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Travel

South African 4×4 Trails – A focus on the Eastern Cape

South Africa, rich in its diverse landscape and terrain, offers one of the world’s best playgrounds for 4×4 enthusiasts. The popularity of off-road driving, and the opportunity to visit areas where the general public cannot go to, has opened up a host of 4×4 experiences. Thankfully, both local operators and the hospitality industry have embraced its upward trend, providing many unique experiences to explore this beautiful country overland. Through a network of off road trails, access to national parks, and graded trails, 4×4 drivers can now seek adventure in some of South Africa’s most untouched and magnificent frontiers.

 

The Eastern Cape

Arguably the most diverse province in SA, the Eastern Cape offers 4×4 experiences that traverse overland, through mountain ranges, along deserted beaches and across rivers and valleys. The challenges of off road driving in the province generously range from a casual Grade 1 game drive through the Addo Elephant Park , to gruelling Grade 4 or 5 challenges through cycads, aloes and over some nasty, not-so-stable boulders. Many routes are offered as Guided  4×4 drives, while experienced off road drivers and adrenaline junkies can work off a map, GPS points and a self-drive of bucket list proportions! Listed below are some of the Eastern Cape’s most scenic and challenging off road trails.

 

Baviaanskloof Mountains

An incredible 4×4 journey awaits, while straddling the Kouga and Baviaanskloof mountains, some 200 km’s from Port Elizabeth.  We recommend Doringkloof 4×4 Trails as an ideal base to explore the area’s breathtaking scenery. A number of routes are accessible with various difficulty levels encountered. Accommodation options are available, ranging from camping to lakeside chalets. All in all, a refreshing detour from the hustle and bustle of the Garden Route!

 

Ferndale 4×4

Ferndale Outdoor Adventures has been consistently voted amongst the Top 10 4×4 trails in SA. Well managed, obstacle laden, and offering a host of family activities on the side, it caters for just about any off road venture. Ferndale features 4 trails, with a Grading between 3-5 for some tough driving which is rewarded by some spectacular views as far as the eye can see. Ferndale is situated a half hour’s drive from the town of Cathcart, and 110 Km’s from East London.

 

Tsitsikamma 4×4 Trails

The Tsitsikamma mountain range, operated by SANParks, have opened up part of its indigenous forest and scenic mountain range, as a guided 4×4 trail. An ideal 50km off road driving experience, it challenges your 4×4 vehicle to steep gradients and muddy riverbeds, with the added bonus of bird and wildlife spotting.

 

Given the exciting challenges that Eastern Cape 4×4 trails present, be sure to check your off road vehicle is prepared. Speak to us today at Summit4x4 for vehicle checks, maps and advice. Safe Travels!

 

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Travel

4×4 LED Lights – Stretching your Off Road Journey

If you are a regular off-roader that likes to stretch your 4×4 journey, you will have carefully considered the best off-road lighting setup for your vehicle. There are a number of lighting options for you to consider. However, in terms of output and resistance to damage, LED lights trumps all other bulbs. The technology has been adapted to endless devices, from household to construction, and with LED technology being super energy efficient, don’t be surprised if your LED lights outlast your 4×4 vehicle!

The Benefits of having LED Lights fitted on your 4×4 vehicle

  • LED Lights are durable.

They are essentially mounted on a circuit board and soldered into place. Assuming the LED lights are properly fitted and aimed, they can withstand much of the impact and vibration that your off road and gravel trail throws at you.

 

  • LED lights score an A rating for energy efficiency.

LED lights on your 4×4 will omit a fraction of the energy of a halogen bulb of similar brightness. Put simply, it puts less strain on your 4x4s battery, allowing your off-road vehicle to perform at its best.

  • Properly fitted LED lights can last for many years

While LED lights on a 4×4 vehicle can seem an expensive investment from the offset, they boast an impressive Life Span of over 50,000+ hours. They are guaranteed to save you money in the long run, and potentially outlive the off road vehicle itself! Insist on high quality, SABS approved LED bulbs, with a warranty that backs up its promise of long term output.

