Renting a car in South Africa,

Renting a car in South Africa

Day 2: South Africa Rental Car – Cape Town

Today is the day when we will pick up the rental car in South Africa, with which we will travel the whole country. It is almost 3 in the afternoon when we disembark from the Iberia flight that has brought us to Cape Town in South Africa, already with our nerves on the edge of being about, now, to start South Africa on our own.

As we commented in yesterday’s post, having had to collect the luggage in Johannesburg and having passed customs controls, now in Cape Town, is a domestic flight, we only had to go to the collection area of luggage, avoiding going through any security or passport control, something that makes us anticipate a lot of time and go practically directly to rent a car in South Africa.

Bearing this in mind, once we have our luggage with us, we take the opportunity to withdraw money at an ATM with the N26 card, despite the fact that in South Africa, as we will comment later, you can pay in 99% of cases with a card of credit.

Withdraw money in South Africa

After our experience in the trip to South Africa in 25 days, we can say that it is highly recommended to carry a card for your payments since, in addition to avoiding carrying a lot of cash, you can apply the best change.

To avoid paying commissions and always having the current exchange rate, we recommend using the N26 card to pay and the Bnext and Revolutcards to withdraw money at ATMs. They are the ones we use, they are free and will save you a lot.
You can find more information in this article about the best cards to travel without commissions.

In that case, as a tip, we recommend that if you are using a card, withdraw money at the airport, since although there are ATMs in Cape Town, it is usually safer to do so at the airport.

With this procedure already done, we go directly to the car rental area in South Africa, which at Cape Town airport is leaving the terminal and turning right, and after crossing a road, access directly to the long parking lot duration where all the offices of the different car rental companies in South Africa are located .

Car rental companies

In our case, as we always do, we have booked the South Africa rental car through Rentalcars, with the company Europcar and although it may seem incredible, we booked a mid-range car, approximately six months in advance and paid 29 euros for eight days for rent.
To this amount, we must add 85 euros for a one-way trip, since we will leave the car in another office, in this case in Port Elizabeth, and 90 euros for the comprehensive insurance, which we always contract directly with Rentalcars. A total price that we find super adjusted and more considering what happens to us later …

In this case, the procedures for car rental in South Africa are a little slower than usual, but we get the big surprise when the guy who does all the management tells us that the car they are going to give us, since ours It is not available, it is a little higher than the one we had reserved, giving us the great surprise of finding a 4 × 4 when we get to the parking lot, something that makes us smile and start thinking about how well it is starting this trip to South Africa.

South Africa Rental Car Tips

In this section we want to leave you a series of recommendations and advice about the rental car in South Africa, since we understand that this is the best means of transport to move around the country, being practically essential in some areas to move with total freedom of schedules. of for sure.

