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Which car? Kruger NP Sept/Oct.


Dave Williams

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Dave Williams

I have never been before but I believe the roads in Kruger NP are suitable for just about any vehicle, particularly if you stick to the tar roads of course.

For our 28 night trip I have a Toyota Avanza booked, it's a 7 seater people carrier so chosen for space, viewing height and window sizes. I believe it's not the most stable of cars so that's something to be aware of although I doubt if speed will feature in our driving style. My slight concern would be if the gravel/dirt roads became severely potholed or if I had to beat a hasty retreat from an Elephant which involved leaving the road too.. 

When I booked it was the most suitable vehicle at a price..in fact we are paying £698. To book one now the minimum I have found is £807 so demand outstrips supply it seems.I guess it's ideal if you are more than two people but we are not.

In the meantime though, the cheapest SUV has dropped quite considerably and I can hire a Nissan Qashqai for £745 for the same period so not a lot of difference now. My concern is that a Qashqai has poor all round vision with smallish windows, especially in the back seat where on occasion I might be sat whilst being chauffered!.

I'd appreciate opinions on which to choose if anyone has hired either or both.

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Tdgraves

@Dave Williams  you were completely correct that I had forgotten you are off to the Kruger! We always get an SUV (not 4x4) and mainly have had a selection of Toyota RAV4s and Hyundai iX35s. The main thing is the height to see further into the bush, although at that time of the year, less of an issue. I booked our car in feb and it was £459 but for only 16 nights, so comparable I think. The issue we have had in the past is one model where the back seat windows do not fully open. I think that this was an X-trail and so is something that I now always check, as it is very annoying for the back seat photographer. Potholes not usually a problem and it will have been dry there for a while also. Have never driven a people carrier, so cannot comment on that

 

Do our dates overlap? We leave KNP on 13th sept...

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Dave Williams

The rear window is a pain in most models nowadays but if anything the Avanza looks as if it's more likely to let the window glass fully retract which was very much in my thoughts when I booked it too.

I have no experience of either vehicle though.

We arrive on the 23rd of September.

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pomkiwi

I had a large SUV when I went (booked a RAV 4 but got given a large Hyundai - Tucson I think) - I appreciated the height. As I was on my own I only needed to consider the front windows but the rear seemed to offer space and visibility.

I don't think you are likely to need the 4WD capability but some of the roads were rough and steep enough that I liked the feeling of security that comes with a bigger car.

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xelas
2 hours ago, Dave Williams said:

The rear window is a pain in most models nowadays but if anything the Avanza looks as if it's more likely to let the window glass fully retract which was very much in my thoughts when I booked it too.

I have no experience of either vehicle though.

We arrive on the 23rd of September.

 

That was the main reason why I was also made a reservation for Toyota Avanza model. Although, upon pick up, I was given a Honda of the same category. Speaking from the photographer's point of view, there is not much difference if seating in the front seats, but is a huge difference on the rear bench. 

 

t least in the central and northern section of the park, there is no road that would not be OK even for a small Hyundai i20 (4 of our birder's friends were using that type of vehicle). However, larger vehicle will give you more comfort, more air, and will ease the operation of cameras with large lenses.

 

Last outing was a Toyota RAV4. Zvezda prefers to sit behind, and was not all that happy with this model; it is quite uncomfortable on the rear seats, and the window does not allow for wide angle of action. So far, nothing beats a Toyota Hilux (well, probably a Lancruiser or a Prado ^_^).

 

Anyway, you've got an excellent value for 28 days. Avanza is roomy inside, has upright seating position, and to what I have seen, relatively square windows. It is also narrower then other vehicles of the similar category which might help when squeezing between the ellie and the acacia ... As for being unstable, just drive a bit slower, or keep with the rest of the traffic when on the highway. Inside the park, 30 km/h is already too fast, a leopard might be missed on that branch up the tree :D.

 

Of the SUV's on the market today, the squarer and the one where I think rear windows would give the best viewing angle, is Volkswagen Tiguan. I have asked for one in KZN, but as so many times before, rental car company has the right to chose the model for you :(.

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LarsS

I've rented a Kia Sportage to drive in Kruger and Hluhluwe a few years ago. Kruger was easy to drive around. In Hluhluwe there was a 4x4 loop which we also took a few times. It was dry, the challenge was a steep hill with loose rocks, but even that was no problem for the Kia Sportage. So no need for a 4x4 since you're never really offroading.

 

In Namibia and last time in SA I've rented a Toyota Fortuner. The fact last time we rented it again, is because it's such a comfortable car. High clearance, good views all around and lost of space to move around in the car if needed. It drives really comfortable. On dirt roads you hardly notice you're not driving on tar. I would always choose for a fortuner for trips like these.

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Careful when predicting the weather: we've visited KNP in October thrice and more than once rainfall was so heavy that certain roads / bridges were closed. 

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Peter Connan

I think if you do get an Avanza, it is probably the best car you can get nowadays short of a serious 4x4, for the reasons Alex mentioned. Relatively old, square styling making for relatively easy-to-shoot-from windows.

 

As for the roads, it will be perfectly adequate, even when reversing from an elephant.

 

I would certainly prefer the Avanza to a Qasqui, and I am definitely not a Toyota fan... 

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  • 2 weeks later...
tonypark

We have our own vehicle but generally advise people to go for an x-trail - much nicer than the avanza.

 

Avanzas are cramped and really not much higher than a sedan.  Also, are  you picking up from skukuza or joburg?  If you're driving to or from joburg the avanza is woefully underpowered and quiite unpleasant for long drives.

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ice

for what it's worth, I agree with @tonypark: when we started going to Kruger we also usually booked an Avanza. Maybe 6 or 7 years I switched to a "proper" SUV like the X-Trail. When booking from Europe it's not much more expensive than an Avanza but has more power and a higher seating position. Also, sometimes (not always, though) they come with handy features like GPS, automatic transmission and cruise control. Especially the latter two are convenient when you have to drive those long transfers between camps at "maximum" speed or stop and go a lot while at sightings

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  • 2 weeks later...

@Dave Williams Sorry to have just seen this. Cannot comment on those 2 car models specifically, but can say that in Feb this year in Kruger from the South up to just north of Satara all the many dirt back roads we tried were in good shape, no 4x4 was needed. For any retreat to be hasty you will surely need to keep the car on the road - good luck and hope it is not necessary!  We chose an xtrail over the Avanza as we had passengers with back issues - it drove well and was comfortable but we did experience a bit of window frustration (the slant in the front and the rear windows not winding down completely). It seems difficult to find the window specs for the various car models. Have a great time. 

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Dave Williams

@JCC, @ice, @tonypark Thanks for the replies all, only just picked up on them. 

Yep, picking up and returning to J'berg. The Avanza is £679, a Qashqai is at it cheapest I have seen at £717 but I really don't like the window arrangement, next in line is a Rav, again not too keen at £775. An X-trail comes in at £1020.

Underpowered doesn't worry me too much , there are only two passengers and their luggage and I prefer manual gearbox, my own car is, as I find it's easier to control when I'm trying to be quiet in my method of approach putting the car in neutral and freewheeling if it's down a slope.

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@Dave Williams Do you have the insurance coverage factored into your decison? The excesses on some of those policies are extreme, and many policies exclude tire and glass damage. Some third party policies exclude dirt roads, and/or insist on paperwork that could be challenging to produce. 

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Dave Williams

@JCC The excess is quite high at 23500 ZAR but I have an annual policy to cover that.Full insurance is offered for £116 for the 28 days but I don't need it with the policy I have. My rental includes an extra driver for free too, the other prices I quoted don't so it's a good deal. 

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