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Self drive holidays in Cape Town and the surrounding areas

Cape Town is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with dramatic mountains as a backdrop, and expansive oceans stretching as far as the eye can see. This world-renowned holiday destination is consistently, rated the best South African tourist city and each year there are even more visitors arriving on its shores. What is truly unique about Cape Town is that you can journey from wine farms to shopping centres to Table Mountain, in a scenic 30-90 minute drive.

Top Cape Town Destinations

Wildlife enthusiasts will love the Cape Point Nature Reserve situated a scenic 25-minutes south of the Cape Town CBD, in the 22 100 hectare, Table Mountain National Park. The ocean at the nature reserve is crystal clear; this is where the warm Mozambique current of the Indian Ocean and the cold Bengula current of the Atlantic Ocean meet. There are hundreds of species of flora and fauna to observe whilst driving through the reserve there are also spectacular snorkelling spots, barbeque spots and the acclaimed Two Oceans Restaurant which offers world class cuisine and spectacular vistas over False Bay.

When we think of Cape Town, we often think of world famous Table Mountain. At a height of 1,073 metres, it is the single most prominent feature of the Cape Town region and one of the cities greatest tourist attractions. Whether you chose to travel up via the cable car or hike up one of the many paths once you reach the top you will be overwhelmed by some of the most gorgeous vistas imaginable.

The Cape Town beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world. Most are in close proximity to vibrant restaurants and bustling shopping centres. Spending lazy summer days on the beach are a favourite pass time amongst visitors to the Western Cape and once you’ve had your fill of the sun what could be better than sipping cocktails at one of the beachfront cafes over looking the exquisite African sun setting over the clear ocean water.

The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, a popular hotspot among locals and international visitors, is a must visit on your self drive holiday in Cape Town. Live entertainment takes place in the amphitheatre and you can browse and buy anything from couture to curio at the craft markets and the wide variety of stores located within the V&A. Marine lovers should not miss a visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium. One of the greatest highlights at the aquarium is the predator tank, which is home to several Ragged Tooth Sharks.

A short boat ride from the V&A Waterfront lies Robben Island; former home to Nelson Mandela while he was imprisoned under the apartheid regime – a South African national monument not to be missed by visitors to the Cape.

Drive up the West Coast

Approximately an hour from Cape Town lies the West Coast – a region of sheer beauty, which stretches 400km across the coast and consists of several small towns and villages, each with its own particular ambiance. The best time to visit is spring when the wild flowers are blooming and form a carpet on the ground from coast to mountain. The West Coast wildflowers are world renowned, and people come here each year, to view this spectacular sight. There are 38 towns along the West Coast and a self drive holiday up the coast stopping in at as many of them as possible will be highly rewarding. Each town has its own unique attractions and apart from the magnificent wild flowers the entire coast offers excellent opportunities for water sports and extreme adventures.

The Winelands

South Africa has earned international acclaim as one of the world’s best wine producing nations. The Western Cape is home to South Africa’s premier wine industry and the Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek, and Constantia wine routes are all within 45-minutes drive from the heart of Cape Town. These wine routes consist of a number of wine estates, where you can sample award-winning wines, take in some of the most spectacular scenery and have lunch in an acclaimed restaurant. The wine estates are set in impressive expanses of vineyards; with Cape Dutch style farmhouses, and incredible landscapes. The best way to see these estates is to drive the wine route at your own pace, stopping at locations along the way that tickle your fancy. No holiday to South Africa is complete without a day on one of the Western Cape’s gorgeous wine routes and don’t forget to buy some wine while you’re at it – you’ll appreciate it when you get back home.

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Car Hire Cape Town

Why Car Hire Is Better Than Public Transport, Taxis Or A Coach Tour

When on holiday at a particular resort we will always want to take that trip out to see a famous landmark or tourist attraction. The question is whether to hire a car, take a coach tour, or avail of public transport (if there is any!) that will whisk us away to see those in demand tourist sights.

