Should you rent a car in DurbanSouth Africa>Durban

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Our general advice is that in Durban a hire car is extremely useful, both in terms of access to coastal scenery, and also for national parks heading inland.

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Why should you hire a car in Durban?

  • Drive to any of the various spectacular national and other scenic parks which can be found to the northwest of Durban.
  • Drive (limited roads) or hike in the Maloti-Drakensberg Park – the largest park in the region, on the border with Lesotho.
  • Visit the Drakensberg Amphitheatre, the setting for many scenes in the Michael Caine classic “Zulu”. Note that the amphitheatre is in the Royal Natal National Park, not in Maloti-Drakensberg Park.
  • Consider a one way drive between Durban and Johannesburg – in one move, it’s around 8 hours, but with stops at various parks on the way, you easily have a 3-7 day itinerary.
  • Drive along the coast towards Lake St Lucia in the northeast.
  • Drive towards Cape Town in the southeast. Note that a direct drive to Cape Town would take at least 20 hours. Many of the most scenic areas are to the west of East London – see our Cape Town / Cape Town road trip pages for more details. There are more direct routes heading via Bloemfontein, but these would miss much of the coast. However, there are few coastal stretches of road between Margate and East London.
  • There is no direct rail connection to King Shaka Airport, Durban.
  • Generally, public transport in the area is poor, except within the city limits of Durban and nearby suburbs.
  • Rail services around Durban can be moderately useful for travelling in either direction along the coast, but they are mainly used by commuters rather than tourists.
  • There is no subway or light rail system in Durban.
  • Even within the city, many bus services are operated by private minibus owners, who have a reputation for over-filling their vehicles.

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  • Generally, visiting Durban without a hire car will be fine if you plan just to stick to the city itself, and local destinations along the coast.
  • Golden Mile – within the city, this popular beach front area is a natural place to hire a bike, or similar.
  • Local rail services (Metrorail) are adequate within the city, or for heading down towards Kelso on the coast to the south, or to KwaDukuza (Stanger) in the north.
  • Durban people mover – this bus service aimed more at visitors operates on a regular schedule in the most popular tourist areas of downtown Durban.
  • Coaches connect major towns, for example there are 5 competing services operating buses from Durban to Johannesburg. However, buses are largely aimed at inter-city passenger service, not at providing a way to reach national parks.
  • Security is a concern when renting a car in South Africa, but reports of car crime tend to be in cities, and much more common in Johannesburg or Cape Town.
  • The roads in South Africa are relatively unsafe when compared with countries in North America or Europe. However, compared to anywhere in Africa, the roads in South Africa are amongst the safest, and there are regular speed patrols.


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Whereas a city like Cape Town offers a wide range of tourist infrastructure which can make it easy to get around using trains and buses, this really doesn’t apply so much in Durban.

There’s a much greater range of places to see which are well outside the city, and which aren’t served by reliable public transport service.

This means that almost by default, our recommendation here would be to hire a car.

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Author: Carometer

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