Self-Drive Car Rental in Southern Africa

Which car rental type would suit you the best for your self-drive holiday in Southern Africa?

Renting a vehicle and doing the driving yourself can be an economical and rewarding way to travel in Southern Africa. That said, South Africa and Namibia are suitable for extensive driving in a sedan car. Many major national parks such as Kruger and Etosha can be visited on good roads in sedan cars. The best benefit to self-driving is you get to have more interaction with the local people and get the opportunity to view the different landscapes in more detail – and at your own pace.

Keep left, pass right. South Africans drive on the left-hand side of the road, and our cars – rental cars included – are therefore right-hand drive vehicles, the gear shift being operated with the left hand).

All distances, speed limits (and speedometers) are marked in kilometres.

Southern Africa Car Rental has numerous car and van rental options available, so if you are looking for minibus hire, luxury car hire, 4×4 hire or just plain car hire in Southern Africa  talk to us to help you choose the best car option for your holiday.

Most rental sedans in Southern Africa have manual transmission gearboxes– however most car rental companies have now also incorporated a few choices of larger automatic transmission cars for you to choose from.

Group B Self-Drive carIf you are looking for the most economical vehicle then we would recommend a group B- sedan (like a Toyota Corolla Impact) however please note that it might be a hatchback and would not have too much room for large suitcases so would be best suited for a maximum of 2 persons with smaller bags. If you plan to holiday by road for most of your trip then a Group C or D Toyota Corolla Prof might be better suited for 2 travelers or even 2 adults and 2 smaller children.

For larger families we recommend a Group I like a Toyota Avanza SX with more seats or if your budget allows a Group K (Nissan Qashqai suv type). Group H Chevy Captiva Auto (for an automatic transmission option) would be more convenient should you want to do some game viewing by car in some of the National parks too and prefer a higher clearance vehicle for the safari part.

Some rental companies now also offer 8 seater minivans (group N and P) in both manual and automatic transmission which is perfect for larger parties of friends or families.

If you visit Namibia or even some parts of Botswana and Mozambique for a long self-drive during the rainy season (December to March), when roads can quickly deteriorate, a 4WD provides you with better traction, stability and ground clearance. The road surfaces can become extremely slippery in areas, and even the tarred roads can be prone to flooding.

Cars that make up the car hire fleet across Southern Africa are kept in excellent condition, making you feel as though you are driving a new car every time. This plays largely on our psyches too as we associate a new car with safety as we expect it to be in top working condition.

Self-Drive mini vanIf you are not sure of where you are headed in South Africa be sure to request a GPS with your car rental or van rental.

The road infrastructure in South Africa comprises of freeways, highways, national and provincial main roads which measure up with the best in the world. With the corresponding high safety factor, you can be sure of a smooth and enjoyable ride.


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Kate Bergh is co-founder of Cedarberg African Travel, a specialist tour operator for Southern and East Africa.

She heads up the South African office, having lived in South Africa since 1993. Her home looks up to the Cedarberg Mountains, where she enjoys hiking and cycling, when she’s not out discovering new places to visit, with her three children in tow. Kate has travelled extensively throughout the region to Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe as well as most areas of South Africa. She also loves history, meeting people and a good thriller...


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