  • LED Lights on your 4×4 vehicle are classy and stylish!

Aside from their durability and longevity, LED lights have come a long way from mere indicators and traffic lights. They can be shaped and coloured to your liking and can give your hardy off road vehicle a brand new look. We can barely keep up with the new trends in LED lightbars, floodlights and spotlights!

 

If you are sourcing and installing a custom LED lighting system for your 4×4 vehicle, it is crucial you understand the legalities of installing extra lights. At Summit 4×4, we understand the practicalities and legal requirements, and proudly import and stock the Cree range of LED Light Bars, Flood Lights and Spot Lights  Make the switch from conventional to LED lights today and enjoy cooler, brighter and longer lasting journeys.

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Travel

Improve Your Engine’s Circulation With A Snorkel  

What does a snorkel do, many of you ask, and why would you install a snorkel on your off road vehicle? It is a peculiar looking accessory, rising like a brass musical instrument to the roof of your 4×4 vehicle. That being said, it plays an important role in your engine’s performance and therefore provides a number of key advantages for more capable off road driving through rainy elements. In comparison to other modifications, it can also be quite inexpensive to purchase.

Sucking up the Elements

A ‘snorkel’, lifts your 4WDs air intake, normally to around the vehicle’s roof height. We are all aware of the damage that the build up of water and dust will eventually cause to your vehicle’s engine. An addition of a snorkel will greatly assist your engine’s air filter in a number of ways. As you will be taking in air at the roof height of your vehicle, the atmosphere is cooler on top, and puts less strain on the air filter. Secondly, it allows you to cross through deep paths of water, without destroying your vehicle’s engine.Do the maths, and you’ll quickly realise the savvy investment of a snorkel versus the frightening cost of a new 4×4 engine. The benefits are similar to that of an underwater snorkeller; it allows you to be submersed for longer periods without failure, while accessing cleaner air from the atmosphere above.

Air Ram

This one is not to be confused with memory for a Apple MacBook. An air-ram is the head of a snorkel, performing the key role of separating moisture and dust that enters the snorkel before getting through to the engine. With water being heavier than air, the 90 degree angle of the Air Ram is designed to prevent moisture from entering the bonnet, and is pushed back out through the ram.  The engine is then allowed to take in cleaner air than at ground level, dramatically improving performance with the added bonus of greater fuel economy. Some 4×4 enthusiasts call it a pre-filter for the engine air filter.

Correct Fitment of Snorkels will avoid any unusual vehicle vibrations. This is a potential DIY project, but we recommend getting ample advice on how to install beforehand.

At Summit 4×4 , we stock a variety of high quality snorkels, specially designed for both current and older models of all leading off road vehicle manufacturers. Snorkel up today, in time for rainy season!

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Travel

Preparing Your 4×4 Vehicle For Your First African Off Road Adventure

Taking your 4×4 vehicle off road, and onto one of South Africa’s numerous and exhilarating trails, takes you right to the heart of this beautiful landscape we call ‘home’. In fact, our highly equipped vehicles can lead us to impressive places, that not even ‘The Blue Train’ can take its eminent passengers. Months, sometimes years, of planning can go into the preparation of your first African off road experience. The key fundamental for any trip is a well equipped vehicle, capable of  handling the extremes that your driving, and your route places on it. In this article, we will draft your vehicle checklist to ensure your maiden trip is both feasible and safe for man and machine.

A different ball game

If you already have a custom 4×4 and have a particular route in mind, firstly identify the obstacles and challenges you will tackle. Taking your 4×4 off road becomes a completely different ball game to overland travel, and factor in modifications you may need to make. Book your off road vehicle in for a service to ensure each part of the vehicle is up to the task ahead.

