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4x4 in the Northern Cape


4x4 in South Africa

High mountain passes, steep slopes, rocky deserts, deep mud, river crossings, sand dunes and game-filled plains. With its varied terrain and remote wilderness areas South Africa is a wonderful playground for those who love to grind their gears and rev their engines.

There are a myriad 4x4 trails from easy to gnarly throughout the country. There are also dedicated 4x4 parks in the major cities where new owners and inexperienced drivers can learn the ropes. Whether you drive a soft-roader or a hard-core beast you’re sure to find a trail to suit you.

Having a 4x4 is not just about how the vehicle performs on the obstacle courses or organised routes of the urban fringe. It’s about exploring inaccessible parts that others may never see. It’s about escaping to the remote corners of the country, sleeping out under the stars, venturing deep into the wilderness to watch game, throwing a line or simply soaking up the magnificence of Africa.

Popular 4x4 destinations include the rugged Baviaanskloof and Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape, the Maluti Mountains in the south-east Free State, the Kruger National Park in Limpopo/Mpumalanga, the sand forests of Maputaland in northern KwaZulu-Natal, the |Ai-|Ais/ Richtersveld Transfrontier Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Northern Cape, and the Cederberg Wilderness area in the Western Cape.

If you’re of a more cultural bent there are numerous multi-day routes, like the Ivory Route in Limpopo, which provide fascinating insights into human and natural history.

Various companies and clubs offer advice and logistical support for experienced drivers. There are guided or tag-along trips for the less experienced or for those who want to go off-road to enjoy specialist activities such as wilderness photography or birdwatching.

There aren’t many places on the planet where you can so easily go for days without seeing another human being or vehicle.

If that thought makes your heart beat faster, get behind the wheel and head out on one of these trails.

Articles & Blogs

Dune Driving

Valda 9:27pm 7 Feb

By Francois Rossouw

Namibia has recently inflated its prices to the extent that going there has become the most expensive holiday you can have, if you include the cost of fuel, the long drive, guest houses on the way and the thieves that grab whatever they can in Henties Bay and at other towns. It is even more expensive than a Mauritius holiday.

As a result of this sad development, we have come to rely more on our South African destinations. The beaches are obviously out of the question for sand driving, but the Kalahari remains our own sandy 4×4 Mecca. The red and white dunes...

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Strictly One Way

Valda 9:55pm 24 Jan

Words & pics by Wild editor Romi Boom

Twin tracks, a red desert and a roller-coaster drive take you to the original Kgalagadi wilderness camp at Bitterpan. The rewards are evident when you finally gaze across the stark white salt pan, discover the isolation and exclusivity. 

The first day involves a 53 km drive from Nossob, the first half of the one-way 120km Bitterpan 4x4 Trail. It’ll take about 2,5 hours. You check in at Nossob Rest Camp, get your permit stamped and leave through a restricted access gate. 


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Best Northern Cape 4×4 trails

shane 8:22am 11 Mar

By Patrick Cruywagen

My first Northern Cape encounter occurred 20 years ago, just after I matriculated. A nightmarish two-day bus trip from Cape Town ended at 8 South African Army Infantry Battalion in Upington. I wasn’t alone, as more than 1 000 other men standing on the parade ground had endured a similar ordeal. I wanted out of this hellishly hot hole and a week later (after a successful officer’s course selection) I was back on a bus...

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