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Kgalagadi: Info 4x4/Sedans and Car rentals

Augrabies, Kgalagadi, Mokala, Namaqua, |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld
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Unread post by Bush Baptist » Thu May 11, 2006 8:56 pm

Hi Gwen,

If you are considering hiring a car and going to KTP, I suggest you fly to Upington, and hire a venture or another high clearance vehicle as a minimum.

For a trip to Namibia, which I have done twice in the last 2 years, I would hire a full camping vehicle with all the camping accessories. We saw a few of these on our travels to places others have never heard of. If this is outside the scope of the forum, PM me.

If you have the funds to do it, it is an awesome experience. So is KTP, read couz Markw's reports.
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Kgalagadi with Nissan x-trail

Unread post by Muggie » Sun Jul 30, 2006 7:11 pm

Hi everyone

I am trying to plan a trip to Kgalagadi in October and am looking at renting a vehicle. I have looked at various companies that offer 4x4 vehicles, but they are all very expensive. I can get quite a good deal on a Nissan X trail, but I understand this is not a 4X4.

Has anyone any experience with this vehicle and do you know if it will be suitable for the roads in/to Kgalagadi? There will be 4 of us plus all our gear.

Any advice will be appreciated.

Last edited by Dotty on Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Unread post by restio » Mon Jul 31, 2006 7:51 pm

Hi Muggie/Rene

I've been to Kgalagadi many, many times over the years, and have never been in a 4x4. We've gone in an old (1960s) kombi, in a VW Golf and in a Polo. Aside from a puncture or two, and the odd hole in the exhaust system, we've always been fine.

Obviously you do need a 4x4 if you want to do the Nossob trail, which looks magnificent from Jannie's postings in the "Nossob 4x4 route" thread. There are also some wilderness camps only accessible by 4x4 (details are on the SAN Parks website).

As others have said in this thread, it is preferrable to have a vehicle with high clearance for improved game viewing, especially up near Nossob.

I'm not a car expert, so I went to Nissan's website to check out the X-Trail. It looks like a high clearance vehicle, so I think it would be fine. Nissan's site explicitly says that the X-Trail is a 4x4 SUV, so I'm a bit confused. Perhaps there is also a non-four wheel drive option? No doubt some car enthusiast out there will be able to give a more definitive answer on that.

We'll also be in KTP in October, so perhaps we'll see you there!

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Unread post by madach » Mon Jul 31, 2006 7:57 pm

Maybe the X-Trail is a 4WD with four wheel drive but without low gearing . You'd need high gearing for doing the Nossob 4x4 trail.

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Unread post by bert » Mon Jul 31, 2006 7:57 pm


Volkswagen Touran would do fine imo

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Unread post by madach » Mon Jul 31, 2006 7:59 pm

I agree. I went to the Kgalagadi twice and both times I went in a Toyota Condor. The Touran is similar in height so it should be fine.

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Unread post by gwendolen » Mon Jul 31, 2006 8:05 pm

The X-Trail doesn't have low gear and diff lock. So it's great for KTP, but not the 4x4 trails.

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Unread post by Foxy » Mon Jul 31, 2006 9:29 pm

There are a couple of 4 x 4 rental companies in Gauteng and I think Upington that hire out equipped Land Rovers.

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Unread post by reinette » Mon Jul 31, 2006 9:58 pm

I will pass this one on Gwen, but you are correct. Muggie, have a look here if you like to see more about the deference’s between a 4WD vehicle and a 4x4 with low range.
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Unread post by Jaco V » Tue Aug 01, 2006 11:34 am

Yes Gwennie, the X-Trail will be fine for KTP, bar the 4x4 trails.
Foxy is also quite correct, there are a number of places in Upington from where you can get 4x4 rental vehicles.

Restio, the base model X-Trail is a two wheel drive model.