Without a doubt availing of a hired car is the very best option. Read on and we will tell you why…

Firstly, car hire allows you to be flexible and independent in your travel. You can go wherever you wish, and at a time that suits you! And what’s more, if you come across a beautiful spot that you can take a great video clip or photo of, you can stop off without a care in the world, enjoy the attraction, take your time there, and get make the most of that photo session!Hiring a car is a one off payment, and you know the exact price before you head off on your vacation. You factor that into your holiday budget and away you go. Nowadays there are so many rental companies out there offering cheap car hire so you have plenty of choice in availing of a quality car rental deal!If you have children then you will know that travelling during a holiday can sometimes be stressful and unsettling for the little ones. Car hire solves all this. You can stop and start whenever you want, and with the presence of child restraints and booster seats you will have total peace of mind that travelling with kids in a hired car is completely safe. You can provide entertainment on board in the form of DVD players, music or making up your own games between yourselves!

To this end, choose your own musical soundtrack by CD or using your plugged in mp3/ipod player for your very own road trip. And you can select a DVD for the DVD player to keep the kids entertained in the back seats!

Entering into a car hire agreement for your holiday is so much better and straightforward. And better for your wallet! In these days of recession, people are looking for a better deal all the time, and car hire often works out cheaper than public transport, especially when you are travelling from attraction to attraction or resort to resort at your own pace, and as well the cost of the car is shared. You can book in advance and make the most of any special car rental offers that come on board.

You are not stuck to rigid public transport timetables, and by hiring a car you will not be hanging around at a bus or train station waiting for a connection.

Taxis and independent coach hire companies can be very expensive, and would love nothing more than to fleece the innocent and attraction-seeking tourist!

Hiring a car can help you get to more attractions in less time, if you take the easiest and quickest route. With a bit of forward planning, the use of GPS and a good roadmap, you will come across the very best attractions near your holiday destination!

Even if you are not planning on doing too much driving around throughout your holiday, hiring a car at your arrival airport can offer you so many benefits. Not only will you avoid having to pay an outrageous taxi fare for your arrival and return journey to your holiday resort, it is very convenient if you have an early morning return flight and you have plenty of baggage to get to the terminal!

So the travel advice we recommend to you is  – shop around and get the very best car rental deal that offers you exactly what you want.

Have you hired a car or taken public transport and other modes of transport during your holidays? What do you recommend?

Driving in South Africa

Visit Aroundabout Cars for Cape Town Car Hire

Article Source: http://www.capespirit.com

Driving in South Africa is an enjoyable experience if one is familiar with the local driving conditions and nuances on the roads.

Licensing

Hiring a motor vehicle in South Africa requires that the intended driver of the vehicle has a valid driver’s license from their country of origin. The license mustbe printed in English and bare a photograph of the driver. However, it is more desirable to also obtain an international driver’s license from the relevant authorities in your country of origin before travelling to South Africa in order to ensure that you will be allowed to legally drive in the country. American citizens, for example, can obtain international licenses from automotive clubs associated with the AAA. Drivers should bring their local and international driver’s licenses with them when visiting South Africa.

Most car rental companies in South Africa will only provide their services to individuals over the age of 21, with some only allowing those older than 25 to rent cars.

The Metro Police in South Africa are responsible for policing the country’s roads and are a separate body from the South African Police Services (SAPS). These officials maintain a high visual presence on the country’s roads and will request presentation of a valid driver’s license should you engage with them on South Africa’s highways and byways.

Rules of the road

South Africa’s road rules are similar to those of most developed countries with the exception that in South Africa one drives on the left hand side of the road, just as in England, Australia and Japan, and unlike central-European countries and the USA. This means that drivers in South Africa are seated on the right-hand side of the car.

Adjusting to this is simple for most drivers from countries that drive on the right-hand side of the road because it makes sense once presented with controls on the other side of the car, and when following the traffic on the road. The only danger can be when turning right into a road, when the propensity to stay on the right hand side may kick in for American and European drivers.

It is also therefore illegal to overtake on the left hand side of the road in South Africa. One must move into a right-hand lane when passing by other vehicles. Unfortunately this is one rule that is not adhered to by all South African drivers, so one must be wary of over-takers in the left hand lane.

