South Africa tips: You should know this before you make a road trip through South Africa!

Looking for tips for a trip to South Africa? Then read on quickly, because in this blog we tell you everything you need to know about a road trip in South Africa and you will find other useful travel tips for this beautiful country!Montagu

Tips for a road trip through South Africa

1. Self-driving in South Africa is safe if you pay attention to this:

Yes, driving in South Africa is generally very safe, but there are a few things you should know before taking a road trip through South Africa!

Road trip South Africa tip: You drive on the left in South Africa

It takes some getting used to but soon it feels all normal.

Tip: rent a car that shifts automatic transmission in South Africa, it saves a lot of hassle!South Africa Montagu 10

Road trip South Africa tip: Watch out for bad roads and potholes

Not all roads in South Africa are good. In the south (Garden Route) the main roads are in good condition, but as soon as you leave the main roads, you can encounter unpaved stretches. If you also drive through the north or east of South Africa, the roads are sometimes really bad. Watch out for potholes, you don’t want to drive into them because there is a good chance that your tires will break.

Road trip South Africa tip: Rent a car with comprehensive insurance

The roads in South Africa are not great and there is a chance that you or someone else accidentally damages the car. That is why it is nice to have all-risk insurance to prevent unwanted surprises.

Tip: rent your car from Sunny Cars We rented our car from Sunny Cars because it already includes all-risk insurance as standard. Any hassle with the insurance will be arranged by Sunny Cars, so that you can simply enjoy your holiday.roadtrip zuid afrika

Read our Garden Route itinerary blog: with our itinerary for a road trip along the Garden Route in South Africa

Road trip South Africa tip: Don’t drive at night

Just don’t! The roads are not always well lit in South Africa and there is simply a greater chance that something will happen. So you should not drive at night yourself, rather take an Uber.

Road trip South Africa tip: Note: always stop at a stop sign!

There are quite a few stop signs in South Africa. You have to stop at almost every intersection. Do this too, otherwise you can get a hefty fine. The car that arrived first may go first, then it is alternate. This driving in turns also applies at roundabouts and this is therefore different than in the Netherlands.Scenic ocean drive Cape Town South Africa

Road trip South Africa tip: Does your predecessor drive on the yellow left emergency lane, then he will make room so that you can pass him by.

South Africa has many single carriageways. Overtaking is therefore not always easy. But because there is a wide emergency lane, it is possible. If your predecessor drives far over the yellow line, it’s a signal that you can safely overtake this car. You’ll see this happen a lot because there are a lot of drivers who don’t go over 50, even on the highway. But it is also possible that someone wants to overtake you, so pull aside.

When you pass the car, turn on your hazard light. This is how you signal a thank you.

Road trip South Africa tip: When parking, put the nose of your car in the direction of driving.

This is mandatory, if you don’t do this you can expect a hefty fine. Also important: do not leave any belongings or change in the car when you park sa

Road trip South Africa tip: Tip the “parking attendants” in South Africa.

In South Africa parking is almost always free, but you are expected to give the parking attendant, recognizable by his yellow or orange vest, a tip of 10-20 rand. These parking guards will help you park the car and watch the cars.

Road trip South Africa tip: Take into account the maximum speed and do not drive through a red light!

There are many speed cameras (recognizable by a yellow pole with a yellow box on it) in South Africa. Stick to the speed posted on the roadside signs. Running a red light can also carry a hefty fine.Swellendam

Road trip South Africa tip: Make sure you have an international driver’s license.

Even though your Dutch driving license is valid in South Africa, the police may ask for an international driving license. So carry this along.

Road trip South Africa tip: Lock your doors and close your windows while driving.

This is just a smart thing to do, purely for safety reasons.Plettenberg 2

Road trip South Africa tip: Don’t pick up hitchhikers and don’t stop at fruit stalls along the side of the road.

You will see a lot of hitchhikers. And while most will have good intentions, the general advice we received everywhere was not to pick up hitchhikers. Fun fact, there are signs along the side of the road that say you shouldn’t pick up hitchhikers, and often underneath those signs are all people hitchhiking. What a paradox.

It is also not recommended to stop at fruit stalls along the road. As a tourist you are vulnerable and you do not recognize possible dangers so quickly. Therefore don’t do it.On the road zuid afrika 2

Road trip South Africa tip: There are toll roads where you have to pay a small amount.

We only saw one toll road in the Cape Town area, but there are more toll roads in the rest of the country. Here you pay in cash or with a credit card. There are also cars with an e-tag, check whether your rental car also has this. Toll is not too expensive, but you can also select via the Google Maps app that you do not want to enter toll roads.

