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  1. #1
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    Default Van Zyl's Pass in new standard 2l biturbo Amarok/Ford double cab May 2024

    While planning our Kaokoveld/Vanzyl's Pass trip this year, I could find very little information about tackling Van Zyl's pass in a standard 4x4 vehicle and thought that there would be some inexperienced Amarok or Ford owners that would appreciate some feedback and advice. So this thread is not for the fundi. It is for those, like myself who understand that they are inexperienced. My set-up:
    Amarok 2l biturbo D/C with Bushtec canopy fitted with a Tankwa RTT. On the cab I had a Frontrunner roof rack fitted with x 2 20l Diesel jerrycan holders each holding x 2 i.e 80l of diesel and a 3kg Cadac gas cilinder. Rear seat removed and built in a carpet covered plywood board for clothing, fridge and other goodies. So what would I suggest traversing Van Zyl's Pass in a standard 4x4:
    1. Understand your vehicle's capability and don't read threads where other modified vehicles are used. It is missleading. These vehicles usually have OME's etc fitted and are built for purpose. If you are like me, you bought a 4x4 to be used 90% in mild conditions of which 80% is tar road. When someone says: Van Zyl's is not so bad, ask them what vehicle they drove!
    2. People in modified vehicles will tell you that they will support and help you when the going gets tough, but when you have been building road for hours 8-10 hrs at 40 degr Celsius and it is getting late afternoon and you still have to cover another few hours until you reach camp, then everything goes out the door, including your own initial plans. Don't ever hurry, take your time and very important, take full responsibility for your own road building and track assessment. The track from Okongwati to Van Zyl's camp is the most challenging of the "Van Zyl's Pass", so seriously consider wild camping halfway between Okongwaiti and Van Zyls Camp. Tackle the last 10 km's to Van Zyls Camp early morning when you are fresh and able to concentrate better. The 60km's from Okongwati to Van Zyls Camp took us 11hrs to do and we arrived at dusk. Not ideal. In the last 10km's before Van Zyls Camp both standard vehicles picked up substantial damage to bodies. Some of the other more capable vehicles picked up severe tyre damage on this stretch and barely escaped flat tyre due to deep cuts into brand new tyres.
    3. Which brings me to tyres: The Ford and Amarok both comes out with a Goodyear Wrangler Territory tyre. The side-wall of these Wranglers are paper thin and I (and one other vehicle) reluctantly changed them to General Grabbers AT3. A very good decision ultimately. The Grabbers somehow had the least damage after the trip despite being only 2-ply. One of the Landcruisers lost one brand new Maxxi and will have to replace another for safety reasons. The BF Goodrich damaged substantially on another Landcruiser but these were relatively old tyres although still with plenty thread(only fitted for the trip). So message is: Tyres are one of your most important assets on this trip. New rubber is probably more moldable and therefor a safer bet. Believe me, you don't want a flat tyre in the pass!
    4. If you have no experience driving in boulder strewn mountain passes and on severe slopes - reconsider going on this one. You need a clear understanding of how to use higher ground when driving this pass. This would sometimes mean placing your tyres outside of the track at 30-45degr angles and driving over huge boulders with very little space on the sides. So also your spotter needs to understand this concept. A spotter normally stands in front showing you the line but seldom has a good view of your sides. Protecting the lowest point between the two front wheels and the two rear wheels are relatively easy. The biggest challenge is the space between front and rear wheels. Damage to the body in Van Zyl's pass occur because of mismanagement of this space. Damage to midbody is in my humble opinion prevented by building a path which makes sure that both front and rear wheels are not in a ditch at the same time. For that you need to get out of your vehicle and build road, thinking all the time where will my front and rear wheels be at the same time. Nobody understands your vehicle better than you yourself.
    5. Once one vehicle has completed a difficult stretch, always rebuild the road. Rocks and boulders always move into inferior positions once a vehicle has passed. Don't think: He has done it, I should be able to do it. Start all over with the process preparing the road ahead.
    6. When you are in your vehicle it is impossible to see your line, which is why spotters are used in treacherous areas. I picked up on a tip from a friend and started leaning out my window when tackling these difficult areas. This gave me a better perception of line and what the spotter tried to achieve. I literally drove with straightened legs, half my body outside the window! This was quite easy because of the incredible functionality of the "Descent" and 4L gear of the Amarok.
    7. On steep inclines going up with loose rocks, remember to engage diff lock. It makes a massive difference. Power and torque was never the issue and both vehicles had ample. If anything, vehicles nowadays have too much power!
    8. Will I do it again?.......Never. Did I enjoy the challenge? Yes.....thoroughly. Should you do it? That depends on your vehicle, your experience, your company. Go there with an understanding of the risk of damage and accept that you may have to visit the panel beater on return. It is just a reality. I would not do it unless I am medically fit. It requires a degree of hard physical work(carrying rocks all day). We were severely dehydrated on day one of the pass. You are so busy concentrating at the problem ahead that you forget to drink water.

