Driving in South Africa
The roads in South Africa are generally very pleasant to drive on compared to the UK. As in the UK, people drive on the left so you shouldn’t find getting used to the roads to difficult.
During your escorted tour of South Africa you will spend a lot of time on the road, so we have put together some advice about licence, insurance and safety requirements to ensure you stay safe and legal, along with a guideline of what road costs you can expect to incur during your trip.
Driving Licence and International Driving Permit (IDP)
Non-residents are permitted to drive with a driving licence issued and valid in their own country, provided it bears the photograph and signature of the holder and is in English. If your driving licence does not meet these requirements, an International Driving Permit (IDP) is required.
Drivers must be over 18 years old, but motorhome rental companies may have additional requirements (Bobo Campers stipulates 21 as the minimum age).
On tailor made holidays to south Africa, vehicles from Bobo Campers are insured with a 10,000 ZAR excess. To have the vehicle fully insured, take out a CDW policy according to the Bobo Campers rates sheet (CDW3 costs 220 ZAR per day and reduces all risk to all vehicle models to nil. CDW2 and CDW1 are lower forms of cover). An imprint of a major credit card may required while the vehicle is rented.
Driving in South Africa
Public roads are well developed and well sign-posted and rules of the road will be provided with your motorhome. Some roads are designated toll roads (recognisable by a black T on a yellow background), so ensure that you have sufficient cash in hand. These roads are particularly prevalent between Johannesburg and the Kruger National Park, and from Johannesburg to Durban.
Using hand-held phones while driving is against the law. You should use a vehicle phone attachment or a hands-free kit, but phoning while driving is not advised.
Drinking and driving
The legal blood alcohol limit in South Africa is 50mg per 100ml, which is 30mg lower than in the UK. The legal breath alcohol limit is 24mg per 1000ml. It is illegal to refuse to give a breath or blood sample.
All distances, speed limits and speedometers are in kilometres. Signs follow standard international symbols.
While most national roads are tarred and in good condition, the more rural the road, the more likely it is to have pot-holes and be poorly surfaced. Our escorted tour of South Africa does cover some well-maintained gravel roads and on these it is advisable to keep your speed down and to be especially careful if travelling in wet weather.
The general speed limits, unless otherwise indicated, are:
- 120kph (75mph) on national highways, urban freeways and other major routes
- 100kph (60mph) on secondary (rural) roads
- 60kph (35mph) in built-up areas usually
Speed limits are given in kilometres per hour.
Diesel costs much less than in the UK, with prices inland slightly more expensive than on the coast. Prices are reviewed by the government on the first Wednesday of each month.
You will usually be expected to return your motorhome hire vehicle with a full tank of petrol unless otherwise stated by your rental company.
There are a variety of filling stations on both main and country roads. However, distances between towns (and therefore between filling stations) are considerable in some parts of the country, so it is advisable to fill up your tank before it starts giving warning signals. Most stations are open 24 hours a day, although some keep shorter hours, and most generally offer full service, rather than self-service.
In the case of full service, an attendant will fill the tank, check the oil and coolant levels and the tyre pressure and, if necessary, clean the windscreen, for which he or she will expect a tip of two or three rand.
You cannot pay for fuel with a credit card (South Africans use a special fuel card). You will need to pay in cash, so it is important to make sure that you always have enough money with you for your fuel requirements.
Seat belts must be worn at all times by drivers and passengers.
Many of the national roads between the major centres are toll roads. Check the toll fees before your journey, and make sure that you have adequate means of payment with you. Debit cards and credit cards not issued in South Africa are not accepted for toll payment, so make sure you have enough cash with you for tolls.
Watch out for animals in rural areas
Roads in many rural areas are not fenced, so you could find dogs, chickens, sheep and even horses or cows on the road, so it may be dangerous to drive at night. Large antelope crossing the road can also be a hazard in certain areas – watch out for the road signs depicting a leaping antelope, and take it slowly, especially towards evening.
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