  • The first thing to keep in mind is that you need an international driver’s license to reserve a rental car in South Africa. At the time of renting through the web, they will not ask you for it, but it is necessary to present it at the collection office and essential if the police ask you.
  • Another of the essential things to have a rental car in South Africa is to have a credit card in which they can make the corresponding deposit.
    Depending on the days and the company, it can be around 600-900 euros that they give you back when you return the car.
    They do accept debit cards or cash payments and the credit card must always be from the driver.
Rental car in South Africa
Car rental in South Africa can be done with countless companies, although we recommend you opt for or at least look at Rentalcars since this website has incredible prices, like the one we have obtained, and also, they have a superb customer service professional and fast.
  • Although it is highly recommended to have full insurance, we know that many car rental companies have very high prices to have this service.
    In this case, we always hire it with Rentalcars at a much more adjusted price, usually around 10 euros a day, with which, in case of any setback, they will refund the amount we have had to pay.
    On this trip, for example, we have scratched the car in the second leg of the trip and they will take care of all the expenses.
  • Once you have completed the car rental process, it is highly recommended to take photos of the car, as well as when returning it. Another option is to make a video in which all the parts of the car can be seen well to have proof of how you pick up and deliver the car.
    In addition to the exterior of the car, the interior and the gasoline marker are important, in case you have to deliver it fully.
  • Another important point is to check all the papers that they give you to sign. Although it is not usual, there are some companies that take advantage of this moment to add services to the car rental, which once signed you will not be able to claim
    Tips on driving a rental car in South Africa
    • Probably the most important aspect to highlight at this point is that in South Africa people drive on the left. Do not worry, although it may seem very difficult, it will not take you more than a few minutes to get used to it, although we recommend that you be alert the first days.
    • The moment you have the car, take your time to go around the parking lot a couple of times, and above all keep in mind that in roundabouts, traffic lights, and turns, you should look in the opposite direction. As we mentioned before, don’t worry, this is something that your mind will get used to very quickly.
    • In the country, in general, it drives very well and the traffic and safety regulations in South Africa are respected, although that does not mean that you must be careful and pay attention.
    • In reference to the above, it is not uncommon to find yourself with a police checkpoint, they stopped us 3 times in 2 days. In case it happens to you, you only have to hand over the international card and wait for them to tell you that you can continue. As long as you have not committed an offense.
      It never happened to us, but we have been told that on many occasions these stops are made looking for a problem with the license to be able to find you or encourage you to bribe them with some money.
      Taking this into account, above all, carry an international driving license.
    • Always respect speed. Contrary to what can happen in other countries, in South Africa, this is very suitable for the type of road, so it is very easy to maintain it.
South African roads
    • Keep in mind that hitchhiking is very common in South Africa, although the really curious thing is that this is done even on the motorways and it is not uncommon to see how they show you a ticket to  encourage ” you to stop.
    • But in addition to hitchhiking, many people use these roads to get from one place to another, so it is important to be careful and keep your distance.
    • Another curious thing that you will find with the rental car in South Africa is that it tends to overtake on a regular basis, even when there is a continuous line. For that, the car that precedes you adjusts as much as possible to the hard shoulder and will let you pass. Your response when overtaking should be to put the hazard lights on for a few seconds so that the car that has let you pass responds with a burst of laps.
      This dance of lights is very common, especially in the southern part of the country.
    • In some areas of South Africa, it is very common to find many trucks, these are also usually very respectful. If you see that at any time you can overtake it, join the game of light, and advance it, always with caution.
    • Always carry cash to pay for highway tolls. Although we were able to pay 99.9% by card, at the last toll, on the way to Johannesburg, they did not accept any card, claiming that only South African cards worked.
    • Something very important, if you are going to cross into Suatzilandia, is to carry the necessary car documentation to enter the country. This must be given to you by the rental company at the time of collection and you must request it when you make the reservation.
      The prices of this procedure can vary from one company to another and even in many cases, depending on the total rental price. We pay about R1200 for this procedure.
      Think that without this documentation they will deny you entry to the country with the car.
    • Regarding GPS, for us, it is essential, either as an external device or as an online or offline mobile application. Although you will see cartels on the road, in many cases the indications are not entirely clear, and having this help is practically essential.
    • Although it may seem the opposite, in South Africa there is usually not much traffic except for large cities like Cape Town or Johannesburg.
      We had sections in which we can say that we did not cross practically any car for several hours.
    • While driving your rental car in South Africa, whether in the city or on the highway, you will surely come across white vans with colored stripes. These are the typical vans that act as public transport. They tend to be more aggressive with driving and tend to park anywhere.
      Although you have to pay attention, don’t worry, they are used to it and will observe you so that there is no problem.

Gas stations in South Africa

  • At all gas stations, you can pay in cash and by card. Also, in most of them, you will find a store where you can buy food, snacks, and even in some larger ones, they have a cafeteria and ATM (automatic teller machine) service.
  • It is common that while you put gas, you wonder if you want the windows cleaned. It is not a must, but the service is great to always carry the glasses with maximum visibility for only R10-R20 (the amount is voluntary, but we are what we gave).
  • Although there are a high number of gas stations on tourist routes, sometimes they are far from each other, so it is worth paying attention to this aspect and not waiting to be in reserve.
    Similarly, carrying a bottle of water in the car can help on long trips.
  • Although in the posts in which we talk specifically about the Kruger we will expand the information, within the park, in all the main camps, there is gas station service, so you should not worry.
  • The price of 95 gasoline in 2018 has been about R16 / liter.

What car do I rent to travel to South Africa?

