it can get very busy and if you go too slowly you will find yourself getting a lot of angry hoots so I wouldn't plan on much driving around the city but rather just using the car to get out of it.

Kruger is one of my least favourite places in Africa as it is more like a zoo than a national park but if you are planning on staying there then perhaps getting a camp in the park would be a good idea, or else be prepared to get up extremely early and queue for an hour plus outside the gates in your car as they only let a certain number of vehicles in a day and it takes ages to organise permits etc. But again a good idea to have your car here as it will save you money having to go on an organised game drive and give you the freedom to sit and watch the animals for as long/little as you like.

3. Posted by Sam I Am (Admin 5588 posts) 7y

Subscribing to this thread, as I'll be in much the same boat come next June. We've got a car rented to get us from Jo'burg to Durban and basically I don't have the foggiest clue about its doability.

Shaun, will you be in Jo'burg for the Holland-Denmark game?

4. Posted by ritchies69 (Budding Member 11 posts) 7y

Quoting Sam I Am

Subscribing to this thread, as I'll be in much the same boat come next June. We've got a car rented to get us from Jo'burg to Durban and basically I don't have the foggiest clue about its doability.

Shaun, will you be in Jo'burg for the Holland-Denmark game?

Yeah, that’s the first game we’re going to.

Wohooo, apprehensions aside, I can’t wait.

5. Posted by Sam I Am (Admin 5588 posts) 7y

Quoting ritchies69

Wohooo, apprehensions aside, I can’t wait.

Same here! :) There'll be a few more TP'ers there as well from what I'm seeing. I think this might call for pre-game beers, hehe.

6. Posted by WBodley (Budding Member 5 posts) 7y

Hi,
I just got back from Johannesburg last week visiting my mom. I'm from the U.S. and I can tell you that the switch to left hand driving took all of my week to get used to and then I still wasn't too confident. I didn't catch where you're from so that might not matter to you. Other than that the driving in Jo'burg is like most major cities and the driving distances are fairly long (It's really a fairly large city). Be aware that merging, yielding and four way stops are not well performed and indeed the pace of traffic is quick so you have to go for it. There are minivan cabs all over and they definitely have their own rules so watch out for them. There are beggars and hawkers at every major intersection, I don't give to beggars in foreign countries (money anyways, although bottles of water I think is a nice gesture as it does get pretty hot) but that's up to you of course. The parking situation is interesting there: you pay for parking almost everywhere or at the very least there will be a "parking attendant/security guy" hovering nearby to help you park and "watch" your car for you. A dubious practice at best-I never gave them anything either-looks more like a protection racket to me. All in all I fared pretty well, no accidents or tickets (I only saw 2 police cars the whole week) and I only went down the right side like 3 times. So just be aware and alert and you should be fine. I didn't go driving outside the city on this trip but I spent a month driving around the country in 2002 and had no problems short of potholes everywhere so watch for those. SA is really a beautiful country and the people are extremely friendly and helpful. Be sure to get a good map, the street signs are few and far between.
Have fun, Wayne

7. Posted by soupatrvlr (Respected Member 385 posts) 7y

Hi guys! First of all, you should be totally fine renting a car to get around while you're on your trip to ZA. The logistics actually aren't that bad, but obviously this depends on what tickets you put in for and then received. Driving to and from the Kruger is really not difficult at all, as the way is clearly marked and the toll roads are in excellent condition. When you hit the more rural roads is when you'll encounter pot holes...which are often marked by a sign. Just buy a decent map, and you'll be fine. Be prepared for traffic lights (aka, "robots), that aren't working. In this case, the intersection becomes a four-way stop. Definitely stear clear of the minibuses. They are a law unto themselves and get paid by the number of trips they run. So they cut in and out of traffic on a whim.

Quoting WBodley

The parking situation is interesting there: you pay for parking almost everywhere or at the very least there will be a "parking attendant/security guy" hovering nearby to help you park and "watch" your car for you. A dubious practice at best-I never gave them anything either-looks more like a protection racket to me.

You will notice these car guards all over the country. It is an accepted practice across the country and not a racket. It is an organized profession in certain locations like shopping centers. Just give them whatever spare change you can. Usually the people who "guard" cars outside of the organized locations are unemployed and this is a way for them to make an honest living. It also ensures that your car will be looked after. You don't have to give them much, and not every time either, even fifty cents is fine. Usually no more than 1 or 2 rand.

Quoting Sam I Am

Same here! There'll be a few more TP'ers there as well from what I'm seeing. I think this might call for pre-game beers, hehe.

I'll be at this game too! Definitely meetup for pre-game beers!

If you are still apprehensive about making the plans yourself, you can always have your trip planned as a customized "self-drive" instead of joining an organized tour. This will take out all the guess-work and everything will be mapped out for your (literally). It all depends on your comfort level. But really, I don't think its necessary. Feel free to get in touch with any questions. I'm happy to help! Good luck with your planning and maybe I'll see you for beers in Joburg.