    I hope this is of some value to the inexperienced 4x4 enthusiast - not to scare you off but to give you a proper perspective of what to expect and properly prepare.


  2. #2
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    Default Re: Van Zyl's Pass in new standard 2l biturbo Amarok/Ford double cab May 2024

    Thanks for the honest report windek, glad you all made it through.

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    Default Re: Van Zyl's Pass in new standard 2l biturbo Amarok/Ford double cab May 2024

    Has this track so much deteriorated?

    I made it through some years back in an overloaded Patrol (standard suspension) towing my trailer without much stone shifting an no damages of note.

    Back-up vehicle was a Ford Courier 3.2 V6 with standard suspension.

    Thanks for the details in the report.
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    Default Re: Van Zyl's Pass in new standard 2l biturbo Amarok/Ford double cab May 2024

    "Will I do it again?.......Never. Did I enjoy the challenge? Yes.....thoroughly."

    This statement is epic! I never did Van Zyl's (and probably never will, having to rely on hired vehicles), but I can so really relate to that statement about some other stretches that we took in Africa.
    24 hours in a day.... 24 beer in a case.... Coincidence?
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    Default Re: Van Zyl's Pass in new standard 2l biturbo Amarok/Ford double cab May 2024

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalahari Safari View Post
    Has this track so much deteriorated?

    I made it through some years back in an overloaded Patrol (standard suspension) towing my trailer without much stone shifting an no damages of note.

    Back-up vehicle was a Ford Courier 3.2 V6 with standard suspension.

    Thanks for the details in the report.
    We discussed it on the trip and thought that summer rains in the area often come in the shape of hard down pours for short periods causing flooding and damage to the track. We thought the track probably has deteriorated over the many years since Van Zyl built it. Also take in to account that we were 5 vehicles in the group. At every difficult spot, you have to stop and guide not 2 but 5 vehicles over the difficult spot. Timewise it take Xmins divide by 2 x 5 mins to cross that section.....and there are many.

    Maybe I should add that I never thought we were in life-threatening danger. It was more a fear of damage to vehicles and being stuck in the pass with damaged tyres or engine failure. I would strongly advise takeing at least x 1 6th tyre between every 2 vehicles. Most of the damage to tyres was not sharp punctures but rather stone cuts ripping chunks of rubber form the tyre. Despite this damage we only had one flat tyre the entire trip but we drove at low speeds at all times which gives you time to observe for sharp stones.

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    Default Re: Van Zyl's Pass in new standard 2l biturbo Amarok/Ford double cab May 2024

    It sounds like it is in much worse condition than it was 30 years ago, when we drove it in an S3 short wheelbase. But I did have to use the brakes, which isnt advisable but was necessary because of the rock steps. Low gear low range was still too fast.

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    Default Re: Van Zyl's Pass in new standard 2l biturbo Amarok/Ford double cab May 2024

    Quote Originally Posted by fannerpaulgraham View Post
    It sounds like it is in much worse condition than it was 30 years ago, when we drove it in an S3 short wheelbase. But I did have to use the brakes, which isnt advisable but was necessary because of the rock steps. Low gear low range was still too fast.
    What is the reason for going down vanZyl s!
    There are better and easier roads to get into the Fluss! Or is it for the feather in your cap!

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    Default Re: Van Zyl's Pass in new standard 2l biturbo Amarok/Ford double cab May 2024

    Quote Originally Posted by Lappies View Post
    What is the reason for going down vanZyl s!
    There are better and easier roads to get into the Fluss! Or is it for the feather in your cap!

    Well for starters it's by far the shortest route into the Maienfluss if your are coming from the North, like from Epupa Falls.