The essentials for off road trails

  •  Tires             

To navigate across the tricky surfaces you will meet, it is crucial that you have quality tires, of sufficient thread, to manage it effectively through both the hard and soft terrain. A spare tire and a complete tire repair kit goes without saying!

  •  Capable Winch

Depending on the grading of the trail you undertake, a winch will be a necessity, should you get completely stuck in the conditions on your first trip. Check that your current 4×4 bumper allows for the winch to be mounted on your vehicle.

 

  • Suspension Lift

 

Awkward rocks and other obstacles make the addition of a ‘Lift Kit’, an important modification, when preparing for your trip. Essentially it gives your vehicle higher clearance, spotting obstacles easier and navigating through with greater ease.

Aside from Murphy’s Law screaming in the back of your head, there are an endless variety of extras which you are reminded to take along. All of which are valid, but we recommend you not leave home without the following

  •  GPS navigation system (updated with maps of your route)
  •  A jerry can of spare fuel
  •  Off-Road Jack
  •  Water Containers
  •  Phone Battery Charger
  •  A toolkit for any minor collision repair.

Once the mechanical elements are taken care of, the exciting countdown can begin. Our expert team at Summit 4×4 have all been down the same path. Proper planning is half the journey, and the thrill that awaits you on your first off road adventure makes it all worthwhile.

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Travel

A Strong Winch. Effective Recovery

Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned off-road driver, a winch should feature high on your list of priorities. Winches act as the strong arm of your 4×4, and prove to be an invaluable recovery tool, should your journey suddenly go awry. Read on as we break down the basic physics of Winch Recovery, while providing a Basic Guide Plan to using a 4×4 winch correctly and safely, to minimise the risk of personal and vehicular damage

How a Winch can assist in a Crisis

Consider you have a few extra bucks to spend on that last 4×4 accessory. Yes, you could deck out your off-road vehicle with colossal rims and massage your ego at every robot. However, in times of disaster, an installed winch becomes your “Phone a Friend” option that answers in the time of need. A winch is defined as; “”A stationary motor-driven or hand-powered machine used for hoisting or hauling, consisting of a drum structure around which is wound a rope or chain attached to the object being moved”. Essentially, the winch is connected to a stationary structure, capable of handling the capacity and weight of your off road vehicle, and through either electrical or physical force, it pulls the vehicle from an irrecoverable position to a smooth surface.

Safety Elements of Winch Operation  

Never take for granted that a winch will effortlessly rescue you from any situation. They are highly dangerous if not used properly. A flying winch cable can cause collateral damage to driver and vehicle. Please be extremely careful in operating the machine.

  • Purchase a Winch that can handle a weight at least 50% more than the total weight of your off road vehicle. This also applies to winch accessories such as tree protectors and snatch blocks.
  • Wear gloves at all times. It protects you from cuts and grazes. You’ll need strong hands afterwards, to continue on your journey.
  • Setup a “No-person zone”, around the vehicle and the source of the pull. Establish winch ‘hand signals’ between the driver and the navigator (if you are not alone)

Most importantly, we highly emphasise the need to do a practice winch recovery before departing on your journey. Get all the techniques right, and follow each step of the winching process carefully. This will build up greater understanding of the recovery, the extent of what’s involved, and keep you focused in the time of stress. At Summit 4×4, we proudly stock the Nova Winches range, along with a selection of accessories. Our team is always on hand to assess your winching needs and do a full safety check on your off road vehicle. Safe travels.

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Travel

Recovery Essentials for the Off Road Journey

As the proud owner of your 4×4 vehicle, it is always a drivers dream to take their machine off road for the adventure of a lifetime, on the most challenging routes that Africa has to offer. Off road trips are never plain sailing, and there are many things to prepare for, both mechanically and logistically. We will break down everything you need to organize below.

After months of researching stories from fellow 4×4 drivers, checking the terrain of potential routes, (renewing your passport, if required), and modifying your vehicle to withstand the worst of our roads’ conditions, you’re ready to take your off-road vehicle (and yourself!) to the ultimate limit. Every province in South Africa, and neighboring countries, offers unique off-road challenges that can range from the scenic and gentle Midlands to the almost rock-crawling traverses of the Lesotho Highlands.

