South Africa’s bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup received a major boost this week: World Rugby officially endorsed South Africa’s bid as the best of the three countries hoping to host rugby’s ultimate showcase. While World Rugby’s backing doesn’t mean that #SA2023 is a done thing, it does make it a lot more likely than it was last week.
We South Africans already know how to get around our beautiful country, visiting fans may be wondering what to expect on the trips to and from stadia and different provinces. If you have foreign family or friends planning a South African rugby road trip for the Rugby World Cup in 2023, make sure they see this guide for foreigners driving in South Africa!
South Africa’s roads are actually in very good condition, for the most part. Many of the main highways are toll roads, so if you’re driving between cities, determine how many tolls there are and how much each of them cost, and make sure you have enough cash (or a credit card) to pay the fees – remember that speed limits in South Africa are measured in kilometres (and not miles) per hour. Road signs are in English so most tourists shouldn’t have any problems navigating the routes. Roads in rural areas may be poorly surfaced or have pot-holes, so be cautious when exiting the main thoroughfare.
Remember that South Africa is a very big country and cross-country trips can take hours or even days. Plan your route in advance, take regular breaks and pack enough water and food for the journey. It’s also advisable that you let someone know the route you intend on taking in case you have any issue en-route. Most petrol (gas) stations are open 24 hours, but remember that given the large distances between cities, there may not be a filling station nearby – so it’s important to fill up as regularly as possible.
As a tourist driving through South Africa, you’ll need an international driving license that is printed and authenticated in English. This passport must also contain a photo of you – if it does not, ensure that you travel with your passport for identification.
South Africans drive on the left-hand side of the road, and overtake (pass) on the right. So make sure you maintain concentration while driving if you usually drive on the right. Watch out for four-way stops – at the intersection of two road, four stop streets dictate the order that arriving cars may cross (the first vehicle to arrive has priority). At traffic circles (roundabouts), drivers are expected to give way (yield) to the vehicle on their right.
South Africa has strict drinking and driving laws, with a maximum alcohol-blood content of 0.05% – this can be roughly estimated as a glass of wine for a woman and a glass and a half for a man. If you’ve had a few drinks at a game, don’t drink and drive – instead look for a place to sober up even if it means spending the night. Also, seat belts are compulsory for all vehicle occupants and using your phone while driving is illegal unless it is hands-free.
Speed limits vary from road to road, but most speed limits (maximum speeds) are as follows:
- National highways: 120 km/h (75 mph)
- Secondary (rural) roads: 100 km/h (60 mph)
- Urban (built-up) areas: 60 km/h (35 mph)
Safety and security
South Africa’s crime levels are well-documented. However, although crime is prevalent in the country, especially in urban and lower-income areas, by simply taking the necessary safety precautions and remaining aware, most tourists will never experience instances of crime in South Africa.
Here’s a quick list of safety precautions to take when travelling through South Africa:
- Keep your windows closed and your doors locked, especially at night and when in slow moving traffic.
- Don’t stop for hitchhikers.
- Keep valuables out of sight in your car.
- Always lock your car when you leave it, no matter how quickly you’ll be returning.
- Check with your hosts about areas that may be unsafe, especially for tourists.
- Avoid travelling at night or in remote areas.
- If you need directions, stop at a petrol station and ask an attendant.
- Be on the lookout for strange or unusual objects (like large stones or an abandoned car) blocking the road. Criminals may obstruct the road to make drivers stop, in order for them to attempt to rob them. have been known to employ various methods to make a vehicle stop, enabling them to rob the occupants. One such method is the placing of large stones in the middle of the road. In the circumstances, it is prudent to carefully drive around the stones or obstacle, rather than stop the vehicle.
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Fire response: 10111
Ambulance services: 10117