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Kgalagadi: Info 4x4/Sedans and Car rentals

Augrabies, Kgalagadi, Mokala, Namaqua, |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld

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Wildeyeview
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Kgalagadi Roads - 2x4 friendly or not?

Unread postby Wildeyeview » Sun Jul 15, 2012 5:05 am

Hi, We are planning a Kgalagadi trip in late December 2012 - early January 2013. I understand a 4x 4 is desirable, but my question is it it really necessary. The costs of hiring a 4x4 in South Africa are exhorbitantly high so if I could get away with a 2x4 it would be great. From what I have been able to research on the net the most difficult road will be between Nossob and Bitterpan and Bitterpan to Kalahari tented camp.

I really need some first hand practical dvice. The differance in the hire costs between the two types of vehicles is +Rands 10K which I find ridiculous.

Appreciate your comments and advice. Regards, John

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Re: Kgalagadi Roads - 2x4 friendly or not?

Unread postby arks » Sun Jul 15, 2012 5:28 am

I agree with you that the cost of hiring a 4x4 is prohibitive and I can assure you that it is NOT necessary. I have visited KTP three times (so far), always in a sedan — Toyota Corolla (1992), VW Polo (2007) and Ford Fiesta (2010). Many will tell you that (at least) a higher clearance vehicle is preferable, particularly because of the high verges along the Nossob, but I in fact prefer being on eye level with those KTP lions, as you are in a sedan.

Just be sure to lower your tyre pressure when you enter the park, as overinflated tyres are a major cause of corrugations on the park roads. All the main tourist roads are accessible with a sedan, but a 4x4 IS required if you are planning to visit either Bitterpan or Gharagab. I'm not sure from your post whether you are actually booked into Bitterpan (and you are not allowed to drive those roads from Nossob via Bitterpan to KTC unless you are booked for Bitterpan), but if you are booked for Bitterpan then yes, you MUST have a 4x4.

HTH. Have a great trip!
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Re: Kgalagadi Roads - 2x4 friendly or not?

Unread postby Timbits » Sun Jul 15, 2012 5:49 am

We have been to Kgalagadi 3 times and have always rented a sedan also. We've had a Toyota Taz, Volks wagen Polo and Toyota Corolla. We obviously did not do the 4x4 roads and did not go to Gharagab or Bitterpan. We got stuck once, on each visit, usually around mid-day and in deep sand. All were due to driver error/distraction. We also found that most drivers in Kgalagadi are more than willing to assist if you do get stuck. :clap: A truck/bakkie will give you additional height to see over the banks, which can be a bonus sometimes. But as Arks mentioned, eye level with a Kalahari lion is pretty amazing. We had one that was laying on the bank at the side of the road, less than a metre away. :big_eyes: I had to roll up the window. He then backed off a bit and I was able to lower the window. (Yes, I do have the photos.) Will try to dig them out and post later.

One must lower the tire pressure (recommended pressure is posted at the filling stations). We have also found that Volkwagen vehicles are notorious for losing hub-caps. :whistle:

To answer your question, a 4x4 is not necessary. Hope this helps.

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Re: Kgalagadi Roads - 2x4 friendly or not?

Unread postby Jembo » Sun Jul 15, 2012 7:17 am

I have had many trips to the Kalahari since 1987 and have never seen anyone stuck! I agree with both the above posts - a 2x4 is adequate on all main roads. In December/Jan be prepared for thunder storms and consequent muddy roads in the river bed, here again lower tire pressures will help. If you do get stuck, enjoy the experience! Someone will come past and pull you out........!

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Re: Kgalagadi Roads - 2x4 friendly or not?

Unread postby Meandering Mouse » Sun Jul 15, 2012 7:59 am

I have been doing some car homework, as I will have to replace my beloved car, a Honda CR-V in the future. I keep getting back to the diahutsu Terios as a reliable, all rounder. Its main draw back seems to be in the luggage space. On my own it would not be an issue, but it is a 1.5 litre described as having "legit off road capabilities."

It is also not too bad on fuel consumption which would also leave a bit of money in the pocket.

I know a lot of forumites from overseas have rented one as it is certainly a lot less expensive than other 4x4 options.
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Re: Kgalagadi Roads - 2x4 friendly or not?

Unread postby Timbits » Sun Jul 15, 2012 7:18 pm

Kalahari lion at eye level - taken through the passenger's window


Image

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Re: Kgalagadi Roads - 2x4 friendly or not?

Unread postby Timbits » Sun Jul 15, 2012 7:26 pm

Same lion after he backed off a bit.

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Re: Kgalagadi Roads - 2x4 friendly or not?