Understanding 4×4 Trail ‘Grading’ System

The South African Trail Grading system, in a nutshell, matches your off-road driving competency to the trail routes which your vehicle is allowed to pass through. Trails are divided into five grading categories. Grade 1 is regarded as an entry level trail suitable for a novice driver, driving a standard 4×4 with little or no modifications. Grade 2 is similar to the above, but factors in conditions such as mud and sandy surfaces. Trails listed as Grade 3, or upwards, do require some off road driving experience, and tough protection on your vehicle for tackling steep and rocky gradients.

4×4 remains a team game!

Bearing in mind, this is your first real off road trip, please do not ignore the following factors;

  • While off-road driving Grade 1 and 2 trails may seem a breeze on paper, a change in the weather conditions can quickly turn your trip into a nightmare. Maintain contact with local operators and updates from 4×4 clubs
  • Don’t get too cocky! Attempting trails with a rating of Grade 3 or above will require a sound knowledge of recovery techniques. Consider taking along a mate with solid technical driving experience, or have a local guide accompany you on the off road route.

The 4×4 off-road driving scene is an exciting and supportive community. Make contact with a 4×4 club who have all been in your shoes, and will offer endless support and advice. If traveling across borders, you need to respect factors such as malaria exposure, visa regulations, and any civil unrest. At Summit 4×4 we are glad to assess your off-road vehicle to check everything’s in order, just in case there need to be a Plan B. Safe travels

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Travel

Planning for your first off road trip in Southern Africa

As the proud owner of your 4×4 vehicle, it is always a drivers dream to take their machine off road for the adventure of a lifetime, on the most challenging routes that Africa has to offer. Off road trips are never plain sailing, and there are many things to prepare for, both mechanically and logistically. We will break down everything you need to organize below.

After months of researching stories from fellow 4×4 drivers, checking the terrain of potential routes, (renewing your passport, if required), and modifying your vehicle to withstand the worst of our roads’ conditions, you’re ready to take your off-road vehicle (and yourself!) to the ultimate limit. Every province in South Africa, and neighboring countries, offers unique off-road challenges that can range from the scenic and gentle Midlands to the almost rock-crawling traverses of the Lesotho Highlands.

Understanding 4×4 Trail ‘Grading’ System

The South African Trail Grading system, in a nutshell, matches your off-road driving competency to the trail routes which your vehicle is allowed to pass through. Trails are divided into five grading categories. Grade 1 is regarded as an entry level trail suitable for a novice driver, driving a standard 4×4 with little or no modifications. Grade 2 is similar to the above, but factors in conditions such as mud and sandy surfaces. Trails listed as Grade 3, or upwards, do require some off road driving experience, and tough protection on your vehicle for tackling steep and rocky gradients.

4×4 remains a team game!

Bearing in mind, this is your first real off road trip, please do not ignore the following factors;

  • While off-road driving Grade 1 and 2 trails may seem a breeze on paper, a change in the weather conditions can quickly turn your trip into a nightmare. Maintain contact with local operators and updates from 4×4 clubs
  • Don’t get too cocky! Attempting trails with a rating of Grade 3 or above will require a sound knowledge of recovery techniques. Consider taking along a mate with solid technical driving experience, or have a local guide accompany you on the off road route.

The 4×4 off-road driving scene is an exciting and supportive community. Make contact with a 4×4 club who have all been in your shoes, and will offer endless support and advice. If traveling across borders, you need to respect factors such as malaria exposure, visa regulations, and any civil unrest. At Summit 4×4 we are glad to assess your off-road vehicle to check everything’s in order, just in case there need to be a Plan B. Safe travels

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bumpers

Keep your bumper in top gear – Part 2

Collisions!

