South Africa can also be exotic
In this month’s magazine we have two extremes: five great 4x4 routes a stone’s throw from the Cape, and a long tour through Angola (with a story about the Kalahari back in the day as a bonus). And that about sums up our situation perfectly. You know the old saying: “Too far to walk, but too close to drive”? That’s almost how travel is in most instances. We often feel it’s not a proper break if you load your 4x4 and travel only for an hour or two from home. My question is: why? We live in Africa! The other day a guesthouse owner from Stellenbosch posted a photo on Facebook in which he shows his overseas guests’ a completely kitted-out Cruiser 76 station wagon. Were they on their way to Tanzania? Maybe just Botswana? No. This vehicle was rented to – wait for it – tour the Garden Route. Because you see, we stay in deepest, darkest Africa.
Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that South Africa isn’t “wild” or exotic enough. And that’s wrong. My wife and I decided a few years ago to take one of those red double-decker tourist buses in Cape Town over a December holiday. Yes, we’ve lived in the Mother City for 20 years but it’s always a great experience to see our country through the eyes of a tourist. The mistake we often make is to somewhat irritably jump into the 4x4 and impatiently chase to the nearest border post. But what about the actual journey? Is our country not beautiful enough? So before you blindly chase to the next border post, rather take a deep breath and enjoy your country. Or even better: travel through your own country, or even just your own province. You might just surprise yourself.
But if you still insist on travelling far away from home, you’ll struggle to find a better place than Angola. It’s not only really far, it’s also very underdeveloped. You’ll be fine with only English in places like Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania and Malawi. Even in the south of Mozambique people will be able to help you in English. But not in Angola. They’re also full of nonsense with the issuing of tourist visas, which is why it’s not just a case of getting in your vehicle and going. My advice to the real adventure junkies amongst us is therefore to see if you can’t visit Angola at least once in your life.
The other big news in this issue is our all-terrain tyre test. In previous years we made the mistake – in my opinion – to test too many tyres. Experience – and many arguments at braais – has taught me that most people are only really interested in certain quality brands, with good reason. Due to time constraints and other logistical challenges it made sense to look at the best tyres during this all-terrain tyre test as well as one or two new, popular models. Just like with the mud-tyre test we did two years ago, this time we also looked at to what extent the tyres provide resistance against sharp objects – something that makes our tyre tests different from those of other publications.
So buckle up and hold on. Here we go.