The Land Rover Experience
The Land Rover Experience and southern Africa Road Conditions
The history of the Land Rover in Africa started around the 1950s where the Land Rover was mostly used in farm operations and relief work. The Land Rover built up a reputation of a reliable work horse and the average person started associating a Land Rover with safari, adventure and remote locations. With the arrival of SUVs for the leisure market the Land Rover was to be recognised as a suitable vehicle and since then there was a love relationship with this magnificent vehicle it was a natural option for adventure seekers. The image of a true African safari needs to be completed in a Land Rover.
Rental of a Land Rover will give you a number of advantages :
- As far as game viewing is concerned the ground clearance ( height where you sit as a passenger ) and the large windows will assist you with viewing over tall grass and give you a good vantage point. If you are out in National Parks where off road driving is permitted you can get closer to the animals with the remarkable 4×4 capabilities.
- With a bigger load the Land Rover can take, it makes it ideal for camping expeditions as you can load 1000kg of equipment.
- For the size of the vehicle it is easy to drive with all modern comforts.
A few Things you have to Remember:
Take note that the Land Rover is a touring vehicle and should be driven at a slower pace. Just like you will not take a Ferrari on a 4×4 road, the Land Rover is not built for high speeds. I recommend a comfortable 100km/h to 110km/h.
When you collect the vehicle it will take you a 100km or so to get used to the heavier load, dimensions of the vehicle and the high placement of the roof top tents. You will feel that the vehicle makes a bigger effort to remain in the upright position when going through a corner. Remember to take corners slower as what you would normally do ( about 20km/h slower). The vehicle is overall well balanced and will not just fall over.
You are Driving a Diesel :
With a diesel vehicle you will need to do the following every time you start up or shut down.
Turn the key to the on position ( where the dashboard lights go on ). Wait for the coil and diff lights to go off before starting the engine.
Idle the engine for 2 minutes on a cold start. ( drive the first 5 minutes with low revs and speed )
Idle the engine for one minute on a warm start.
On switch off stop / park the vehicle. Idle for 1 minute before switching off the ignition.
Things that you will not be able to do :
As you get used to the Land Rover driving experience you will feel and appreciate its unique engineering. Do not become over confident at trying to test your skills and push it too far. This will lead to unwanted situations.
You will not be able to use a drive through at a fast food restaurant. They all have height restriction which does not accommodate roof top tents. Rather park in the parking area and walk into the restaurant.
The same goes for undercover parking at malls and office blocks. Avoid under ground parking and make use of open parking. Most smaller towns only have open parking available and this should not be a problem.
Toll gates offer no height restriction problems.
Other Driving Tips :
Always drive with your main lights on. Remember to switch off when you stop, there is no warning signal that you left the lights on. A flat battery will leave you stranded.
Major city centers have magnificent highways and freeways. Cost of toll roads is for your own pocket ( toll roads take cash, debit and credit cards ). Etag, only in Gauteng, will be paid by South Africa 4×4.
If you have never driven a stick, shift or manual car please do not rent a Land Rover with us. You are not going to master the technique in a day or two.
Many rural roads are full of potholes and require you to drive slower. Your vehicle with the equipment weights about 2.5 tons. When striking a pothole at 100km/h it will result in a blown out tyre or the possibility that you will loose control over the vehicle.
Dirt roads are deceptive as they have a solid driving area and then loose gravel in areas when you expect it the least. Loose gravel can be found on bends and straights. This will cause you to swerve and usually with trying to correct the swerve you can over steer and over turn the vehicle. Drive slower on dirt roads so in case of you losing control that you are able to stop.
In Botswana / Namibia / Zimbabwe I would suggest you do not drive at night. Night driving requires slower driving as there are wild animals crossing the roads and cattle roam freely ( specially in Botswana ) as the farms are not fenced in. You will come off second best when you hit an Eland ( 900kg ) at 100km/h ! Always drive with your headlights and your spot lights on. Animals and people have a habit of crossing the road the second you are next to them. Do not be surprised when they move and ensure see them well in advance.
Cattle grids and bridges on back roads should be approached slowly. They usually are slightly higher or lower than the road and tend to throw your vehicle off its tracks. Bridges to be navigates by driving across them in the middle of the road, oncoming traffic dependent, as this is where the height difference will be the least. Cattle grids vary across southern Africa and you should slow down when approaching them. They have a tendency to rattle your vehicle to pieces if approached at high speed. Slow down !
When entering major wilderness areas such as Moremi or Chobe leave your fresh fruit at camp. In the winter period ( May to September roughly ) food is limited for the wild animals. Elephants and monkeys will enter your vehicle and get to your fruit regardless of where you hid it in the vehicle. I have seen an elephant overturning a vehicle while searching for some fresh apples.
Land Rover Fellowship :
On your holiday you will experience a remarkable fellowship from other Land Rover users. Do not be surprised that complete strangers will come and make small talk about your day out, driving conditions and even give you some advice on setting up your camp site. It is customary to wave or flash your headlights at oncoming Land Rover users. Also make use of this friendly nature when you require assistance. I can promise you fellow Land Rover owners will be keen to assist you!