Now that I am out of the oh-so-wonderful lockdown period of my service, I actually am able to travel. So what is the first trip I go on? A 1200km road trip via rental car through the heart of South Africa with 3 fellow PCVs, what else?! So right after IST ended, we hopped in the PC Kombi and convinced the driver to take us to the car rental agency, where our adventure began.
I was a little skeptical of “Thrify Car Rentals” and our 1700 Rand rental car (215 USD) for 9 day, but everything seems legit and the car is not a “skorocaro” (junker) as SAfricans say. It’s a super compact little silver Honda stick shift that has NO acceleration, but it serves our purposes.
The biggest problem is remembering which side of the road to drive on:
“By the way, you’re on the wrong side of the road.”
A while later:
“You know you’re on the wrong side of the road again, right?”
That was not me, fyi.
We are taking the N1 from Pretoria to the Western Cape, where the Garden Route lies.
The N1 is one of the main highways in SA, stretching from Zimbabwe (starting in Limpopo Province way up north) and ending in Cape Town. We are taking it most of the way to near Oudtshoorn. Now, considering it is one of the largest/longest highways in SA, I expected it to be a bit more grand. However, it’s mainly been a two-lane highways rolling through grassland, farmland, and eventually maybe some mountains. We’ve battled construction this morning, but may be out of it by now (10am). Reststops are picnic tables on the side of the highway with no advances warning, passing means someone essentially forces you onto the shoulder so they can pass in your lane, and signs may say that you are 370km away from Bloemfontein for an hour….maybe not so accurate. But the drive has been nice, and we discovered a delightful backpackers right outside Bloemfontein. A nice Afrikaner family owns it, and the beds were soft and the rooms were clean and quiet. I shall give them a shoutout here: http://www.gratefulguesthouse.com/ If you are traveling to or through Bloemfontein, they are really easy to find although they are about 4km outside the city. And the R130 price (16USD) price was well worth it. We are staying there again at the end of our journey and are looking forward to it.
Our road trip will pass through 5 of SA’s 9 provinces: Gauteng, Free State, Northern Cape, Western Cape, and Eastern Cape (no, there is no Southern Cape). It’s beautiful land to travel through, and seeing green things is nice after living in the Kalahari Basin for awhile!