Above: Sunset Scenery with Dust in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa; specie family of

Discover the Top 10 4x4 Trails of South Africa

South Africa’s local landscapes lure visitors from all over the world who want to experience the unbelievable beauty, fauna, flora, and the magic that is Africa.

Embarking on a 4×4 trail is a top way to discover the wildest parts of a country and access those elusive spots; renting a 4×4 makes this adventure accessible and enjoyable.

Some trails have been designed to test both vehicle and driver, while others are easier to handle and good fun for those not used to the more technical stuff.

 

Above: 4×4 Knysna forest trail

For a truly South African off-roading experience, mix your trip up with some camping, game drives, or safaris.

In this article, we’ve rounded up the top 10 4×4 trails of South Africa, including some tips on tackling different terrain types.

 

Kagga Kamma 4×4 Trail

Beginning at the reception area, this slow route descends from 1160 to 365 meters above sea level.

It’s mostly easy going but there are some very steep places. If the weather’s clear, you enjoy some spectacular views over the expanse of the Karoo and the mountains and valleys of the incredible Cederberg.

Western Cape

Above: Kagga Kamma 4×4 Trail

From about mid-August to mid-November you’ll be spoiled with blankets of wildflowers. Keep a lookout for game such as eland, bontebok, and maybe even a caracal or mountain leopard.

 

How to get there:

– From Ceres, follow directions to Prince Alfred Hamlet, and go over Gydo Pass.

– Turn right at the Kagga Kamma sign just after Op-die-Berg.

– Follow all the Kagga Kamma signs for about 50 km until you reach the gate.

 

Buffelspoort Adventure Trail

Buffelspoort Adventure Trail starts at the Driefontein Farm about 30 km outside Laingsburg.

The trail runs along a gorge created by the Buffels River and the cliffs tower up to 500 m overhead in places.

The trail is fairly treacherous and will get your adrenaline going.

Above: High angle view of a vehicle travelling along a gravel road

With sections like ‘Car wash’ and ‘Devil’s Workshop’ you’ll need to be experienced to handle the many water crossings and rocky terrain.

Also on offer is the Slanggat trail, which takes you to the top of the Swartberg where you’ll be rewarded with jaw dropping views.

 

How to get there:

– From Laingsburg, turn south onto the R323 for about 16 km.

– Turn left onto a tar road marked Seweweekspoort.

– After 5.6 km, turn right onto a gravel road and after another 1.7 km, turn right through the Driefontein gate.

 

Kalahari Seekoeibaard Sand Route

Bordering Kalahari Witsand Nature Reserve is Transboegoe Farm, a 4×4 paradise.

With over 100 km of off-roading trails, it’s a fantastic place to spend the weekend and you’ll want to keep coming back again and again.

Four trails wind their way through the Kalahari Desert but probably the best option is Seekoeibaard.

Walking in the Witsand Kalahari Nature Reserve, South Africa | Photo credits: Travel Gigolo

Above: Walking in the Witsand Kalahari Nature Reserve, South Africa | Photo credits: Travel Gigolo

The trail involves a rocky climb to crest the Boegoeberg mountains and there’s a shady stopping point along the way that’s ideal for a lunch break.

 

How to get there:

– The trail is off the R64 between Kimberley and Upington.

 

Offcamber Adventures

Run by Tony Webb and his wife Sharon, Offcamber Adventures is situated in the heart of the Elands River Valley.

The trail is separated into four sections, the first three basically being obstacle courses designed to test the driver and vehicle, and the last offering excellent sightseeing opportunities.

The trails attract a wide variety of drivers, all offering optional sections that provide extra challenges.


Above: Jimny on 4×4 trail, South Africa

Tony offers training and guided tours for those still working on their off-roading confidence.

Get ready for steep ascents, sharp descents, rock crawling, cambers, pole crossings, and river driving – it really is a 4×4 playground.

 

How to get there:

– Travel on the R334 between Uitenhage and Van Stadens Wild Flower Reserve and turn at the Exel garage.

– You’ll find Offcamber Adventures on your left after 10 km.

 

Moolmanshoek 4×4 Eco Routes

You’ll find over 50 km of 4×4 tracks at Moolmanshoek Nature Reserve in the Witteberg Mountains.

Best enjoyed over a weekend, the four trails (Kiepersol Garden, Visierkerf, Langesnek, and Suikerhoek) involve a range of terrain and are suited to both beginners and more experienced drivers.

Above: Moolmanshoek 4×4 Eco Routes

Grasslands, sandstone plates, streams, rocky inclines, and sharp descents will keep you entertained.

There’s even game to be spotted along the way.

 

How to get there:

Take the R70 from Senekal or Ficksburg towards Rosendal.

The turn-off is about 10 km from Rosendal on the Ficksburg side.

