Need to know about South Africa Often we receive questions about rules and safety when people travel to the beautiful country of South Africa. Below we will point out the most important things you should know when your destination is South Africa.
- Always travel with an International driving license if you rent a car. The car rental companies hardly ever will ask you if you have an International driving license with you but at road blocks created by the (traffic) police we advice to hand over your International driving license and never hand over your regular driving license. Keep both driving license separated from each other and know where your International driving license is when you are stopped by the police.
- Spot fine There isn’t something like a spot fine given by the (traffic) police in South Africa. When stopped by the police you might experience that the police want to give you a ticket because you were - speeding - car lights are not working - or anything else. When stopped by the police hand over your International driving license (see the point written above). When the police inform you that you did something “wrong” don’t argue with them but stay friendly and use your sense of humor (if available). When the police tells you they will fine you a certain amount of Rand (local currency) always ask for the ticket with the fine amount mentioned on it. When they tell you just to pay and no ticket will be handed to you tell them that you will join them to the nearest police station (even if they say it’s far far far) to complete the procedure and to pay your fine at the police station. The police officer might try to convince you that this is not necessary to go to the police station but hold your ground and exist to go there to pay the ticket. 9 out of 10 times the police will let you go. - Never pay your fine on the spot. This doesn't exist in South Africa. The police officer may ask you how much money you have with you. You don’t have to answer this question because often they want to know so they will half the fine so you pay them on the spot. Once again: spot fines don’t exist in South Africa. This kind of behavior what the police is doing is corruption and the money goes to their pockets.
- Roadside Anti-corruption initiative Around the Kruger Park the government of South Africa started a wonderful initiative. It’s called “keeping tourists safe” Copy the photos below and/or add the telephone number in your cell phone when traveling in the Lowveld (Kruger Park area) in South Africa.
- Traveling with money We strongly advice not to withdraw any money at the airport after you arrived. You don’t need the money that much in South Africa because payment with credit and debit cards is very common all over the country. You might want to have some pocket money for tips but you can do some tipping in your local currency as well. If you rent a car to drive yourself in this amazing country we advice to stop at a Petrol station along the highway outside the big cities. Nearly all big petrol stations along the N-high ways have small shops (buy some water and biscuits for the drive) but they also have a withdraw machine. We advice to withdraw some Rand here and divide this amount over several pockets and persons. Place some small notes of Rand in your wallet (let’s say a total amount of about R 50) and the rest of the money in several pockets.
- Left hand driving It sounds more difficult than it is. Go with the flow and think when turning.
- Respect the speed limits The last view years mobile speed checks done by the traffic police is booming. Often those speed checks are done on the main (N-roads) but on smaller roads you might see them as well. On the N-roads they often stand in the shade of a bridge and they use a laser gun to check your speed. If you are speeding they might laser you and they might stop you directly on that seem road. Only pay if they give you the ticket and otherwise refer to the point “spot fine”. It also can happen that you were speeding but the fine will be charged to the car rental company. The car rental company will charge you on your credit card.
- Car rentals There are many companies available to rent cars from in South Africa. The only thing we advice is to check your final invoice given (or send) to you by the car rental company. Unfortunately we experienced some strange items on our invoice like: aircon, hydrolic brigde and fuel. Fuel can be charged on your invoice if you did not return the car with a full tank (when you should). The car rental company will check if you refuel the tank to full. If the car rental company is able to fill the tank but not more than R 25,- (at Avis) they may not charge you on your credit card. If you disagree with an item on your invoice we advice you to contact the car rental company by filling out a complaint form which you can find on their website. Demand that they refund you the amount on your credit card even if the amount is very small.
- Jewelry We advice to leave all jewelry you don’t need during your holiday at home. Why bring things with you which are word a lot of money? If you don’t bring them you won’t loose them and no one can take it from you !