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    Default Re: Van Zyl's Pass in new standard 2l biturbo Amarok/Ford double cab May 2024

    Purely for interests' sake I'm posting this reply. I've done Van Zyl's last month (May) with a group of bikers on an organized adventure bike trip with a brand-new LC 79 V6 single cab as back-up. This was my 3rd year of doing this trip and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Obviously, it is much more doable on a bike, e.g. from Van Zyl's camp over the pass to the Jan Joubert memorial at the bottom of the pass to Marienfluss takes about 2 hours (at most). Our back-up vehicle kept pace (the driver was alone in the vehicle) and was not far behind the bikes, but the driver has done this trip numerous times and not one mishap. He also managed without road building along the route.
    Last edited by Fred.Knoetze; 2024/06/10 at 03:40 PM.

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    Default Re: Van Zyl's Pass in new standard 2l biturbo Amarok/Ford double cab May 2024

    Quote Originally Posted by ortelius View Post
    "Will I do it again?.......Never. Did I enjoy the challenge? Yes.....thoroughly."

    This statement is epic! I never did Van Zyl's (and probably never will, having to rely on hired vehicles), but I can so really relate to that statement about some other stretches that we took in Africa.
    Driving Van Zyl's Pass with a rental car shouldn't be a problem if the rental company is OK with it.
    But you have to realize that recovering a rental car from there is difficult and very expensive.
    Our rental company, Bushlore, gave us permission but advised to take a Landcruiser instead of the Hi-lux.
    However, we have used the Hi-lux (with rooftop tent) every time we drove it,
    but we moved the spare-wheel (from under the body) to the roof-rack above the cabin to give us more ground clearance.

    The first time we did the pass was with the incredible help from an SA couple whom we contacted through this forum and met at the campsite before the pass.
    To be honest: without them, we probably wouldn't have made it.
    It still is one of the best experiences of my life: when we were driving through the Marienfluss north to Camp Syncro,
    there were two thunderstorms on each side (east and west) with heavy rain while we were driving in the sunshine.
    The rain eventually reached the Marienfluss which was a very unique situation.

    After that first time we did it four more times, hoping we would meet more travelers at the campsite;
    however, that turned out to be wishful thinking, so we had to do it solo those four times.
    We took our time to analyze each difficult stretch and rebuild it if necessary.
    And even took some extra time to shoot video with my drone :-)

    I would do it again solo any time, but strongly advice to do it with assistance for first-timers.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	2013-09-24_13.55.38 Marienfluss thunderstorm Hilux.05DII_IMG_1639_02 [border].jpg 
Views:	188 
Size:	165.8 KB 
ID:	724162   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	2013-09-24_14.11.52 Marienfluss thunderstorm Hilux roof.05DII_IMG_1664_01b [border].jpg 
Views:	201 
Size:	342.6 KB 
ID:	724163  
    Last edited by marelm; 2024/06/10 at 02:36 PM. Reason: Added photos
    I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

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    Thumbs up Re: Van Zyl's Pass in new standard 2l biturbo Amarok/Ford double cab May 2024

