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  1. #1
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    Default Handling the soft sand in Botswana

    Hi All

    We are heading into Botswana for the first time in September, new territory for us so a lot of unknowns. I have two main questions please.

    1. I will be driving a Suzuki Grand Vitara 2.4 (4x4, diff lock, low ratio available) and I was wondering if it is really necessary (and expensive) to buy all terrain tyres to deal with the deep soft sand, of which I have no experience?

    2. We will be travelling from Maun, through Khwai and up to Kasane, so I gather no fuel will be available. What sort of fuel consumption can one expect when travelling through thick sand? I doubt my tank goes to 60lt which seems insufficient, requiring us to carry spare petrol.

    EDIT: While asking questions, my car is black, terrible for bush scratching. So I am thinking of getting the sides wrapped. Does this work or will the wrapping just tear if rubbing against branches, twigs, etc.

    We will be in a small group of other vehicles, but any advice would be great. Thanks.
    Last edited by Killarneyracer; 2021/07/19 at 11:28 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Handling the soft sand in Botswana

    While there are sandy patches in the Moremi, your main sand will be in the Savuti area. The sandridge road on a hot day can keep you busy… Your challenge may be the height of your Suzuki, rather than the tyres. You will have to deflate, irrespective of whatever tyres you use. The middlemannetjie is high in places, especially on a vehicle with standard suspension running on deflated tyres. That same Savuti stretch will also cause your vehicle to drink fuel. When I still had a standard tank, we always carried additional jerry cans. You don’t want to drive so far and not have fuel for game drives and sufficient to get you to Kansane. If you search YouTube, you will find sufficient videos of the area to give you an idea. Enjoy!

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Handling the soft sand in Botswana

    You dont need AT tyres for sand. Any tyre will do.
    Just deflate properly.

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    Default Re: Handling the soft sand in Botswana

    Tyre pressure is everything in sand - tyre tread is largely irrelevant so stick with the tyres you have. Rule of thumb is to deflate until the tyres are starting to bulge outward at the base, probably between 1.6 & 1.8 all round. In thick sand, I always use low range, even though high is usually adequate - I'd rather be idling along in low 4th or 5th and have 3, 2 & 1 in reserve for emergencies, than be in high 2 and only have first left to play with.
    If you are still battling, deflate in small increments but be very careful not to go too low or you will debead a tyre. The Vitara is relatively light, so you could probably safely go down as low as 1.2, but if you are loaded, I wouldn't go lower than 1.4.
    Carry a good compressor and tyre gauge.
    Fuel - whatever you usually consume, double it to be safe. There should be fuel at the Puma at Mucheni near Ngoma Bridge, but don't rely on it.
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  8. #5
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    Default Re: Handling the soft sand in Botswana

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Weaver View Post
    Tyre pressure is everything in sand - tyre tread is largely irrelevant so stick with the tyres you have. Rule of thumb is to deflate until the tyres are starting to bulge outward at the base, probably between 1.6 & 1.8 all round. In thick sand, I always use low range, even though high is usually adequate - I'd rather be idling along in low 4th or 5th and have 3, 2 & 1 in reserve for emergencies, than be in high 2 and only have first left to play with.
    If you are still battling, deflate in small increments but be very careful not to go too low or you will debead a tyre. The Vitara is relatively light, so you could probably safely go down as low as 1.2, but if you are loaded, I wouldn't go lower than 1.4.
    Carry a good compressor and tyre gauge.
    Fuel - whatever you usually consume, double it to be safe. There should be fuel at the Puma at Mucheni near Ngoma Bridge, but don't rely on it.
    Puma was open a few weeks back.

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  10. #6
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    Default Re: Handling the soft sand in Botswana

    You can carry extra Jerry cans, but to save fuel, you can join other vehicles as passengers during game drives, those whose cars has big fuel tank to save fuel. I know it’s tough to do, many people prefer to drive themselves during game drives but this could be an option.

    September is very hot and thick sand to Savuti can get very tough. Travelling early morning could help, coupled with deflating tyres, but also your sand driving skills contribute a lot.
    Last edited by PAT n WOLF; 2021/07/18 at 11:55 PM.

