THE SHAMWARI SAFARI
SHAMWARI GAME RESERVE AND TORO YAKA BUSH LODGE ARE JUST TWO OF A PLETHORA OF PRIVATE GAME PROPERTIES ACROSS SA THAT LOVE ALL THINGS LAND CRUISER. WE ASKED BOTH PARKS’ OWNERS AND RANGERS WHAT SEPARATES THIS HUGELY RESPECTED, ALL-TERRAIN TITAN FROM THE PACK
The Big Five roam freely in the 25 000ha of pristine wilderness that is Shamwari Game Reserve. With such a vast landmass to navigate, getting to Mother Nature’s finest takes some doing. For rangers Siyanda Mgidlana, Alex Budd, James Moodie and Head of Rangers Andrew Kearney, it’s done driving their beautifully branded Land Cruisers.
“We love them because they’re virtually indestructible and far more reliable than other vehicles in their class,” says Andrew. “At Shamwari Game Reserve, with the different terrain we have in the Eastern Cape, we find they’re among the most reliable and capable vehicles for off-roading.”
Toyota Land Cruisers have front and rear differential systems, low-range and 4x4 capabilities, allowing them to comfortably and safely navigate all terrains. “The vehicle also has a double fuel tank, allowing us to go twice as far,” says Andrew, “and we can track twice as fast in search of animals too.”
Ask any Land Cruiser-owner what sparks and fuels their love affair with this thrill-seeker and they’re quick to point out its build quality. “We’re all about off-road adventuring and that’s where the Land Cruiser does its best work,” says Andrew.
Guests admire them as much as their hosts do. “The vehicle has a long wheelbase that offers safari-seekers and bush-huggers more legroom,” says James. “It’s very easy to drive, while being easily accessible for guests to hop on and off. Parts are relatively inexpensive, hardy and tough, which goes a long way when we’re running at full capacity, with little or no leeway to have the vehicle out of commission.
“The overall height of a Land Cruiser offers our nature-lovers better overall visibility and, with it, the opportunity to see more of what makes our little piece of heaven extraordinary.”
What stands between a Land Cruiser and the prospect of an amazing sighting is time, nothing more. James had a phenomenal find one afternoon on a game drive at Shamwari. “After having searched for elephants for three days, we found them at the top of a steep hill,” he recalls. “Our Mover, as we fondly call our Cruiser, journeyed up rocky terrain to get to them with ease, making our guests’ dream of seeing elephants in the wild a reality.”
WILD AT TORO YAKA
Toro Yaka Bush Lodge ranger
Michael Duncan and his 2017 Land Cruiser 79 4,2D are so close that he’s nicknamed it Madison!
“I love my Land Cruiser because it’s one of a kind,” he says. “It’s been custombuilt to my specific requirements and stands out from the rest. I really enjoy driving this vehicle. The ease with which it handles our rocky terrain makes guiding a pleasure too. Dry riverbeds, rocky roads, muddy ditches and sandy slopes, Madison can handle it all.
“Our guests visit us from all over the world looking for a safari experience, so having a vehicle that’s comfortable and safe is very important to us and the Toyota Land Cruiser delivers.
The reliability of this Land Cruiser is unrivalled in its class and if something does go wrong, they’re easy to repair. For vehicles working as hard as they do in this harsh environment, reliability is absolutely key. With incredibly strong underpinnings and a reliable drivetrain, they’re fit for many years of loyal service.”
Guide, tracker and guests spend six to eight hours a day in the gameviewer, so comfort is a key element too. It’s been kitted out with charging ports and safe storage for each guest. The seating at the back is far more spacious than that of other vehicles in its class. “We chose Toyota Land Cruiser specifically because of the reliability, comfort and spaciousness. On top of that, it’s incredibly quiet when cruising through the bush,” says Michael. “A quiet vehicle allows us to approach animals without disturbing them unnecessarily and also enables guests, guide and tracker to concentrate and take in all the sounds of nature.
“I’m sure many other guides will agree that all vehicles develop a character over time, but we’re still getting there,” he adds. “I’d definitely say that the elephants have taken a liking to the vehicle of late. With their inquisitive nature, they’ve really approached up close and given us a good once-over.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better vehicle and here’s hoping Madison gets to spend a number of years out here in the Greater Kruger National Park with us,” adds Michael.
“WE’RE ALL ABOUT OFF-ROAD ADVENTURING AND THAT’S WHERE THE LAND CRUISER DOES ITS BEST WORK.”
Top: Ranger Alex Budd at Shamwari Game Reserve. Above: Toro Yaka Bush Lodge’s custom-built Land Cruiser.