Going off-road into the unknown

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For many Namibians, going off-road is the ultimate adventure. But before doing that, there are a few golden rules to stick to, as they can save you a lot of discomfort and embarrassment. It can even cost you dearly.

Top Revs was invited by Ironman 4×4 Namibia and their dealers on a real wild camping and off-road excursion through Damaraland to get first-hand experience of what Namibia has to offer on the roads less travelled.

This was not only an eye-opener on what to expect, but also what to pack and tag along since there are no shops, lodges or any other luxury close at hand, except what was packed for the adventure.

One thing that was sure is that planning and preparations go hand in hand while one must expect the unexpected at all times, as Namibia is world-renowned for her ever-changing scenery.

Christoffel Moolman from Ironman 4×4 advised this author to ensure proper planning, while packing only the necessities, as space might be a problem and any extra kilogram has a big impact on fuel consumption – a commodity that is highly valuable when in the bush.

A battery-operated camping fridge comes in handy to keep meat and other perishable produce fresh for the trip, Moolman said. When doing longer trips, Moolman added, opt for a dual battery system to handle the appliances without draining the main battery.

Apart from enough food and water, commodities like camping gear, and enough and adequate clothes are some of the basics. Always take extra water to assist people living in remote villages that do not always have access to potable water.

Part of the planning is knowing the distance and the routes to be travelled since that helps in the preparations for the excursion.

Never travel alone since the terrain can be deceitful and one can get stuck in the marshes or even in the dry sand of the river beds along the way, Moolman said. Because most of these routes are not in daily use, it can take days to get assistance.

Our vehicle was still quite new in the market and there were doubts regarding serious off-the-grid travelling. But the JAC T8 2.0-litre turbo diesel double cab 4×4 proved to be more than capable to handle any terrain.

Though still new in the local market and has to work for its place in the world of 4×4’ing, the T8 did not fail Top Revs throughout the trip, and even left a lasting impression on the tour group.

With no after-market suspension, we only put in a lifting kit to give the vehicle a bit more ground clearance, the vehicle cleared all terrains we travelled with ease. Like all off-roading, the tyres played a major role and the fitted 265/70/R17’s all terrains (slightly bigger than the factory fitted tyres) made the trip a breeze. Even the tyre pressure is important not only for better surfacing in the sand, but deflating the tyres to a pre-selected pressure reduces chances of punctures. It also contributes to a smoother ride over the different terrains.

The fuel consumption during the whole trip was beyond all expectations. As we drove most of the time in 4x4H for better roadholding and grip, the vehicle still gave us an average of 9,6 to 10l/100 km (an average of 10km/l)

Despite the many powder pots the group encountered, the vehicle did not take any dust and with the airconditioning running throughout, we arrived at every overnight camp site still fresh with little driver’s fatigue.

Other accessories that can be of great assistance when in the field are a winch and other recovery gear like snatch straps, shackles and kinetic ropes to pull your vehicle out of difficult terrains or to assist other vehicles in distress.

Since Namibia is home to many wild animals, always be vigilant and give them space since they are in their natural habitat, Moolman advised.

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