South Africa in Technicolor
About this blog
We thought about all the hours we spent at work to pay for this trip, and here we were, South Africa, the heaven on earth, our dream destination.. YAY !!! Below are the general tips on traveling in South Africa
Time: GMT+2 (6 hrs behind MY & SG)
Currency: Symbol: South African Rand (RND). Sept-09 Exchange Rate: RM1=RND2
Credit Card: Accepted at all major airport, restaurants, hotel, car rental and supermarket. Only a handful of petrol station accepts credit card. So make sure you bring enough cash for petrol. Language: English is common. Native languages are Africans, Zulu and etc.
1. People asking for money looking after your car. They are EVERYWHERE! Advice is, in places where there's a proper parking meter (during daytime), use the meter and brush them off (or pay them RND2). They will tell you tons of lies to make money from you. There are those people who just happen to walk past your car and they see you getting on to your car, then they tell you they have been watching over your car just now, this is how ridiculous they are.
2. There are people whose job is to mug/rob tourist! Rule of thumb is, be alert, always on the lookout for potential problem (like people suddenly walks towards you). People do carry guns there, and murders & gunshots are everyday thing in SA, killing you won't make any difference to them.
3. Try not to go out at night. It's not safe in most places.
Weather: Johannesburg: Dry with minimal rain throughout the year. See http://www.worldweather.org/035/c00139.htm Cape Town: Humid, lot of rain during winter. See http://www.worldweather.org/035/c00138.htm Best time to go ? We prefer early spring because of the easier to see animals and flowers.
Power: 3 round pin, 240V. See http://www.kropla.com/!m.htm
Driving: Major car rental companies are Europcar (www.europcar.co.za), Avis (www.avis.co.za), Hertz (www.hertz.co.za), Tempest (www.tempestcarhire.co.za) and First Car Rental (www.firstcarrental.co.za).
Tips & Tricks:
1. Try Tempest or First car rental because they might be cheaper as they're smaller compared to the rest. We have tried Tempest and quite satisfied with them.
2. Rent the car at airport and return to airport. Hotel/hostel transfer is very expensive so by renting at airport you save yourselves a lot. Number, variety and availability at airport is usually the best.
3. It's quite worthwhile to rent a car in SA cause it's affordable. Problem, petrol is expensive (~RND8/liter), twice of Malaysia. Public transport sucks and taxi expensive.
4. Driving license. You'll need an international driving license to rent a car in South Africa. Malaysian drivers license are not accepted in most countries as the wordings are in BM that no one else understand.
5. South Africa is right hand drive. Some cars will have signal and wiper control on the opposite side of those in Malaysia.
6. For insurance, it's either Normal Excess or No Excess. No Excess means you don't need to pay anything even if the car is stolen or hijacked (provided you still have the car key with you) and it's about 10-15% more than the normal excess. Looking at the excess charges and the state of security in South Africa, we strongly recommend that you hire those with no access.
7. We all loves discount and car rental companies do have discounts or promotions during low season like winter (Jun-Sept). Remember the rule of thumb, NO ONE will offer you discount voluntarily UNLESS YOU ASK. If they do offer you discount without asking, most likely that's the normal rate, they just jack it up then put in discount.
8. Book online to get the best rates. You won't know whether the availability or will it be more expensive if you rent on arrival.
9. Road signs. Driving on highways/freeways is easy as they use direction and number system like N1. Overhead signboard and roadside sign also give you the direction like N1 East or N1 West. The good thing is, if you're driving on a 5 lane highway, the overhead sign will have arrows telling you which lane will leads to which highway.
10. Traffic. It's simply HORRIBLE during peak hours (early morning and evening) especially on major highways as car breakdown in the middle of the road is very common and people are just as busybody~ Allocate ample time or simple avoid rush hours.
11. GPS!! Get one if possible, Tomtom has a better map than Garmin and most car rental company offers Tomtom for RND70 a day (the downside is that you need to pay a hefty deposit, up to RND2500). For Garmin fans, get the City Navigator (South Africa) map which covers major cities and even national park.
12. Driving around. It's only easy to drive around if you only drive on major highways/freeways! Once you get on smaller roads, it will be a BIG PROBLEM without GPS. Even GPS don't cover areas like Soweto in Johannesburg.
13. Always avoid driving at night, especially in rural areas.
14. Make sure you have enough fuel at all time, petrol station is hard to come by in some areas.
15. Hitchhikers are everywhere. For safety sake, don't even think about giving them a ride.
16. On highway, when car give way to you for overtaking, press your emergency double light for gratitude, people will reply with overhead high light. Observe your manners on the road, don't honk, flash, right signal and etc, it's equally irritating in Malaysia as well as South Africa.