Land Cruiser Namib takes on Angola

The Toyota Land Cruiser is undoubtedly one of the most iconic vehicles to tame the wild world.

Toyota recently celebrated 10 million Land Cruiser sales worldwide which is an impressive achievement and as part of their celebrations, Toyota South Africa has launched a special edition Land Cruiser 79 Series called the Namib. I recently travelled to Angola to go try it out.

The Land Cruiser

I’ll tell you about the actual Namib desert a bit later, but for now, let me tell you about the Land Cruiser. The 79 variant is one of the most popular of the Land Cruiser models on South African roads and the Namib edition has given customers a few added features to help when the going gets tough. Up-front you will notice a large heavy-duty nudge bar fitted, there are also two large LED spotlights as well as headlight protectors. You will also notice the 265/75/R16 Cooper Discoverer S/T Maxx tyres fitted in each corner, add in the standard air-snorkel and the car looks ready to take on the toughest terrain.

However, it is what lies under the surface that improves the overall package and that is the suspension which has been sourced from the local supplier Old Man Emu. The upgraded suspension offers an improved ride quality over some harsh terrain which I will elaborate on later.

Stepping inside you will notice that the car features grey canvas seat covers with the Namib logo embroidered on the headrests. Other items which caught my eye were the addition of a new infotainment screen featuring a high-quality display. The system supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, great for modern owners. Under the passenger seat, you will find an ARB air compressor for when you need to inflate your tyres on the go. Up top is a new roof-mounted storage compartment featuring a microphone cord hook and room for a two-way radio, it also features a storage console and a host of LED lights for convenience. Toyota also managed to route an air conditioning duct to the glove compartment to keep your refreshments cold while you are navigating the dunes of Namibia.

Under the bonnet is a 4.5-litre turbocharged diesel V8 engine which develops 151 kW and 430 N.m of torque. As one would expect this car, it has a low-range transfer case, however, to lock the front hubs you will need to get out and do it manually, don’t expect any city-slicker buttons to do it for you. Inside is an old school lever for H2, H4 and L4 selection and a large dial to activate the diff locks at the front and rear. Once all of these have been engaged the Namib edition is near unstoppable.

The Namib

Now, let me tell you about Angola. Toyota flew us into Windhoek on Monday morning after which we got onto some chartered flights which transported us to Angola. The flight took around three hours as we witnessed some of the most incredible sights. A few storm clouds were moving over the area and to see the rain falling on the desert floor from the air is mesmerising. Upon arrival in Angola in the early evening hours, we were handed the keys to a fleet of Land Cruisers ranging from the Namib edition to the Prado and the big boy, the 200 VX of which there were two of each model.

A few kilometres after we had set-off we swopped the surprisingly good tarmac for what has to be the worst gravel road I have ever experienced. Well, when I say gravel road I mean a dry river bed. The journey which felt like forever finally ended on a beach, now with the Atlantic ocean in front of us we turned south and raced along the soft sand to our final destination.

The next morning, soon after we took to the roads, the crisp desert air very quickly broke and became what deserts are known for, warm. Nevertheless, our convoy meandered through the countryside both on and off-road. We first went to old Cuban underground ammo bunkers after which we headed to a place called the Red City, a place otherworldly in its appearance. The landscape shaped to produce the most incredible rock formations by wind and water from millions of years ago.

One of the trip’s highlights has the be the infamous Death’s Acre, which is a 20-odd kilometre stretch of beach that only exists when the tide is out. Our convoy had to navigate this gruelling stretch of beach-land which meant that we had to get there early. Driving over this stretch is effortless when the tide is out, left observing beautiful and massive dunes on the left and the Atlantic ocean on the right. After playing in the dunes, thanks to a few complications, our trip back to the lodge did not involve driving through the dunes. Tackling this terrain in low-light conditions is a very dangerous activity. Although, we had to get back to camp navigating through Death’s Acre, this while the tide was only just going back out. We, however, placed our faith in our Toyotas and proceeded to go ahead.

It was, in a word, exhilarating. The ‘road’ was narrow and the sea did not let us through without a challenge. In some places, the Land Cruiser I was piloting got pounded by a few waves while the sand was soft and the chances of getting stuck were getting higher by the second. After many close calls, our convoy emerged on the other side without any issues.

The trip back to South Africa got me thinking about the Land Cruiser and how it has shaped our country and continent. Since 1951 the Land Cruiser has been taking doctors, farmers, tourists and soldiers to all sorts of inaccessible locations. It is a vehicle that was built to take on the toughest conditions and has just done that.


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