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The best 4×4 routes in Southern Africa

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3 min read

There are hundreds of 4×4 trails that are scattered all through Southern Africa, especially from Namibia, through to South Africa and Mozambique and there is no better way to experience these raw, untouched landscapes than to head off-road and kick up some dust.

“Toyota, Jeep and Landy lovers with a keen sense of adventure are sure to make a meal out of the 4×4 opportunities in Mozambique. With many of our roads being untarred, this is an ideal destination for self-drivers looking for some off-road adventure,” says Natalie Tenzer-Silva, Director of Dana Tours in Mozambique.

“It’s great fun, but drivers need to exercise extreme caution. Avoid driving at night, don’t take risks, and make sure your vehicle has the ability to tackle all the trails in comfort,” she added.

Here are some of the best 4×4 routes in Southern Africa that you can attempt:

Golden Sands and Elephant Route, Mozambique
Some of the best 4×4 routes in Southern Africa are found within Mozambique. At 400kms long this route starts from Ponta do Ouro to Macaneta. This trail requires roughly five days of tactful driving and navigation skills, along with reduced tire pressure and patience. It is a beautifully scenic route as it passes through the Maputo Elephant Reserve you may find yourself having to opt for detours, especially during the rainy season.

Sani Pass, South Africa
Built in the 1950’s, Sani Pass remains one of the most challenging 4×4 trails in South Africa. Situated on the road between Underberg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and Mokhotlong, Lesotho, this 9km stretch is characterised by notoriously dangerous road conditions with a series of winding twists, hair pins, plunging drops set against the backdrop of mind-blowing scenery. Also commonly referred to as the “Roof of Africa”, this is a route that requires skillful and experienced driving.

Dorsland Trek, Namibia
This is the longest of Namibia’s 4×4 trails, it is also referred to as the most insane. This 2000 km route stretches from the Marico region of the Transvaal in South Africa right up through the dramatic landscapes of south west of Namibia and ends in Humpata in Angola- if you are willing to go that far. Dorsland roughly translates into “dusty land” and traces the original 1878 route of the Dorsland Voortrekkers.

Riverwild, South Africa
A more popular route, Riverwild is situated near to the Kruger in the Mpumalanga province. It boasts nine routes in total with a range of obstacles to conquer. This self-drive 4×4 track is aimed at intermediate to advanced drivers, but it’s also great for beginners. While here, make a pit stop at the Sudwala Caves nearby.

Namib Naukluft, Namibia
This self-drive route is based on tracks built by some of Namibia’s early visitors who once farmed in this area. It’s approximately 73kms long, and there is an overnight stop halfway in. Great for nature-lovers, you can expect some excellent mountains views with various unique plants, and animals. The terrain varies on this trail varying from thick sand, to steep, rocky inclines and narrow, winding passes qualifying it as one of the best 4×4 routes in Southern Africa.

Chelsey Hale
Chelsey Hale
Chelsey Hale left her career in teaching English and History to pursue her passion of working in the travel industry. From living in Thailand, the U.K and now back home in South Africa, she is always up for an adventure. Diving head first into Cape Town's tourism scene, she thrives in new environments and has a knack for researching and writing. She was welcomed to the team in 2017.

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