Off-road Somewhere: Six 4×4 Trails to Explore

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Adventure is out there, and it is out there abundantly.

Whether you are calling the good old Mother City home, or you’re dodging peak traffic in Jozi, farming with dust in the Northern Cape, being laid-back in the Eastern Cape or hanging ten from the humid KwaZulu Natal coast. 

4x4 adventures

And the best type of adventures are often those off the grid, some place where your phone gives up on looking for signal, where you can reconnect with yourself, your loved ones and nature.

Here are 6 different trails to explore; most of these roads can be done in a 2×4 or have possible alternative routes available if your vehicle is not a 4×4.

Buckle up and start exploring.

Eat some sand and really go off the beaten track in the Northern Cape

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is one of the largest conservation areas in the world (more than 3.5 million hectares) and stretches its dry desert arms over South Africa and Botswana, bordering Namibia. The roads are badly corrugated, muddy when the rain comes and your best bet will be to know how to drive in sand (deflate your tyres) and come armed with your trusty 4×4’s capabilities. The Nossob 4×4 Eco Trail runs through the dunes between Twee Rivieren and Nossob camps (depart on Mondays) and it is completely self-catered in terms of food, water, showers, firewood, tents and vehicles. Low range is a prerequisite and a guide will accompany you (in own vehicle) and make interpretative stops to highlight points of interest. If you wish to extend the trail you can continue with the Gemsbok Wilderness Trail in Botswana starting at Polentswa.

Closest town: Twee Rivieren
Grade: 3 – 4
Terrain: A scenic drive of sand dunes and some steep gradients.
Distance: 400 Km
Estimated driving time: 4 Days

For more information, click here.

Treat yourself in and around Gauteng

Leave the concrete jungle behind, pack your spirit of exploration, your desire to unwind and make your way to Berg en Rivier Farm Retreat, just an hour from Pretoria East. This pet-friendly country retreat is nestled in the majestic Trichardspoort River Valley, and here you can let loose on mountain biking trails, canoes, tube rides, a hot air balloon ride, and of course, 4×4 trails. The trail finds its way over 20 hectares of river frontage with almost 100 (mostly) natural obstacles. This trail boasts being a road to review and develop your skills while enjoying the scenery and a picnic or two along the way among indigenous aloes, kiepersol and more.

Closest town: Cullinan, 42 km
Grade: 2 – 4
Terrain: There are about 100 obstacles on the trails such as water crossings, rocky sections, sand, mud, and steep gradients.
Distance: Trail meanders through 20 hectares.
Estimated driving time: 4 – 6 hours

For more information, click here.

Search for the Karoo’s mountain zebras

In the Eastern Cape, Mountain Zebra National Park is closely tied with the conservation of the endangered Cape mountain zebra and with an initial donation of 6 zebras the park is now home to more than 350 and also plays a vital role in the conservation of cheetah. There are 3 self-drive (unguided) routes in the park, Sonnenrust which is a 14.2 km trail, the Juriesdam Trail of 10 km exploring the eastern plateau area and the most challenging of the bunch, Umgeni Trail, offering breathtaking views for 10 km over the Karoo plains.

Closest town: Cradock, 12 km
Grade: 2-4
Type of terrain: Rocky with steep climbs and seasonal water crossings.
Distance: 8 km, 10 km and 14.2 km
Estimated driving time: 2-4 hours

For more information, click here.

Cheetah Tracking

Kill 3 provincial birds with one stone in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu Natal and the Free State

Whether you consider yourself a 4×4 fundi or an off-road novice, the Three Provinces 4×4 Adventure Trails, offer something for every type of driver in an area rich in history with fun activities such as mountain biking, fishing and clay pigeon shooting on offer. There is a variety of trails, from short and sweet to long and guided. The longest self-guided route is the 3 Provinces Trail taking you up to where the boundaries of Mpumalanga, KwaZulu Natal and the Free State meet atop a cliff (Langkrans) which is 2253 meters above sea level.

Closest town: Volksrust, 13 km
Grade: 3 – 4
Terrain: Rocky roads, steep inclines, and water.
Distance: 5 Trails of 34 km, 8 km, 5 km, 4 km, 70 – 90 km.
Estimated driving time: Between 1 and 9 hours (depending on type of trail).

For more information, click here.

Get wild in Limpopo

While Kruger National Park has an extensive network of tarred roads for sedans, there are also a handful of adventure trails, such as the 4-day/3-nights 4×4 eco-trail named Mafunyane and the Mananga Trail which starts at Satara rest camp and allows you to travel a short distance north before turning east into knob thorn/marula savannah where you can expect to see big herds of zebra, wildebeest, buffalo and keep your eyes open for cheetah as well. Only a maximum of 6 vehicles are allowed on the trail every day, so make sure to sign up at reception.

Closest town: Satara, 11 km / Hazyview, 158 km
Grade: 1 – 3
Terrain: Riverbeds, grass, rocks, dirt, dongas and wildlife sighting along the way.
Distance: 48 km
Estimated driving time: 4 – 6 hours

For more information, click here.

Opt for a bit a North West Family Fun

Experience the beauty of the North West at Karee Krans, where camp sites, log cabins and plenty of free activities such as fishing, hiking, canoeing, an obstacle course and bird watching can keep you entertained for days. There are 3 different 4×4 routes traversing over mountains and through the kloof, with 36 obstacles (difficult ones have bypasses) all named either with funny Afrikaans names, song titles or movies titles. Day visitors welcome, booking is essential.

Closest town: Rustenburg, 42 km
Grade: 2 – 3
Terrain: Scenic, rocky climbs, steep gradients, a few dozen obstacles, rivers.
Distance: 3 Trails, total distance of 10 km.
Estimated driving time: 3 – 6 Hours

For more information, click here.

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