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Ashok Rane
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I'm looking at 6 days in KTP in November '18. Plans are for TR, KTC and Mata Mata, 2 nights at each.

Will fly into JHB from Mumbai and fly out the same. Not too sure where to pick up the car from, JHB or Upington.  JNB-UTN-JNB flights are very expensive. Additionally I don't think the renters at Upington offer 4x2 SUVs

So far have been looking at 4x4 options only, I have seen a 2015 thread that is now closed, which is very encouraging in confirming that a 4x2 will not be a noose around the neck. Apart from the fact that I've never driven a 4x4 nor in Mumbai do I ever need to, the cost benefit is enormous too. That's what makes this information really significant

Looking forward to suggestions on which 4x2 SUV to look for and which is a reliable agency to approach for a rate offer.

Someone I know suggested a Toyota Avanza. Isn't the ground clearance of this car is quite low? 

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On my two visits to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park I have used Toyota Hilux 4x4 on both occasions. The 4x4 traction was engaged only when driving the dedicated 4x4 tracks. All other roads (4 in total) are driveable in a sedan type of car; the smallest I saw was Chevrolet Spark :o!

 

So any 4x2 SUV will do its job. The main advantage of large vehicles like Hilux is its very high seating position; some roads do have quite high sand banks that will obscure the views to those driving in lower seating position cars. 

 

Toyota Avanza does not have an excessive ground clearance but it has very high seats , and very large windows, and for this reason is the most affordable option for any self-driving game park. I have used similar Honda model in Kruger and it worked really good. Only downside of that particular model was that rear door windows did not went down all the way so photographing was not as comfortable as from rear bench in Hilux. Older models have squarer doors/windows that retracts all the way down (or almost).

 

I did fly from JNB to Upington, to save time. Next occasion I will drive.

 

Hope some of this will be helpful. Kgalagadi is a fantastic place to visit, specially for big cats!

Edited by xelas
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Thanks Xelas, I will keep these considerations in mind. I now need to find a good rental agency in Upington. I'm trying to figure out the cost benefit between time spent driving from/to JHB and probably two night stops, that is one either way and the high cost of the air ticket JNB-UNT-JNB and the resultant time saved. The rates that I'm getting are like 75% of the flight cost from Mumbai to JNB. That is ridiculous.b

I saw a Nissan X Trail Automatic 4x4 for almost R15k for 10 days - JHB-KTC-JHB for like 3000 Km. That is 1000km over the free 2000Km. Would that be a good car to have.

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There is some soft sand around Mata Mata but both 4x4s and 4x2s were getting stuck. It is more a question of having your tyres being at the correct pressure and if you keep your revs up through the soft stuff you should be fine. If you get stuck. Stop your car. Let the tyres down even more to increase your surface area and then try get out. The same applies for 4x4 driving. Most 4x4 vehicles that you hire drive mainly in 4x2 mode and you have to switch to 4x4 when you need it.

 

As for the flights . There is a midday flight from JHB to Upington. We took that flight and made it easily to Kielikrankie on the same day. The road from Upington to TR is good with very little traffic. We e-mailed pick and pay supermarket before we arrived. The did our shopping and delivered it to the car hire people so it was in the car when we arrived saving a huge amount of time. If you do rent in Upington I can highly recommend Kalahari 4x4. They are great.

 

 

 
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As you say, flights to Upington are crazy expensive.

Driving from JHB can easily be done in about 9 hours if driving over Van Zylsrus. Lots of people will warn you against this road, but you need not be concerned, this road is well maintained.

 

You definately don't need a 4x4, the Avanza will be fine.

