Pretty much all 4×4 rental companies in South Africa offer similar packages, but there are a few subtle differences that can make or break your trip to Southern Africa. Most people are familiar with normal car rental, to hire a 4×4 works pretty much the same except for a few differences.
The biggest difference is gear and equipment, normal car rental companies only offer a vehicle and nothing else, when hiring a 4×4 you have a wide range of camping gear and equipment included. Most 4×4 rental companies offer the basic camping equipment and one roof top tent as standard when hiring a 4×4. Optional extras are things like a satellite phone, 2nd roof top tent, 2nd spare wheel, GPS, Water tanks and Fuel tanks. Often the daily rental rate is reduced to “lure” in the client, but then after adding all the extras you end up paying quite a bit more.
Make sure you choose the right vehicle, I’ve written a whole article on this subject, but it boils down to this. You need the right combination between economy, 4×4 capability, comfort and space. In my opinion there is no better vehicle to explore Africa than a Double Cab 4×4. It doesn’t matter from which manufacturer, it can be an Isuzu, Toyota, Mazda or Ford. These days there are very little difference between these vehicles when it comes to capability and reliability. The main reason I prefer a Double Cab is because you have more packing space, and all your gear is stored in the canopy separate from the occupants. With a Land Rover or Land Cruise 70 series all your gear is in the same space as you are, so you hear all the rattles and you are in more danger in the event of an accident.
Insurance for the 4×4 rental vehicle is very important, make sure you read all the small print and familiarize yourself with the insurance requirements and excess amounts in case of an accident or theft. Most 4×4 rental companies vehicles are fully insured, you just have to concern yourself with the excess payable in case of an accident, write-off or theft.
International clients usually pick up the 4×4 hire vehicle at the Johannesburg International Airport, their trip starts there. Ivory 4×4 hire offers a service whereby the client can put together a list of groceries a few days before arrival. Once you take possession of the 4×4 vehicle your beer is already cold, your meat is frozen and you don’t have to go into Johannesburg to find a supermarket.
Make sure that when the 4×4 vehicle is handed over to you, the rental company shows you exactly how to change a tyre, engage & disengage 4×4, manage the GPS, gives you “over the border” documentation, filling up with fuel, how all the camping gear is stored, how the fridge works, how to change a fuse on the fridge, how to operate the gas equipment, how to pitch a roof top tent and anything else that you might not know about the vehicle. All vehicles are different, even changing a tyre is way different on an Isuzu 4×4 than on a Land Rover.