With branches in Malawi, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, Avis has a well-established footprint in southern Africa. Traveling on African roads can be a concern for those who are not familiar with them, but Slade Thompson, Executive for Commercial and Licensees at Avis Budget southern Africa has some helpful tips to help you on your way.
Check your credit cards
Always ensure that the country you are visiting does accept your credit card. While most credit cards are accepted, it wouldn’t be fun to make it all the way to your destination only to be declined at the doorstep.
It is always a good idea to check the Yellow Fever requirements for each specific country as they can vary. This is a cautionary measure taken by most nations and it is wise to know how stringent the country you’re visiting is in this regard. This information can be easily sourced online, so make sure to do your research on requirements.
Don’t worry about airports
Africa may be considered part of the third world, but travellers can be pleasantly surprised by the quality of airports, especially in southern Africa. The quality of airports is quite high and many regions have new airports under construction.
Watch the roads
There are varying degrees of road quality between regions. Whether its potholes, road signs or dirt roads, you need to arm yourself with an awareness of the land. Don’t be afraid to ask your rental agent to advise you on travelling in the country you are driving in. If the roads are considered dangerous, consider renting a larger vehicle like an SUV.
Always stick to the speed limit. These regulations exist for a reason and on uncertain roads, it pays to have the time to swerve out of the way of oncoming obstacles that could lead to an accident.
Sign your waivers
It is for the above reasons that we always recommend you sign any extra waivers offered to you in your country of rental. Each country will have different options, but rather be safe than sorry as you don’t want to be stuck without cover.
The language barrier
One of the complaints we often get is that our representatives are not fluent in English. The fact is that these are not English speaking countries and that every one of our staff will try their best to help you in English. We do try to hire people with multilingual capabilities, but they are few and far between in the African service industry.
Keep your tank full
Always try to ensure that your petrol tank is always topped up wherever possible. Quite often, you have to travel long distances without a filling station in between.
Book in advance
The truth is that rental fleets tend to be smaller in African countries, so don’t expect there to be availability at the door. You need to book well in advance, especially during peak seasons, which is generally around August to October.
Prepare to pay more
The cost of renting could differ substantially between countries. Every region has different levies on vehicle purchases and the availability of parts is often a problem, meaning it costs a lot more to get parts to that country.
Do your research
If you are going to be traveling in an unknown country, you need to get up to speed on the current political and social climates to prepare yourself. Not only this, but driving in some of these countries can tend to be overwhelming for some drivers as road etiquette can be wildly different and ruthless compared to the seemingly tough streets of a busy South African metropolitan.
If you do need to rent a vehicle and also cross borders, this could create some complications. At Avis, cross border travel options can be made available upon request. When it comes to border posts, local rental agents can advise on what the best option is.