  • Understanding that your trip to South Africa will take you safely to one of its parks to do a safari, we want to make it clear at this point that these can be carried out perfectly in conventional tourism.
    Both the Kruger and Isimangaliso, which were the parks that we visited, have paved roads and dirt tracks, which are perfectly equipped, so there is no problem in circulating with a car.
    While it is true that in Hlane, in South Africa, there are some secondary tracks, were taking a car with a little more power can be much more suitable.
    At this point, we want to highlight that in Hlane, these secondary roads are very narrow and the shoulders are full of plants with spikes. Be careful, as you can scratch the car completely like it happened to us. This is important to take into account to avoid later problems.
  • Although as we said with tourism you can perfectly do the safaris, if you do not mind spending a little more, it is advisable to have a rental car in South Africa as high as possible, since this way in the safaris you will have better visibility.
    In the same way, a comfortable car is appreciated, since on this trip you will spend many hours in the car, especially in the Kruger.
    Another important point is the air conditioning. Essential especially in the Kruger, where temperatures depending on the time of year can easily exceed 40 degrees.
Rented car
      • In our case, the second rental car in South Africa was a Toyota Avanza, with which we traveled the second part of the trip that included the points where we would do safaris and we have to say that although it is taller than the Renault Ecosport that we took in the first part of the route, about 7 centimeters, the first was much more comfortable, both inside and the trunk, which was much more spacious.

Driving safety in South Africa

Something that you are asking us a lot about is the safety of renting a car in South AfricaWe cannot deny that in this country there is a serious problem with security and sometimes, unfortunately, this insecurity is transferred to tourists who travel by rental car.

That is why, although it is not necessary to obsess, it is advisable to take certain precautions that will make you travel much safer, much calmer, and above all, enjoy this incredible country much more.

  • It is important to always go with the latches closed. Probably nothing will happen to you if you keep them open, but being careful will save you from being surprised.
  • Similarly, never leave anything visible. No suitcases, no cameras, no backpacks. It is best to carry everything in the trunk.
  • Always drive on familiar roads and avoid entering towns you do not know. In case you get lost or enter a town that was not marked on the route, make sure to keep the latches closed.
  • In many places, when you park, you will see that there is someone, usually identified with a vest, who greets you and tells you that they will watch your car. Although there is no rule that says you must pay him, scratch your pocket and leave him R10-R15 for the service.
  • With this, we do not want much less to create anxiety or a feeling of extreme insecurity. We are sure that the probability of having a problem for a tourist in South Africa who moves through tourist places is not high, but we know people who have been scared and we believe that in this case, taking these simple precautions can be the difference between enjoying a trip in capital letters or not.

Our rental cars in South Africa

As we mentioned, we have booked through Rentalcars the two cars that we have used on this trip. We leave you all the details of the car rental in South Africa:

Route from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth (760 kilometers)

  • Hyundai Accent (medium category tourism)
    26 euros rental for 8 days, plus 80 euros for one-way and 90 euros for comprehensive insurance contracted directly with Rentalcars.
    Here, as we mentioned earlier, we were very lucky since they gave us a Renault Ecosport, type 4 × 4, for the same price since they did not have the one we had reserved available.
    The height and comfort of the Renault Ecosport have made this the car we recommend for a trip to South Africa since in addition to being spacious, it is high enough to enjoy good visibility on safari.
  • Toyota Venza (family tourism)
    379.92 euros rent for 14 days, plus 80 euros for one way, 120 euros for all-risk insurance contracted with Rentalcars and 85 euros for the border cross to Swaziland.
    In this case, although the car was the highest in the category, having 7 seats, the trunk stayed right even when lowering the seats in the back.
    The interior, although spacious, was not as comfortable as the Renault Ecosport.

Total rental car in South Africa with all extras:
860.92 euros 22 rental days x 39.13 euros per day.

After all the management of the rental car in South Africa, we connect our GPS and set off to the Circa Luxury Apartment Hotel, our accommodation in Cape Town for the next few nights, where we arrive half an hour later when it is 4:30 p.m., After this first contact with driving in South Africa, which we have to confess, it is much easier for us than we imagined.

We left the car in the hotel’s private parking for R100 per day and after checking in, we went directly to the room, much larger than we expected, where after taking a quick shower and resting for a while, we decided that we had now is the time to have our first meeting with Cape Town.

And this is when, newcomers to the city, we have to confess, we feel a bit out of place as well as a bit insecure and it is practically night now, there is no one in the neighborhood and despite being in a central area We prefer to just go around the area, without venturing too much, and when it is 8 o’clock in the afternoon, return to the hotel to rest, regain energy and start the route through Cape Town tomorrow.

Day 1: Lloret de Mar – Barcelona Airport– Cape Town in South Africa

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