Africa is so amazingly diverse, if you can imagine it - we have it somewhere. (As well as a lot off stuff that people find hard to imagine!) Be it a lazy, tropical Island breakaway or a hard core, adrenaline filled adventure - I will do my best to help you get the most out of your holiday. Seeing that this blog is a brand new project - it will take a while to grow. If you have a particular destination in mind that has not been featured yet, just send me a mail and I will assist in any way possible. Postings on this blog are based on personal experience. I plan to rate places and venues visited on a 'must go' or 'avoid' basis. I will also give a Lemon Award to the very worst festering pits that I have had the misfortune of stumbling across... If you have a comment, or your own input - lets have it! Complaints and compliments received from readers will be forwarded to the relevant venue for comment and/or follow up action. Please bear in mind that opinions expressed in this blog are my personal views only and I do not presume to know everybodys tastes... Any other advice dispensed is based on personal experience, and may not be factually correct. I therefore will not be held responsible if you do something silly after reading my advice on the matter. My main purpose here is to help you to think and plan in the right directions. I trust that you will have as much fun visiting this blog as I plan to have while writing the posts.

Thursday 10 May 2007

Choosing the right vehicle

When planning a self drive safari, there are a few things to take into account when deciding on a vehicle.

Road conditions

Due to the varying road conditions, it will always be a good idea to research this part a bit more.

In South Africa, the roads are generally in a very good condition, but there are many out of the way areas that can only be reached by 4 x 4 or a vehicle with decent clearance.

In a lot of the other African countries, you will be well advised to go for the 4 x 4 option as the only reasonable road surfaces are close to the major cities. In Mozambique, for instance, you will often be hard pressed to reach your coastal destination, as one usually encounters a stretch of sand on the last leg of your journey – 4 x 4 is an absolute must if you are considering Mozambique as a destination and would like to explore a bit.

Vehicle options

There are a few ways of acquiring vehicles for your trip.

All the major car rental agencies are represented throughout Africa, as well as other, local agencies. A Google search will present you with more options than you may care for…

Specialist rental agencies like Britz Africa will supply you with 4 x 4 vehicles that are fully equipped for your overland safari, add some food, put a few beers in the cooler and you’re ready to roll!

If you are planning an extended safari, it may be a bit more cost effective to go for a ‘buy back’ option. Drive Africa is an example of a company that offers buy back options, as well as short term lease options. This is a company that I fully endorse as the whole experience while dealing with them is one of German excellence… The rates are very good as well.

So, if you are planning to visit South Africa you will probably have a great holiday in the small, budget compact available from the rental agency.

For the more adventurous, this will not be enough.

Have no fear, for I have identified the perfect touring vehicle, that is a bit easier on the budget as well – the Toyota Condor! (Featured in the picture to the left.)

These are available in 2x4 and 4x4 versions. South Africa Rent is one of the companies that I know of where they can be rented from at a very good rate.

These vehicles are spacious, trustworthy and are very reasonably priced. 4 x 4 capabilities and clearance are more than ample for the average tourists' needs. If your proposed safari requires something with better 4 x 4 capabilities than the Condor, you hopefully know enough not to need advice from me on this issue anyway…

Using a vehicle with off-road capabilities, or even just decent clearance above the ground, adds spice to any trip as there are simply just more possibilities to investigate. The most impressive places are often a short distance off one of the main routes, but inaccessable with a normal car.
For example: The Gamkaskloof is close to the Kango Caves in South Africa (that receives thousands of visitors per month) but not a lot of them travel just a few kilometres further to visit Gamkaskloof or ‘The Hell’ as it is also otherwise known.
Yours truly and his cute sidekick actually drove the ‘road to hell’ (image to the right) in a small 1400 VW, but that is a whole different story altogether and is definitely not advised without ‘professional’ supervision…

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