Southern Africa has a world of breathtaking, routes and roads to explore, some of them happen to be rugged and off road and fit only for 4x4s.
This makes the country a keen off-road destination for thrill seekers who long to ride on the dusty roads in the countryside in search of their next adrenaline fix. However don’t take our word for it, trust the experts, here are the top 4×4 routes to explore in South Africa for 2016 as recommended by some of the best motor writers, editors and drivers.
Editor for Travelwriter
On our third day of negotiating the tough Roof of Africa endurance race in Lesotho, driver Carol Lazar and I had to be rescued when the differential plug of our 4×4 – some sort of Toyota as I recall – fell into a river we were attempting to cross. Having seen seasoned motoring editors drop out, and being tipped to finish the race, we sat on the banks and wept with disappointment.
However, for spectacular views from 3 000 meters up, helter-skelter hairpin bends, rough, mountainous dirt roads, and little mud huts, sheep, and the occasional donkey, Lesotho is hard to beat. Dancing Basotho children will make you feel like celebrities as they cheer you on and one day – if I ever pluck up the nerve again – I might just return on an independent self-drive exploration.
The grueling route in Lesotho for the Roof of Africa endurance race.
Klipbokkop Mountain Reserve
Editor for Women on Wheels
If we had to choose a 4X4 route that would appeal to our audience we would choose the Klipbokkop Mountain Reserve. A part from being a beautiful part of the Western Cape and including sand, water & mud, quarry and mountain terrain it is also a training facility for those who are perhaps not as experienced at 4X4ing or who lack the confidence to 4X4 alone.
Scenery like no other at the Klipbokkop Mountain Reserve 4×4 trail.
Technical editor at CAR Magazine
If you have experienced dune driving at Atlantis or similar locations in South Africa and are yearning for more, then Namibia offers the perfect opportunity. Between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay you will find one of the most beautiful stretches of golden dunes that will challenge both man and machine.
Ensure that you acquire a (free) permit from the local government’s environmental offices first and get someone knowledgeable to accompany you if you want to venture deep into the unknown. A backup vehicle, recovery equipment and food supplies are a must as the desert can be an unforgiving place. I found that the thick sand can be too much for the all-wheel-drive systems of “soft-roaders” so ensure that your equipment is up to the task. If all goes well you will be rewarded with spectacular views and your sand driving skills will improve in leaps and bounds.
Namibia’s Swakopmund might not seem like paradise but that’s exactly what it is for 4×4 enthusiasts.
Bass Lake, Karoo National Park, Sani Pass, Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve, Namaqua Adventure Route and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Professional Car driver
For me, wheels and adventures have always gone together, so seeking out the most beautiful corners of our country in a 4×4 vehicle seems one of the best ways to explore without limits.
Bass Lake is a great place to start your off-road adventuring, just south of Joburg and with several training options on offer. The Karoo National Park near Beaufort West has 4×4 eco-trails that allow you to venture into the heart of the Nuweveld and experience the true beauty of the Karoo, and traversing the renowned Sani Pass from Underberg to the Lesotho border (and beyond, if you wish) is an outing that can bring all kinds of challenges, depending on the weather!
Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve in the magnificent Cederberg Mountains is not to be missed, with various trails and optional creature comforts on offer. When you are ready to try your hand at more serious off-road shenanigans, the Namaqua Adventure Route near Pofadder in the Northern Cape takes you into beautiful, remote areas, and the SANParks Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park features the Nossob 4×4 Eco Trail – three nights and four days of self-sufficient exploring the wild.
Most of these adventures are best undertaken in a genuine 4×4 vehicle with decent ground clearance, and preferably with like-minded friends or family members in a second vehicle. Either way, you will return with memories that last a lifetime!
Bass Lake 4×4 trails are a must for the Gauteng city slickers looking to escape the concrete jungle for some offroad fun!