The Top Gear Botswana Special will always be treasured as the best Top Gear Episode in history and probably the best advertisement for 4×4 hire in Botswana. The Episode challenged the 3 pranksters and ‘sometimes car experts’ Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May to traverse the treacherous wilds of Botswana 4×4 country. Instead of being able to make use of a top Botswana 4×4 rental agent to book a fully equipped 4×4, the boys were given a budget of 1,500 pounds and duly instructed to purchase a second-hand car not designed in any way for off-road use. Armed with 3 fix-me-uppers the trio set off on the 1 700 km expedition across the unforgiving Makgadigadi Pans and the teeming wilds of the Okavango Delta. In tribute to this epic adventure, here is the Drive South Africa guide on the best options for 4×4 hire in Botswana and how renting a 4×4 from an agent could have saved the Top Gear trio a few close calls and several more grey hairs.
Toyota Landcruiser 4×4
Fully equipped with 4 wheel drive, power steering, air conditioning, off-road tyres and ultra-reliable the Toyota Landcruiser is our top recommendation for hire. Botswana’s unforgiving Makgadigadi Pans, which often saw Clarkson and May digging their cars out of thick mud, would be have been child’s play in the tenacious Toyota Landcruiser 4×4.
Toyota Fortuner 4×4
The V6, Turbo Diesel engine of the Toyota Fortuner 4×4 combines speed and rugged performance with comfort and good looks. This is a more luxurious way to travel across Botswana. 4x4s don’t get much slicker and certainly not much faster. The Toyota Fortuner 4×4 could have been the ideal challenge for the Stig’s African Cousin in the time trial of the Top Gear Botswana Special.
Land Rover Defender 110 4×4
The Land Rover Defender 110 4×4 is the iconic 4×4 vehicle, appearing in more photos than you’re average catwalk supermodel. Botswana’s waterlogged and wildlife-rich Okavango Delta and Chobe region are little match for the performance of the classic African 4×4 safari vehicle. The reliable 2.4-liter engine, 4 wheel drive and decent high clearance would have saved Hammond from his early swim in the Delta’s crocodile-infested waters of the Okavango Delta and kept Jeremy Clarkson a great deal safer than his crudely assembled doors of soft drink cans and wood. Watch the videos of the Top Gear Botswana Special to decide which of the 4×4’s you think would be most suited or let us know by dropping us a comment or tell us about your own hilarious 4×4 experience. For more information on any of the above-listed vehicles, you can visit our Botswana 4×4 Page. The Top Gear Trio will be hosting the Top Gear Festival live at the Joburg Kyalami Race Track between the 17th and 20th of March and tickets are R365.