 

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we've been visiting KTP for more than ten years and never flown JOH to Upington. The trip can easily be driven over the course of two days (even in one day, if you decide to hurry), so by flying you gain one on each leg max. Not worth it for us, especially since renting a vehicle in Upington will be so much more expensive than renting it in Jo'burg

 

As others have said: a 4x2 is sufficient for all the major road. If you do get stuck, just wait until a 4x4 driver comes by, they will help you out

Edited by ice
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2 minutes ago, Peter Connan said:

Driving from JHB can easily be done in about 9 hours if driving over Van Zylsrus. Lots of people will warn you against this road, but you need not be concerned, this road is well maintained.

 

 

 

I agree, that gravel road is ok to drive

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13 hours ago, Peter Connan said:

As you say, flights to Upington are crazy expensive.

Driving from JHB can easily be done in about 9 hours if driving over Van Zylsrus. Lots of people will warn you against this road, but you need not be concerned, this road is well maintained.

 

You definately don't need a 4x4, the Avanza will be fine.

 

What do the warnings pertain to, personal safety, theft or road condition? Where does one stock on provisions on this route?

9 hours to where, Twee Rivieren or to Upington? How much is the saving in terms of time and distance if Upington is skipped by using this route you recommend? If it takes longer than 9 hours where can one make an overnighter on this route?

Thanks for confirming on the Avanza

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15 hours ago, ice said:

we've been visiting KTP for more than ten years and never flown JOH to Upington. The trip can easily be driven over the course of two days (even in one day, if you decide to hurry), so by flying you gain one on each leg max. Not worth it for us, especially since renting a vehicle in Upington will be so much more expensive than renting it in Jo'burg

 

As others have said: a 4x2 is sufficient for all the major road. If you do get stuck, just wait until a 4x4 driver comes by, they will help you out

If I may ask, which agency do you rent from and what would be ballpark figures on a daily quote you get for a 4x2 SUV? On the Avis website I've seen a Nissan X Trail Automatic 4x4 at R9912 for 10 days & 2000km. Considering that I'd do about 2600 km round I'd pay R3.87 per km for 600 Km more than the 2000 free km.. So total R12234. Does this sound in line with the prices you know? If it's less there is something missing? I doubt it could be much more than that.

 

Do these renters include recovery kits that are vital in the KTP, especially the tyre gauges and compressors that are key to driving in the park? How about other items like shovels and Jerry cans for Fuel and water? How does a person travelling to SA for 10 days manage to get hold of these?  

 

I apologise for so many questions but I feel that these are the basics and nowhere on the internet are there any answers to these queries that I am sure exist for every first time self driver

 

Let me just add that we will be only two of us, my wife and me on this expedition, if you will.

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Re. driving vs. flying, I have had same/similar dilemmas when doing our (2 persons) trip back in 2016 (see trip report in Self Drive section:

Rental car was more expensive then in Namibia, as an example. But after hearing from another client about owners excellent customer service support, even thou that I did not have the misfortune to need it, it felt good to have the company so close, in case of any problem with the car. The car rental company was Kalahari 4x4.

 

Tyre gauge and air compressor are standard equipment, to my knowledge. There are gas stations in Mata Mata, Nossob and Twee Rivieren. Plus any other fellow traveller/driver inside the park will go to great lengths to help you out of any possible sand traps etc. (not that I have experienced any in our only 2 visits to KTP ... always talking about main roads, not 4x4 tracks!).

 

Even with 80 l fuel tank, you will be close enough to above mentioned gas stations for refuelling. And for buying some ice cream :D.

 

By reading several trip reports that contain Kgalagadi you will be well informed! 

 

 

 

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sorry guys but I am not sure where you rent your cars:

 

booking from home for a Toyoata Fortuner or similiar I never pay more than 300 € per week (usually less) and that rate includes all kilometers, the best insurance you get can and a second driver, free of charge. 

 

On the other hand, I would never book with a local company (unless it is unavoidable, like in Namibia). 

 

The 10 day rate quoted roughly equals to 800 €, that's what I pay for 20 day rental.

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You will neither need jerry cans nor shovels, unless you decide to venture into the Botswana side of the park. 

