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What type of car do I need for a self drive in South Africa?

So you’ve decided to do a self drive in South Africa for your next holiday – congrats! You’ve got the trip of a lifetime ahead of you. The next question, of course, is what kind of car you should hire. The answer to that will depend on a few key things. Where exactly are you going to self drive in South Africa? How many people are coming along for the ride? What’s your budget?

Mini Cooper on a road trip

We’ve put together some important points to consider when deciding what type of car you need to hire for your self drive in South Africa.

Think about the kind of terrain you’ll be driving through.

The first question you need to ask yourself is whether you need a 4x4 or a sedan. This will depend on where your self drive in South Africa is going to take you.

For the most part, South Africa’s main roads are in very good condition. Most of the time, it’s entirely possible to self drive South Africa without needing a 4x4. If you plan on sticking to main motorways and visiting relatively built-up areas, you’ll be fine with just a sedan. If you’re unsure, ask campsites, guesthouses and adventure activity operators what the roads are like in the area when you’re making reservations. Remember, local people on the ground can give you the most accurate and up to date info.

If you plan on going off the beaten track, however, you should consider getting a 4x4. There’s nothing worse than being unable to do a little exploring because your car can’t handle the roads. If you’re planning on visiting areas like the Wild Coast or the Drakensberg, hiring a 4x4 is advisable.

If you’re planning to self drive South Africa in summer, make sure that your hire car comes with air conditioning.

The South African sun is a glorious thing. In fact, it’s probably one of the reasons you’ve chosen to holiday here in the first place. However, during long drives on hot summer’s days, you’ll be infinitely more comfortable if your car has air conditioning.

Opt for the most fuel-efficient car.

On a self drive in South Africa, fuel costs are going to be one of your biggest expenses. Keep this in mind when picking a hire car; a fuel-efficient vehicle can save you a chunk of cash. Your car rental company will be able to give you an estimate of each car’s fuel consumption per kilometre, which you can then use to work out how much you need to budget for fuel.

How many people are travelling?

Obviously, the number of people travelling will affect what kind of car you need. Don’t forget to think about everyone’s luggage, too. If the whole family’s coming along, you’ll need something with a sizeable trunk. It’s unsafe – not to mention uncomfortable – to squash both kids and bags on the backseat.

Alternatively, you might decide to get hold of a trailer or some roof racks for luggage and sports equipment. Find out what the options are from your car rental company.

If you’re keen on ‘roughing it’, consider hiring a camping-equipped vehicle.

If you’re after adventure and planning on camping on your self drive in South Africa, consider hiring a camping-equipped 4x4. Camping-equipped vehicles come complete with rooftop tents, a fridge, bedding, kitchenware, chairs, a gas cooker and all the other bits and bobs you need to make your vehicle your ‘home on wheels’.

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2 Responses on this page.Add your own

  1. Gravatar Daleen Davies says:

    The type of car you drive is not only important for big road trips, but it can have a huge impact on your car insurance premiums. To find out more visit

    Reply to this comment
  2. Gravatar Mzwakhe says:


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