Car hire in South Africa
Hiring a car in South Africa
South Africa is a fantastic place to discover on holiday. It has such a varied selection of landscapes and ecosystems to explore you’ll barely believe you’re in the same country from one day to the next.
Take a safari in Africa’s premier wildlife reserve, Kruger National Park. Explore the world-class wine regions of Stellenbosch and Paarl. Drive along the Garden Route and watch as the iconic Table Mountain comes into view.
All of this is opened up to you when you hire a car in South Africa. It gives you the flexibility to go where you want whenever you want to create your dream holiday.
What you need to know
Your best bet for hiring a car in South Africa is to organise to collect it from an airport. This tends to be most convenient for many people as they arrive by plane anyway. There are lots of airports in the country where you can get a hire car through Holiday Autos, meaning you are catered for whether you are travelling from a country close by or a relatively long distance.
Check out our booking tool to see all of your options. You’ll find the most choice at the largest airports, including Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg and Cape Town International Airport (CPT), with more than ten car hire companies present at each.
Where to pick up your car
The arrangements for picking up your hire car will depend on the airport you are flying into. At both Tambo International and Cape Town International all of the car hire desks are located within the terminal buildings. This means you can collect your luggage and look for the relevant sign associated with your hire car and start your holiday straight away. There’s not even a need for a transfer to your hotel.
Other airports offer various scenarios, including free shuttle buses to the hire car desks and meet and greet services. Check out all your options before booking and go for the one that best suits your needs.
“The pick-up was easy, it took 5 minutes from arriving at the desk to driving out the car, and the return took even less time.”
Where to go
With your hire car the whole of South Africa and beyond will be opened up to you. To begin with, you’ll want to explore your immediate vicinity. In Johannesburg you could head straight to Herman Ekstein Park in the northeast of the city, where you’ll find a boating lake and Johannesburg Zoo. Alternatively, Soweto township, where Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu both once lived, is also fascinating.
In Cape Town there is also a lot to see. The area known as Bo-Kaap, which was once a township, is full of brightly coloured houses and is a great place to explore. Table Mountain is not just a landmark to be marvelled at, as you can scale it to reach the famously flat summit, either by hiking or via the handy cable car.
Driving in South Africa
It may come as a surprise if you’re experienced in hiring rental cars abroad that you drive on the left-hand side in South Africa. This means that cars are right-hand drive and you pass on the right.
You need your national driving licence in conjunction with an International Driver’s Permit in order to hire a car. If your licence does not have your photo on it then expect to be asked to show your passport as corroborating evidence of your ID.
The speed limit on national highways, urban freeways and other major routes is 120km/h unless otherwise stated. On secondary roads it is 100km/h and in built-up areas it tends to be 60km/h, although you should always be aware of signs stating a different speed limit.
If you’d like to really make the most of your hire car during your stay in South Africa, then you’ll want to embark on a longer drive. The country is large enough for a road trip between destinations to take in excess of 12 hours. Do not rule out visiting neighbouring countries, however, as the likes of Namibia, Botswana and Lesotho have so much to offer.
The classic journey to undertake in South Africa is the Garden Route. This epic road trip takes you from Mossel Bay to Storms River, a drive of 240km. You’ll see a wonderful selection of scenery along the way and having your own car means you can stop off and take it all in as and when you choose.
Top attractions to visit in South Africa
South Africa has a wonderful mix of vibrant cities, stunning coastal areas and inland landscape that is home to wineries and game reserves. Here’s some inspiration for attractions to include in your itinerary.
Cradle of Humankind
Drive 50 kms northwest of Johannesburg and you’ll find yourself at an incredible archaeological site. The Cradle of Humankind was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1999 and for good reason. As its name suggests, this is the location of a number of finds representing the oldest fossils belonging to the human family ever found. They date back some three and a half million years.
Boulder’s Beach penguin colony
If you want to really surprise your friends with your holiday photos from South Africa, then make sure you head to Boulder’s Beach in Cape Town. Here you’ll find a 2,000-strong colony of endangered African penguins simply hanging out on the beach. It’s an incredible sight and quite a contrast to the Big Five safari animals most associated with the country.
No visit to South Africa would be complete without taking the ferry across to Robben Island. It is the location of a prison that has held three of the country’s presidents. The most famous inmate was, of course, Nelson Mandela, but current premier Jacob Zuma was also incarcerated there, as was Kgalema Motlanthe. Take a guided tour led by former inmates and gain a unique insight into the history of South Africa, which has helped it become the nation we see today.
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