Frustrating road trip…Rental car pickup, not so much to our liking…

Two oxpeckers on the back of a female kudu are ready to start pecking at her coat for insects or injuries.

It’s a long and trying drive to the Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport, several kilometers outside the city. There’s considerable traffic on the N4 Highway with frequent stops for road and now, bridge construction. Trucks often line the two-lane highway slowing the flow of traffic.

A fantastic aspect of driving on South Africa’s highways is that drivers, including truck drivers, move to the far left to allow drivers behind them to pass. We’d never seen this intelligent driving behavior anywhere else in the world. Also, fairly often, there are passing lanes marked on the road, adding to traffic flow.

Another kudu with three oxpeckers on her back and neck. They often manage to photobomb our shots. See the warthog checking out the action for the photo.

Tom is a great driver, and although I usually feel at ease as a passenger, this particular highway, amid these benefits, still can be a nail-biter at times. It took no less than 90 minutes each way plus another hour at the airport, returning one car with Budget and collecting another car with Thrifty. That was our big mistake. We shouldn’t have booked with Thrifty had we known what we’d encounter.

Upon arrival at the Thrifty counter, we were informed that we must return the car every 30 days to have it inspected, although our confirmed contract was 79 days. Of course, we didn’t know this when we booked the car. However, with the pricing 33% less than Budget (prices change daily), it was irresistible to use them. Next time, we’ll call and ask about their policy, which we’ve never had to do in the past eight-plus years.

On her neck.

Could Covid-19 have been responsible for them changing their policies? Who knows?  So much has changed regarding travel in the past 14 months since this pandemic nightmare began. It has become necessary to check and recheck all terms and conditions regarding any aspect of the journey.

We plan to research to see if there’s an alternative and if we can cancel that contract without a penalty and return to Budget when they post lower pricing from time to time. We’re both frustrated about having to spend no less than four hours every 30 days to return the car for inspection.

Oxpeckers jump around the animal’s body quickly. They seem to like kudus particularly.

As I was writing this post, I stopped for a few minutes to check with rentalcars.com. No refunds are allowed once the car is picked up. We are stuck with this old car with over 40,000 km, smaller, and more challenging to maneuver on the bumpy roads in Marloth Park and Kruger National Park.  Herein lies the reality, “You get what you pay for,” especially when it comes to car rentals.

As it turned out, we didn’t return to the house until almost 3:00 pm, 1500 hours, having left the house at 10:30 am. In essence, this process resulted in nearly a full day away from enjoying precious time in the bush. On the return drive, we decided against the planned shopping in Malalane, after all, and headed straight back to Marloth Park. We’d already shopped in Komati on Monday, and we’d be fine until next week when we return.

It was great to see an oxpecker partaking in our birdbath. Tom makes sure it has fresh water each day.

As world travelers who continue to use a wide array of travel services, we learn something new almost every day, even during the pandemic. No doubt, it’s more work now to plan than ever in the past. At this point, we’ll be waiting until the last minute to see what we’ll need to do to get our visas stamped by June 30, 2021.

The world is still in flux and will be so for years to come. Also, right now, we’re relieved we didn’t go to Minneapolis this week as previously planned. We’d be there now during enhanced rioting, carjacking, and shootings. Many members of Tom’s family live near some of the areas included in this challenging time for the city and its people. We pray for the safety of our family members, friends, and residents of the town and suburbs impacted by this strife.

We’ve seen bushbuck, Torn Ear, three days in a row.

Today, sunny and warm, we’ll stay put outdoors on the veranda, cherishing each visitor that stops by. So far, this morning, we’ve had mongoose, kudus, bushbucks, warthogs, and of course, as always, Frank and The Misses. Undoubtedly, more will come by before the day’s end.

Happy day!

Photos from one year ago today, April 13, 2020:

Jackfruit is known for its health benefits.  See this link for nutritional details. This photo was posted at this link on April 13, 2015. For the year-ago post, please click here.

Comments and responses Frustrating road trip…Rental car pickup, not so much to our liking…

  1. Heather

    Sorry about your experience with the car rental. We got caught in England with that rule, not same company, but we were able to take it to any of their locations in England. Also found out later from experienced travelers, it works out cheaper to rent monthly instead of a longer term. Not so good when you are a long distance from the rental office like you folk. The older we get the more we learn eh🙄🙄🍸

    • worldwide-admin Post author

      Heather, I guess it goes with the territory. Unfortunately, there isn’t a nearby town where we could have the car inspected. Actually, pieces here in a more remote part of South Africa, the longer-term rental was more economical. In most countries, the airport isn’t so far away, and returning the car every 30 days is no big deal. Yes, we do learn more as we continue to travel the world, especially now, when everything is new and different with Covid-19.

      Stay safe and healthy,
      Jess & Tom

Leave a Reply