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@ice, would you be so kind to share your rental car company with us? Because 300 euro per week, that is an excellent deal, and Toyota Fortuner an excellent vehicle!

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well, we have a website called "billiger mietwagen" which translates to "cheaper rental cars" - what they do is compare offers of dozens of operators and basically find you the best possible rate. However, I am not sure if they allow you to book from outside our country. And I am neither sure if they have an English version of their website.

 

https://www.billiger-mietwagen.de

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On 22/09/2017 at 7:15 AM, Ashok Rane said:

What do the warnings pertain to, personal safety, theft or road condition? Where does one stock on provisions on this route?

9 hours to where, Twee Rivieren or to Upington? How much is the saving in terms of time and distance if Upington is skipped by using this route you recommend? If it takes longer than 9 hours where can one make an overnighter on this route?

Thanks for confirming on the Avanza

This route does not pass through Upington, and thus reduces trip distance by about 120km. The time quoted is JHB-Twee Rivieren.

 

I would buy provisions in JHB before leaving. But you can also shop and stay over in Vryburg. Look at Red Sands Country Lodge.

 

The reason the Van Zylsrus road is often avoided is that is a dirt road, and is said to cause punctures or blow-outs. However, i have not had one on that road, nor seen anyone with a puncture on that road, and the road is actually generally better than the roads inside the Kgalagadi.

 

However, having said that, and irrispective of the route chosen, please be very carefull while in Kuruman. Several people i know have been robbed there.

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22 hours ago, Peter Connan said:

This route does not pass through Upington, and thus reduces trip distance by about 120km. The time quoted is JHB-Twee Rivieren.

 

I would buy provisions in JHB before leaving. But you can also shop and stay over in Vryburg. Look at Red Sands Country Lodge.

 

The reason the Van Zylsrus road is often avoided is that is a dirt road, and is said to cause punctures or blow-outs. However, i have not had one on that road, nor seen anyone with a puncture on that road, and the road is actually generally better than the roads inside the Kgalagadi.

 

However, having said that, and irrispective of the route chosen, please be very carefull while in Kuruman. Several people i know have been robbed there.

That's great news. As my planned travel dates are in November '18, i still have time to research this further, but I thank you for the great help this has been. Just to update you on my thinking, I am getting more inclined towards flying into Upington and renting there. I find that I will spend R10K more if it is just two of us. i am trying to rope in some friends and if I manage even one more person, which I am confident of doing, my total extra spend will be R5K. Given that I'd probably spend a night en-route to KTP either way, this saving will get whittled away by the extra lodging and boarding that I would be faced with. I feel that flying in just gives me more time. Another factor that bothers me is that my time is too tight. Any delay will cost me an expensive return home flight. 3K Km over a period of 7 days is too much of a risk in terms of time.

 

Incidentally is it ok to post questions in the same thread related to the camps I've planned on staying at or should I open a fresh thread. Considering that most of the respondents are active on this thread, I would think that continuing here should be fine. But I could be dead wrong.

 

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Hello @Ashok Rane just to confuse you further,m we are planning our 4th trip to KTP for November 2018. We have always flown to Upington mainly because we are rarely able to sleep much on the overnight plane from Heathrow and the thought of driving any further than say the Kruger-so about 4 hours, with not much sleep seems to us a very bad idea! Mind you we always hire a 4x4 as we are not brilliant drivers and want the extra security of not getting stuck! We hire the car from the Uk but let our agents-Lawsons-do that-i am sure we have read it is cheaper to hire from your own country rather than when in South Africa. As an example of how much of a worry-mutton we are we use an agent in case something goes wrong and then there is an extra pair of hands to help -and to provide a little extra financial protection. This time we are driving from the KTP to a place called the Karoo Gariep and then on to Mount Zebra but it does all depend on how much time you have. 

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@Ashok Rane, as this is your own thread I am sure it's fine to expand the questions, but the placement and title might mean that you don't get as many people with valid experience reading it as might be possible in a thread with a more contextually correct header?

