Driving in South Africa:
South Africa drives on the WRONG side of the road. Sitting in the right side of the car and driving on the left side of the road feels awkward after 15+ years of doing the exact opposite. Each time we come to an intersection Andy states out loud “right turn is an outside turn” or “Left turn is an inside turn” to help himself remember what to do next.
There seems to be just a few main highways spanning South Africa. However, most of the ‘smaller’ roads that connect the more remote towns are not considerably different from the main roads. Just about everywhere we have been, barring a few side streets in some towns, was well paved and relatively pothole free.
As we pass through the big cities, we also have noticed consolidated regions of poverty on the outskirts which locals refer to as ‘townships’. The difference between these townships and the main cities are striking. We hope to learn more about these areas once we arrive in Johannesburg.
One oddity that has stuck out to us is the amount of hitchhikers we have seen on the side of the road each day. When you come to a town, no matter how big or small, there are always people walking along the sides of the road either selling things or signaling for a needed ride. This also happens when driving along the countryside, often miles from the nearest town.
The random automotive related jobs that exist in South Africa have also been interesting. The first one we noticed was that drivers here do not pump their own gas. Instead, attendants will pump your gas and wash the windows. We typically tip them 5 rand (about 40 cents) as we have heard that is customary. The second job we have noticed is the (completely unofficial) job of parking attendants. With such high crime rates in SA, parking attendants will monitor a given parking lot to ensure your car is safe. In return you tip them 2 – 5 rand for their service when you return.
We were not quite sure what to expect before coming to Africa as far as the landscape is concerned, but this was definitely not it. The landscape we have seen so far includes everything from beaches, forests, deserts and mountains, and often the change from one to another is quite abrupt. It has been truly breathtaking!
- Southern Most Tip of Africa – the southern most tip of Africa consists of a few different interesting factors including that it is the dividing line between the Atlantic and Indian ocean, and that at this point magnetic and actual north coincide.
- Cango Caves – We were told that this is the fifth largest cave system in the world. It was suggested
that we try the ‘adventure’ package that the park system offered for the caves. I am not a claustrophobic person, but it is safe to say that at one point I was not sure if I was going to make it. The below picture shows Andy in one of the passages that we went through. This was not the tightest passage that we went through during the hour long adventure tour!
- Ostrich Farm – We were able to get up close and personal with some ostriches. They tend to peck at you when you get close…
- Buffelsrift – This is a private game reserve that we visited one night to have dinner on a deck overlooking a waterhole. While we were there we saw many more wild animals including hippopotamuses, Kudu, Nyala, Springbok.
- Knysna Heads – This is a beautiful overlook where we stopped for lunch on the coast.
- Lodging – We have also enjoyed the past few places that we stayed. In Outdshoorn we stayed in a house that was built in 1881.