 

Tugam Safari Network

On the slopes of Magudu Hills you’ll find Tugam 4×4 Safaris.

The network consists of over 75 km of off-road tracks with four one-of-a-kind trails – Breakfast Plains, Waterhole Watch, River View, and the Tugam Sundowner Trail.

These trails are all done at different times of the day to increase your chances of spotting wildlife.

Above: 4×4 trail over rocky terrain in the Cederberg, Western Cape, South Africa.

 

Common sightings include impala, giraffes, wildebeest, zebra, and even rhinos.

While most of the tracks are quite gentle, Sundowner Trail involves a steep ascent over rocks to reach the spectacular Lookout Point on top of the mountain.

 

How to get there:

– Take the N2 south from Piet Retief and turn right at Pongola onto the R66.

– Next, turn right onto the R69.

– Tugam Game Farm will be on your right.

 

De Wildt

De Wildt, in the Magaliesberg, is a great place for 4×4 drivers at all skill levels.

Two trail options make it accessible to both 4×4 and 4×2 vehicles.

There’s a steep 20 m rock face to take on as well as the old quarry playpit that will challenge your skills.

Above: De Wildt 4×4 Trail | Photo Credits – De Wildt 4×4

 

Don’t spend all your time there though – there are unmissable sunsets to catch from the many incredible viewpoints.

 

How to get there:

– De Wildt is off the R513 in the Magaliesberg Nature Reserve.

 

Doornrivier

The farm at Doornrivier offers four 4×4 routes with rocky, mountainous, and sandy terrain.

Two of these have been designed with the spectacular scenery in mind, while the other two are more technical and require low-range.

This amazing destination also features a 4×4 playground area.

Above: 4X4 Track at Smitskraal Baviaanskloof South Africa

Go for a weekend or make a stop on the way to Botswana – it’s the ideal place to put your off-roading skills to the test.

 

How to get there:

– Drive north from Zeerust on the R49 for 15 km.

– Doornrivier is on the right.

 

Mabote River Camp

Mabote (Sotho for ‘small, strong river’) features four well-marked and designed trails that cross sand, water, mud, and rocks and vary in difficulty.

Although you could do them all in a day, rather make a weekend of it to soak up the wonderful surroundings.

When you arrive, you’ll be provided with a detailed map and a briefing of the current trail conditions.

Above: Muddy 4X4 Trail, South Africa

Take in the waterfalls, rock art, fishing, and canoeing at Mabote River Camp.

 

How to get there:

– From Mokopane, take the R101 towards Mookgophong.

– After 12 km, turn right to Doorndraai Dam.

– After 40 km this road turns to dirt.

– Mabote is on the left after 6 km.

 

Riverwild 4×4

Riverwild features 9 routes (all leading off one arterial dirt road) all designed to put experienced drivers and their vehicles through their paces.

Obstacles include river crossings, tight corners, mud pits, jagged rocks, and steep ascents and descents.

A useful feature includes escape routes and drivers can return to sections.

Above: Riverwild 4×4 Trail | Photo Credits – Safari Now

Driver training is on offer and covers the environment, vehicle info, off-road techniques, recovery, and practical instruction.

Advanced courses cover navigation, GPS, advanced recovery, and a range of other skills.

 

How to get there:

– Turn off the N4 from Nelspruit onto the R37 towards Sudwala Caves and Sabie.

– From there, follow the signs to Riverwild.

 

Terrain Tips

 

Rock and Mud

A good rule of thumb is that you should first walk over the terrain before you try to drive through or over it. Tyre pressures should be reduced by about 20% when your 4×4 has marginal traction or grip, such as when negotiating tough climbs and descents, shallow mud, and general terrain.

 

Sand

All you need to remember when approaching sand is to keep up the momentum of your 4×4. Rather engage the 4-wheel drive to be on the safe side. If the sand is really soft, your tyre pressures can be reduced to as little as 0.8 to 0.5 bar. Steer carefully and drive slowly to avoid a tyre coming off the rim.

 

Water

While entering the water, drive slowly in low-range second gear, creating a bow wave. Avoid any splashing as this may affect electrical components. If the water is quite deep, a 4×4 fitted with a snorkel is a prerequisite.

 

Corrugations

Reduce tyre pressures by 15 to 20%, and the drive will be more comfortable and safer. Ensure that you don’t reduce the tyre pressure too much as this may affect the handling of the 4×4.

 

Ridges

Avoid the temptation to cross a ridge at an angle, because it may cause one wheel to lift off the ground, thereby losing traction on that axle. Make sure both wheels cross the ridge at the same time.

 

Troughs

When going through a trough, drive across it at an angle so that only one wheel is in the trough with the other one still on firm soil.

 

Slopes

When climbing or descending steep slopes, do not depress the clutch if you feel the 4×4 is either beginning to slip, or about to stall.

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