Africa might be the continent with the world’s best road signs. With so much incredible big game living across the vastness of the continent, it’s no surprise that motorists should be warned of a giraffe crossing the road, or elephants ahead. On a road trip through many of Southern African countries, we encountered a lot of really cool road signs, and documented as many as we could along the way!
Giraffe Road Sign in Mikumi National Park
Somewhere near Mikumi National Park in Tanzania, a road sign flashed past. A giraffe lumbered across the white and red triangle, the animal so tall it could barely fit in the sign. We put the brakes on, reversed back to the giraffe sign, and hopped out to take a picture under a leaden, rainy Tanzanian sky.
Just a few hundred metres down the road, we saw the giraffes. The particular subspecies of giraffe living in Mikumi National Park is thought to be a genetic link between the Maasai giraffe and the reticulated giraffe. The herd moved carelessly across the road, as trucks and cars stopped to let them cross. On the other side, the family group began munching on branches as the traffic moved along.
Hippo Crossing Sign at the Mozambique Border
We had just crossed the border from Mozambique, heading south in South Africa. Suddenly, it appeared not far from where he had our passports stamped – the hippo road sign. This was a road sign we never thought we’d come across, even in Africa. As we pulled over awkwardly into the roadside ditch to snap a picture, we wondered how often hippos left their bathing pools to shuffle themselves across major highways. Whether this was a rare occurrence or not, we were amazed to have found this unique road sign.
Elephant Crossing Road Sign in Botswana
On the way out of Botswana’s wonderful Chobe National Park, a long stretch of dusty roadworks promised to lead us all the way to the Zambian border crossing. There were workers, dump trucks and speed restrictions, and the road wasn’t particularly exciting to drive along.
But then, we spotted our first elephant road sign, a cutesy caricature of a road sign with a disproportionately large head. No matter – this was one very exciting road sign to bump into, and we were glad it wasn’t removed during the roadworks. Just like the giraffe sign, we were in for a real treat. A few kilometers later, a large family group of elephants were crossing the road – several dozen all up – and cars were pulling over to admire them. Bull elephants reared and flared their mighty ears in threat, calves carried their mothers tails as they crossed the road, and mothers pulled great branches off trees with their trunks.
Kudu Road Sign in Namibia
One of the first animal road signs we encountered with this majestic, leaping kudu, spiral antlers on full display on the triangular road sign. We pulled over for our traditional picture. We were somewhere in Namibia, on one of the many moonscape highways that linked the country. Besides the occasional tree or village, the promise of seeing a wild kudu was an exciting prospect. But, although many more kudu signs came our way – it was one of more common African animal road signs – we didn’t see any kudu on the road.
Warthog Road Sign in South Africa
Along the south coast of South Africa, we came across this enormous road sign warning drivers of possible warthogs in the area. I like the creative choice to whiten out the tusk, a nice little design touch. The sign was so large, because this was a major highway, and trucks and cars were roaring past. Lucky for us, we had a chance to pull over safely and pose with this sign.
Although we didn’t see any warthogs that day, there were a plethora of warthogs (and other wonderful African animals) at nearby Addo Elephant Park.
Driving through Africa is full of surprises. Roads vary from smooth-as-silk freeways, to gravel highways that run dead straight into the horizon, and even shocking pothole deathtraps. Coming across such a wide variety of unexpected and exciting road signs that remind you that African animals are just around the corner is one of the best surprises along the way. There may be many more interesting road signs to be found, perhaps featuring zebras, antelope, or even dung beetles! To find out, it might be time to book a return trip to Africa!