Jackson Biko checks out the navigational systems of Jaguar Land Rover’s 2014 models on a drive across the Okavango Delta to Zambia
The sunset dyes everything orange and red as it sets over the Okavango Delta in Botswana. It’s like God hurled out a can of paint on the landscape, a true abstract artist. It’s March and the Okavango is wet, the wettest it has been in 65 million years according to the meteorologists. We, in a convoy of 12 Land Rover Discoveries 2014 are rummaging through this mud and orange lushness, in a quickly dying light, testing the new integrated satellite navigation system of the Discovery.
This navigation system – complete with extensive maps across 22 sub-Saharan African countries – is a first for Jaguar Land Rover. It combines the latest generation of Tracks4Africa with a sophisticated onboard unity using the acclaimed iGo primo platform and hardware that allows for SD card software and map updates. We are talking 16 maps of rural areas with impressive detail and access to a network of around 720,000km of ‘navigable’ roads in Africa, (representing 90 per cent of the roads travelled by self-drive tourists).
And it’s this system that has navigated us from Maun to here in the depths of the Moremi Reserve, where we will spend the night at the Khwai Tented Camp.
The mornings at Okavango are particularly charmed. I stand by the now-dead campfire with my cup of steaming coffee and smell the sunshine, it’s unbeatable. Even the birds chirping away agree.
We set off to Savuti Airstrip where we pick up the Range Rover Evoques 2014, complete with monkeys on their backs. The monkey on the Evoques’ back is the misconception that it’s a ladies’ car that can’t handle the off-road well. That they are more voluptuous and meeker beside the Discovery is in no doubt. But they hold their own off-road just as well. Off the beaten path the Evoque becomes a tomboy. Maybe it’s this adaptability that makes it the most successful vehicle in the Land Rover stable – about 34,000 units sold since 2013.
The 2014 models have a new, responsive nine-speed automatic transmission, which, in a thumbnail, means it eats up shoots, ruts and rocks with a grace and pace that belies its curvaceous bodywork, and it takes us classily through Chobe National Park, also navigated by the same satellite navigational unit mentioned above. We soon get onto tarmac, on our way through Kasane, the Zambia border, and the Evoque’s reign on tarmac is again re-born. Over 1000kms and two days later we arrive in convoy at the banks of Victoria Falls.
I spent lots of vehicle time with both of these cars, but the Land Rover Discovery has refused to leave me. Driving the Discovery in the enchanting Okavango Delta is like riding on the back of a wild animal. You can feel its raw power under you. You feel its claws grab the road and you know it will take a lot for it to be destabilised. That means everything. And the purr? Shivers.