Moving to South Africa will open doors to some of the world’s most diverse and spectacular scenery. It is a beautiful country and deserves to be explored. Sadly, South Africa has had a lot of bad press over the years regarding safety and many people are nervous and even frightened to venture out of their little bit of suburbia. What a pity to move to South Africa and not enjoy the mountains, the coastline, the bush, the desert, the ‘dorps’ (little villages), the history, the people and the wildlife. All it takes is a little common sense and awareness.
City and Town Driving
When you move to South Africa, take your street wise savvy with you. Like everywhere in the world, it’s sensible to keep your car doors locked and your windows closed when driving in a town. Most cars are air conditioned these days, so even in the height of summer this won’t be a problem. If someone comes up to your car at traffic lights or a stop street, don’t be tempted to open the window.
Again, like other places around the globe, it’s also wise, when travelling through cities, to keep valuable items such as mobile phones and handbags out of sight.
When you are parking your vehicle, ensure that everything is placed in the boot. There is no need to tempt fate by leaving your laptop sitting on the back seat, you wouldn’t do it in London, so don’t do it in Cape Town.
In the unfortunate event that your vehicle breaks down or runs out of petrol, it’s wise to have an emergency pack in the car. This would contain items such as a torch, spare batteries, a litre of water, some snacks and perhaps a pack of cards to alleviate the boredom until help arrives.
Many insurance companies have their own emergency policies for such times, or you can take out an AA membership. If you are in or near a town or city, help will usually arrive within the hour. If you are in the middle of the bush, it could be a lot longer.
Always carry a fully charged mobile phone in the car in case of need, plus a car phone battery charger. The police emergency number is 10111. Mobile phone coverage in South Africa is excellent, far better than most countries in Europe and the States.
South African Roads and No Go Areas
By moving to South Africa, you will experience some of world’s best maintained major roads, especially when driving in the Western Cape. However, if you are travelling on minor roads and dirt roads beware of pot holes. It has been said that in some areas, such as the Wild Coast, giraffes can happily hide in them. Hitting a large pothole at speed can seriously damage both you and your car.
It’s important to do your homework and find out if there are any hotspots that should be avoided on your road trip. Contact a local police station and they will be able to tell you if there are any no go areas on your planned route.
It doesn’t matter where you live in the world, you should never stop for a hitchhiker, so, if you see someone flagging you down, don’t stop. If you think someone is flagging you down because they are in trouble, then ring the police and give them the details and they can deal with the problem.
Overall, South Africa has a good road sign system. A GPS is useful for all major routes. However, some of the smaller roads and dirt roads are not GPS friendly, so travel with a good road map as well. Be warned, that since 1994 many road names have been changed in all the provinces of South Africa to reflect the new South Africa and some road maps and GPS’s haven’t caught up these changes.
Moving to South Africa is new experience where road warning signs are concerned. Heed them. If you see a sign with a picture of an elephant on it, know that it really is a warning that there may be an elephant around the next bend!