Conquering Africa in Nissan’s Navara bakkie

Published Apr 20, 2024


The brief was simple, take a vehicle built in South Africa and showcase it to the continent. So what do you do? You drive it from the factory up through Africa, stopping along the way to show it to people who matter.

And thus Nissan’s Daring Africa 2024 was born.

It’s a daring concept as Nissan Africa’s Head of Communications and PR Ramy Mohareb says, one that unashamedly references the parent company’s Dare 90 campaign celebrating its eponymous birthday last year.

The vehicles that have been chosen are the Navaras. The marketing pitch is that they are all new and built of more because the engineers in Japan specifically re-envisaged this vehicle for the harshest road conditions imaginable – of which Africa has plenty – and they are built in Africa for Africans by Africa.

Daring Africa will traverse eight countries: South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya before transitioning to Egypt where Nissan has its other manufacturing plant, for passenger vehicles, on the continent.

Egypt is also the next market where the Navara is going to be launched following the successful re-opening of the Algerian and Libyan markets.

Each leg of Daring Africa will follow the same pattern; engagement with local media and key clients giving them the opportunity to experience the vehicle and its capabilities, while showcasing Nissan’s ability to support the sales of the Navara by introducing the media to the dealer networks.

Some of the Nissan Navaras that took part in the beach driving excursion at Chidenguele in Mozambique are arranged for an impromptu photo shoot on a dune.Picture: Kevin Ritchie.

After the South African leg to Nelspruit that left Rosslyn on March 26 this year, Daring Africa set its sights on Mozambique.

The omens were great; big distances, picturesque backdrops of the kind that only Africa can provide and incredibly diverse beach driving opportunities.

You can’t drive on many beaches, legally, in South Africa but you can in Mozambique if you get the right permits. We had the permits and duly hit the sand at Chidenguele.

The going was tough but the Navaras made it look effortless, especially when one of the support single cabs had to backtrack for one of the photographers and got stuck, only for it to be pulled out by the Pro4X with nary a slip nor a shudder.

The support crew fix the recovery strap to the lead Navara during a beach driving excursion at Chidenguele in Mozambique. Picture: Kevin Ritchie.

It's a great test for what is universally regarded in the motoring media fraternity as a very good, very capable bakkie.

Heine Engelbrecht is leading the Daring Africa expedition and he has no doubts whatsoever. For him, the Navara is the best in a highly competitive market and what makes it stand out is that it comes standard as is.

For the purpose of Daring Africa, he and his team took the four bakkies; two Pro4X double cabs and two single cabs straight off the factory floor. They made no modifications to them whatsoever, except to fit special hydraulic tonneau covers on the load bay, which contain a cunningly designed picnic table within them.

Then they added a dual battery stem to power the fridges that sit in the load bay, adding lockable ammo boxes to the top of the tonneau cover for the kind of stuff you might need in a hurry like recovery cables when you go offroad.

They also put on jerry cans for diesel and a 40l water tank for drinking water. And they chucked in an extra spare tyre on the roof too.

Engelbrecht has driven every offroad vehicle imaginable in the 40 years he has been doing this – and especially the last 20 through his company African Dream Adventures, which designs off road and advanced driving programmes.

He knows what he’s speaking about, he has to because that’s his game. He says the first thing most people do when they buy a 4x4 is change the tyres and the suspension, before souping up the engine and adding a snorkel. He didn’t have to do that with the Navara.

This isn’t his first rodeo either, he did the exact trip with his son, Eckhardt, in March in exactly the same specc-ed Navara, doing the 7,000km route. Now they are doing it all over again.

A Navara Pro4X easily makes its way through a mud pool in the middle of the road outside a village in Mozambique. Picture: Kevin Ritchie.

When he’s not doing Daring Africa, he also runs the Nissan Adventure Club, which was born the same time as Rosslyn started producing the Navara. Effectively when you buy the vehicle you get a free course from Engelbrecht and his team out at their Hartbeespoort facilities to make sure you can get the most bang for your buck.

As he says, when you’re paying close to R800,000 for a vehicle, you should know what Hill Descent Control or Traction Control does, it could save your life – or just let you hare off onto a Mozambican beach when you are next behind the wheel of your Navara and want to be daring.

Kevin Ritchie was on the Mozambique leg of Daring Africa at Nissan Africa’s invitation.

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