Self-drive option and some additional costs
The Self-drive Option – South Africa
A ‘self-drive’ option as a holiday in South Africa is suggested for the more adventurous traveller. It is a cheaper way to see a country provided a certain amount of ‘homework’ is done before travel; unlike a guided tour where one has constant access to the guide’s knowledge. Here we offer you self-drive information on the basics of the local culture, customs, safety as well as a knowledge of the local currency, electricity, access to banking facilities, shopping hours, using our roads, etc. before visiting such country or area.
The most important advantage of a self-drive holiday is the freedom and privacy that this option provides along with the savings normally achieved (click here to view or purchase a ready-made self-drive package of your choice that could also be tweaked to fit your requirements).
The operator/hotel establishment normally only includes breakfast in the rate. This gives you the freedom to choose your restaurants according to your taste and budget for the other meals. Those meals can be your single biggest extra expense apart from your vehicle expenses. In South Africa, the food is generally cheaper than in most areas of Europe and closer to those in the USA, especially if you choose restaurants where the locals frequent. The food here is wholesome and normally more than the ‘norm’ served elsewhere.
However, one often forget some details in the planning stage of a self-drive holiday! Here is a list of the most important costs:
Meal costs can vary considerably depending on the type of food. A general rule of thumb would put it around ZAR70.00 for a basic – especially fast food – meal to ZAR550.00 per person for exotic food/fine dining and some fish dishes. South African wines are normally cheaper in our ‘Bottle Stores’ or discount stores. You would pay around one and a half times to twice as much at restaurants for a bottle of the same wine.
Fuel and Filling Stations
When you self-drive in South Africa, you should know the following. Fuel currently costs around ZAR16.50 – ZAR17.50 per litre and varies monthly according to the international oil price. Distances in South Africa are much greater than many other countries, and you may find yourself travelling easily between 2000 and 3000 km a week (1000 -2000 miles).
Filling stations are well-placed except in the deep rural areas, and prices only differ by the distance from the coastal cities where the storage tanks are. Fuel (petrol) attendants fill your vehicle at fuel stations (self-service is not allowed) and they appreciate a small tip as they often wash the windscreen (windshield) and check fluid levels in the engine compartment if you request it.
Scenic Areas – Entrance Fees
Entrance fees at scenic spots are generally not expensive and could be budgeted from ZAR20.00 – 60.00 per person. However, scenic spots with a well-organised infrastructure and with activities included could cost more, up to ZAR100.00 – 400.00 per person.
Public Game Reserves
Public game reserves and National Parks have introduced a conservation levy of between R 180.00 and R 500.00 per person per 24 hour day if you overnight in the park or per single entry if you stay outside. This is paid in addition to accommodation costs.
Activities cost around ZAR150.00 – 450.00 per person for boat rides in lagoons and lakes. One can pay between ZAR600.00 – 900.00 when going out to sea. Rides such as cable car and short steam train rides are between ZAR360.00 and ZAR550. ZAR1200 is paid for animal interactions.
Gratuities and Porterage
It is custom to pay gratuities and porterage at hotels, restaurants, for guides and parking attendants. The fees here are indications only; ZAR10.00 – 20.00 per person for porters at hotels and airports, 10% of restaurant bill depending on the quality of food and service. Gratuities vary from ZAR5.00 for parking and fuel attendants to around 10% of taxi fares.
Toll roads are not too expensive compared to some countries in Europe and are only found on main routes. There may be several tolls on a road between major cities totalling between ZAR10.00 up to ZAR260.00.