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Wednesday / 19 June 2024
HomeFeaturesSAN park trails to test your 4×4

SAN park trails to test your 4×4

South Africa’s national parks have no shortage of 4×4 trails ready to put your off-roader to the test.

This includes short trips across rough terrain to week-long journeys through the most remote regions in the country.

These trails are assessed according to five grades indicating their level of difficulty.

Level 1 means it is easy to navigate even for inexperienced drivers and even 4x2s are capable of making the journey, provided they have a differential lock.

Level 2 and up, meanwhile, is when a 4×4 will be required to make the trip, and off-road driving experience is recommended.

From level 4, a low-range gearbox and differential lock, as well as additional equipment such as a towbar or winch, are strongly suggested, and level 5 trails should only be attempted by experts with highly-capable vehicles.

Addo Elephant National Park

Located between Gqeberha and Makhanda in the Eastern Cape, Addo delivers with its titular elephants and has its own 4×4 trail in the form of Bedrogfontein.

This track will take you through the Kabouga and Darlington areas of the park, which was the scene of several battles during the Anglo-Boer war and also features several rock art paintings scattered about the area.

The route is graded at level 2-3 and will require a vehicle with 4×4 as it travels through rivers, thickets, and mountainous regions.

At 45km long, it should take around six hours to complete the trail which can only be done in one direction. It is also possible to stay at either a campsite or cottage located along the route.

The current rate for the Bedrogfontein 4×4 trail is R620 per vehicle.

Camdeboo National Park

Camdeboo is located in the Karoo near the town of Graaff Reinet in the Eastern Cape, and its 4×4 trails promise an exciting trek through the mountains.

Koedoeskloof 4×4 trail is graded as a level 3-4 route, but it is one of the shorter SAN trails available as a return trip should take around 3 hours.

An easier grade-2 trail is also available in the form of Driekoppe, which will follow a stream bed before taking travelers to a panoramic viewpoint of the surrounding country.

Both trails are free and neither require a booking.

Karoo National Park

The Karoo National park, located outside Beaufort West in the Western Cape, has several 4×4 eco-trails for visitors to choose from.

The largest of these is the 90km Nuweveld Eco Trail which allows enthusiasts to take in the remoteness of the semi-desert environment.

The track can be completed in a day but anyone intending to do so must start before 11h00 or book and make use of the cottage located roughly halfway along the route.

Shorter day routes also exist with Kookfontein and Sandrivier Loop, which are both 7km.

A short but challenging route up the park’s central plateau also exists in the form of the 6km Pienaars Pass, which will cost R318.50 per vehicle.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Nestled between Namibia and the Northern Cape, Kgalagadi offers a chance to experience the desert, complete with several 4×4 trails.

The smallest route clocks in at 85km for the Kannaguass path, all the way up to 214km for the Nossob eco-trail – the latter of which will provide an opportunity to drive through the dunes.

Nossob will take four days and three nights to complete, all catering and supplies will need to be self-catered, and filling up before the journey will also be important as there will be no opportunities to refuel while on the track.

The cost for the Nossob eco-trail is R3,762 per vehicle, in addition to a daily conservation fee that will need to be paid per person.

Kruger National Park

Given the popularity of South Africa’s most well known park, Kruger limits the number of vehicles on any given 4×4 route to six per day.

Many of these trails are approximately 50km long, including Madlabantu, Mananga, Nonokani, and Northern Plains – which provide the choice of which scenery you prefer, from woodlands to marula tree dotted savannas.

These trails are weather dependent and will be closed after rains, and as such, no advanced bookings can be made.

For those looking for a challenge, Lebombo is a five day, four night route that stretches out over 525km – the length of the entire park.

It can only be done in the dry season from April to October and will take drivers through foothills, multiple rivers, and bushveld, with multiple unfenced campsites along the way.

The booking cost for Lebombo is R8,500.

Marakele National Park

Positioned roughly halfway between Pretoria and Polokwane in Limpopo, Marakele includes a three-day, two-night 4×4 eco-trail through the Waterberg mountains.

It’s a short route at 49km, but its difficulty necessitates a multiple-day approach.

A level four route requirement means a low-range gearbox is a must, as is a rear differential and a minimum ground clearance of 240mm.

Like with the Kruger, the route is only open during the winter dry season, and only five vehicles are allowed per day.

Mountain Zebra National Park

Three 4×4 trails are available to anyone making their way to this park in the Eastern Cape outside Cradock.

Juriesdam and Sonnerust are easier tracks, at 10km and 14km respectively, while the Umgeni trail is confirmed to be more challenging.

Umgeni is actually the shortest at 8km, but is listed as a grade-3 route with large rocks that will need to be overcome.

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