We hired our car from Eurocar at Jo’berg airport. We chose that particular supplier on the basis of cost, and the fact that it was one of the few companies that specified a four door and hatchback car in the purchase process.
We felt it was important to have four doors, so we would have four full sized windows from which we could take pictures. Having a decent sized back seat also allowed us the freedom to leap from the driver and passenger seat into the back when animals moved around our vehicle. We wanted a hatchback specifically so we could store items in the boot and access them from inside the car – thus meaning that the inside of the car is not cluttered with food, drinks and all other necessities for a day’s drive. Also consider that you are not allowed out of your vehicle apart from at designated stations, so if you have placed items in the boot they might not be freely available unless you have access via the back seat of the car.
We debated on the size of the car, and in the end chose a small one. This, I feel was the right choice for two adults. It’s compact nature also meant we could manoeuvre ourselves into tight spaces and get closer to the wildlife. especially relevant as there are plenty of gaps in trees by the riverbeds from which you can get a great view of the wildlife.
We gave no thought to comfort of the car – and thankfully our little Hyundai i20 was very comfortable…but it’s only when you are spending upwards of 12 hours a day in a car when you realise how important comfort is.
Ignore any considerations about speed or power. You spend most of your time at 20mph max on safari, and you’ll find yourself reversing more often than you think. However, brakes are important – emergency stops are plentiful when you spot animals in the bush.
Four by fours are not really needed, though there are a few gravel and sand roads in Kruger that will cause you to wish you had it, as your spine feels like it’ll snap in two with the potholes and vibrations.
Petrol stations are situated at most camps. We found ourselves needing to fill up every 2-3 days depending on the journeys we had done. If you are leaving very early, fill up the night before as some petrol stations don’t open until 6am-7am. They also close shortly after the camp gate closes, so arrive a bit earlier if you need to fill up.
Whilst we were in Kruger there was a fuel shortage, but the majority of stations in the North and central regions had adequate fuel. It was, however, a different story outside the park – we waited over 20 mins to get fuel at a town that had ran dry and was awaiting the arrival of tankers.
When returning your car to the airport, it’s worth knowing there is a petrol station there (Look for the signs to the sky station). You can therefore fill up before returning your car if you have not already done so).
Self driving is a great way to see Kruger and I highly recommend it.
Photos from our South African safari are available in our Taraji Blue South African photo gallery.