South African 4×4 adventure means the wind in your hair, mud splashing off your tyres and nothing but South Africa’s natural beauty ahead. It’s that unmistakable feeling of freedom, and it’s right on your doorstep. It’s time to get a new perspective of South Africa’s berg, bush and seaside locations. Let’s go.
How to Start 4×4 Adventures in South Africa
1. Get a car suited for 4×4 Adventures
A capable car doesn’t mean a hardcore monster truck. No need for raised suspension and spotlights bolted onto the front, back and roof. A standard 4×4, a bakkie with diff-lock, or a dirt track compatible SUV will take you to a host of stunning locations. Even low-slung sports cars can handle some of the country’s more gentle dirt roads!
2. Get 4×4 training
Some of us have access to a 4×4 vehicle (or at least a 2×4 with ground clearance). But, we often don’t have the experience to make full use of its capabilities. Nor do we know how to recover from a sticky situation in the middle of nowhere.
Luckily, there are organisations, clubs and companies that offer off-road training. Halfway Toyota, for example, runs a 4×4 driving course led by experienced instructors. You can take your own car and get good idea of what you and your 4×4 are capable of. Courses like these are often the easiest way to feel more confident, even if only as a passenger.
Single-day introductory course are a fun way to understand the basics of 4×4 travel. A Two-day course is more advanced and will get you a certification on completion. Should you not be in the Durban area, never fear, as there are a number of courses available like this throughout the country.
Booking and contact details for the various providers are a Google search away.
3. Find a 4×4 Adventure Playground
Many facilities have route maps which include difficulty gradings and recovery vehicles to rescue you should you get stuck. They also offer a range of trails and obstacles that allow you to safely get used to your 4×4.
For passengers, it’s a great way to acclimate to the vehicles angles and behaviour in rough conditions.
As soon as you have the confidence to use your 4×4 as intended, it’s time to start exploring!
4. Check Out the Best 4×4 Trails in South Africa
4×4 Trails for Beginners
Looking to get started without having to face treacherous dongas a steep climbs? The Knysna Forest 4×4 Trail should be high on your list.
Knysna Forest 4×4 Trail
Set in the gorgeous Garden of Eden on the N2 between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, this relatively new 4×4 trail is a hidden gem. Arrive in your own car, hire a 4×4 on arrival, or opt for a guided trip. An organised trip with a 4×4 adventure guide will last about 5 hours and cost R450 per person.
Venturing out on your own will give you the freedom to move as quickly or as slowly as you like. Forest highlights include ancient yellow wood and stink wood trees surrounded by lush fern forest and dense foliage. The abundant fauna and flora is also home to the Knysna turaco. Previously known as the Knysna loerie, this shy bird is colourful display of the best nature has to offer.
4×4 Trails for Pros
Louvain Old Voortrekker Pass 4×4 Trail
For a more substantial challenge, head further towards George from Knysna and visit the Louvain Old Voortrekker Pass 4×4 Trail. Stretching over 30 kilometres, this 1776 Ox wagon route is a nature lover’s dream. It showcases pristine lakes, panoramic views of the Indian Ocean, indigenous forests and rocky inclines.
The route requires a 4×4 with good ground clearance and is an excellent test your off-roading skills. Take note: you will need a permit for this trail as a section of the route goes through state forestry. Permits are available from the Louvain Guest Farm at R250 per vehicle.
5. Prepare Essential 4×4 Gear
No 4×4 setup should be without refridgeration. Snomaster has been South Africa’s leading supplier of portable 12/220v fridge freezers for the off-road enthusiast. View our extensive range here.
If you are not sure which one would be the best for you, our portable camping fridge freezer buyer’s guide can help.
We also have portable solar panel kits that can power you through your 4×4 adventures while you’re off the grid.