by Kevin Bluer
Staying Safe on Your 4×4 Hire in South Africa Adventure
If you have decided to choose 4×4 hire in South Africa to get around, then you will already be aware of the wide range of benefits that self-drive travel has to offer both tourists and locals visiting from various parts of the country. Many travellers choose the 4×4 hire option as a flexible and rewarding alternative to traditional tours. With so many world-class destinations across South Africa, self-drive allows you to see and do a wide variety of things, from off-road trails in the beautiful Drakensberg Mountains, to explorations into the stunning Garden Route, or even eco-trails in Gauteng; you can go where the wind takes you, armed with a reliable 4×4, a good map and of course, a sense of adventure.
To ensure that you have a memorable trip for all the right reasons, it is always important to consider basic safety tips to bear in mind when travelling through South Africa’s multitude of landscapes, towns, cities and open roads. These include the following:
1. Ensure that the 4×4 hire model that you have chosen is equipped with a GPS device, and also get hold of up to date street map. The best maps are street map directories that allow you to search for street names by city and suburb; these are generally reliable and easy to use.
2. Compile a basic first aid box to keep in the car. This should include basics such as bandages, band-aids, disinfectant, cotton wool, gauze, anti-septic cream, headache tablets, and malaria tablets if visiting malaria areas such as the Kruger Park area, plus antihistamines and anti-nausea pills. Keep this in the boot or somewhere safe.
3. Always ensure that you know the rules of the road in South Africa, and follow them religiously. Accidents are sadly known to happen fairly often in South Africa, so in order to ensure that your 4×4 hire experience is a positive one, remember to always drive on the left, wear a seatbelt at all times, look out for livestock and pedestrians, and drive within the speed limit throughout your journey.
4. Try to stick to the roads more travelled when camping or hiking in the great outdoors. While it is tempting to venture off into the remote areas and vast mountain passes, it can be all too easy to get lost, and with fog descending down the mountains quickly, losing your bearings and falling is also a risk you face. Some areas are also not very safe for other reasons, with known robbery attempts or aggressive wild animals among the risks. Stay safe and be practical.
5. Keep an eye on your petrol gauge, as well as your thermostat monitor. Driving over long distances over dirt roads and remote areas can use up a fair amount of petrol in larger 4×4’s, and running out of petrol in the middle of nowhere is not recommended. If possible, keep a 5l plastic bottle of petrol in the boot, and ensure that you fill up at the last petrol station before you enter the more rural areas. It is also a good idea to keep water in the boot in case your 4×4 overheats.
If you always endeavour to stay safe during your self-drive travels, you will be able to enjoy your 4×4 rental in South Africa adventure from start to finish, with no worries to hold you back.