By Johan Badenhorst, Voetspore (Proudly Sponsored by 4×4 Mega World)

Recently I went to Angola with group of clients. In total we were 16 vehicles in the convoy. This included a variety of different vehicle makes, from V8 Land Cruisers to a little Suzuki Jimny. There were two Land Rovers, a couple of Rangers, a Prado, a Hilux and an Amarok.

Doodsakkker on the Angolan coastline

Doodsakkker on the Angolan coastline

The trip through South West Angola can be challenging at times. It includes some deep sand, crossing the infamous “Doodsakker” opposite Baia dos Tigres, as well as the two-day journey from Foz do Cunene to Ruacana. This particular route is slow going, often in low range.

All of the vehicles were equipped with 4×4 aftermarket gear. There were bull bars, winches, rear bumpers, roof racks, roof top tents, long-range tanks, water-tanks, jerrycan holders, gas bottle holders, bash plates, rock sliders, recovery points… it was clear that most of the guys had done their homework and had come prepared.

Third of the Price
Suzuki Jimny keeping up with the rest

Suzuki Jimny keeping up with the rest

When we gathered at Ruacana before the departure for South West Angola my eye caught one of the vehicles which looked as though it had been fitted with yet another ARB copy.  Upon closer inspection I realized that this was the case.  The owner boasted that he had bought the bar for a third of the price from one of the competitor bull bar distributors in South Africa. Later I also looked at his roof top tent. Once again, it looked like a locally manufactured roof top tent. This too was merely a look-alike. This too was “at a third of a price”.

The bull bar looked good from afar but far from good. The welding seams were badly done. I am convinced that this bar had never been subjected to any air bag testing. The roof top tent too, seemed to have its own particular set of issues. Folding it was not nearly as convenient and simple as mine, which was the real thing. But I could not fault the owner on his choice of cheaper versions. It was his decision. If you can save some money, why not? But then came the last day of our trip.

Fuel Tank Rupture
Southern Angola

Southern Angola

We were on the difficult slow-going leg between Oncocua and Ruacana. Suddenly Rico, who was driving as sweeper, called the convoy to a halt on the radio. He had noticed that something was leaking from one of the vehicles. It may have been oil or diesel. We stopped and checked. It was the same guy who had the “third of the price” items on his vehicle. His extra fuel tank had ruptured on the welding seam.

I didn’t ask, but I am convinced that it was a product that he got at a “third of the price”.

Buyer Beware
Suzuki Jimny vs Toyota Landcruiser

Suzuki Jimny vs Toyota Landcruiser

Voetspore believe in Old Man Emu, ARB and a few other tried and trusted products, distributed by 4×4 Mega World. We know that they are not the most expensive, but also not the cheapest either. There may be competing items that you can get “at a third of the price”. But buyer beware, if you carry these cheaper products, never travel by yourself, and never offer to be the sweeper. If Rico, our sweeper, did not stop the convoy, this unfortunate chap would have lost all of his extra fuel, and could potentially have placed himself (and others) at risk.

Tried and Tested
Serra da Leba pass near Lubango

Serra da Leba pass near Lubango

There is a serious argument to be made for all aftermarket 4×4 equipment to be fitted to your vehicle to be tried and tested. Without sounding melodramatic, it can be a matter of life and death, should you travel in places like Kaokoland, South West Angola, the Luiwa Plains, the Chalbi Desert, the Nubian… all these places that call for adventure. At the very least it can make for a seriously uncomfortable or unpleasant experience out in the bush.

You too can get it at “a third of the price”, at your peril.

Mooi Loop