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Driving Tips - South Africa

Driving in South Africa shouldn’t be that difficult, though it may be a challenge if you’re used to driving on the right-hand side of the road, as you will need to drive on the left.  Read on to learn more about the rules and regulations of driving in the country.


Your country’s license will be valid in South Africa, but make sure you gather all the documentation you need. Be sure to take the following:

  • A valid driver’s license from your country
  • Official photo ID (passport)
  • Proof of insurance (Call your company to be sure of coverage)
  • Proof of ownership if you are bringing your own car or written permission by the owner
  • An International Driver’s Permit (IDP), which is a translation of your license. You should get it before you leave home
  • Car rental agreement if renting a car

Age Restrictions

For a motorcycle or car, you must be 17-years-old to get a license, though 16-year-olds can drive smaller motorcycles (mopeds). Check with your rental company for age restrictions.

Driving Rules, Laws, and Regulations

  • Drive on the left hand side of the road; pass on the right
  • All people in the vehicle must be wearing a seatbelt
  • To use your phone, you must have a hands-free device
  • Watch out for wildlife on the roads, as many areas aren’t fenced
  • Most major highways are toll roads, so be prepared to pay
  • Some rural roads may be in poor condition or not even paved
  • Road signs will be in English
  • Traffic lights are often referred to as “robots”
  • Be aware of people in the vicinity at stop lights; be sure to keep your car locked and windows up at all times
  • Gas pumps are full service, so don’t try to pump your own gas

Speed Limits and Fines

The speed limits will be posted in kilometers per hour. Generally, they are as follows:

  • 120 km/h (75 mph) on freeways
  • 100 km/h (60 mph) on rural roads
  • 60 km/h (35 mph) in urban areas

Traffic fines begin at 250 rand and go up to about 2,500 rand, depending on how many kilometers you are over the speed limit and what speed zone you are in. For instance, in 60 km/h (35 mph), you’ll pay 500 rand for 15-20 km/h over, 1,000 for 20-25, and 2,500 for 25-30. If you are driving at 100km/h or more in a 60 zone, you will need to appear in court. To pay a fine, you can obtain a Purchase Order at a post office and send it by registered mail. You do not have to pay on the spot.

Drunk Driving

For driving, your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) shouldn’t be over 0.05 g/100ml. That is approximately one drink per hour, depending on your weight. If caught operating a vehicle while above the legal limit, you could face one of the following punishments:

  • Fines, which can be as much as 120,000 rands
  • Suspension of license. The first time you are caught, your license can be suspended for 6 months, which means you will not be allowed to drive while you are visiting
  • Jail time, up to 6 years, depending on how many offenses you have


  • Park in the direction of traffic
  • Don’t stop at red curbs or lines; don’t park at yellow curbs or lines
  • Don’t block road signs
  • Don’t park on sidewalks or near intersections
  • Don’t park on major roads

Be aware of safety as you are driving. Don’t pick up hitchhikers, and don’t leave valuables in plain sight in your car.

Durban Driving Guide - Spend less, do more

The sun-kissed beaches of Durban on the KwaZulu-Natal coastline are a perfect holiday destination for sun worshippers and lovers of the ocean. Durban, a city that boasts beautiful weather conditions all year round, has numerous other attractions to keep visitors well entertained.

Durban is a perfect base to explore the surrounding countryside of KwaZulu-Natal by rental car, an area filled with both historical and cultural significance to the South African people.

Drakensberg Mountains

2 hours 20 mins (260 kilometres)

The highest mountain range in South Africa, the Drakensberg are called the “Ukhamlamba” or “Barrier of Spears” by the local Zulu people. This mountain range is situated around 300 kilometres from Durban and provides some incredible landscapes, from snowcapped mountaintops in winter, to green yellowwood forests and numerous exquisite waterfalls.

The Drakensberg is filled with many activities to suit everyone. Of course, the prime winter sport is skiing which takes place at the Tiffendell resort. Other attractions include numerous hiking trails, mountain biking, mountaineering, rock climbing and horse riding. Golf lovers will even find a few high altitude courses in the area.

Due to its immense size, it is impossible to explore the area thoroughly in a day.  Therefore, Drakensberg accommodation is both plentiful and ranges from self-catering units, bed and breakfast establishments or more luxurious options should you so wish.

The Elephant Coast (Maputaland)

3 hours (300 kilometres)

Perhaps one of the most unique ecological regions in South Africa, the Elephant Coast boasts 21 specific ecological areas, many of them fresh water systems. The area itself stretches north of Durban right to the border of Mozambique. A large part of the coast forms a UNESCO World Heritage Site called the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

Attractions in the area are diverse but mainly focus on the large range of fauna and flora found in the area. Animals in the region included rhino. elephant, hippo and crocodile while maritime life is plentiful, especially along the coral reefs found all along the coast, a mecca for scuba diving enthusiasts.

The coast is a haven to many unique swamp forests that extend right to the sea. These forests are also the home of a multitude of bird species. Other attractions include the Border Cave and other paleontological sites which tell the story of the of the indigenous people of the region.

Elephant Coast accommodation is plentiful in the numerous towns found along the 220km stretch of coastline. These towns include Sodwana Bay. St Lucia, Jozini and Hluhluwe. They are filled with guest houses, game farms, hotels or self-catering accommodation options.


2 hours 30 mins (260 kilometres)

To experience the culture of the Zulu people, the largest population group in the KwaZulu-Natal area, a day trip to Zululand is a must. This region runs from the Thukela River mouth on the Dolphin Coast to Richards Bay in the north and as far as Paulpietersburg, a small inland town in the east.

Attractions in the area include the historical battlefields at Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift where the British and Zulu nations clashed, Shakaland (Dumazulu), where you can experience everyday Zulu culture, ox-wagon trips, township tours or the Zulu king graves in the Emakhosini Valley.

Due to the vast distances in the region, overnight Zululand accommodation is essential, especially to ensure you do not miss all the attractions the region has to offer. Towns throughout the area are filled with game reserves, hotels, guest houses or self-catering options if you would like to extend your stay.

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