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You and your 4×4: Earn your stripes

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You and your 4×4: Earn your stripes

Isuzu has earned its stripes as a rugged adventurer. With a history of over 40 years in South Africa – from KB bakkies to the newer D-MAX bakkie – Isuzu has rightfully racked up a reputation as a true legendary workhorse, one of the toughest with the never-fading promise of durability, reliability, and capability. 

It has a proven track record of being “With you, for the long run” always and forever.

And while Isuzu has earned its stripes, there is baton being passed on to 4×4 owners in the form of things and situations – let’s call it a 4×4 owner’s rite of passage – that you will either come across eventually, or it is high on the top of many off-road adventurers’ bucket list of experiences.

And once you find yourself in these situations – or get yourself out of these situations – you’ve earned the right to sing the 4×4 blues and major bragging rights are yours to keep.

Slap a ZA sticker on your bakkie or mu-X

You know when that ZA sticker goes onto your vehicle, it is time for an African adventure – whether you are just visiting one of South Africa’s neighbours, or doing an extended overland trip. That sticker says: this bakkie has been places, has seen things, has traversed some wild roads.

A mud bath

Mud spray. It is an actual thing. The Guardian once called it the ultimate accessory for city 4×4 drivers and included: “With spray-on mud, they can make it look like they’ve been off-road instead of just driving to the shops and back.”

You don’t even have to be an off-road purist to say that spray on mud is a brown smidge too far. But coming back from a trip with a dirty vehicle – covered in real, well-earned mud and dust – speaks of a real adventure from nature’s spa.

Top of Sani Pass

For years South Africans have heard that the Sani Pass will be tarred any day now and that you should tackle the mother of all passes before it is too late. But the years still tick by, the road is still untarred and tricky and getting to the top of the Sani Pass is still high on everyone’s bucket lists. Get to the top, drink something in Africa’s highest pub, and take a photo for Instagram for a bit of a humble brag.

The Bakkie Wave

The Bakkie Wave is the road’s version of the Mexican Wave, and it forms part of South Africa’s bakkie culture. There is an art to it; you lift only one finger or two fingers up, without your hand leaving the steering wheel and it translates to “howzit fellow bakkie driver”.


Sand or mud. It happens. But with the right combination of skills, the abilities of your Isuzu and the basic recovery gear, you can get out of “s(t)ucky” situation. And if your sand driving skills are not on par with the roads you are about to tackle, you can also do a course with Isuzu Driving Academy. Practice makes perfect.

“Vang ‘n Veldtie”

There comes a time in every man and woman’s life when nature calls and you have to squat down, “vang ‘n veldtie” and put all your hope in the tree behind which you are hiding and say a little prayer that a snake doesn’t catch your behind.

A Wild Camping Adventure

Camping within a marked area of a national park or reserve is one thing, but wild camping – in an area where there is no fence between you and the hungry lions – is a whole other thing. You wouldn’t want to be in a ground tent when there are some unexpected visitors around the campsite; luckily with Isuzu Motors South Africa’s partnership with 4×4 Megaworld you can kit your bakkie (or mu-X) out from front to back, complete with an RSi canopy that can also be converted into the ultimate camping kitchen.

Wait in a border line

If you are doing an overland trip, waiting in a border queue is almost a rite of passage. Sometimes it is messy, sometimes it is confusing and sometimes – mid-immigration-line – you wonder why you chose to travel at such a busy time.

Get a little bit lost

What is an adventure without taking the wrong turn and getting lost? It is not always smooth-sailing, but with the helpful assistance of the Isuzu D-MAX or mu-X’s satellite navigation, displayed on the 6.5” touchscreen, getting lost is a bit more optional.


Gamkaskloof is on the radar of many off-road drivers’ bucket lists, and not because of difficulty or because of those hairpin bends, but rather because of its nickname. The area – a narrow isolated valley in the Swartberg Mountains close to Oudtshoorn – has been dubbed “The Hell” and while the origin of this nickname is still a mystery it is a real badge of honour to say: I’ve been to hell and back.

The Sandwich Harbour Namibia

Another one for the bragging rights bag. Imagine the ocean is a slice of bread, the dunes are the other slice, and in the middle – on a rather narrow stretch of sand – there you are driving along, sandwiched between two mighty forces. Time, precision, skills, experience and a watchful eye on and respect for the weather and tide play a pivotal role in earning your Sandwich Harbour stripes.

Get wet

Every 4×4 driver will at some stage get extremely wet to scope out the depth of a water crossing and get an idea of the road surface. It is on the cards; you can’t miss it.

Baboons Pass

Another Lesotho gem, but other than the Sani Pass, this one doesn’t care so much about challenging your fear of heights, but rather challenge your fear of saying goodbye to your vehicle and walking home. The Baboons Pass is extremely difficult and with its huge boulders, narrow passages, holes, crazy turns and vertical cliff droppings it has destroyed multiple vehicles – and egos – over the years. It is not for the faint of heart, and not suitable for all vehicles and one can have nothing but respect for a driver who chooses not to do it.

Kei Mouth Pont

The Kei Mouth pont began operation in 1990 and it is one of South Africa’s two remaining car-transporting pontoon river ferry services and a vital lifeline for those living in the Centane area. The pont eliminates a massive detour and it is often seen as the gateway to the Wild Coast and due to the pont being such a rarity in South Africa, you will definitely earn your “I was here” bragging rights.

Get the Ben 10 Challenge badge of honour

The Ben 10 Challenge is an open invitation for 4×4 enthusiasts to tackle 10 mountain passes in the Eastern Cape in 7 days, some more challenging and nail-biting than others. You register for the challenge, take a photo at the summit of each pass, and if you complete the challenge – Bob’s your uncle – you get a badge of honour and your name (and vehicle) goes into the hall of fame.


This word has even made it into the Urban Dictionary where it says: The result of transforming the bucket or your bakkie (pick-up truck in some parts of the world) into a temporary water feature (like a Jacuzzi ®) for leisure. Usually, this is achieved by lining the bucket with plastic sheeting and filling it with water, however other methods have been applied as well.

But this one is just for laughs and not recommended.

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