It is predicted that thenumber of overseas visitors will increase thanks to last year’s FIFA World Cupand, with the April holidays almost upon us, most people are thinking oftravel.

South Africa’s road infrastructure is excellent, so driving is a viable option and, with ourstunning scenery, a highly enjoyable one. NB!! South Africa is huge and noteasily traversed in a day, so plan your journeys carefully. If you’re not usedto driving long distances rather break the journey up, as fatigue is a majorcontributing factor in motor vehicle accidents.

Petrol stations are found onboth main and country roads and most are open 24/7. With the long distancesbetween some towns (and therefore petrol stations) always check your fuel gauge before racing past an opportunity to fill the tank. Various types of petrol areavailable depending on where you are. 95 octane petrol is available at higheraltitude, as well as 93 (unleaded). At the coast, your choice is between 95 and97 octane. Diesel is available countrywide with both 0.05% and 0.005% sulphurcontent. Hire cars are likely to require unleaded petrol, but check before youdrive off.

The general speed limit onSouth Africa’s national highways, urban freeways and other major routes is120km/h and 100km/h on secondary (rural) roads. In built-up areas it is usually 60km/h, unless otherwise indicated. Check the road signs!

National, Regional and Metrosigns have blue or green backgrounds. Tourist destinations usually have a brownbackground. Most national roads are tarred and in good condition, the morerural the road, the more likely it is to be pot-holed and poorly surfaced.

Up-to-date info on roadconditions is available from the Automobile Association of South Africa. The AAalso provide strip maps tailored for specific destinations and information fortourists on accommodation en route.

Here’s list of the National "N” routes and the towns and cities that they travel through:

N1: Cape Town - Bellville - (Paarl) - Du Toitskloof Worcester - De Doorns - Touwsrivier - Matjiesfontein - Laingsburg - Leeu-Gamka - Beaufort-West - Three Sisters - Richmond - Hanover - Colesberg - Trompsburg – Bloemfontein - Winburg - Ventersburg - Kroonstad - (Sasolburg) - Grasmere – Johannebsurg - Midrand - Centurion - Pretoria - (Bela-Bela) - Naboomspruit - Polokwane - Louis Trichardt - Musina – Beitbridge

N2: Cape Town - Somerset West - Grabouw - Botrivier - Caledon - Riviersonderend - Stormsvlei - Swellendam - Heidelberg - Riversdale - Albertinia - Mossel Bay - George - Knysna - Plettenberg Bay - Bloukrans - Storms River - Port Elizabeth - Colchester - Grahamstown - King William's Town - East London - Umtata - Kokstad - Port Shepstone - Hibberdene - Amanzimtoti - Durban - Umhlanga Rocks - Ballito - Empangeni - Mtubatuba - Pongola - Piet Retief - Ermelo

N3: Durban - Pinetown - Pietermaritzburg - Hilton - Midmar Dam - Howick - Mooi River - Estcourt - Van Reenen - Harrismith - Warden - Villiers - Heidelberg – Johannesburg

N4: Skilpadshek border post (Botswana) - Zeerust - Groot Marico - Swartruggens - Rustenburg - Hartbeespoort - Pretoria - Bronkhorstspruit - Witbank – Belfast – Machadadorp - Waterval-Boven - Nelspruit - Komatipoort (Maputo, Mozambique)

N5: Harrismith - Bethlehem - Senekal - Winburg

N6: East London - Stutterheim - Cathcart - Queenstown - Aliwal North - Rouxville - Smithfield - Reddersburg - Bloemfontein

N7: (West Coast) Cape Town - Malmesbury - Moorreesburg - Piketberg - Clanwilliam - Vanrhynsdorp - Garies - Springbok - O'Kiep - Vioolsdrif - Orange River - Namibia

N8: Springbok – Grobblershoop – Kimberley – Bloemfontein – Thaba Nchu – Ladybrand – Maseru (Lesotho)

N9: George - Uniondale - Willowmore - Aberdeen - Graaff-Reinet - Middelburg - Noupoort - Colesberg

N10: Port Elizabeth - Paterson - Cookhouse - Cradock - Middelburg - Hanover - De Aar - Britstown - Prieska - Groblershoop - Upington - Nakop (border post with Namibia)

N11: Ladysmith - Volksrust - Amersfort - Ermelo - Hendrina - Middelburg - Groblersdal - Marble Hall - Roedtan - Mokopane - Grobler's Bridge (border post – Botswana)

N12: George - Oudtshoorn - De Rust - Beaufort West - Three Sisters - Victoria-West - Strydenburg - Hopetown - Kimberley - Warrenton - Christiana - Bloemhof - Wolmaranstad - Klerksdorp - Stilfontein - Potchefstroom - Johannesburg - Germiston - Boksburg - Benoni - Witbank

N14: Pretoria - Centurion - Muldersdrift – Tarlton - Ventersdorp - Coligny - Sannieshof - Barberspan - Delareyville - Vryburg - Kuruman - Kathu - Olifansthoek - Upington - Keimoes - Kakamas - Pofadder - Springbok

N15: Swellendam – Ashton - Robertson - Worcester

N17: Johannesburg - Germiston - Brakpan - Springs - Devon - Leandra - Kinross - Trichardt - Bethal - Ermelo - Oshoek (border post Mbabane, Swaziland)

The next level down are the Regional Routes “R” which connect the various regions, and then the Metro routes “M” which are motorways within the cities

Toll Roads - Before you set off, check your route. Many national roads are now toll roads. Check the toll fees before you leave, and make sure that you have either a credit card or cash. Tolls for light passenger vehicles vary from R2.50 to R61.00 per toll plaza – and you may pass through three or four of these before you reach your destination! 

Toll routes on the various national roads include:

  • N1: Great North, Huguenot Tunnel, Kroonvaal
  • N2: North Coast, South Coast, Tsitsikamma
  • N3: Highveld, Midlands
  • N4: Magalies, Maputo Development Corridor
  • N17: Germiston - Springs

Stop!

Most National Roads haveregular petrol stops with a variety of refreshments and services. It is hightlyrecommended that drivers practice safehabits, driving for no longer than two hours before swapping drivers orstopping to rest and freshen up.

The Engen 1-Stop and Vacation Station network wasspecifically designed to meet the needs of the long distance traveller byproviding total convenience. Engen1-Stop facilities extend well beyond fuel including: Bank Auto Teller Machines(ATM), Engen Quick Shops, sparkling clean toilet facilities, various fast foodtakeaways and/or restaurant facilities, play centres for the little ones,Tourist Information Bureaus and telephones.

There are thirty-one Shell Ultra City sites. 29have Steers Diner Restaurants with take away and sit down options. Shell SelectStores offer 24/7 shopping forconfectionaries, sandwiches, salads and cold drinks. Selects also carrycommon grocery items.

Each Total Service Station isunique but usually include: Diesel, ATM, Steers, Café Bonjour, carwash,Fontana, internet café, telephones, Country Corner, Biltong Corner, Mugg &Bean and Spur.

BP Oasis stops offer fuel and lubricants, paraffin, gas, carwash facilities, ATM’s and restaurants (at selected stops). BP recentlypartnered with Pick n Pay, opening Pick n Pay Express stores at BP outlets that include Wild Bean Cafes.

So,whether you are visting Pofadder, Polokwane or Port Elizabeth remember -forward planning makes the journey more enjoyable - and - the holiday startswhen you leave home!! Fill the car and get the oil and tyres (tread as well aspressure) checked the day before departure. Get enough rest before you leave.Have your toll money or garage card handy. Travel safely, stop reguarly and Don’t Forget to BUCKLE UP!

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