Self-driving in a new country is a daunting task. This is more so in South Africa. It has almost 30 plant and animal species per square kilometer. You might find yourself driving beside an elephant or patiently waiting for a giraffe to pass. Driving in a motorhome gives you that experience with the comforts of home in your backseat, so you’ll surely be ready for anything. Take a self-drive vacation and gear up for a drive through South Africa with a few road reminders and every tourist’s top 5 must-do.
Typical to steadily developing countries are well-constructed and well-maintained highways. All road signs there are in English so left turns and speed limits are fairly easy to observe. Did you know South Africans call their traffic lights “robots”? Well, if you see “Turn at the next robot” while driving, don’t panic-it’ surely isn’t Optimus Prime.
There are three rules an international driver or tourist should observe while on the road.
1. Keep left
Prior to driving, do remember to wear your seat belt. Missing or defective seat belts will be penalized with 250-500 rand. On the road, keep left except in instances of heavy traffic going in one direction only. Vehicles in South Africa are right-hand drive vehicles so the gear shift is operated by the left hand. Right of way in certain road junctions must also be closely observed to avoid accidents. A fine of 1000 rand is charged to non-observers of left-side driving.
2. Observe speed limits
Acceptable speed limits are usually between 60-120kph. Other than ensuring no one on the road gets hurt, it is also for the benefit of animals crossing in rural areas. Major highways and freeways have a speed limit of 120kph and 60-100kph in secondary roads and built-up areas. When driving, look out not just for road signs but for our animal friends as well (especially the antelope).
3. NEVER pick up hitchhikers
While this may not be a rule set in the constitution, it is best observed for your personal safety. Keep your car doors locked at all times and park in well-lit places with ample amount of people. If you’re so worried about people calling from the side of the street, report them to any traffic or police officer you see on your next stop.
Now that the basics of driving have been covered, the South African adventure begins. No one goes to South Africa and leaves without as much as a thought about these fantastic destination.
Kruger National Park (Limpopo Province)
This is the biggest game reserve in Africa. It is home not only to the Big 5, but also to 147 mammal species, 336 trees, 507 birds, 114 reptiles, 34 amphibians and 49 fish species. A big number of elephants inhabit the land. You can pitch camp in this two million hectare sanctuary with more than 20 camp sites.
Cape Whale Route (Western Cape)
It’s one thing to see great big animals in their toughest and another to see them calve and nurse their young. No heart probably wouldn’t be touched by the whales who come to the Cape Whale Route to take care of their calves. On a standpoint in Lambert’s Bay in the West Cape, whale nursing could be viewed between August to November.
Inanda Heritage Route (Durban)
South Africa’s struggle against apartheid is not unknown to the world at large. You’ve probably heard of Mahatma Gandhi and his passive resistance in the Phoenix settlement and Nelson Mandela who cast the first Democratic vote at the Ohlange Institute in 1994. All these and more in the nation’s long journey to freedom has placed them on the map not just for tourism, but as milestones in world history. The driving route ends in similarly historic, century-old Shembe Church.
Cape Wine Route (Western Cape)
Walt Disney has recognized the exquisite quality of South African wine. Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the United States only serves wine coming from this country. Well, it has the longest wine route in the world. It also the oldest in the industry outside of Europe and the Mediterranean. Other than wine tasting, wine courier service is also available if you want your wine shipped beforehand, anywhere in the world, or straight to your home so you can experience the delight on South African wine the moment you get back.
Table Mountain (Cape Town)
The world’s highest commercial abseil is found right here at the Table Mountain. It stands at 1000m above sea level with the Atlantic Ocean ready and waiting to catch you. Other than the Table Mountain, extreme sports in South Africa are available at the Bloukrans Bridge (bungee jump-world’s highest) and Waterval Boven in Mpumalanga (rock climbing).
Self-driving is not so much a problem as it is a ticket to the best holiday adventure. Drive the whole of South Africa in a 2 to 3 weeks vacation with all roads, even unbeaten tracks, accessible in 2 WD and 4WD. Choose your vehicle and plan your itinerary with Camper Travel Africa.