renting a van/truck/SUV in J'burg

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Mar 30th, 2005, 09:09 AM
  #1
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renting a van/truck/SUV in J'burg

hey folks...in need of some transpo advice (and more advice later I'm sure). I'm part of a small film crew going to South Africa and Swaziland in just about a month to film a short documentary. We are figuring out logistics right now. We do have contacts there on the ground, but I'm looking into seeing what it would be like to rent a vehicle at JNB airport for our 15 day trip. We'd be driving the next morning to Swaziland (anybody know how long that will take?) and we'd use it to get around in Mbabane and rural areas too. We'd drive back to J'burg after a week and use the vehicle for a week around J'burg. We can get a truck from Hertz for just over US$1100 for the whole time, which is just a bit cheaper than air tickets for the 4 of us roundtrip between JNB and Swaziland. But we still need transportation around each place... Any advice on all this? Can we even rent a car legally? We're all US citizens with US drivers licenses. Would we need a local driver? Is getting used to driving on the left difficult? I've heard there are a lot of car accidents, any insurance advice? We're staying at the Mountain Inn in Swaziland. Any hotel suggestions for J'burg?
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Mar 30th, 2005, 10:34 AM
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Yes, you can rent a vehicle, and an English language drivers license is all they require. Driving on the left takes a little getting used to, but if someone in the car always reminds the driver to keep left at intersections and turns, that helps a lot. You wouldn't need a local driver.

The drive from Jo'burg to Swaziland takes somewhere around 6 or 7 hours.

SA does have a higher accident rate than the US, so you have to be alert when driving, and in the rural areas you have to watch out for people and animals in the road. Also, big trucks are a lot longer than semis in the US. But the roads are really excellent in SA (Swaziland has some excellent roads and some iffy ones), and driving is a great way to see the country.

What a great thing to be doing! When the documentary is done, tell us where we can see it!
Celia is offline  
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Mar 30th, 2005, 02:19 PM
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Thanks for the input Celia. I think that with the 6-7 hour drive we'll be flying and renting cars separately in Swaziland and Johannesburg. Although I haven't found a rental place yet in Manzini. If you have any recommendations for a hotel near JNB let me know!

Thanks,
Joel
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Mar 31st, 2005, 06:21 AM
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There are all kinds of hotel choices in Johannesburg -- if you want really expensive and right in the heart of the action, The Michaelangelo is tops. I've never stayed there, but I've been in the public rooms several times. The Sandton Sun is in the same area (the other end of a fabulous mall) and I've stayed there and it's great, but also pricey. If you want a super good deal on a very top hotel, look at the internet deal on The Westcliff mentioned in this forum yesterday or day before in a posting by Roccco. Do a search for Westcliff.

Another great area to stay in is Rosebank, (my favorite area of the city), because of the African market and the great sidewalk cafes. I've stayed at the Rosebank Hotel and liked it. The Balalaika is near there, I think, but I could be wrong. I've never stayed there, but have eaten lunch there. There's a Holiday Inn near Sandton, and more of them all over town, I think, and they're all nice.

If you're staying a week, you might want a place with more room, so a self-catering place like one of the Don Suites (several in different areas of town) might suit you better. We stayed in a self-catering place called Premiere Classe and liked it just fine.

An internet search for "johannesburg hotels" will find you a zillion choices.
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Mar 31st, 2005, 05:51 PM
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On the car hire Insurance issue - you should have the option to take out additional insurance - often worded as comprehensive cover - it's well worth taking this out as it reduces your excess on the insurance which can be very high. I would consider hiring the car in South Africa and driving it across the border as neighbouring countries have very high insurance premiums. Just make sure that you have permission from the car hire company.

Try Europcar for cheapish car hire.

Bianca
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Apr 1st, 2005, 12:55 PM
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you are probably going to want to muck around while there. Consider a good 4x4 rental. Not like a landrover or landcruiser. Not the 'softie' vehicle. Get an international drivers license. There are reasons. It takes a couple days to get used to driving on the left. Everytime you stop. Look both ways and then again. Sounds stupid. It trains your mind to get used to change in traffic. The accidents are usually locals with no license. Bulk up on insurance at the counter. I had been in africa over 7 years and not one accident. But always just the one it takes. Try avoid driving late at nite and stick to main roads then. And take a triband cell phone. At bookstores you can buy a prepaidcard and insert to activate and get local telephone #. Confirm maybe if Vodacom(example) has website.Or rent phone at airport in less that has changed in last few years.
Motel to Hotel- try
www.citylodge.co.za
and if you have firm dates
wwwbid2stay.co.za at the citylodge group.
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Apr 2nd, 2005, 08:06 AM
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Luangwa blondes, could you tell us the reasons you recommend an international drivers license? Unless there's been a very recent change, SA law requires only that you have an English language license. I'd be interested to know of any changes.

Your tips about looking both ways and then looking again are good ones!
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Apr 2nd, 2005, 09:03 AM
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One example. In Africa,authorities usually want a document to keep you around when they want something-a donation. They figure something like that has a lot of value.I get a couple Int'l D.L. for a long trip and fork over that instead of my passport. And you never/ever relinquish that. Then on my way. Tricks of travelling. SA not a problem, but the rest.....
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Apr 6th, 2005, 07:38 AM
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I must correct Celia - they journey takes about 4 hours at the most.
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Apr 7th, 2005, 06:25 AM
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Sorry, my mistake. I think I was thinking of making the trip a long time ago, and maybe by a circuitous route.
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