Road trip South Africa tip: Download the offline maps in the Google Maps app.

Handy because that way you don’t always need internet. However, remember that these maps expire after 30 days.Scenic ocean drive Cape Town South Africa 1

2. Buy a local SIM card so you have internet.

We bought this immediately upon arrival at the airport (from Vodafone) and paid about 35 euros for 6 GB internet and 150 calling minutes. Especially if you are making a road trip through South Africa, it is useful to be able to call on the road or to plan your itinerary on Google Maps. Internet is not always stable and good in South Africa, but that’s part of the adventure, shall we say ;-).South Africa Montagu Hiking trips

3. You don’t need a world plug for South Africa

Yes, even though South Africa does not have the same sockets as we have in the Netherlands, a world plug is still useless if you are making a road trip through South Africa. No world plug fits on the South African sockets. We bought these converters in advance, but never used them once. In most hotels they have USB ports for your phone at the socket and they almost always have several converters ready.FranschHoek South Africa 3

Read our Cape Town blog here full of tips about what you can do in Cape Town in 5 days! Or check out our Hout Bay blog, in which we tell you all about this nice region within Cape Town!

4. Don’t withdraw money from ATMs too often!

Not only is this with a debit card expensive (there is a surcharge at most banks in South Africa), you also hardly need any banknotes. You can pay with credit card almost everywhere (hotels, restaurants, petrol stations). Even at national parks you cannot pay with cash because of safety reasons. The only times we used cash was to leave a tip at the gas station or parking attendant.

But: make sure you have some cash in your pocket. When a city or region has a power outage, the ATMs in shops and banks no longer work. Then you cannot pay with a credit card and it is nice to have some cash with you.

Extra South Africa tip: there are two popular apps that allow you to pay contactless. These are Zapper and SnapScan. You can use this to pay in national parks. Handy to have during your South Africa road trip!

Cape Town 3

Wilderness is one of the nicest places along the Garden Route. Read all about this town in our blog! Also nearby is Knysna, definitely a must visit! 

5. Tipping is very common in South Africa

It is normal to tip in South Africa when dining, doing an activity or staying at a hotel. But also when you have refueled. Here’s some additional information:

  • Tip at a gasstation: In South Africa you can stay in the car, an employee of the gas station fills your car and often another employee washes your windscreen at the same time. After this, it is customary to tip 5-15 rand.
  • Tip in a restaurant: If you ask for the bill at a restaurant after dinner, you will receive a pen so that you can write on the bill how much tip you want to tip. Between 10-15% is normal. Sometimes a service fee of 13% is already included, then a tip is no longer necessary.
  • Tipping at the hotel/to your chambermaid: Leaving a tip for the chambermaid is not required but greatly appreciated (and a little bit expected). We left a tip on the day we checked out, and also made sure that the person at the front desk got a little something. We usually used 20 rand per day as a benchmark here.

South Africa Montagu 7

A must visit in South Africa to relax is the beautiful town of Montagu! Read more about this place in our travel guide!

6. Uber is safe and cheap in South Africa

We can definitely recommend using Uber in South Africa. Especially in the big cities there is always an Uber driver nearby. It always felt safe and we preferred Uber to regular taxis. In Stellenbosch we also used Uber and even when we were at remote vineyards, an Uber driver always came close. You may have to wait a little longer.Cape Town 6

Planning to taste wine in the Cape Winelands? We wrote several blogs about this: the nicest wineries in Paarl, the 9 best wineries in Stellenbosch and the 9 most beautiful wineries in Franschhoek!

7. You are not allowed to fly your drone everywhere in South Africa

It is not allowed to use your drone in national parks or reserves. This is also not allowed at most private game reserves (always check to be sure). The reason is very simple: drones are often used by poachers to see where animals are. Read this article to learn more about the rules surrounding flying a drone in South Africa.Stellenbosch 3

8. Expect power outages.

The electricity network in South Africa is not very stable, so you will probably experience a power outage during your road trip through South Africa. It is also possible that there is “load shedding” in the area where you are located. This means that at fixed times, the electricity is turned off in a certain area, to prevent the electricity shortage from becoming too great. These load sheddings often take 2 hours, but a power cut can take longer. You will find a large flashlight in every hotel room. Check this website to see when there is a load shedding moment.Stellenbosch South Africa 5

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1 Comment

  1. by sa on 3 April 2024  08:29 Reply

    Just one note, Cape Town is rather safe but Johannesburg/KZN is not exactly safe to be as a white person. Lock your windows, do not get out of the car, only go to your destination.

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