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Car Rental in South Africa

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South Africa

Car Rental in South Africa: Explore a Country of Cultural and Natural Diversity

South Africa offers visitors an incredible diversity of landscapes, city experiences, and cultures – and pretty excellent infrastructure as well! Make the most of your visit by exploring the diverse offerings of the country via rental car. You won’t be disappointed!

May to September are generally great months to visit South Africa.

There are 11 official languages in South Africa: Afrikaans, Swazi, Southern Ndebele, Northern and Southern Soho, Xhosa, Tswana, Zulu, Tsonga, Venda, and English. Most South Africans speak English, at least as a second language; very few speak it as a native language.

The currency in South Africa is the rand. Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted. Only use ATMs inside of buildings, or ask checkout clerks at larger retail and grocery stores for cash back.

Don’t underestimate the size of South Africa! Cape Town is a whopping 1,400 km away from Johannesburg. But do be sure to travel into South Africa’s beautiful rural areas. Kruger National Park, for instance, is worth a weekend trip, located 400 km east of Johannesburg.

Automobile hire is available in virtually every major South African city, though the most popular sites to rent a car are Cape Town in the southwest, Nelspruit and Johannesburg in the north, Durban in the east, Port Elizabeth in the southeast, and Bloemfontein in central South Africa.

Visa Regulations

Citizens of over 60 countries can visit South Africa visa-free for between 30 and 90 days. Be sure that you have two blank pages in your passport and that your passport is valid for at least 30 days from your planned date of departure before you arrive in South Africa. Citizens of countries that do require a visa should be sure to apply for one from their homes, as no visas are issued at South African ports of entry.

Driving in South Africa

Be alert for erratic drivers and quickly changing road conditions throughout South Africa, as well as for pedestrians and animals in the roads. Driving at night is generally not recommended, and driving defensively is a must. If you follow these tips, a rental car will dramatically improve your mobility and spontaneity throughout your visit to this gorgeous and exciting country.

Left-Hand Driving

  • Like many southern African countries, traffic drives on the left-hand side of the road throughout South Africa.

Speed Limits

  • In cities and towns: 60 km/h
  • Major urban throughways: 80 km/h
  • Major rural roads: 100 km/h
  • On highways: 120 km/h
  • Keep an eye out for speed signs that change speed limits unexpectedly.
  • Traffic cameras and police regulate speed throughout the country.

Other Regulations

  1. An international driver’s permit is recommended for all travellers to South Africa and required for all travellers whose licenses are not issued in English or any of South Africa’s other 10 official languages.
  2. Almost 20% of South Africa’s national roads are electronically tolled.
  3. Generally, the minimum driving age in South Africa is 18 and some rental agencies will rent to drivers this young; others will require you to be at least 21, and you’re likely to face young-driver surcharges until the age of 23.

Other Tips

  • If you require an automatic transmission, be sure to book your car well ahead of your arrival.
  • If you plan to travel on gravel roads, speak about this with your rental company before you sign any contracts.
  • When driving in Johannesburg and other large cities, take extra precautions against loss of property: lock doors, roll up windows, and keep belongings out of sight while driving and whenever you park your car. Always leave enough space between your car and the car in front of you when stopped at red lights or stop signs, so that you can pass the car in front of you should a threatening situation arise.

Cheap Car Rental in South Africa

Automobile hire in South Africa typically starts at around $14 a day. Here are some of the best deals in South Africa:

  • Chevrolet Spark or similar (mini class) – $14/day
  • Hyundai I20 or similar (economy class) – $16/day
  • Volkswagen Polo (compact class) – $17/day
  • Toyota Corolla or similar (intermediate class) – $32/day
  • Audi A3 or similar (standard class) – $38/day

Note that prices vary depending on the availability of each specific car and the season in which you rent. For the most accurate offers, use the search bar above.

Tips for Renting a Car Inexpensively in South Africa

First Car Rental is an excellent and cheap brand for last-minute and future car rental bookings and is available in the major cities of South Africa. Europcar is also a reliable and inexpensive car rental agency.

You can typically save up to $2 a day by extending your rental period to over a week.

Airports are generally the most convenient and cheapest locations to pick up and drop off rentals throughout South Africa.

There is very little seasonal variation in price in South African rental cars, though if you’re willing to risk it, last-minute bookings can sometimes save you up to $4 a day!

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