Thx for posting that link Reinette

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Unread post by Penny » Tue Aug 01, 2006 11:55 am

We recently went to Phinda in an X-trail and it is much lower than most other SUV's and even lower than our Microbus which is slightly higher than most of the SUV's on the market. In fact it was only marginally higher at window level than an ordinary large sedan car! We are going to KTP for 16 days in September and have decided to def. take our Microbus which although fairly old will give us the room and high vantage that we will be looking for. I think some of the car rental companies still have VW Microbus vehicles for hire and provided you are not doing a proper 4 x 4 trail it should be fine. A Touraweg is very expensive and a Touran is much too low IMHO!
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Unread post by Muggie » Tue Aug 01, 2006 10:00 pm

Thanks everyone for your advice on 4x4 vehicles. I am still undecided!

As I am in trip-planning mode, can someone please tell me if it is possible to drive from Nossob to Mata-Mata (the Kamqua dune road) in an ordinary vehicle?


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Unread post by katydownunder » Wed Aug 02, 2006 10:13 pm

We rented a VW Sharan in May which did cope quite well with the Kgalagadi roads. (Of course not the 4x4 routes)
As all the others I say it is a good thing to have car with a higher clearance.
Especially north of Nossob you have nearly no chance to see anything in a 'normal' Sedan.
Our first choice was a Condor, but that was literally impossible to get in Upington (someone told us they are not produced anymore ) .
We drove through Namibia with a Microbus and really loved it. Would take it again.
Unfortunately a Hillux or something similar was way over budget

@ Muggie
We had a look at an X-Trail and I think with 4 people and all the gear it might be 'a bit tight'.
It just depends of how many gear you have and how long are you going to stay in KTP ( as it is a good idea to stock up on food, drinks etc. in Upington , and have to take this 'extra gear' in account as well)
We once rented an X-Trail here in Germany and fitted two huge suitcases quite comfortably into the trunk/back of the car.
It just depends how much are you carrying around

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Unread post by Jumbo » Mon Aug 21, 2006 8:13 am

Eish Jannie, you have no idea how much trouble this post of yours has given me…will teach me not to show “expensive” posts to my SO.
Anyhow, I did some extensive research on car hire in Upington and though I will share with the forum what I found out….hopefully the detail will help some of you.

Firstly, if you are not planning to do the 4x4 trail or visit the camps that has 4x4 access routes (Bitterpan, Gharagab), then you do not really need a true 4x4…meaning one with 4x4 and low-range.
Although, a SUV will still be more comfortable to travel on the gravel roads and is higher than a normal sedan ….the road fringes in Kgalagadi are quite high, making game viewing in a sedan difficult.

I contacted the companies Jannie provided the link for and found them quite expensive for our needs. Their costs are R850 p/d and that only gives you 80% insurance cover….this also includes unlimited mileage. You can also rent camping equipment, including camping fridges, at an extra cost per day.

I eventually settled on a Nissan X-trail. The cost is R560 p/d and that includes super cover (excess of about R4500 for travelling on gravel) and 200 km p/d…we are renting for 10 days and thus the 2000 km is more than enough. The vehicle is 4x4 (2.5l automatic), so I’m sure it will give us a nice drive.
We had one night booked at Gharagab that I changed because I figured paying R2 900 more for car hire just to get to this camp for 1 night, does not make sense….we have travelled the Gharagab route before and there are one or two spots were you do need low-range.

I do however need to mention that the X-trail is tad lower than the bakkies….but offsetting the extra height against the extra price, the X-trail is good enough for us

Another option to consider is renting a Toyota Verso…its height is about the same of that of the X-trail but it is not a off-roader….

Accommodation in Upington A B&B is apparently situated on the banks of the Orange River and at a cost of R435 per room p/n, I believe it to be good value. This establishment is also rated by the AA (Automobile Association) as “Superior Accommodation. “
Last edited by Dotty on Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Unread post by Jumbo » Mon Aug 21, 2006 10:11 am

Pleasure Jannie. I did not really do extra trouble …this is just what I found out for our own trip.
I should however just make the following more clear: If you want to rent a “true” 4x4 and rent camping gear, the companies that Jannie mentioned are still the best ones in Upington that will be able to help you…the others companies don’t offer gear to rent (as far as I could determine ). But as I said, you will pay a daily rental fee for each item….I think the camping fridge was something like R150 p/d

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