Unread postby arks » Sun Jul 15, 2012 8:52 pm

Some of my "eye level" pix :D

Image

Image

Image

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Re: Info 4x4 and Sedans

Unread postby Son godin » Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:20 pm

Will be interesting to see the report back. Hope those naughty lions of Nossob are around Rosyntjiebos and Swartbas to ensure your tyre pressure are correct and the ground clearance OK :twisted:

And then Bertha will also test your skills. :wink:

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Re: Info 4x4 and Sedans

Unread postby WeskusKlong » Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:36 pm

Don't get confused with vehicle body ground clearance and axle/differential ground clearance.

In general, hardcore 4x4's differential clearance should not be a problem - as the wheel should always travel over the highest point of an obstacle (simple 4x4 driving rule). This means that the axle/differential will clear the obstetrical with ease, as it is mounted on a solid axle. The exception is of course the "middelmannetjie" or center hump experienced on some jeep tracks, where you are forced to drive on the lower bit. In the case of hardcore 4x4's, the clearance quoted is that of the lowest point of the vehicle - almost without exception the lowest point of the differential. These vehicles are typically made to carry +/- 1 metric tone, so even at max load you will not reach the minimum (differential) clearance.

With soft off-roaders with soft suspensions, vehicle body ground clearance is another issue. The claimed ground clearance is by far not what you will experience with a vehicle packed for a week away in the Kgalagadi. These vehicles have independent suspension on each wheel and although this is great for road-holding on tar, it is bad off road. They are made for passenger comfort and safety and not really to carry a heavy load, so vehicle body ground clearance will go out the door when loaded.

@son godin, Bertha should be OK in winter - will not be the beast we tackled mid summer @ noon. :D
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Re: Kgalagadi: Car rentals

Unread postby jelico60 » Sat Oct 13, 2012 6:22 pm

Hi There

Is there someone who could PM me the details of decent 4x4 hire companies in Upington (ideally at the airport). Seems that giving commercial contacts on the forum gets edited out.

many thanks

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Kgalagadi by 2WD in September: Rental car advice

Unread postby dpadams » Tue Nov 06, 2012 6:38 am

My wife and I are planning a trip to the main rest camps in the Kgalagadi during September 2013. I've been checking these forums and the SANParks information pages for information on what kind of car is suitable. SANParks says that the gravel roads in the parks are "not sedan friendly" but I've also seen many mentions of the roads being okay for a 2WD car during the dry part of the year.

We normally rent the smallest car that we can manage and were planning to drive from Cape Town and drive up via the Tankwa Karoo and through Upington. If we need a larger (more expensive & more fuel hungry) vehicle, we may be better off flying into Upington. We had no problems with a standard rental in KNP, KZN the Western Cape or Namibia as far as Etosha and then down the coast.

Can anyone offer some more-or-less up to date advice on driving in the Kgalagadi?

Thanks very much!

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Re: Kgalagadi by 2WD in September: Rental car advice

Unread postby Tony T » Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:59 pm

Hi dpadams and welcome to the forum.

I've been going to KTP for many years. I'm very fuel efficiency conscious but at the same time I like a degree of comfort on corrugated roads. The best choice for me therefor is a 2wd with a 2litre engine. And I tow a lite campimg trailer. That works for me.
Also a 2wd, or what we call a soft SUV, affords you a higher ride and by implication a better game viewing option. The minimum size tyre for me is 15 inch for KTP.
The roads, taking the remoteness/location into account, are fair. They are graded regularly but in a window of 4-6 days they could go from fair to bad in certian parts of the park, because of traffic load. The roads are sandy very few stones.
In Tankwa you'll find the roads harder with lots of stones so you would need to take care not to damage your tyres.
Assuming you are not camping, I think a 2wd would do the trick.
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Re: Kgalagadi by 2WD in September: Rental car advice

Unread postby arks » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:12 am

Hi dpadams and Welcome!

You should be just fine with a smaller car in KTP. Altho many prefer a high clearance vehicle, I actually prefer to be on 'eye level' with lions and other critters rather than looking down on them. As well, for me as a solo traveller, the costs for a 4x4 are prohibitive, I prefer to spend my funds on more nights in the park. Thus, I have always visited in a sedan: Toyota Corolla (1992), VW Polo (2007 and 2012) and Ford Fiesta (2010). You need to be careful of occassional deep sand and there's always the risk of a puncture whatever you drive, but in case of such rare problems, you'll find other visitors (as well as park staff) very helpful.

Have a great trip!
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shane
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Petrol cards KTP

Unread postby shane » Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:59 am

Morning all from beautiful Twee Rivieren. Just a quick warning:
KTP petrol stations do not accept credit cards any longer to fill up your car, only garage cards.

We used a normal credit card at the beginning.of the year. This has change so don't get caught like we have and have to draw money.
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