O. R. Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, South Africa

O.R. Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg
Source: By PretoriaTravel – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22769851

O.R. Tambo International Airport (IATA code: JNB) in Johannesburg is one of the main international gateways for flights into and out of Africa. Located around 25km (16 miles) from the centre of Johannesburg, it’s a popular destination in its own right, as well as a stopping point for travellers heading to other African destinations.

The airport can handle up to 28m passengers each year with up to 212,580 aircraft movements. Peak traffic capacity is 53 flights per hour from its two runways.

Traffic into central Johannesburg is often heavy, so travellers may prefer to use the airport’s Gautrain rapid rail system. But for anyone heading further afield or wanting the freedom to travel independently, a full choice of car rental companies operate at OR Tambo.

At the time of writing (August 2017), I was able  to obtain quotes from the following companies at OR Tambo airport:

  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Europcar
  • Bidvest Car Rental
  • First Car Rental
  • Sixt
  • Tempest Car Hire
  • Woodford Exclusive Rentals

As you’d expect, a full range of car sizes was offered, from economy models up to 9-seat minivans, SUVs and 4x4s.

Driving tips for South Africa

Here are a few useful tips for drivers who haven’t visited South Africa before:

  • Drive on the left
  • Some national routes between cities are toll roads.
  • Major roads are generally surfaced and in good condition, but rural roads vary widely and are often unsurfaced (dirt) roads. Check with your rental company to see if they impose restrictions on the type of roads you can use.
  • Signs are in English. All speeds and distances are in kilometres. Be aware of speed limit signs as enforcement can be strict and without warning.
  • Be aware that while a driving holiday is a viable choice, distances are high.
  • Plan to use filling stations to fuel, use restrooms and buy refreshments. Try to avoid unscheduled stops.
  • Security: always keep your doors locked and windows closed in town or other areas where criminals may operate. Keep valuables/bags/etc out of sight at all times.
  • Traffic lights are known as ‘robots’ in South Africa!
  • Don’t stop for hitchikers or motorists apparently in distress, as these techniques are sometimes used by hijackers
  • Try to avoid driving at night

For more tips, check out the Arrive Alive campaign’s road safety advice for foreigners in South Africa.

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