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8 Tips for travelling in areas with bad infrastructure

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South Africa offers some of the most breathtaking landscapes and biodiversity you will experience, yet access to these sites is not always straightforward. Though we’ve made some impressive strides in development, there is still much work to be done.

Many rural areas lack adequate infrastructure and have pothole-ridden roads, or only gravel roads. Travelling to these parts of the country requires careful planning and preparation if you want to avoid an unfortunate situation. Booking platform Jurni believes you can never be too prepared and compiled some excellent travel tips.

1. Make sure your transport is in order

Picture: Peet Mocke 

The last thing you want is to be stuck somewhere with a broken-down vehicle, with the nearest mechanic hours away and the necessary spare part even further.

So, make sure your car is reliable and equipped to take on some perilous roads, and that your spare wheel is inflated. It would be wise to pack in a can of emergency puncture repair, available at most hardware stores.

2. Know where you going

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Picture: Unsplash

Familiarise yourself with the region before setting off. As fun as it is to set off without a destination in mind and see where the road takes you, you don’t want to navigate unfamiliar roads once the sun goes down.

Keep in mind how far you are from the nearest petrol stations, towns or camps so you can time your route accordingly. Even though maps are becoming outdated, it’s always good to have a hardcopy of the region’s main arteries (you never know when you’ll be out of reception range) or at least download offline maps on your device.

3. Take it slow

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Picture: Getaway Gallery

Potholes, stray livestock and wildlife are common sites on a wayward adventure, and you don’t want to have to deal with an unfortunate incident far away from any roadside assistance. Give animals the right of way, and keep an eye out for pedestrians or small kids playing next to the road. Enjoy the scenery and stop to take pictures. It’s about the journey, not the destination after all.

4. Give yourself extra time

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Why not be flexible with your time and stop at the padstals for a browse? Picture: Getaway Gallery

Since you take it slow, it’s likely that you will not be able to stick to a strict schedule. The local tourism industry offers many products you can enjoy en route on long-distance trips, like daily activities and local art, as well as food.

5. Bring enough water

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Picture: Unsplash

Places with bad infrastructure might not have access to clean drinking water or many stores to buy water at. Even though some of the destinations might be pristine, you don’t want to take a chance drinking contaminated water and find yourself having to make emergency toilet runs on the road.

6. Keep your phone charged (with airtime)

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Picture: Unsplash

You don’t want to find yourself unable to call a tow truck or your accommodation in an emergency. Needing to contact someone with a phone battery anxiously low on 2% does not make for good holiday fun. Make sure you have a power bank or a way to charge your phone in the car, and that you have airtime or minutes to make calls and use the GPS.

7. Keep cash on hand

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Don’t find yourself cash-strapped without any card facilities nearby. Picture: Getaway Gallery

If a place has limited infrastructure, it’s unlikely that banks will make such a far-flung effort to service an ATM. Even though card and internet payments are becoming the new norm, cash is still king in many rural parts of the world.

8. Plan for things to not go according to plan

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There’s nothing you can do about a closed bridge, so be sure to have a contingency plan in case things go awry. Picture: Getaway Gallery

Lastly, no matter how meticulous you plan things when you go on a wayward adventure and off the beaten track, things are likely to go wrong at some point. Bad weather damaging roads, political unrest and, of course, load shedding are all very likely occurrences in our country.

But this shouldn’t dissuade you. Usually, those are the memories you’ll be talking about when you reminisce about your travels in years to come.

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