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Travel : Kruger’s Mananga Trail


Words & Images Angus Boswell

After kitting out a Hilux Legend 45 with all manner of Ironman 4×4 accessories, we took the vehicle for a shake-down in the way that many South Africans do: a quick weekend trip to Kruger National Park. It’s the go-to choice for rich and diverse wildlife sightings, as it offers
safe campsites with a range of facilities, manicured roads, and a relatively short travel time from Johannesburg.

So, a small team of four people and two Toyotas headed out of the Big Smoke midmorning on a recent Friday, just before a Rugby World Cup final which pitted SA against the arch-enemy All Blacks. In the Hilux were Kobus Benadie of Halfway Toyota and Angus Boswell of SA4x4; in the FJ, Ironman director Mic van Zyl and Anton Willemse of SA4x4. Destination: Satara campsite, sited at the midway-point of the Kruger Park, via the Orpen gate.

We had divvied up cooler boxes of food, chairs, tents, utensils and all the usual personal clutter between the two vehicles, and (after having missed the early morning traffic) were cruising eastwards on the N4 towards Nelspruit before turning off on the R540 to Belfast. A single fill-up had us back on track, with the 3.0 D-4D Hilux far less thirsty than the V6 petrol under the FJ’s retro bonnet. Some 30km before Hoedspruit, we turned on to the R531 and made for Orpen gate.

The Hilux is higher with its Ironman suspension, the ride slightly more perky – it can definitely handle a bigger load. There is more suspension travel, so it is better able to soak up the bumps, although the tar road is hardly testing its real capability. There’s no drooping of the front-end either, despite the winch and 48kg bull bar adding nearly 90kg to it. That bull bar (or ‘Roo bar, as the Aussies call it) has certainly improved the approach angle; it’s ready to deflect any bumps and scrapes from shrubbery, too.