South Africa: Driving Impressions

Before coming to South Africa my picture for Africa was a lot of dirt roads and off-road driving. Even this might true for a lot of African countries it is not true for South Africa. The main percentage of the roads are paved and easy to drive. Having a non 4×4 drive is decent for almost every road. One big topic is the distances between places. It is easy to drive 300 to 500 kilometers a day to get to a certain destination. Also, speed limit in the national parks (10 to 40 kilometers per hours) is something to take in consideration when planing a trip. As driving in the dark in a national park is permitted with a rented car and also not recommended in general.

Highway

Driving on the highway in South Africa hit’s me with surprise. Mostly there are two to four lines. As well there is a toll road system that will be charged automatically over a small device in the rented car. This was not what I was expecting at all. One more thing to be a bit curious about is the driving style of the locals. Let me but it this way, some locals are really chilled and don’t take the given lines not that seriously.

Backroads

Even that the main roads are well-preserved and paved, you can find yourself easily on a back road that is graveled. So be careful to try to find a shorter way between places. Back roads are usually not the best for non 4×4 wheel cars.

Drakensberg National Parks

In order to drive to the Royal Natal National Park, Champagne Castle National Park or the Giant Castle Game Reserve you need to leave the Highway and go deeper into the Drakensberg area. All of that can be done with a non 4×4 drive as all the roads are paved. The only exception is when driving to the Amphitheater Hike.

In this reserve mainly all the streets are unpaved but it is still easy to drive there with a non 4×4 wheel drive. Keep in mind that the speed limit in the parks are around 10 to 40 kilometers per hour.

This reserve, like mainly all the others, has unpaved roads which are easy to drive with a non 4×4 wheel drive. Nether the less in this park one half only can be driven with a 4×4 wheel drive, as it is really sandy and a normal car will get stuck. This is what nearly happens to us. We had to drive a whole hill upwards backwards to avoid the sandy part.

The Krüger National Park has main roads and back roads. The main roads are paved and the back roads are graveled. As the park is very good maintained it is possible to drive with a non 4×4 wheel drive everywhere.

In the park distanced should not be underestimated, as the park has a size of the German state of Saxony. With taking photos, driving slowly (10 to 40 kilometers per hour), making stops a distance between 100 and 150 km per day are realistic.

The northern Drakensberg area has a combination of paved and graveled roads. Most of the streets are paved as this area is mainly touristy and with that the bigger tour buses are populating the area.

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