Is it safe to drive in Cape Town, South Africa?
  • Hi - we are planning our trip to Cape Town, South Africa. Looks like most advice is to rent a car and drive around Cape Town rather than take public transport. Is it safe for tourists to drive, is it easy to get around, what is the road safety like in South Africa?
    Many thanks everyone.
  • Hi Mathieu,

    Driving is definitely your best option in Cape Town. Although the public transport is better here than in any other South African city, attractions in Cape Town are fairly spread out and you will save a lot of time and hassle if you hire a car.

    Despite a lot of scare-mongering about hijackings and flamethrowers, driving in South Africa is perfectly safe for tourists of you follow a few basic ground rules. Keep your doors locked at all times, and don't leave valuables out on the seat (while parked or driving). It is best to avoid driving through townships at night.

    While hijackings do happen, most visits to South Africa never have to deal with this.

    One thing you will have to deal with is 'car guards'. This is an ad hoc system where people stake out a territory of about a city block and take payment (about ZAR 2-5) from drivers for 'watching' their car. These guards are often not employed by the city or any specific establishment, but local drivers generally find it easier to pay than to argue.

    These informal car guards are not to be confused with parking marshalls, who operate in the CBD. They charge fees of about R10 per hour, which must be paid upfront, and operate between 8am and 5pm (until 1pm on Saturdays). These marshalls are employed by the city, and can be recognised by their uniforms.

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