In general, and especially on highways in South Africa, it is recommended to maintain a following distance of at least three seconds. The speed limit on highways is usually 120 kilometres per hour except in denser areas where it drops to 100. On national roads the limit is usually 80 kilometres per hour and in residential areas this is reduced to 60. South African roads are clearly sign-posted with the relevant speed limit but remember that in South Africa speeds are presented in kilometres, not miles!

It is also illegal to talk on a mobile phone or any other communications device while driving in South Africa, unless one makes use of a hands-free solution in doing so.

Road network nuances

Given the diversity of terrain in South Africa its road network provides driving experiences in a number of different environments.

In the Mpumalanga province one can travel through high-altitude grasslands and lush mountain passes. In fact, Mpumalanga sports the highest tarred road above sea level in the world.

When visiting the bushveld, and particular in the Limpopo and North West provinces, one must be wary of potholes. It is easy to miss these as you stare out at the beautiful African grasslands and savannahs from your car window. Potholes are, in fact, a regular occurrence on South African roads and while the National Roads Agency does a good job of patching these regularly, many escape attention – especially in more outlying areas of the country.

The Garden Route in the Western Cape of South Africa is a highly popular route for travellers to South Africa. Stretching from Mossel Bay to Storms River, the Garden Route is one of the most scenic drives available anywhere in the world. This famous stretch of road, sandwiched between the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma mountains and the Indian Ocean takes one through indigenous forests and a mix of Cape Fynbos and temperate forests with various eco-tourism activities scattered along the route. Roads on the Garden Route vary from narrow and windy to long and straight and, once again, the challenge is keeping your eyes on the road while passing through the staggeringly beautiful surroundings.

Another popular area of travel in the Western Cape is through the Cape Winelands. This is the largest wine producing area in South Africa and is divided into six main wine regions, each offering their own unique wine route. Driving through this area allows travellers to stop off at various wine farms and enjoy a range of famous South African wines, cheeses, olives and other produce. But one must obviously be careful of enjoying too much wine before getting behind the wheel of a car, and the blood alcohol limit in South Africa is 0.8. So take care when being seduced by the excellent wines of the Western Cape and remember to drink lots of water in-between.

Of course, safaris are a popular nature of trip to South Africa and this will take drivers through bushveld areas in game parks such as the Kruger National Park and Pilanesburg National Park. While in the parks travellers will spend much of their time on well-maintained dirt roads with very low speed limits, generally of 20 kilometres per hour. Off-road vehicles are definitely not a necessity for the national parks, but are desirable because of the elevated angle of view they offer that makes it easier to spot and enjoy the game in the parks. But virtually any car can safely be driven through the parks and used for game viewing. In times of great rainfall, however, the dirt roads can change overnight and require more care when being utilised as parts of the roads wash away.

Some practices on South African roads are irregular for drivers from other countries, such as that of moving into the emergency lane to allow other vehicles to pass by. While this is not strictly-speaking legal and drivers are not obliged to move over, one will find this a common practice amongst South Africa drivers, and especially truck drivers who will happily move over into the emergency lane on single-lane roads allowing faster traffic to move past. A colloquial etiquette has developed around this practice whereby drivers will use their hazard lights briefly to thank drivers who have allowed them past.

Personal Navigation Systems

GPS systems are an excellent addition to a road trips in South Africa and the local road data available is extensive and kept up to date, along with point of interest databases. GPS navigation systems can also be rented along with cars in South Africa, so that visitors do not need to bring their own systems along. However, should you wish to use your own navigation system, South African maps are available online for virtually all systems.

With GPS in hand it is possible to optimise time spent travelling and uncover more landmarks and places of interest to enjoy while travelling in South Africa. GPS systems also make it easy to plan trips ahead of time, along with intended stops, breaks and visits to services stations.

South Africa’s beauty and diversity is best enjoyed by taking to the country’s open roads and enjoying the scenery, historical landmarks, wildlife and culture of the country at one’s own leisure. With so much to do, see and enjoy a rental car is definitely the best way to travel in South Africa.

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