Are you an adventurer, but you don’t have a 4×4? To explore remote and rugged routes in our national parks and reserves, Wild put a fully equipped safari rental to the test. By Romi Boom
When Wild approached Avis for a courtesy safari vehicle to use on the Lang Hans 4×4 trail from Mopani rest camp in Kruger to Massingir Dam in Mozambique, there was no hesitation from Martin Steer, agency principal of this new division of Avis.
“This is exactly where we want to position ourselves,” Martin explained. “The area from Kruger to Mozambique into northern KwaZulu-Natal and Swaziland has so much to explore.”
Kruger National Park and surrounds presents a new business opportunity for this long-established firm which branched out into safari rentals in 2014. We were able to collect the vehicle at OR Tambo or Nelspruit Mpumalanga International Airport (Gaborone and Windhoek are other options).
Most South Africans dream of owning a holiday home, a 4×4, a bush caravan – rather than renting one. “Make the sums,” says Martin, “and you’ll see it makes sense to rent if this is the kind of holiday you want once or perhaps twice a year.”
So I made the sum. If you are travelling for a long period during the low season, the price may drop to R1,000 per day. But suppose you rent the vehicle for 8-15 days over the high season, you will pay about R2,500 per day for a double cab safari vehicle that is fully equipped for four people. If you are travelling with another couple, you can halve the amount.
The sleeping configuration in the safari vehicle makes provision for four adults travelling together. Some options have two rooftop tents, some have only one, which can be closed off from the downstairs area with a hatch for the sake of privacy, plus a fold-out double bed at the downstairs level (which turned out to be my personal preference).
For the sake of the argument, let’s imagine you are going on a family holiday with your kids. A 10-day rental during the June school holidays will cost you R1,875 per day. Add to that your fuel and your camping fees and you’re in business.
Now look at the interest on an R800,000 vehicle. That’s what it will cost to buy a brand new double cab Ford Ranger and have it converted into a super-luxurious outfit with all the bells and whistles. You will have to factor in another R80,000 in annual interest, plus about R18,000 per annum to insure your investment. Add to that the cost of an extra garage at home, provided you have the space. Plus the wear and tear whenever you use it on a long trip.
Granted, you may wish to buy the double cab as your second vehicle, and forego all the luxuries. You will still be forking out about R400,000 before you are equipped to camp with the basics. That figure will go up considerably once you start preparing for bush camping where you have to be completely self-sufficient in respect of water, firewood, fridge (i.e. second battery) and long range fuel tank.
I can add that having travelled overland from the Cape to Cairo and Israel, and having numerous hard-core African safaris under my belt, the Avis Safari camper managed to exceed my wildest expectations. For 10 days, I did not have to worry about a thing. Everything was on hand, from the cross-border papers to extra bedding and hot water on tap. A solar panel, second battery, 80 litres of onboard water, a 90 litre fridge/freezer with separate compartments, a 165 litre fuel tank with an overland range of 1,000km, a full kitchen point – camping wild couldn’t be more indulgent.
Just about the only consolation upon returning the vehicle was that someone else would be doing the big post-trip clean-up.
The setting of our second night’s bush camp was Hardekoolpan (Leadwood Pan), which is roughly in the centre of the Limpopo National Park.
Daily rates during the Low Season from 1 November 2015 to 20 June 2016
- Overlander 4×4 (5 people): R1,187 (3-7 days), R1,125 (8-15 days), R1,113 (16-24 days) and R1,000 (25+ days)
- Luxury family and group safari 4×4 (4 people): R1,500 (3-7 days), R1,375 (8-15 days), R1,313 (16-24 days) and R1,188 (25+ days)
- Ford 3.2 A/T exclusive safari camper 4×4 (2 people): R2,313 (3-7 days), R1,938 (8-15 days), R1,813 (16-24 days) and R1,688 (25+ days)
- Ford 2.2 6spd double cab luxury safari camper (2 or 4 people): R1,625 (3-7 days), R1,563 (8-15 days), R1,500 (16-24 days) and R1,375 (25+ days)
- Ford 3.2 A/T double cab luxury safari camper (2 or 4 people): R1,950 (3-7 days), R1,850 (8-15 days), R1,750 (16-24 days) and R1,650 (25+ days)
- Land Cruiser double cab luxury safari camper (2 or 4 people): R2,313 (3-7 days), R1,938 (8-15 days), R1,813 (16-24 days) and R1,688 (25+ days)
Rates include unlimited kilometres and all applicable taxes. For surcharges fees, insurance rates, cross border costs and more, visit the Avis website.