If I had a pound for every time we were asked this, or indeed for every time this question pops up on the Trip Advisor South Africa forum, I would not be sitting here typing my travel blog, I would have taken early retirement and be living it up on my private island in the Caribbean!
Seriously, however, we do appreciate that safety is everyone’s main concern, wherever you travel to on holiday. Nobody wants to spend their much needed break constantly feeling they have to watch their backs!
We have literally just been asked this question only this morning, by a client who is about to book a 10 night self-drive trip in South Africa, starting in Cape Town and going along the Garden Route, and ending with a safari in the Eastern Cape – which has prompted me to write this quick blog.
The simple answer to the question is yes, it is safe!
This route is probably THE most popular tourist route in South Africa, and we at Travel Butlers literally send hundreds of people along this route every year. The main road right along the route is the N2, which is a good highway – well maintained, straight and always busy. I have driven this road and route on my own (as a female) many times, and I have driven it with just my mother, and also with just my husband, and have never had any problems whatsoever.
There are just a few sensible rules to follow when driving in South Africa, which I would say to everyone:
Don’t stop to pick up hitchhikers, however lost and sweet they may look – but then again, I would advise this to anyone driving in the UK, New Zealand or Spain and France too – anywhere actually!
Don’t drive after dark – not because of any hidden dangers lurking in the night, but purely because livestock such as cows are generally not fenced in very well, and there is nothing more scary than bombing along a road and suddenly a cow steps out in front of you. It may make a bit of a mess of your front bumper…not to mention the rest of your car.
Don’t speed – there are hidden speed cameras plus the police have a sneaky habit of hiding in ditches and pointing speed guns at cars – a speeding fine is an extra cost that you can do without.
And finally, when you get to your destination, always take the advice of your hotel/guest house hosts about where to go in the evenings, and whether you should take a taxi to the restaurant or whether it is OK to walk – and if they say take a taxi, ask them to book the taxi for you there and back, as they will know the reliable taxi people to use.