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2 hours ago, Peter Connan said:

@Ashok Rane, as this is your own thread I am sure it's fine to expand the questions, but the placement and title might mean that you don't get as many people with valid experience reading it as might be possible in a thread with a more contextually correct header?

That makes a lot of sense. I will open a new thread soon, once the questions form cohesively in my head. Thank you for the tip 

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23 hours ago, Towlersonsafari said:

Hello @Ashok Rane just to confuse you further,m we are planning our 4th trip to KTP for November 2018. We have always flown to Upington mainly because we are rarely able to sleep much on the overnight plane from Heathrow and the thought of driving any further than say the Kruger-so about 4 hours, with not much sleep seems to us a very bad idea! Mind you we always hire a 4x4 as we are not brilliant drivers and want the extra security of not getting stuck! We hire the car from the Uk but let our agents-Lawsons-do that-i am sure we have read it is cheaper to hire from your own country rather than when in South Africa. As an example of how much of a worry-mutton we are we use an agent in case something goes wrong and then there is an extra pair of hands to help -and to provide a little extra financial protection. This time we are driving from the KTP to a place called the Karoo Gariep and then on to Mount Zebra but it does all depend on how much time you have. 

I have the same thoughts about making the long drive from JHB. Additionally I will have my wife and possibly a lady friend, both of who won't travel long distances too well. As it is the KTP has it's own share of driving through. I am inclined myself to fly into Upington. 

In India there are any care rental services not any that have tie ups internationally. I have no recourse but to use one domestically in SA. I have ball park figures on rentals out of both JHB and UNT respectively. The UNT rate is quite reasonable. It's the JNB-UNT-JNB flight that's a killer. Costing me the same for a 90 minute flight as it for a flight from Mumbai that's like 15 hours long, that's R6K.

Is the road leading to Urikaruus from either TW or KTC difficult in terms of being very sandy? The soft sand variety? I've never driven a 4x4 before much less on sand. That's got me feeling a little bit apprehensive. The OH is torn between deep apprehension and the thrill of the journey. 

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man, it seems to me you worry way too much - a lot of people have told you that will generally not need a 4x4 on the regular rodas in KTP (and that includes to road to Urikaarus). Yes, you may get stuck but that would be part of the adventure. It is impossible to predict the quality of the sand, that depends on a lot of factors that change daily. Having said that, most of the KTP roads consist of gravel and not sand, they may have sandy patches, though

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the roads are not difficult in the KTP, very occasionally there may be a little trouble but as everyone has said you should be fine in a 4x2  I think we pay about £100 each for a flight from  JNb to upington which does not seem too bad1 Have a great trip-we may even bump into each other -although hopefully not literally @Ashok Rane

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Driving in sand is easy. Even getting un-stuck is pretty simple, as long as you follow these basics:

1) Deflate the tires. When you think you have deflated enough, deflate some more. Minimum pressure for sand is about 0.3 Bar.

2) If you feel the vehicle start digging (if it slows down without the engine slowing down), stop trying immediately. Do not allow the wheels to dig holes.

3) Be gentle with the clutch, steering and brakes.

4) If you feel the vehicle starting to get stuck, stop, get out, air down, make smooth passages for the wheels in the direction you want to go (down-hill if you have a choice), and pull away carefully. If is is a short section, try it again without airing up and with a little bit of momentum.

 

Make sure your rental has a compressor, if not, buy one before you leave Upington, and also get a pressure gauge.

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17 hours ago, ice said:

man, it seems to me you worry way too much - a lot of people have told you that will generally not need a 4x4 on the regular rodas in KTP (and that includes to road to Urikaarus). Yes, you may get stuck but that would be part of the adventure. It is impossible to predict the quality of the sand, that depends on a lot of factors that change daily. Having said that, most of the KTP roads consist of gravel and not sand, they may have sandy patches, though

Thanks man. Worry. What me worry B)

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