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  12. #7
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    Default Re: Handling the soft sand in Botswana

    Your tires are fine, deflation is important.
    How much you deflate depends on what your tires look like. and the terrain. Deflating from 1.0 bar to 0.8 bar makes a huge difference in capability in sand. If you are doing sandy and rocky stuff intermittent you have to be careful, but you can easily deflate to 1.0 and even 0.8 bar, even with a heavy load. Just remember to reinflate before you drive at speed.
    If you are stuck, deflate more, down to 0.5 and lower is possible if you are just going to get unstuck and then inflate a bit.

    Most important
    1. Have a compressor.
    2. Don't pack it deep so that it is big job to get it out and working.
    3. Use your compressor.

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  14. #8
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    Default Re: Handling the soft sand in Botswana

    Quote Originally Posted by Killarneyracer View Post
    Hi All

    We are heading into Botswana for the first time in September, new territory for us so a lot of unknowns. I have two main questions please.

    1. I will be driving a Suzuki Grand Vitara 2.4 (4x4, diff lock, low ratio available) and I was wondering if it is really necessary (and expensive) to buy all terrain tyres to deal with the deep soft sand, of which I have no experience?

    2. We will be travelling from Maun, through Khwai and up to Kasane, so I gather no fuel will be available. What sort of fuel consumption can one expect when travelling through thick sand? I doubt my tank goes to 60lt which seems insufficient, requiring us to carry spare petrol.

    We will be in a small group of other vehicles, but any advice would be great. Thanks.
    Good morning, I have to ask…..are you towing, or just the vehicle?
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  16. #9
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    Default Re: Handling the soft sand in Botswana

    Quote Originally Posted by FransBR View Post
    Good morning, I have to ask…..are you towing, or just the vehicle?
    FransBR it will just be the vehicle.

  17. #10
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    Default Re: Handling the soft sand in Botswana

    Your tyres will be fine as long as you deflate to around 1.6 bar.

    If you can, carry 2x jerry cans.

    Wrapping is so expensive, and a proper branch will still scratch. Tip I read on here is to take your car for a decent polish before leaving, then the branches "slide" over the paintwork.

    The roads are not only sandy, it's also undulated and corrugated. Be careful to not overwork your clutch in the sand.

    But overall, you will be more than fine in your chosen vehicle.
    Stephan G

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  18. #11
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    Default Re: Handling the soft sand in Botswana

    Does the GV have proper, rated recovery points (front and rear)? Might be worthwhile having them fitted, if you do get stuck, you can get snatched by your traveling partners.
    Stephan G

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  20. #12
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    Default Re: Handling the soft sand in Botswana

    On that small tank and the thirst of the GV, you may have to carry substantial additional fuel.



  21. #13
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    Default Re: Handling the soft sand in Botswana

    Most of the guys seem to think the tyres will be fine.

    If I may play devils advocate-the OP has HT tyres I assume, do you guys not think that the HT will be very prone to side wall punctures with the mopane sticks? AT and MT tyres would have much more side wall protection.

    Yes? No?

    I personally would only tackle the sand road to Savute with an off road tyre.

    No arguments on the correct pressure though
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  23. #14
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    Default Re: Handling the soft sand in Botswana

    Quote Originally Posted by LiamG View Post
    Most of the guys seem to think the tyres will be fine.

    If I may play devils advocate-the OP has HT tyres I assume, do you guys not think that the HT will be very prone to side wall punctures with the mopane sticks? AT and MT tyres would have much more side wall protection.

    Yes? No?

    I personally would only tackle the sand road to Savute with an off road tyre.

    No arguments on the correct pressure though
    AT or MT tyres definitely better, but imo not worth R10k just for this trip. My cousin did that trip with the standard HT tyres that his Amarok came out with, with no issues.

    So full disclaimer, AT tyres are the best option, but not a must. (All just my opinion of course...)
    Stephan G

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  25. #15
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    Default Re: Handling the soft sand in Botswana

    Quote Originally Posted by LiamG View Post
    Most of the guys seem to think the tyres will be fine.

