When considering a trip to South Africa most travellers will be looking to embark on a journey along the Garden Route, stopping off at various destinations on the way. A tricky decision for many is how to travel between each destination; it was for me.
I, like many others had heard the numerous stories of mugging and car-jacking in South Africa and from a distance was completely put off the idea of renting a car to travel the route I had chosen from Port Elizabeth westward to Cape Town. So, I booked seats on the Baz Bus to take us to each location. The Baz Bus itself is fine (a small, hot minibus) but with its limited timetable I was restricted as to where I could go and how much time I could spend in each place. After reaching Mossel Bay and discovering that there wasn’t an awful lot to do locally, I bit the bullet and hired a car for the day at a very reasonable price. It was a great decision and changed the rest of my trip.
Most towns will have hire car companies nearby which you can walk or get a taxi to, whereas the bigger cities like Cape Town will have several hire company options available. Call or book online in advance, take along your passport, driving license and a credit card and within 10 minutes you are good to go.
The roads in South Africa are generally quiet so you don’t feel under pressure to drive fast and keep up with traffic allowing you to get used to the road system pretty quickly: South African’s, like the Brits and Aussies drive on the left hand side of the road. The roads are long and wide which allows for overtaking. You will notice that slower cars pull over slightly to the left whilst driving to allow faster cars to overtake, rather than having roads with a system of several lanes. In quieter towns you won’t find traffic lights and so there is a lot of stop-start at junctions with a first come, first served policy. Keep your eyes peeled to make sure you don’t miss a junction as there are no stop signs! You can find yourself driving along a flat road which will suddenly take you into the mountains without warning, so be wary of your route to make sure you don’t scare yourself. That being said, the mountain roads are well maintained and very easy to navigate.
Crime is always a risk whether you are walking, cycling or on a bus. Take common sense precautions like; having a good idea of the route to your destination to ensure you don’t end up lost in a remote area which may be dangerous; keep valuables hidden and always lock your vehicle. Avoid stopping in places which are unpopulated and when parking, it is worth paying a small fee to ensure that someone is watching your car. It goes without saying that driving at night, in an area you are unfamiliar with is not recommended.
Hiring a car will give you more freedom to enjoy the fabulous destinations which South Africa has to offer – Be sensible and you will get so much more out of your visit.
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Featured Image -The road from Mossel Bay to Oudtshoorn