Browsing: 4×4 skills

River crossings are an inevitable challenge. Handled correctly, they can be made without incident, but they can also go wrong fast. Avoid deep crossings if possible, and always approach them with respect. We’ve had our fair share of mishaps − from a blown engine in a V10 Touareg, to a partially submerged Land Rover pulled out by a three-wheeled digger. Step 1 – Assess the situation By ‘assess’, we mean make sure that you won’t drown your vehicle or get washed downstream. A very rough rule of thumb is that standard 4x4s shouldn’t ford deeper than tyre height, because many…

Imagine this: You’re out driving by yourself, checking out the new campsite that you plan to stay at in a couple of weeks. There is a dry river bed and you are driving through it, and the next moment you are stuck. RULES FOR SAFE WINCHING 1. Always use as few connections as possible – avoid steel shackle connectors, and use soft shackles instead. 2. Always winch off a live tree – dead trees can be hollow and have rotten roots. 3. Never wrap winch rope back onto itself. Use a tree-trunk protector on the anchor. 4. Keep the strap…

As designers of high fashion prepare their 2018 collections for the catwalks of New York, London, Milan and Paris, the African savanna presents its own unique designs through a very different catwalk display. Enter lion, (Panthera leo), leopard, (Panthera pardus) and cheetah (Acionyx jubatus) – Africa’s large cats. “The divide between large and small cats – Panthera and Felis – has more to do with the ability to purr than with size or behaviour”With its tawny coat, regal mane and piercing golden eyes, a lion is indeed a creature of beauty. Long revered, (and even worshipped by some), its ascendency as the…

The movement of wind and water over the earth’s surface, and varying localised temperature and air pressure conditions, create a range of weather conditions. Broadly speaking, air migrates from high pressure zones into low pressure zones, giving rise to warm air rising and cold air sinking. As the warm air rises, it takes up moisture; but the higher it goes, the colder it becomes. Eventually, the moisture begins to condense as clouds, and, as they say, ‘what goes up, must eventually come down’. Clouds Clouds are formed from millions of tiny water droplets which are cooled in the atmosphere. They…

Chris Collard shares his three decades of backcountry breakdowns, and the tools and equipment needed to get you (and your vehicle) home alive. For Chris’ full insights, grab the December 2017 edition of SA4X4.If we sat around a campfire spinning yarns about our early exploits into the backcountry, my guess is that the memories, regardless of the details, have been filtered into blissful adventures. They were most likely simple affairs with a full complement of necessities: a cooler of coldies, sleeping bags, and camp chairs. I recall the first trip in my ’82 Hilux. My buddy Rich Currie and I…

In a Bushcraft situation, while making shelters, etc, it may be necessary to lash structures together. But what do you do if you don’t have any string or rope? Well, you can resort to making your own. There are many ways this can be done. We can use stems from certain fibrous plants or the inner bark of some species of trees – whether this be from the tree trunk, branch, or roots. However, it is important to understand that a tree is a complex living structure, with a multi-faceted layering system moving nutrients and water through this structure. Surrounding…

If ever there appeared to be an unlikely combination of bushrelated topics, I would agree this might be it; but, as John Muir the Scottish-American naturalist (1838- 1914) is believed to have said, “When you tug at a single thing in nature, you will find it is attached to everything else”. “We owe the amazing diversity of wildlife that we are able to view on a safari to the dynamic equilibrium that exists between grasses and trees in the Bushveld/Savanna”Southern Africa is home to some 1000 grass species, of which at least one third occurs nowhere else on earth. Although…

Water is the most abundant substance on earth, and essential to all forms of life. If you run out of water, and cannot locate a source, in some situations the consequences can become dire very quickly. Fortunately, wildlife can give us a few pointers on how to find it. By Paul Donovan Animals can be categorised into three groups, based on their water reliance: ‘non-dependent’, ‘less-dependent’ and ‘dependent’. Although it is impossible to cover the dependency needs of every animal species, this overview points out a few which are reliable, and a few which are not. Some animals may not…

Legend, tradition and folklore abound in Africa, and are often viewed with some scepticism in this, the post-modern era. However, it would seem that much received wisdom still has the potential to reveal startling information about the natural world in which we live; elephants, bees and the marriage tree being no exception… “In many traditional cultures, it is believed that marriages held under the Marula tree are divinely blessed”Legend has it that Hare acted kindly towards Elephant during a year of drought by helping him to find water, and was rewarded with a tusk. This he planted in his garden…

Reaching 30m in height, with a circumference in excess of 28m, the baobab tree can live for several thousand years. By Paul Donovan If you found yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere, you would be hard-pressed to fi nd in one place all the elements you require to survive. You have to go hunting for them. Th at is, of course, unless you fi nd yourself in the proximity of Adansonia, the Baobab tree. In my view, this tree is a living survival kit, as it can help you out in so many ways. Sometimes known as the ‘upside-down…

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