    If I may play devils advocate-the OP has HT tyres I assume, do you guys not think that the HT will be very prone to side wall punctures with the mopane sticks? AT and MT tyres would have much more side wall protection.

    Yes? No?

    I personally would only tackle the sand road to Savute with an off road tyre.

    No arguments on the correct pressure though
    I also do not see the reasoning of having a fully fledged 4x4 (low range etc.) vehicle and then running HT tires? But can it do sand? Yes!



  26. #16
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    Default Re: Handling the soft sand in Botswana

    Great advise guys, thank you.

    How necessary is it to fit bash plates for the sump and radiator, given that it is sand driving and probably very little rocky terrain?

    And if one does need to purchase these (from Stofpad), can I fit them myself or is this a specialised job? Anyone with personal experience with the GV? Thanks

  27. #17
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    Default Re: Handling the soft sand in Botswana

    Quote Originally Posted by hatjohan View Post
    I also do not see the reasoning of having a fully fledged 4x4 (low range etc.) vehicle and then running HT tires? But can it do sand? Yes!
    True, my concern though is the GV doesn't have great ground clearance and the middle mannetjie will cause issues in places and the OP would have to drive up the mannetjie at times which means that either the left or the right tyres will be off the main track and vulnerable to sharp objects.

    Anyway, personally I would rather not have the stress and would upgrade my tyres.

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    Default Re: Handling the soft sand in Botswana

    Quote Originally Posted by Killarneyracer View Post
    Great advise guys, thank you.

    How necessary is it to fit bash plates for the sump and radiator, given that it is sand driving and probably very little rocky terrain?

    And if one does need to purchase these (from Stofpad), can I fit them myself or is this a specialised job? Anyone with personal experience with the GV? Thanks
    Easy to fit on most vehicles. Just a few bolts holds it in place
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    Default Re: Handling the soft sand in Botswana

    I would be most worried about punctures.

    HT tyres have paper sidewalls, you will be amazed at what puny little sticks can get through them. But as long as you have a complete spare wheel/tyre, as well as a spare tyre (light and easy to throw on the roof), and plenty of string plugs, I would think you'll be OK.
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    Default Re: Handling the soft sand in Botswana

    Quote Originally Posted by Killarneyracer View Post
    Great advise guys, thank you.

    How necessary is it to fit bash plates for the sump and radiator, given that it is sand driving and probably very little rocky terrain?

    And if one does need to purchase these (from Stofpad), can I fit them myself or is this a specialised job? Anyone with personal experience with the GV? Thanks
    Don't be fooled, the "sandy" parts get compacted in places and there will also be dried out mud and rocks in the middelmannetjie.

    It's all about balance. It goes without saying that proper tyres, a bit of lift and some under belly protection will give you the most comfort. But it comes at a price.

    A stock standard GV can do Chobe no problem. But if, for example, you get a sidewall puncture, you'll be cross with yourself and that poephol Groenman on the forum for not fitting AT tyres.

    If you hit a hole in your sump, you'll be gatvol for not fitting the bashplate.

    But if you fit everything and all goes without a hitch, you will wonder if all the spend was worth it...

    As yourself, will you be doing such trips in future? If yes, start a list of mods and prioritise. Match your priority list against your available funds...

    If you intend on doing overland trips, I would add (in order of importance in my view)

    1. Tyres (but keep the old ones for when you are back, no use chucking tyres with nothing wrong, it's just a schlep sitting at Speedy waiting for the swop each time).
    2. Roof rack (to carry fuel, tent, wood etc)
    3. Recovery points (not too expensive)
    4. Underbody protection (but also check what's already there)
    5. Suspension lift kit

    Then you can start with nice things like slides and dual battery and snorkels etc, but then again, you've built an overlander straight from the cover of SA 4x4....

    Edit: If this is a first foray into the overlanding life, keep your car standard, make sure you sharpen your technical skills (take the car for some sandy driving beforehand) and put away a few Rand for IF something happens to your car. Then if you enjoyed it and nothing happened (both being the aim of the trip) start building your car thereafter.
    Last edited by Groenman; 2021/07/19 at 12:24 PM.
    Stephan G

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