Driving in South Africa

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Dec 11th, 2001, 10:03 PM
  #1
Caroline
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Driving in South Africa

Hi, We are planning our honeymoon in South Africa and ideally I would like to go to Cape Town first and go to a winery and then go down to Durban as I used to go to School in Pietermaritzburg years ago and would like to go back and see it. I was just wondering how safe it was for "tourists" to drive around in hire cars and any recommendations people would give. Thanks
 
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Dec 12th, 2001, 07:34 AM
  #2
Jenny
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We were there 3 years ago, and it was certainly fine then - just use your common sense, and if you feel threatened, get out of there fast. We drove from Johannesburg to the kruger, back down through Lesotho to Durban, and on round the Garden Route to Cape Town. The only place we found even in the slightest unsettling was parts of J'burg ... but it's not against the law there to drive through red traffic lights if you feel threatened. Maybe someone has some more up-to-date advice for you, though....
 
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Dec 13th, 2001, 06:57 AM
  #3
S. Evans
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We rented cars in cities all over SA at each airport from Avis and stayed in Holiday Inns in May 2000. The trip could not have better--cheap prices, great accomodations, beautiful scenery, and fun. Only problem was the wildlife at Kruger was scarce due to recent floodings, but Vic Falls was absolutely SPECTACULAR due to massive rains. We were drenched! Did go into Soweto with a local using his car, but I would not recommend it in your own car.
 
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Dec 13th, 2001, 05:18 PM
  #4
Chris
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Driving in SA is great fun. Be prepared for FAST drivers, who will pass you in their high-powered BMWs & Benzes.

Bear in mind that although gas stations are plentiful, almost none accept credit cards, so carry cash.

I've driven all through SA, including some dicey areas of Jo'burg, and never had a problem with safety. Do most driving during daylite, and keep your windows up, and doors locked. Just like NewYork!
 
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Dec 14th, 2001, 04:31 AM
  #5
local
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Jenny it is against the law to drive through red lights - even if you feel threatened! If caught you will be ticketed and will need to go to court to explain the "threatening" circumstances to get the ticket squashed. To me the BMW's and Meredes Benzes are not the most dangerous (although BMW drivers don't use indicator lights!): employ defensive driving practices around minibus taxis (minivans to you). Aside from the majority being barely roadworthy they will stop dead for no reason and less warning, and regard other vehicles as dodgem cars so will cut in wherever they wish. Driving in SA is still safe though and at least you know that you're alive!
 
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Dec 18th, 2001, 01:45 AM
  #6
Jenny
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Thanks - I will take that up with Avis then, as they 'advised' us this was the case. I'm sure it is printed on their literature also! It's really interesting to hear that from a local, as I know others who have been advised the same thing by other hore car companies... Why do you think they think it's OK to tell foreigners this? (Maybe they get a cut from the ticketing fines?!
 
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Jan 27th, 2002, 04:48 PM
  #7
Michael
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WE drove from Capetown to Port Elizabeth, flew PE to Durban, drove Durban to J'burg in August 2001. No problems whatsoever. We are used to driving in similar conditions in Australia - long distances, little traffic. The only word of caution is driving at dusk as many people use break down lane as footpath/sidewalk from the towns where they work to their homes in the shantytowns. They are the ones without the Beemers and Benz's.
 
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Jan 28th, 2002, 06:38 AM
  #8
Bert
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Caroline,

I would certainly not describe driving in South Africa as either 'fun' or 'safe'. Although South Africa has the best road network in Africa, we find it very difficult to encourage self-drive trips. Road safety standards leave much to be desired, with many terrible drivers who speed, tail-gate & overtake when they shouldn't. It is an incontrovertible fact that South Africa has amongst the world's highest road fatality rates, per vehicle miles/kms travelled. Easter and the December holiday season are the worst times. Many vehicles are in a shocking state of disrepair and the incidence of drinking and driving is very high. Traffic law enforcement is lax, driver education poor. So my advice is to avoid extended self-driving around the major cities and to avoid night-driving, especially on weekends.

People worry about all kinds of things when planning a trip abroad, but the most likely injury to befall them is to be hurt in a traffic accident.

I'm not saying that ANY driving is dangerous or inadvisable, but try to minimize your driving. Consider going on a local scheduled tour with a qualified guide in a place like Cape Town, for example. Even having lived in South Africa for nearly 40 years, I was amazed how much I learnt on such a guided trip. Someone else is doing the driving (who knows his/her way around) and one makes more of a contribution to the local economy that way. It is not expensive either, at the current exchange rates.

Bert
Houston


 
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Jan 30th, 2002, 07:24 AM
  #9
Joan
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Be sure to take out the extra insurance that gives you NO deductable. You may want to consider a car with A/C if you are apprehensive about driving with yoru windows down. When I visit I do not wear any jewelry other than a wedding band and small sleepers/ loops in my ears. Snatch and grabbing of chains etc is not uncommon in the street or through an open car window. It is the same story - don't be foolish, don't go to dark/ isolatd areas after dark and be aware of your surroundings. If you want to go to any of the townships take a tour. Also be sure not to leave things visible in the car nor valuables in the trunk.
 
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