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Meet the 4×4 Guru: Tim Skelton

Meet the 4×4 Guru: Tim Skelton

You may recall Tim Skelton of SA Adventure from an excursion #CountryCyclist took earlier in 2014. He is a fountain of knowledge on all things 4×4, off-road driving, travel in Southern Africa and more.

Country Life has teamed up with this all-round outdoorsman to bring you a series of informative pieces on the craft, science and adventure of loading up a 4×4 and heading into Africa. Here’s an introduction and Tim’s first bit of advice…

Where did you grow up and how did you get interested in off-roading?  
I was born in the UK but moved to Africa at a very young age, so I grew up just like any other South African boy: building forts and tree houses in the bush veld!  I have always been into the outdoors and adventure but it was not till I bought my first 4×4, a red Nissan Sani, that the off-roading bug truly bit.  I was amazed at the capabilities of the vehicle and knew at that point it was the tool I needed to make all my African travel dreams come true!

What sorts of things do you offer at SA Adventure?
Our prime business is 4×4 training.  We offer an introductory course and a recovery course.  We also plan and lead 4×4 and motorcycle guided self-drive tours throughout Southern Africa.


Tim offers his typically intense instructions to a student on the intro course.

What is your favourite 4×4 route in SA? Why?

Tough question, there are so many. If I had to choose one it would probably be the Wupperthal Loop near the Cederberg in the Western Cape

What is your favourite part of any off-roading expedition? 
I often plan expeditions on the computer and add certain waypoint I’ve never been to the route. At that stage they’re just points on a map that I’ve read about. The excitement is seeing that place that you plotted on a map many months ago and actually driving to it! Of course the colours and people of Africa are really special as well!

A Toyota Fortuner negotiates one of the tougher obstacles on the training course.

A Toyota Fortuner negotiates one of the tougher obstacles on the training course.

As the first instalment in our series on off-roading insights with Tim, we asked him to outline the three biggest mistakes he sees first-time 4×4 owners making. How many of these potholes have you fallen into?

  1. If you’re just beginning don’t go off-road until you have had some sort of 4×4 training.  People cause thousands of rands in damage to their vehicles because they assume they’ll be able to work it out on the go.
  2. Get proper advice on the equipment. I see plenty of newbies having to buy the same sort of tool twice because the first one wasn’t quite right for them. That is wasting money in an already substantial investment.
  3. Don’t go alone on a 4×4 trip. This is good advice for anyone, but especially for novices. It’s a simple piece of advice that is often ignored, but the numbers tell us how important it is. Just having one other vehicle with you makes the whole experience far safer – and more fun!

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For more information on SA Adventure, call them on Tell: +27 11 462 1779 or visit the website.

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