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Do's & Don'ts of Car Hire in South Africa

13 Apr 2011

The time has come for you to pack your baggage, and hit the wide open road: wanderlust beckoning; urging you to set sail to the adventure vessel. You've decided to make South Africa your destination of choice, and being the free spirit that you are, the only way to experience the fullness of South Africa, in your view, would be to hire a car in South Africa, and travel the open roads of this beautiful country, with only your trusty companions at your side (besides, let's be honest, the public transport isn't the greatest).

Once you've got past the first step of deciding who to hire your vehicle from, the next is to familiarise yourself with all the rules and regulations of South Africa, as you do not want to find yourself having to talk your way out of some hefty fine with the South African traffic officials, just saying. So, gear up on your South African road knowledge, and fret no more about having to part with your travel money as a means to wager traffic fines, or the likes. Rules of engagement when on South African roads are as follows:

* South Africa goes by the kilometres metric system, for your convenience, 1 kilometre equates to 0.621371 miles
* South Africa's national highways, freeways and other major routes have a speed limit of 120km/h (converted to 75mph).
The secondary roads usually have speed limits of up to 100km/h (converted to 60mph).
In Urban areas the speed limit is usually 60km/h (converted to 35mph), unless otherwise indicated.
Always be sure to check the road signs for speed limits, as there are speed traps and cameras set up in most areas within South Africa.
* When someone talks about a robot in South Africa, they are usually referring to a traffic light not an android straight out of sci-fi flicks and the like.
* It is important to note that when travelling along dual carriageways: keep to the left and pass on the right.
* A gas station is known as a petrol station in South Africa, and may also be referred to as a 'garage'. You will find that petrol stations are quite widely spread throughout South Africa. The distances between each petrol station when on the open road may vary, so be sure to check signage along the road and keep and eye on your fuel gauge.
* South Africa has a variety of fuel types available for road users. Namely: unleaded, 97-, 95- or 93-octane ("super" or "premium"). The 93-octane and 95-octane petrol is available at higher altitude; whilst when travelling along the coastal regions of South Africa you have a choice between 95-octane and 97-octane. The choice of both Leaded and Lead Replacement fuel are available.
* Fuel prices as regulated by the government and remain approximately the same price at all petrol-stations, nationwide.
* South African petrol stations are not self-help! Petrol attendants will be there to assist you with filling up your car, checking your oil, water and tyre pressure and cleaning your windscreen. It is advised to leave a tip, at your discretion, but most will tip between R2 and R5 (Rand).
Once you are certain and feel confident that you can handle yourself on the South African roads, buckle up and be sure to have your camera ready, as there is a plethora of beautiful vistas you will have the pleasure of seeing when you are on a tour in Africa.

Travel safe!

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