Overland South Africa Travel
West Africa > South Africa
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- 1 Visiting South Africa
- 2 Entering South Africa with a Car or Motorbike
- 3 Driving in South Africa
- 4 Gas and Diesel price in South Africa
- 5 Safety and Security Considerations
- 6 Camping in South Africa
- 7 Navigation
- 8 Special Overland Travel interests
- 9 Vehicle Maintenance
- 10 Buy or sell a car or motorbike in South Africa
- 11 References
- 12 Helpful External links
Visiting South Africa
Give a brief overview of what it's like to visit. How easy is the border, how safe is the country, are there great things to see and do, etc.
Entering South Africa with a Car or Motorbike
Correct as of: (date last confirmed correct)
(To check if you need a travel Visa for South Africa, application instructions and fees see: South Africa Visa online application at VisaHQ.com)
- Vehicle title
- Vehicle registration (if South African registered vehicle)
- Driver's License
Copies not required.
Process at border
Due to the recent ebola outbreak, most land borders in South Africa require you to submit a health questionnaire. The form is simple, but must be completed and delivered to the health office before you can proceed to immigration.
- Upon entry you receive a gate pass that must be stamped 3 times. By the health office, immigration and customs.
- First complete the health form. Submit it at the office and get your pass stamped.
- Proceed to immigration, hand over passports, get them and your gate pass stamped again.
- Proceed to customs. Note, we were driving an SA registered car, so we do NOT have details on the foreign import process. Customs will check your registration, ask if you have anything to declare, and stamp your gate pass.
- Proceed to the exit gate. They'll collect your thrice stamped pass and let you through.
If shipping to/from Cape Town, a company which is happy to work with overlanders and offers a range of relevant services is ECONO TRANS (http://exportandimport.co.za/). We used them to clear our cargo from Ghana (August 2012) and we are super happy with their professionalism.
However, if shipping to/from SA, prefer Durban or Port Elizabeth which are busier & bigger ports with more lines and itineraries.
Cost of entry
Free of charge when crossing land borders or shipping.
Permitted length of stay
A foreign car is only allowed to remain in South Africa for 12 months. An extension for another 12 months requires a permission letter from the AA
Extension of stay
Describe the process to extend the permitted length of entry for the vehicle, if possible.
Storing a vehicle and temporarily leaving the country
Describe if/how a vehicle can be stored, and for how long.
Also mention if the owner / temporary importer can leave the country while the vehicle is in storage.
Exiting with a vehicle
Describe the paperwork requirements and process at the border to exit.
Driving in South Africa
Recommended books for Overlanding in South Africa
Travel insurance for South Africa
Vehicle insurance requirements
Third party cover is provided by the Road Accident Fund which is funded via a percentage charge on fuel and therefore covers all road users automatically.
Note it only covers third party liability for personal injury/death not damage to a third party's property.
Cost of vehicle insurance
Vehicle insurance is not covered by the levy in the price of fuel this is only for 3rd party personal liability. Vehicle insurance must be obtained seperately from an independant insurance provider.
Where to purchase vehicle insurance
International Driving Permits are available from the AA in South Africa. However, as long as your license is in one of the 11 official languages of South Africa, is not expired, and has a photograph, there is no need to get an International Driving Permit. Unless you are intending to rent a car and the rental company requires it.
Driving side of road
LHD vehicles can be driven in South Africa without a problem.
Mandatory items in vehicle
State any mandatory items that must be carried in the vehicle. (i.e. safety triangle, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, etc.)
General Road quality
South Africa has an extensive network of good tarmac roads. However, a few roads are not always well maintained, potholes as a result. You can find these all over the country. Also an extensive network of Gravel roads which are generally good and mostly in the outer lying rural areas.
Road signs are frequent and generally good quality. Street names are hit or miss. Many towns/cities have been renamed after the end of the apartheid. Some signs still have the old names.
Major freeways in Gauteng Province (Joburg and Pretoria) are almost all toll roads. There is an e-toll system which requires a pre-registered tag, or bills are sent to the registered address of the vehicle. Initially the government had no system to bill foreign registered vehicles, although according to recent news, it is possible this is changing. Tolls outside of Gauteng are common on the N-1, but rare in other parts of the country. These tolls can be paid in cash and range from R10 to R50 for a standard passenger vehicle. Note that foreign credit cards are often NOT accepted at toll booths.
Bribery in South Africa
Bribery is still a rarity but on the increase. If you do get asked for money it is usually best not to pay and rather keep calm with a persistent smile.
Police checkpoints are setup randomly throughout the country. Usually they are routine stops to check you have a license and proper registration. They are much more common at night. Police are generally friendly and the stops don't take more than a few minutes. Bribes can happen, but are becoming less frequent.
