Helpful tips when road tripping around South Africa
In October we set off on a month long road trip around the country. Our route took us from the bushveld, through the Drakensberg along the Wild Coast and back down to the Western Cape. Here are some tips you may find helpful before heading out on the long road this festive season…
If you are going with your own car, it’s more than likely that you pay a monthly fee for full insurance coverage. We rented a car but the premium package we took to insure the car didn’t cover wheels and tyres. Heading into the Eastern Cape and especially the Wild Coast without a 4×4 means that you are tyres are particularly vulnerable, so take the extra cover.
Measure Time wisely
We always use the Google Maps app on our phone when driving around the Western Cape, but we found that once in Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Eastern Cape, the time estimates were often inaccurate. This is largely due to massive road works. On all the way from Mpumalanga into the Drakensberg the speed limit on one route was 40 km per hour and added an extra few hours onto the journey. In addition to this, roads are in really bad condition and you have to drive slowly and carefully to avoid accidents and your tyres being obliterated by potholes. Rather leave early for your destination than be stuck on the roads in the dark.
They don’t call it the Wild Coast for nothing. In rural places such as these distance is a very fluid concept. On our way from Coffee Bay to Bulungula, we drove 100 km off the main road. If we were driving along roads and not pathways forged into hills, it could have taken us an hour, but actually took us three. Measure your distances between places very carefully and allow enough time for each drive including rest stops for the driver.
Find driving directions
Once off the beaten track, Google will get you lost. Bulungula was so far into the coastal hills that without the driving directions from their website, we would have never found it. Check with your backpackers / guesthouse if they have driving directions which are up to date and then stick with those.
Stock up on road tripping music
While this doesn’t aid your safety, it can encourage the sanity of the driver and passengers. Driving for long periods of time can be tedious, exhausting and boring even with beautiful views and personally I find a need some upbeat music mixed with great sing-a-long tunes to keep the gees going. In most places around the country, we couldn’t pick up signal of national radio stations or even sometimes local ones once in the area. Umhlobo was the only radio station that always had signal and as my Xhosa is non-existent, this was a problem. Stock up on mix cds before your trip.
Plan your Road Trip