Self-Drive South Africa
Major roads in South Africa are tarred, well-maintained and well-signposted with plenty of friendly service stations along the way. Stick to the wide national roads or turn off onto secondary tarred roads, winding their way through scenic countryside or over magnificent mountain passes.
Explore and experience a self-driving safari in South Africa's Kruger National Park and be sure to include a drive along the adjoining Panorama Route to view impressive scenery and quirky towns. There are also the excellent game reserves and stunning tropical coastline of KwaZulu-Natal, a classic African self-drive destination - include the rolling landscapes of the Midlands Meander and views of the dramatic Drakensberg Mountains to get the most out of this region.
And then of course there is the Cape, one of the easiest and most rewarding self-drive holidays in Africa. Cape Town, the picturesque Cape Winelands, the Whale Coast and rural Overberg plus the natural beauty of the Garden Route all fit together nicely to make an easy-to-drive route.
Tips for game-viewing when self-driving
When self-driving with children - please ensure that the youngsters are occupied - the animals are not waiting for you, you have to wait for them!
An ample supplies of tasty snacks will help.
You are allowed out of your car only at designated areas. The bigger parks like Kruger and Kalahari have picnic and rest-room stops, and you should plan outings with them in mind - they are indicated on all park maps.
When approaching animals, do so slowly and stop so as to give them enough space to move freely. Do not cut off individual animals from their herds as this will set them panicking.
Always keep a fair distance and allow space for them to cross the road, especially elephants, buffalos and rhinos.
The reason they are members of the "Big Five" is not so much for their size as their aggressive behaviour when cornered.
Most animals (including the big cats) see a vehicle as a neutral shape and do not feel threatened, which generally allows you to get up close enough for everyone's comfort.
The best game viewing hours are the early mornings and late afternoon. As for the rest of the day relax in your camp or in the shade with a picnic (inside your vehicle) at a waterhole - game viewing can be quite exhausting as your eyes might not be used to focusing all the time.
Tips for driving in South Africa
Surprise! Yes, we drive and ride on the left side of the road. Don't worry, you will quickly get the hang of it. Just take it easy and be extra careful in the beginning until you are used to driving or riding on the left - it's really simple.
Be alert when you come to an intersection with a four way stop, which are common in South Africa. Rule of thumb is "first come, first served", so pay attention and wait your turn to avoid a possible collission.
Taxi & Mini-Busses
Depending on where you ride or drive, traffic can be quite heavy, with lots of mini-busses driving really close or into the opposite direction. Just always keep an eye on the road and your surroundings, and you should be fine.
Motorcycles: Lane splitting is OK
Unlike many other countries, lane splitting is allowed in South Africa, which means, you are allowed to overtake cars while riding or in traffic by using the space between the lanes. But be very careful and don't ride too fast, especially if you have not done it back home.
Safety Tips: Be aware of your surroundings
Travelling safely in the world, including in South Africa, requires a bit of local knowledge and a good dose of situational awareness.
- Make photocopies of important items and pay special attention to the emergency numbers on the back of your credit cards. Store the copies safely away from your wallet.
- Do not drink and drive. South Africa's laws in this regard are strict and consequences are severe.
- Follow the traffic rules, obey the speed limit at all times and keep a safe following distance.
- Be aware of pick-pockets. Put wallets/phones in front pockets and be mindful of your bags.