Think back to your 10 year old self, when the carousel rolled into town. How many of us jumped on the bumper cars (‘dodgems’) and smashed up anybody who got in our way?  As a 4×4 owner, collisions are our worst nightmare, and the reason why a quality bumper, both front and rear, are non-negotiable, when buying or upgrading your vehicle. Fitting your own customised bumper can be done (DIY enthusiasts, read on), and we will be sharing tips on what factors to consider, to make sure the bumper fits the design and shape of your vehicle.

Installing your own 4×4 custom bumper

If you’re thinking of installing a replacement bumper on your vehicle, some welding and engineering skills will take you a long way. Be honest with yourself from the start; decide which steps of your DIY bumper project you can complete on your own. Other tasks will need the help of dealerships and craftsmen. With proper planning, attention to detail, and plenty of coffee in the workshop, you can get that off-road bumper you’ve always desired.

Below are a couple of important factors to consider.

  • Check with your manufacturer, if your new front and rear bumpers need to be attached to the chassis or the body of the vehicle.
  • Do your research! There are lots of forums online, for advice on how to approach this project. It’s likely you’re not the first person to take the challenge on your vehicle’s bumper. Listen to the advice of those who have gone down the same path.
  • Gather all the tools you require. At the very least you should be prepared with cutting machines, tape measure, tube benders, spray paint, and a few strong mates to attach the finished bumper  at the end.
  • Make sure all the pieces of your bumper are cut to size, to fit into your 4×4’s mounting brackets.
  • Find what extra brackets need to built into the front and rear bumper to accommodate extras such as winches,LED lightbars and bash plates.

It would be impossible to write an instructional manual on how to complete this project as no two bumpers are identical. At Summit 4×4, we are just as passionate as our customers at building the best quality accessories. We are happy to pass on advice, and value your input, to improve what we do. If you have recently built your own bumper, feel free to share your work on our Facebook page. Or if you’re looking for professional fitment and advice, contact us at Summit 4×4 where we’ve fitted hundreds of bumpers to different models.

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bumpers

Keep your bumper in top gear

There are few exterior structures more essential to a 4×4 owner, than a strong and capable front and rear bumper. Not only are custom bumpers engineered to absorb and minimize the impact of a collision on your vehicle, they also function as the first line of defence in protecting the passengers in your vehicle. In this 2-part blog, we will inspire you on the current trends in 4×4 bumpers, while also factoring in our extensive range of replacement bumpers at Summit 4×4 accessories.

Changing Trends in Bumper Design

Bumper design has come a long way since the mid 1900’s, when thick structures of nickel, steel and other elements protected a vehicle’s delicate parts. How times have changed! A recent survey of new car dealers, written  by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in America found that car buyers are mainly concerned about quality and safety, as opposed to the cost. Inevitably, the industry evolved to experimenting with softer materials for bumper design. After much clumsiness and visual horrorshows, manufacturers such as Ford, Jeep, Toyota, amongst others, eventually got it right with materials that proved to be more resilient, light-weight and better fitted into each 4×4’s overall design. As bumper replacement is one of the key areas of our business, we took stock of inovation, and learned from the many challenges faced by our team in restoring many a client’s pride and joy.

There are some who would say that customised bumpers are expensive, lavish and unnecessary. We beg to differ. Driving on African roads can be uncertain at the best of times, and it’s simply a non-negotiable that your 4×4 is well protected for what’s around the corner. Join us next week, as we explore the Pro’s and Con’s of adding a replacement bumper, and correct fitment tips.

Face-Lift

Whether you require maximum absorption as you make your journey on your next African safari, or leave fellow motorists in awe of your sleek and stylish exterior design, we use only the best materials, making sure we meet the highest bumper safety standards. Quality will always be key, and South African 4×4 owners can now obtain top quality front and rear replacement bumpers and bash plates, but at a fraction of the price you would expect to payIf you’re considering changing the face and rump of your beloved 4×4, don’t hesitate to contact us today.