Rental car complications…More Kruger National Park photos…

“This is a good place to rest my head.”

Some readers/friends have suggested we buy a car to keep in South Africa, rather than continue to rent. We appreciate the suggestion but, that just doesn’t work for us. We’d have to buy the car, putting out the cash, buy an insurance policy, and find a place to store it when we are away. This would cost considerably more than we’re paying for rentals now.

In reality, we don’t plan on living in South Africa long term. We will continue to visit every few years and stay as long as we can make the visa situation work. But, we still have lots of the world left to see. Once the pandemic settles down and/or we all settle into a “new normal” and when travel resumes more readily, we will be on our way.

Classic giraffe photo with blue sky in the background.

Where will we go? That remains to be seen based on the availability of travel throughout the world and of course, coupled with our ability to get the vaccine at some point. We’re especially looking forward to cruising again once we can get the vaccine hopefully within the next year. Everything is still up in the air.

As for rental cars, lately, we’ve noticed substantial price increases for cars from the Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport, our closest and most convenient pickup and return location. Since the pandemic, all the rental car facilities in Nelspruit are closed on weekends which in itself is a challenge to ensure we pick up and return cars Monday through Friday. The contract for the car we have now will end on Sunday and yet they want to charge us for an extra day returning it on Monday. Go figure.

Giraffe munching on low-lying trees.

We’d arranged for another car from the site we often use, rentalcars.com, and received a confirmation after payment in full. Two days ago we received a notice from rentalcars.com that they are canceling our contract for the new rental period since they don’t have “that particular car” and offered us another car at a 30% increase in price. We refused that car.

Then we called Budget about our current contract to see if they could help us by extending our current until June 30th. It was literally impossible to speak to someone who knew what to do. We kept getting disconnected or someone would come on the line and direct us to another phone number. We’d call the other number and they’d direct us back to the original contact person.

Giraffe among dead trees in Kruger National Park.

Finally, we gave up and started all over again. After multiple tries, we finally located an affordable car at Thrifty at the Nelspruit Airport for pickup on Monday. Then we called Budget again last night to find out what they’d charge us for the extra day. No one knew. After multiple calls, we gave up.

We told them we’d be there by noon on Monday to drop off the car and find out at that time, the fee for the extra day. They could easily gouge us, but from past experience, extra days are usually prorated from the prior contract rate. If it’s more than that, you can be assured we’ll handle it. We’ve always found that kindness and patience work better than hostility. We will figure it out.

View from the bridge of the Verhami Dam.

So, at the moment, we have a car selected from Thrifty with full insurance for under US $1400 for the next 79 days, averaging at ZAR 248, US $17 a day, higher than we usually pay but still a good price. The fact the insurance is included prevents us from having to return the car every 30 days since our credit cards only cover the insurance for the first 30 days of any car rental contract.

Hippo up for some air. Hippopotamuses love water, which is why the Greeks named them the “river horse.” Hippos spend up to 16 hours a day submerged in rivers and lakes to keep their massive bodies cool under the hot African sun. Hippos are graceful in the water, good swimmers, and can hold their breath underwater for up to five minutes.

Thus, we’ll make the almost three-hour round trip drive to Nelspruit on Monday, returning with the new car from Thrifty. We’d intended to grocery shop on the return drive at the fabulous Spar Market in Malelane but when we ran out of food yesterday, we headed to Komatipoort and purchased enough groceries to last for at least the next 10 days.

Elephants on the move on a path in Kruger National Park.

Today is sunny and a little warm with a high expected of only 87F, 31C. As always, the humidity is high making it feel warmer. All is quite well here. We are content as we could be.

We hope you are also. Be well.

Photo from one year ago, April 9, 2020:

Year ago posts were all taken from older posts while in lockdown in Mumbai, India. Please excuse the repetition. Hanalei Bay on a sunny day, taken from our condo in Princeville in Kauai, Hawaii. For more photos, please click here.

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