These top 4x4 trails in South Africa offer 4x4 beginners and experienced drivers something to write home about. These South African trails give you the opportunity to get your teeth stuck into challenging obstacles, or simply keep your training wheels on, with the option to by-pass a tough route in some cases.
List of 4x4 trails in South Africa:
1. Ithala Game Reserve - KwaZulu Natal
Above: Ithala Game Reserve by VSmithUK
GPS Coordinates: S27° 32′ 40″ E31° 16′ 49″
Grading: 1 – 3
Distance: 23, 17 and 5 km
Time: ½ – 3 hours
Cost: Day visitors R40, overnight guests no entry fee, R70 per vehicle.
Within Ithala Game Reserve there are two 4×4 trails you can choose from. The first is the Bivane trail which is a 17 km route taking you through the reserve’s western flank. The trail is conveniently open to day visitors and boasts great lookout points over the reserve.
The second trail is a simple 5 km management road which is ideal for first time 4x4 safari drivers. On both tracks you can expect to see black and white rhino, leopard, oribi, tsessebe and numerous interesting bird and plant species, all resident to Ithala Game Reserve. One of the most beautiful 4x4 trails in South Africa.
Getting there: From Durban, take the N2 north. Then take the R66 and then R34 to Vryheid. From there follow the tarred R69 to Louwburg and follow directions to Ithala.
2. Grootwater 4×4 Trail - Limpopo
GPS Coordinates: S23° 33’ 00” E28° 31’ 10”
Grading: 1 – 5
Distance: 30 km total
Time: each route takes about 4 – 5 hours
Cost: R200 per vehicle
Grootwater is made up of various short trails which can be tackled in a few hours. The routes take you along challenging obstacles set on rocky and mountain courses. For this reason, 4x4’s with good ground clearance are the best option for embarking on this adventure.
If you’re up for a heightened challenge, the months of October and March bring what you’re looking for in this 4x4 trail in South Africa. The rain brings wet, muddy trails which prove to be great fun. Along the path rare leopard sightings have been reported, as well as the more common sightings of kudu, impala, bushbuck, duiker, blue wildebeest, brown hyena and prolific bird life.
Getting there: Take the N1 north from Johannesburg and turn left towards Modimolle at the Kranskop tollgate. On the Vaalwater road, turn right at the Lephalale sign. At the Witkop sign, turn left onto the dirt road. The turn-off for Grootwater is 11 km further.
3. Witsand Kalahari Mountain View 4×4 Dune Route - Northern Cape
Above: Photo by Martin Heigan of the dune route - one of the most fun 4x4 trails in South Africa.
GPS Coordinates: S28 34’ 967’’ E22 29’ 242’’
Grading: 2 – 4 (seasonal)
Distance: 40 km
Time: 5 hours
Cost: R320 per vehicle
About 20 km outside of Witsand lies one of the most fun 4x4 trails in South Africa. This award-winning trail is filled with a variety of challenges. Nestled between the Langberg and Skurwe mountains, the trail is great for beginner 4x4 adventurers. The terrain comprises of farmland and stunning red Kalahari sand and dunes along the way, but is a fairly easy track. The route is 36 km long and has an additional 4 km trail taking you up a steep, rocky mountain slope if you’re up for it.
Getting there: On the N14, 6 km southwest of Olifantshoek on the road to Upington, turn left at the Witsand Nature Reserve signpost.
4. Hennops 4x4 Trail - Gauteng
GPS Coordinates: S25° 79’ 13” E27° 98’ 16”
Grading: 3 ½
Distance: 9 km
Time: 3 hours
Cost: R180 per vehicle
Located along the Hennops River, 40 km from Sandton and Pretoria, this is one of those much talked about 4x4 trails in South Africa, packed with exhilarating challenges for drivers of all experience levels. With its rough 4×4 terrain, tyre-challenging ascents, absurd descents, dongas, mud holes, water crossings and axle-twisting side slopes – the trail truly is an adventurous route.
If the trail gets too intense, there are bypass routes on the tough sections to help out first timers. Wildlife like zebra, blue wildebeest, blesbok and impala as well as a variety of bird life can be spotted along the way, if you manage to break your concentration for a moment.
Getting there: From Johannesburg, take the R511 from Fourways towards Hartebeespoort. Drive for approximately 28 km; the entrance to the Hennops off-road trail is on the left.
Watch the traveller footage below of a Toyota Landcruiser tackling one of the Hennops trail dips.
5. Three Provinces 4×4 Trail - South Africa
GPS Coordinates: S27° 25’ 28” E29° 44’ 25”
Grading: 2 – 5
Distance: The trails total 200 km
Time: 2 days
Cost: R180 per vehicle. Main and battlefield trails, R80 both extra trails.
An epic fusion of three amazing 4x4 trails in South Africa. Just outside of Volksrust lies Waterval farm with its stream crossings, mountainous areas, rocky terrain and muddy holes which proves most enjoyable for beginner 4x4 drivers.
The trail boasts gorgeous views with the Versamelberge Mountains forming the track’s backdrop. Inspiring the trail’s name, at the top of Langkrans, a sheer cliff 2 253 metres above sea level, is the meeting point of KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Free State. The main trail is about a 30 km route that gives you the opportunity to take on Bobbejaankrans and Tierkloof as extra trails.
Getting there: Take the R543 towards Vrede from Volksrust for 13,6 km. Turn left onto the gravel road at the 3 Provinces 4×4 sign. Continue straight for 5 km until you reach the farmhouse.
4x4 trails in South Africa are great to learn on before venturing off on a 4x4 safari into Africa. Most of the 4x4 trail roads in Africa require an experienced 4x4 driver. But how do you get experience? You start tackling tracks. Most of South Africa's nature reserves and national parks offer great self-drive safari 4x4 trails which range in difficulty, giving beginners and experienced drivers the opportunity to enjoy all kinds of terrain.
What are you waiting for? Hire a 4x4 and take that trip!