Traveling with pets
List the entry requirements and anything else required to travel with a pet.
Gas and Diesel price in South Africa
Last updated: November 2017
Currency and unit to display:
|Unleaded||R13.90 ZAR per Liter|
|Diesel||R12.35 ZAR per Liter|
Gas and Diesel Availability / Frequency
Gas shortages are rare. They may occur in very remote areas, like National Parks. Petrol stations are frequent throughout the country. Generally a station attendant will have to turn on the pump, it's rare to find a self-service station.
Gas and Diesel Quality
Diesel is mostly available in 50ppm and 500ppm. Sasol also have 10ppm at some Fuel Pumps. Petrol quality is generally clean.
Safety and Security Considerations
Driving at night
Driving at night is common in South Africa, but should be avoided if possible. In rural areas and national parks, wildlife are a problem. In cities and suburbs, crime and hijacking are serious. It's common practice to not stop at red lights, if no other traffic is present, because of the high frequency of carjackings. Many vehicle drive without headlights. If driving at night, use caution.
Street parking is not recommended in urban areas. Secure garages exist in most areas where street parking is not safe. As with most parts of the world, some areas are safer than others, use your instincts. Most parking lots have attendants to help watch over vehicles, although they aren't always as attentive as they should be.
Special driving considerations
List any roads that are not recommended to drive for safety or other security reasons. Driving on the shoulder on freeways to allow other vehicles to pass is common practice. If you park on the shoulder make sure you are visible to traffic behind you. In high crime areas, many cars will not stop at traffic lights (aka robots) or stop signs. Smash and grab carjacking is very frequent in cities and suburbs. Keep valuables out of sight when driving. There is no free left turn on a red light, wait for the green before turning, always. Hawkers are common at intersections. A smile and a no thank you will send them on.
Security advisories and information
- Country Specific Information - U.S. Department of State
- Travel Reports and Warnings - Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
- Travel advice by country - Foreign and Commonwealth office (U.K.)
- Travel Advice for South Africa - Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Camping in South Africa
South Africans love camping (and a braai) and you will find excellent campsites with all facilities all over the country.
Although I have wildcamped in south Africa it is not a common and/or safe practice. There is a lot of violence in South Africa and for your own security its better to find a campsite..
Camping guide books
IOverlander: a website -http://ioverlander.com/- and Iphone App for and by Overlanders.
Water from taps is safe to drink in many parts of the country. Of course, proper water filtration is the safest option.
Reise Know-How are amoung the best paper maps. Purchase paper maps before arriving in South Africa
GPS Maps of South Africa
Tracks4Africa are the undisputed best GPS maps for Africa.
Tracks4Africa is an SD Card for Garmin GPS, and contain Routable turn-by-turn maps with 809,000 kms of roads and over 129,000 points of interest.
GPS co-ordinates for camping, propane, gas, repairs, etc. in South Africa
- iOverlander is a website and iPhone application designed by Overlanders, for Overlanders. It contains GPS co-ordinates and reviews for camping, hotels, propane, water, mechanics, borders and much more.
Link to sites that have a list of GPS co-ordinates (or directions) for camping locations (including "wild" campsites), propane filling, gas stations, repair shops, places of interest, etc.
Special Overland Travel interests
This couple has an overlander's hub near Cape Town and except camping, they offer services like storage, vehicle shipping, workshop etc. http://www.africanoverlanders.com/
4x4s / Trucks
- Toyota Global Dealer Locator
- Land Rover International Dealer Locator
- Mercedes Benz International (select country on bottom right)
- Jeep International site locator
Add known good mechanics here.
Buy or sell a car or motorbike in South Africa
Firstly with a SA registered car you will be able to drive up as far as Tanzania on temporary imports at each border post. But before this can happen you need a car in your own name. You can do this quite easily if you have an identification document from your own country, the ones that look like a credit card and have your picture on. You will also need an address, with this you need to go to the local government office and enter this on the eNaTIS (National Transport Information System). From this moment you are able to buy a car and put into your name. Remember to put the car in your name it needs a roadworthy certificate, this only needs to be done once when you buy the car. Finally if you come from a country that doesn't have ID documents like the United Kingdom you will need to apply for a TRN number (Traffic Register Number). This takes a bit more time and a bit more paperwork, you will need an address, photos and a document to prove that you live legally in SA, this is the tough bit. This information is then sent to Pretoria and your TRN certificate is received back between 7 – 14 days later. For further information about the TRN look at http://www.gov.za/services/register-motor-vehicle-driving/traffic-register-number
Describe how a foreigner can sell a foreign-plated vehicle, or list not possible.'
Links to the source of any information - blogs or discussion forums, etc.
Add any helpful external links here.