    Quote Originally Posted by wimdek View Post
    While planning our Kaokoveld/Vanzyl's Pass trip this year, I could find very little information about tackling Van Zyl's pass in a standard 4x4 vehicle and thought that there would be some inexperienced Amarok or Ford owners that would appreciate some feedback and advice. So this thread is not for the fundi. It is for those, like myself who understand that they are inexperienced. My set-up:
    Amarok 2l biturbo D/C with Bushtec canopy fitted with a Tankwa RTT. On the cab I had a Frontrunner roof rack fitted with x 2 20l Diesel jerrycan holders each holding x 2 i.e 80l of diesel and a 3kg Cadac gas cilinder. Rear seat removed and built in a carpet covered plywood board for clothing, fridge and other goodies. So what would I suggest traversing Van Zyl's Pass in a standard 4x4:
    1. Understand your vehicle's capability and don't read threads where other modified vehicles are used. It is missleading. These vehicles usually have OME's etc fitted and are built for purpose. If you are like me, you bought a 4x4 to be used 90% in mild conditions of which 80% is tar road. When someone says: Van Zyl's is not so bad, ask them what vehicle they drove!
    2. People in modified vehicles will tell you that they will support and help you when the going gets tough, but when you have been building road for hours 8-10 hrs at 40 degr Celsius and it is getting late afternoon and you still have to cover another few hours until you reach camp, then everything goes out the door, including your own initial plans. Don't ever hurry, take your time and very important, take full responsibility for your own road building and track assessment. The track from Okongwati to Van Zyl's camp is the most challenging of the "Van Zyl's Pass", so seriously consider wild camping halfway between Okongwaiti and Van Zyls Camp. Tackle the last 10 km's to Van Zyls Camp early morning when you are fresh and able to concentrate better. The 60km's from Okongwati to Van Zyls Camp took us 11hrs to do and we arrived at dusk. Not ideal. In the last 10km's before Van Zyls Camp both standard vehicles picked up substantial damage to bodies. Some of the other more capable vehicles picked up severe tyre damage on this stretch and barely escaped flat tyre due to deep cuts into brand new tyres.
    3. Which brings me to tyres: The Ford and Amarok both comes out with a Goodyear Wrangler Territory tyre. The side-wall of these Wranglers are paper thin and I (and one other vehicle) reluctantly changed them to General Grabbers AT3. A very good decision ultimately. The Grabbers somehow had the least damage after the trip despite being only 2-ply. One of the Landcruisers lost one brand new Maxxi and will have to replace another for safety reasons. The BF Goodrich damaged substantially on another Landcruiser but these were relatively old tyres although still with plenty thread(only fitted for the trip). So message is: Tyres are one of your most important assets on this trip. New rubber is probably more moldable and therefor a safer bet. Believe me, you don't want a flat tyre in the pass!
    4. If you have no experience driving in boulder strewn mountain passes and on severe slopes - reconsider going on this one. You need a clear understanding of how to use higher ground when driving this pass. This would sometimes mean placing your tyres outside of the track at 30-45degr angles and driving over huge boulders with very little space on the sides. So also your spotter needs to understand this concept. A spotter normally stands in front showing you the line but seldom has a good view of your sides. Protecting the lowest point between the two front wheels and the two rear wheels are relatively easy. The biggest challenge is the space between front and rear wheels. Damage to the body in Van Zyl's pass occur because of mismanagement of this space. Damage to midbody is in my humble opinion prevented by building a path which makes sure that both front and rear wheels are not in a ditch at the same time. For that you need to get out of your vehicle and build road, thinking all the time where will my front and rear wheels be at the same time. Nobody understands your vehicle better than you yourself.
    5. Once one vehicle has completed a difficult stretch, always rebuild the road. Rocks and boulders always move into inferior positions once a vehicle has passed. Don't think: He has done it, I should be able to do it. Start all over with the process preparing the road ahead.
    6. When you are in your vehicle it is impossible to see your line, which is why spotters are used in treacherous areas. I picked up on a tip from a friend and started leaning out my window when tackling these difficult areas. This gave me a better perception of line and what the spotter tried to achieve. I literally drove with straightened legs, half my body outside the window! This was quite easy because of the incredible functionality of the "Descent" and 4L gear of the Amarok.
    7. On steep inclines going up with loose rocks, remember to engage diff lock. It makes a massive difference. Power and torque was never the issue and both vehicles had ample. If anything, vehicles nowadays have too much power!
    8. Will I do it again?.......Never. Did I enjoy the challenge? Yes.....thoroughly. Should you do it? That depends on your vehicle, your experience, your company. Go there with an understanding of the risk of damage and accept that you may have to visit the panel beater on return. It is just a reality. I would not do it unless I am medically fit. It requires a degree of hard physical work(carrying rocks all day). We were severely dehydrated on day one of the pass. You are so busy concentrating at the problem ahead that you forget to drink water.

    I hope this is of some value to the inexperienced 4x4 enthusiast - not to scare you off but to give you a proper perspective of what to expect and properly prepare.

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    Default Re: Van Zyl's Pass in new standard 2l biturbo Amarok/Ford double cab May 2024

    Okongwati to Van Zyl's camp is the most challenging of the "Van Zyl's Pass",
    -no truer words.
    If departing Epupa early you will
    make camp at the community site by 1600.
    The pass is very doable without building -maybe different after rains. The last 3 km are a challenge with narrow clearances - done at a crawl with guidance in one spot (easily identified by the LC carcasses down the hillside). We had a rear spring come out of its top cup-
    displaced by extreme articulation. LR defender drivers consider pre fitting guide cones. That odd smell is not your brakes - itís the tyre wall on the spring. Joubertís pass thereafter, from the Mflus Southward, also needs time and concentration. Real 3 ply tyres with thicker sidewalls required. If possible take two spares, on rims, in case. May not need them but if you do, donít kid yourself -you canít reseal and bead a tyre without an industrial compressor.

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    Default Re: Van Zyl's Pass in new standard 2l biturbo Amarok/Ford double cab May 2024

    "The track from Okongwati to Van Zyl's camp is the most challenging of the "Van Zyl's Pass", so seriously consider wild camping halfway between Okongwaiti and Van Zyls Camp."

