Self drive is the best way to explore all that the province of Kwazulu-Natal has to offer. You can travel at your own pace and using our routes and maps are able to plan distances and time with reasonable accuracy.
Drivers can use their UK driving licence in South Africa and must carry it at all times when driving. As in the UK South Africans drive on the left hand side of the road and the rules in general are very similar. Seat belts are compulsory, use hands free mobile phones, do not drink and drive and stick to the speed limits. Speed limits vary between 100km/h to 120km/h on ‘highways’, 60km/h to 100km/h on open roads and 60km/h in towns and built up areas. Green, not yellow, speed cameras are used along with police speed traps where an officer will stop you in person if you are speeding.
Major ‘highways’ are generally dual-carriageways, some with and some without central reservations. To make up for a lack of a third lane you will find vehicles will pull over onto the hard shoulder to let others pass. Always flash your hazard lights as a sign of appreciation if the vehicle in front of you lets you pass. If you are expected to pull over and let a vehicle pass ensure the hard shoulder is free from hazards. Stationary vehicles, road maintenance workers, pedestrians including children walking to and from school, livestock and ‘wild animals’ all use the hard shoulder and roads in general. Be aware of other drivers at all times, slow moving large loads, speeding sports cars and minibus taxis are all common on the provinces’ roads.
Highways are maintained to a high standard with the use of ‘Tolls’. You will be given plenty of notice that you are approaching a toll and prices, which vary from R5 to R35, will be displayed as you approach. Please remember to have cash with you on arrival in South Africa as you will probably pass through a toll before arriving at your first destination.
Away from the main roads conditions vary. Roads go from excellent to pot holed to dirt track. And even though things might seem quiet always be aware of the potential hazards as on the highways. Pedestrians and livestock are common place on all roads. Remember that around the next corner could be a group of children, a herd of goats or even a hippo!
The weather can also affect driving conditions in the province. Heavy summer rains and hail will slow traffic on the highways and make dirt roads extremely slippery. Fog, low cloud and mist, especially on higher ground, can reduce visibility to only a few metres. Winter snow in the Drakensberg Mountains is also a possibility.
Road works are not as common or as well signposted as they are in the UK. You may see temporary signs or simply someone will be standing at the side of the road waving a large red flag. Road workers also seem to work very close to passing traffic so slow down as required and be aware at all times.
As on any journey you will need to refuel and because there is a choice of fuel available make sure you know what is recommended for your vehicle by the car hire company. Unlike here in the UK all service stations have petrol pump attendants who will fill the car up. If you intend to fill up using your credit card ask the attendant if they will accept it before filling the car up. Some stations accept credit cards, some do not and some will charge up to 10% for taking payment in this way. It is a good idea to keep a small amount of cash, along with your toll money, in case you cannot use your card. Not only will the attendant fill the car up they will also offer to check the oil, water and clean the windscreen. This is all part of the service and worth taking advantage of on long trips. Most jobs that involve a ‘service’ are low paid and tipping is acceptable, as a rule 10% of the price is fine.
At major service stations on the highways you will find a shop selling the usual snacks, drinks, newspapers and magazines, an ATM for drawing money, a restaurant or café and public toilets.