Driving South Africa

Feb 11th, 2000, 07:45 PM
Michael Neville
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Driving South Africa

My wife and I are intending to travel to SA in September (to avoid the Sydney Olympics). We intend to travel in SA by car. Should we drive from Capetown along the coast to Durban and then inland to Jo'burg or drop the car off in Durban and fly/train to J'burg. Also how long do you think we should spend between on the road between Cape Town and Durban.
Feb 13th, 2000, 09:46 AM
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South Africa has an exceedingly poor road safety record, as you may know. Inadequate driver education, lax law enforcement, excessive speeding, pervasive tail-gating, a high incidence of drinking and driving, as well as the presence of many overloaded and/or unroadworthy vehicles on the country's roads do not exactly add up to relaxed road trips.

It is not all bad: roads are generally good - many of the major north-south and east-west arterial roads are excellent dual carriage freeways with convenient & well-equipped road-side rest stops. Outside of the metropolitan areas, traffic density is low and driving can be quite pleasant. Even so, wandering live-stock is a hazard to be watched out for in the rural areas. There are also often pedestrians and cyclists on the roadways.

The upshot of all this: Take great care! Try to avoid driving for more than 4 hours on any particular day, and don't drive at night, especially on weekends. Driving in and around the major cities and in the greater Gauteng area is particularly fraught with danger.

You may want to spend as much as a week or so driving from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, but rather drop the car off there and fly to Durban.

If you want to drive from Durban to Johannesburg, and you have sufficient time, consider going north through the northern part of Kwazulu-Natal which has several excellent game reserves such as Hluhluwe-Umfolozi, Mkuze and Itala. From Pongola, you can cut back via Piet Retief and Volksrust. If you are at all interested in bird-watching, Wakkerstroom (on this route) is one of South Africa's birding 'hotspots' with several rare endemics species to be seen.
Mar 13th, 2000, 08:59 PM
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If you are going to Durban I would drive back via Piet Retief. I drive on the highway from Durban to Jo'Burg is really boring. If you go north of Durban the game parks are fantastic (as mentioned above). Try stay at St Lucia. Look at this place http://www.makakatana.co.za It is fantastic.
Mar 15th, 2000, 04:31 AM
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Bert's posts are always very accurate but I think he overstates the case. Driving in SA, outside the big cities, is much driving in the US forty years ago before the interstates -- some slow traffic much of it animal powered, animals and people on or close to the roads. My wife and I made the trip from Capt Town to Port Elizabeth a couple of years ago without incident in four leisurely days. If you're a water person you will want to take longer.
My main concern about driving in SA is around the major cities, particularly Joburg and Durban where carjackings occur and things get snatched from parks stopped at traffic lights.
Mar 16th, 2000, 02:07 AM
Silvia Rotheimer
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Hello to Australia!
I have been to SA 5 times and it is a beautiful country. One of our trips was from Capetown to PE. Another trip from Durban to the Drackensberge to Port Edward and along the coast to Durban. We never went by car to Joburg. If you go,- close to Pietermaritzburg is a wonderful private Game Reserve called GAME VALLEY LODGE. Fantastic!
I think it depends how long your holidays are. You can spend 2 weeks on the Garden Route. It is wonderful. Also the Drackensberge!
Don't drive after darkness! It is not always save.
If you need any further information please contace me!
Best regards to down under from Vienna/Austria
Mar 23rd, 2000, 03:49 AM
Paul F-L
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Hi, I have just returned from 3 weeks in S.A. We hired a car for all 3 weeks and traveled many miles. I have 2 tips. Make sure you are aware how many toll roads you are going on. They do gobble the monay if travelling say from Durban - Joburg- Kruger.
Also if a car/truck moves over for you to let you pass, flash your hazard lights when you have gone past to say "thanks".
We found the roads great but my wife did go a funny green colour driving on the motorway around Joburg in rush hour.
Jul 6th, 2000, 05:33 AM
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As a South African, my thoughts are as follows. The drive from Cape Town to Durban is a long one - but has beautiful scenary. Specially the Eastern Cape. If you are tired of seeing the sea, you can drive inland though the Karoo which many people find beautiful because of it's starkness and calm energy.

I would research the safety of driviing through the Transkei - most SA's wont do it. Maybe things have changed recently.

How long should you take...well, that depends on how many places you wwant to stop at - you could take 2 weeks just driving through that part of the world. I would suggest you highlight a couple od key places you want to visit (wine farms, sea side resorts etc) and plan around that with some slack to spare should you find some unexpected gem.

I personally don't find the trip between Durban and Johannesburg very interesting - maybe I have done it too many times. I would fly. Travelling by train in this country is not a pleasant experience unless you are planning on going the Blue train. Again - most local's choices would be to fly over taking the train.
Hope this helps..
Jul 8th, 2000, 08:27 AM
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Rent a car in Port Elizabeth and drive along the beautiful Garden Route to Cape Town. Stop along the way in Plettenberg Bay,Kleinmond,Etc etc.
Did this trip a few years ago and would love to repeat it. Make sure you stay at least two days at each stop.

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