    Wimdek, I did the route from Epupa Falls to the campsite in Marienfluss what is now called Camp Syncro in one day solo with very young sons in my Land Rover Defender during the winter school holidays in 1998. The section from Okangwati to Otjtanda was not to bad, maybe two places I had to craw a bit down but very short. As I do recall the section towards the lookout point over Marienfluss was not that bad either but then a section that appears on many YouTube videos was scary indeed. I had 5 jerry cans on the roofrack and towards the last part where the track moves for a short section following the contours of the mountain I stopped a removed the jerry cans and placed them inside the vehicle as I was nervous that the Landy will capsize due to top heaviness!

    Revisited that region in 2018, again driving the track from
    Okangwati to Otjtanda the Landy's left rear side shaft end stripped completely as I approached Breakheart (Hill) Pass! To me that was the most challenging section of the whole route. I could not move any further and setup camp next to the road. Fortunately I had some 2,5 welding sticks and two aux batteries and used my jumper cables to weld the end cap (not sure what the correct name for the item is!) onto the side shaft. Prayed that my weld will hold I managed the short climb over Breakheart Hill! Then visited VanZyls camp but took another and much long route via Etanga Junction, Marble Mine and Red Drum to Marienfluss.

    Hope to return this November and do the same route again, there is a section that is a bit challenging but very doable.

    Done VanZyls Pass, got the T-shirt but no intention to do it again.
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    Default Re: Van Zyl's Pass in new standard 2l biturbo Amarok/Ford double cab May 2024

    As an inexperienced driver it is more daunting than difficult. For an experienced driver it is just another road and nothing difficult
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    Default Re: Van Zyl's Pass in new standard 2l biturbo Amarok/Ford double cab May 2024

    Quote Originally Posted by Engel View Post
    As an inexperienced driver it is more daunting than difficult. For an experienced driver it is just another road and nothing difficult
    Yawn....
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    Default Re: Van Zyl's Pass in new standard 2l biturbo Amarok/Ford double cab May 2024

    Quote Originally Posted by Searcher View Post
    Yawn....
    okok, dis moeiliker as die mall se sidewalks met n kroozer
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    Default Re: Van Zyl's Pass in new standard 2l biturbo Amarok/Ford double cab May 2024

    Quote Originally Posted by Searcher View Post
    Well for starters it's by far the shortest route into the Maienfluss if your are coming from the North, like from Epupa Falls.
    No its not!! With the new road just a close to van Zyl s its shorter and better!

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    Default Re: Van Zyl's Pass in new standard 2l biturbo Amarok/Ford double cab May 2024

    Quote Originally Posted by Searcher View Post
    Well for starters it's by far the shortest route into the Maienfluss if your are coming from the North, like from Epupa Falls.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lappies View Post
    No its not!! With the new road just a close to van Zyl s its shorter and better!
    Sorry Lappies, but you are wrong, the new route may be better, but it is not shorter. As I said "coming from the North, like from Epupa Falls", van Zyl's pass is the shortest route into the Marienfluss.

    I know where the new route is and it is much further to the South.
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    Default Re: Van Zyl's Pass in new standard 2l biturbo Amarok/Ford double cab May 2024

    Quote Originally Posted by Lappies View Post
    What is the reason for going down vanZyl s!
    Why not? It's there, and it's an adventure..

    Your question is out of line
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    Default Re: Van Zyl's Pass in new standard 2l biturbo Amarok/Ford double cab May 2024

    Why drive Van Zyl's?

    You do not go to the Kaokoland or Van Zyl's pass to prove anything to anybody. You go there to find yourself and solitude.

    Why do I love Van Zyl's and the road to it? Just the magic of being there in a vehicle number one1, Who even thought they could drive there in old LR petrol cars and little technology. It makes me fuzzy and warm to think I am allowed to experince this without a guide or serious permits or checks.

    And two just when you start feeling like a 4x4/adventure rockstar a 7 year old girl will popout from the side of a mountain with her 20 goat babies (kids is mos die regte woord?) and barefeet and walk past you smiling and waving not asking for anything. No water or camelbak or knapsak with food. Just a 7 year old looking after het goats. Do we even realise how far the world has prigressed into tegnology and unimportent nonesense from where this child lives?

    Dit maak my bewoŽ om bo op Van Zyl's te staan bo die step. Ek is nie baie stil nie, maar daar word ek stil.
    Kontak my vir swak finansiŽle raad, maar diep lekker avonture.

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