Driving in South Africa

Discussion in 'Africa' started by jparker, May 15, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. jparker

    jparker Silver Member

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    On our recent trip, I rented a vehicle to drive the family from Johannesburg to our safari in Greater Kruger. Most folks will realize they will be driving on the left side of the road. That is not so bad, but roundabouts can be tricky.

    But, what you may not realize, unless you specify, is that you may get a manual shift vehicle. You say, "No problem, I can drive a stick shift." Keep in mind you will be using the same shift pattern you are used to in the U.S. but you will be shifting with your left hand. This is the tricky bit.

    Also, if you drive to Kruger from J'burg, the stretch of road north of Dullstroom has the worst potholes I have ever seen. There are signs for them but also saw several vehicles with popped tires. Plus, you are likely to encounter at least a few cattle on the road at various points so be careful.
     
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  2. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    The left hand thingy is pretty common ( well in all the placeS people drive on the left ie the UK, ireland, the former British Caribbean islands and Japan just to name a few. :))
    Americans drivers have always found roundabouts tricky (because they dont pay attention to the rules) even at a few here we have here in Florida.

    I found driving in South Africa very relaxing in particular the South/ Cape regions which had very good roads and senic road like the area around the Cape of Good Hope . Drivers tend to be quite courteous (dont forget to to flash your lights in appreciation when they pull over to allow you to overtake) but one should always keep you gas tank topped up as filling stations tend to be far between off the major highways.
     
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  3. slice19
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    slice19 Silver Member

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    Thanks for the tips, we will be doing this in a couple of month. I am leaving the driving to my husband who has driven on the left side of the road twice before, he thinks he will be teaching me on this trip but that will depend on if we get an automatic or not.

    Did you generally feel safe on the drive from JNB to Kruger? Had your rental popped a tire, would you hae felt safe pulling over to change said tire? I will have to check if AAA has a south African partner and be sure my membership is up to date.
     
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  4. milchap
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    milchap Gold Member

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    I used a driver and was able to enjoy the scenery. :)
     
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  5. aptraveler

    aptraveler Gold Member

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    I had a great time exploring the Garden Route in South Africa. I rented a little red Volkswagen Golf and drove from Cape Town to Plettenberg Bay returning to Cape Town via Stellenbosh.
    The roads were great and the spectacular scenery, really out of this world.

    And yes, the driving on the left side with the left side manual transmission thing was a bit of a challenge at first, but after getting the hang of it all; it was an awesome experience that I would certainly recommend to anyone going to SA. ;-)

    Sent from my iPhone using milepoint
     
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  6. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Did the Jo'burg - Krueger trip about 10 years ago. I had booked a Toyota Camry-class car with Hertz and got a shiny new... Dodge Neon :confused: It was automatic, if I recall correctly, but that wasn't a big concern as I have driven stick many times and even on the wrong side of the road.

    Driving on the left side wasn't a big problem for me except that one time in some city where I made a left turn onto the wrong side of the road. I quickly realized that that was a bad idea and was able to pull into the drive-way of a bank or shop and recover from there. Admittedly, it wasn't any different than when I pulled out of a parking garage in SF into oncoming traffic because it was a one-way street.

    As for safety of the route... well, I personally felt quite safe even though back then at least some parts of the route I took were quite "rural". My wife keeps telling me she won't go with me if I decide to do it again. I did read stories back then (after I got back) about tourists being held up, robbed and worse, on that route. But again, keep in mind that was 10 years ago, so get current information. Oakland, CA has had 16 robberies and 3 car jackings in a 24 hr period this week, for example.
     
  7. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I drive there and find it quite pleasant, but in some areas the potholes are bad, not terribly problematical if you're prepared. I can and have changed tyres. Of course I prefer a manual transmission but there are automatics available at most SA rental locations I think. I've never had any crime problems there.

    Between left hand drive cars and right hand drive cars I prefer right hand drive (that is, driving on the left side of the road) but I'm comfortable either way. I probably prefer RHD because much of my early driving experience was in Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand. Either way it is a very rapid adjustment for almost everyone I know.
     
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