Off-road driving and the importance of conservation

CONSERVATION IS KEY … Off-road vehicle owners need to understand the importance of conservation. Photo: Contributed

The Dorob National Park is a protected area within the Erongo region, including towns like Henties Bay, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay.

Every year many people flock here to enjoy the holidays, but it is here that off-road vehicle owners need to understand the importance of conservation.

A big attraction is driving on the beaches and dunes, which often leads to cars getting stuck in the thick, loose sand or being a nuisance to other visitors to the park.

Though it seems easy to drive on thick, sandy surfaces, it is not, says Danie van Ellewee from Jakkals Adventure Tours at Swakopmund.

To drive comfortably and safely in sand one has to deflate one’s vehicle’s tyres, depending on its weight.

“The moment you deflate your tyres, the vehicle’s dynamics start to change. A tyre is made to be kept on its rim through tyre pressure,” Van Ellewee says.

He says drivers should remember tyres can at any time go off their rims, and this may have catastrophic consequences.

Though it looks easy to drive and even play with a vehicle in the dunes, is not advisable if you are not familiar with the terrain or with dune driving.

Van Ellewee says one should start by driving up and down in a straight line on any dune, and avoid driving at angles on dune walls.

“Drive according to your own capabilities that make you and your passengers feel safe,” he says.

Contrary to the popular belief that most 4×4 vehicles are made to jump over dunes, the vehicles are not built for that and could be damaged in the process.

Van Ellewee warns those who love to jump over dunes to refrain from doing so, as the slipface on the other side is often very steep.

This could prove fatal for drivers and their passengers.

Johan van Zyl from Ranger Tours and Travels echoes this advice.

He says anyone undertaking a self-driving tour through Dorob or Namib Naukluft should familiarise themselves with the parks’ rules first.

Some parts of these parks, like the main roads, are exempted from permits, while other parts require a permit from the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism.

Driving in Dorob National Park is free, while a small fee is charged at Namib Naukluft Park.

There are different tariffs for visitors from Namibia, the Southern African Development Community and international guests.

Booklets are available at the respective offices of the ministry, providing clear guidance on park regulations.

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