South Africa has a diverse range of flora and fauna for visitors to enjoy and one exciting way to see the sights of our wilderness is through a self-drive safari that puts you in the driver’s seat, literally.
As exciting as a self-drive safari in South Africa might sound, it is important to plan it correctly so you see the most animals and scenery possible, and so that you have the best off-road car rental options available for the trip. Here we give some top tips for planning a self-drive safari experience of a lifetime.
What Is A Self-Drive Safari?
First things first, a self-drive safari is a safari or game drive that allows you to drive yourself and your family around the park or game reserve. The Kruger National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park are popular choices, but you will need to look for a 4×4 for rent to tackle some of the more difficult roads and trails.
The benefit is that you control the amount of time spent at each stop off point. Image this: on a game drive with a group of people, if you spot a pride of lions with their cubs, you will stay and enjoy the scene for a while until the guide decides it is time to move on…but you may have preferred to stay for longer and watch the lion cubs play.
On a self-drive safari with an off-road car rental, you are in control of how long you spend in certain areas and where you go. So, how do you plan this exciting adventure? Keep reading for our top tips.
How To Plan A Self-Drive Safari In South Africa?
Look For A 4x4 For Rent
Before you start plotting your route around Kruger National Park or Addo Elephant National Park, you need to look at off-road car rental or what 4×4 rental options are available.
Using a two-wheel drive might be ideal for town driving, but a self-drive safari needs a sturdier vehicle, especially if you will be exploring game reserves that have inaccessible roads. You might miss out on viewing spots that are harder to reach with a normal car, which could mean missing out on some stunning scenery and animals.
Wake Up Early
A self-drive safari in South Africa is no time to be sleeping in and having lazy breakfasts. To see some animals in their prime, such as lions, you need to arrive before the sun is at its peak, as these predators are most active when the weather is cooler and the sun is lower in the sky.
It is important to note that the gates of some nature reserves and game parks open very early, with the Kruger National Park opening at 4:30 am. With a 4×4 rental car to power your safari, this early morning start will be smooth sailing. The roads will also be quieter at these early times, which means that a self-drive safari will not be interrupted by guided tours.
Remember To Drive Slowly
A safari that you are in charge of should be something to remember, so it is important to drive slowly in your 4×4 rental, despite the power and speed of the vehicle. Not only will this allow you to see the animals and plants properly, but it is a requirement in many national parks.
You should aim to drive at about 30 to 40km/h in the park, spending time concentrating on any movement or objects that are not bushes or shrubs, as some animals can be camouflaged by surrounding bush. This will allow you to stop in time for animals to cross the road easily, and for the designated photographer to snap some memorable pictures.
Fuel Up Fully
With the exception of the Kruger National Park, not many safari parks or game reserves offer internal fuelling stations. If there are stations inside the park, they are usually far apart, which could lead to a half-full tank becoming an empty tank quite quickly.
You will need to make sure that your tank is full before you head off to spot lions, rhinoceroses, and elephants. When it comes to car hire in Cape Town, car rental companies will always fill the vehicles as much as possible, to where the fuel can physically be seen in the pipe, to avoid disputes about how “full” the tank is.
Make Sure You Have Insurance
As with any journey, you will need to make sure that you have insurance for your off-road car rental vehicle. For example, you might find that some damage has been caused to the 4×4 for hire you have been using and that you are now liable for damages reaching exorbitant amounts.
Star Car Rental offers the lowest excesses and, in some cases, zero excess for international visitors. We also provide clear, accurate insurance quotations that specify what exactly is covered and the cost to cover any item not generally covered, making us one of the more affordable car rental companies in Cape Town.
Enjoy The Adventure
One of the most important tips to remember when planning a self-drive safari in South Africa is to have fun. Start by book a 4×4 for the rougher terrain, and remember to include insurance in the quote. Wake up early for your safari and drive slowly so you don’t miss anything.
Keep your rental car fully fuelled and enjoy the adventure. Be sure to take only photographs and leave only footprints. Speak to Star Car Rental today for our off-road vehicle options.