The Benefits of Renting a Car in Southern Africa: Freedom and Flexibility

Southern Africa is made up of the countries of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. 

 

Each one of these countries offers travelers an interesting and diverse array of cultures to explore, not to mention beautiful landscapes and stunning wildlife. Wherever you want to go, there’s plenty to see and do.

The Garden Route in South Africa.

Above: The Garden Route in South Africa.

 

Instead of choosing an organized tour with a set itinerary, why not rent a car and embark on an epic road trip that will leave you with fond memories for years to come?

 

How To Rent a Car in Southern Africa

 

Renting a car in Southern Africa is relatively easy. You can rent a car from most major airports on arrival, but you might not get the exact ride you’re after during peak tourist season. It makes sense to plan ahead and rent a car online.

Road lined with jacaranda trees in Pretoria, South Africa.

Above: Road lined with jacaranda trees in Pretoria, South Africa. 

That way you can do some research and pick a car rental company with a solid reputation for excellent customer service and good quality vehicles. The last thing you want is having a breakdown on your road trip! 

 

Drive South Africa makes it easy, simple, and affordable to book your preferred rental car online.

 

Road Tripping in Botswana

 

Some of Botswana’s best road trips can only be accessed by 4×4, but there’s still plenty to see and do in a sedan following tarmac routes. Take a self-driving expedition through mesmerizing national parks and game-rich reserves, and revel in the freedom and flexibility of touring in a rental car. 


Aerial view of the Okavango Delta in Botswana.
Above: Aerial view of the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

Highlights include the pristine Okavango Delta and elephant-packed Chobe National Park. Hire a car in Botswana, take your pick of back routes and discover the culture of the friendly locals.

 

Road Tripping in Lesotho 

 

A highlight of any trip to Lesotho is the Katse Dam and Botanical Gardens. Take a tour of the dam wall, a boat trip on the dam, and a visit to a local village to soak up some culture. For the more adventurous, go hiking, mountain biking, or 4x4ing up the Sani Pass. 

Sani Pass connecting Lesotho and Kwazulu-Natal.
Above: Sani Pass connecting Lesotho and Kwazulu-Natal.

Don’t forget to stop in at Sani Top, the highest pub in Africa. Visit Semonkong Falls to witness the river plummeting 204 meters into a swimmable pool below. 

 

Road Tripping in Malawi 

 

There’s more to Malawi than its beautiful lake! Take a trip to the incredible Liwonde National Park to see elephants, hippos, and crocodiles. Gaze in awe at the rolling grasslands of the seldom-visited Nyika Plateau or catch the Big Five at Majete Wildlife Reserve.

Canoes on the shore of Lake Malawi.
Above: Canoes on the shore of Lake Malawi.

Go for an unforgettable hike at Mount Mulanje, or tuck into local cuisine, arts, crafts, and culture in Malawi’s capital of Lilongwe. Don’t miss Zomba’s colorful city market and the hiking trails of the Zomba Plateau. 

 

Road Tripping in Mozambique

 

You can’t skip the bustling city of Maputo, with its variety of architectural styles, gardens, and markets. A particular highlight is the 20th-century train station, featuring a bright green facade, incredible dome, and imposing arches. Don’t miss the spectacular Tunduru Botanical Gardens.

Sunset over Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique.
Above: Sunset over Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique.

For wildlife lovers, there’s the magnificent Gorongosa National Park, home to elephants, hippos, lions, and a staggering amount of bird life. 200km north of Maputo is Xai-Xai, a coastal paradise ideal for snorkeling. 

 

Road Tripping in Namibia

 

Located in western Namibia, Brandberg is famous for its ancient rock paintings, many of which date back 4,000 years. Take a tour of the unfenced Caprivi Strip to see a host of wildlife protected in four reserves. 

 

Don’t miss the Skeleton Coast National Park for its fog-covered shores and sprawling desert landscape.

Aerial view of the Skeleton Coast, Namibia.
Above: Aerial view of the Skeleton Coast, Namibia.

The colonial city of Swakopmund is a must-see for its German architecture and restaurants. You’ll want to visit Deadvlei for its eerie landscape and hundreds of black trees that died 600 to 700 years ago. Check out Kolmanskop Ghost Town for awesome photo opportunities.

 

Road Tripping in South Africa

 

South Africa is a great destination if you’re after a bush and beach adventure. Spend some time in the Kruger National Park spotting the Big Five before heading to Cape Town, the Garden Route, or KwaZulu Natal for beautiful beaches.

Camps Bay beach at sunset, Cape Town.
Above: Camps Bay beach at sunset, Cape Town.

Take in some wine tasting in the Cape Winelands, get awesome views of Cape Town from the top of Table Mountain or head out to the charming seaside town of Hermanus to spot whales frolicking off the shore. 

 

Whichever way you look at it, South Africa is packed with awesome culture and landscapes to explore. 

 

Road Tripping in Swaziland

 

Now officially known as eSwatini, the lush and mountainous Kingdom of Swaziland is Africa’s last absolute monarchy. Visit the Hlane Game Sanctuary to see a stunning array of wildlife and bird life. Mbuluzi Game Reserve offers self-guided wildlife safaris, hiking trails, mountain biking and fishing.

Bontebok antelope in eSwatini.
Above: Bontebok antelope in eSwatini.

Visit Lobamba to see the home of Swaziland’s monarchy, which includes the Royal Kraal, Parliament Building, and National Museum. You won’t want to miss Mbabane for its Swazi Market packed with locally crafted souvenirs. 

 

Road Tripping in Zambia 

 

You can’t visit Zambia without seeing the majestic Victoria Falls, but don’t miss out on Lake Tanganyika too. Popular game parks include Kafue National Park, Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, and Luangwa National Park. 

 

There are great fishing opportunities in the magnificent Zambezi River, as well as adventure activities, and canoeing safaris.

Elephant cools off in the Zambezi River.
Above: Elephant cools off in the Zambezi River.

Zambia’s towns and cities are some of the fastest growing in Africa – check out the bustling capital of Lusaka, as well as Livingstone, and Chingola, for a cosmopolitan mix of cultures and restaurants. 

 

Road Tripping in Zimbabwe

 

Hwange National Park is not to be missed for its opportunity to spot the Big Five. Visit the incredible Victoria Falls for its sheer scale and adventure activities like whitewater rafting and bungee jumping. Explore Lake Kariba on a houseboat and try your hand at tiger fishing.

Aerial view of the famous Victoria Falls.
Above: Aerial view of the famous Victoria Falls.

Take in the sights at Mana Pools National Park, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its amazing concentrations of wildlife. If you’re after urban culture, head to Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city. The Great Zimbabwe National Monument is a great place to visit if you’re a history buff.

The ruins of Great Zimbabwe.
Above: The ruins of Great Zimbabwe.

These are just some of the major attractions you’ll get to enjoy on a self-drive trip through Southern Africa. With your own rental car, you’ll have the freedom and flexibility to explore it all and really get to know the cultures of these amazing destinations.

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