5 Ultimate SA 4x4 adventures
Cape Town - South Africa has something special for all who jump in and dare to go on an adventure. For those who love a holiday where you return home with a car and shoes full of mud and marvellous memories, here are five 4X4 trails to explore:
1. Bass Lake Adventures, South of Johannesburg
Offering half and full-day 4x4 training as well as a self-drive trail, Bass Lake is the perfect getaway for those looking to leave city-life behind for a while and play outside all day. Full-day training starts bright and early at 08h00 sharp, when off-road junkies will receive a light breakfast as well as a brief overview of off-road principles before the day kicks off.
The full-day course includes introductory and intermediate levels which cover the basics and then some – how to maintain control of the vehicle in challenging circumstances like steep and side slopes, as well as exercises in building confidence. Lunch and refreshments are also provided as part of the full-day package, and day visitors are welcome to kick back with a cold one after the day’s events at one of the resort’s facilities.
2. Riverwild 4x4, Mpumalanga
Give your off-road vehicle a break from mundane school runs and put her to the test at one of South Africa’s most popular off-road trails,the Riverwild 4x4 Off-road Recreation Experience. Boasting nine routes with a range of challenging obstacles to sink your teeth into, Riverwild is a self-drive track aimed at intermediate to advanced drivers – but beginners can still get stuck in at the Weltevreden Valley trails that run adjacent to the main trails.
The routes vary in length and level of difficulty, but you can get started at the Monkey-See-Monkey-Do trail, following in the tyre treads of the person before you. There are also emergency exit routes if at any point you feel uncomfortable and need to get out. You may need to stay at least a night to make the most of what’s on offer, including a mandatory visit to the Sudwala Caves nearby.
3. Tugam 4x4 trails, Magudu Hills in KwaZulu-Natal
This may be the year to give the crowded beaches a skip and head for the hills instead - the Tugam Game Farm Safari Network is situated on the slopes of the Magudu Hills in KwaZulu-Natal, and offers an unique experience for adrenaline-junkies and nature-lovers alike. The off-road tracks span more than 75 kilometres with four clearly-marked trails, recommended for very specific times in the day if you hope to catch a rare glimpse of wildlife in the area – perhaps some impala or even a rhino, if you’re lucky.
Along with 4x4 trails, nature lovers can strap on a pair of hiking boots and explore the countryside, or go mountain biking through Tugam’s marked routes and gravel roads. The game farm offers both camping and self-catering accommodation options for those who would prefer to take in the sights for at least a few nights.
4. Brakkeduine 4x4 sand trail, Humansdorp
The Eastern Cape is home to many natural treasures, not least of which is the Brakkeduine sand dunes which make for a rather unique off-road experience. Situated just outside Humansdorp toward Oyster Bay, the circular trail is about 14 kilometres long and takes a minimum of three hours to complete.
Do not, however, be fooled by the serene and picturesque landscapes; with an off-road grading of three to five, it’s recommended that a guide accompany you on the trail, as the soft sand can be a little tricky to navigate. Be sure to wrangle up four other off-road junkies for the trip as bookings require a five-vehicle minimum to secure your spot.
5. Gecko Rock, Karoo
The Gecko Rock 4x4 trail in the dry and dusty Karoo is a thing of wonder: planned out to the very last obstacle, the trail took 18 months to build and is geared for maximum adrenaline-junkie fun with minimal impact on the environment. There are two routes for the more daring off-roader, known as the ‘Seattle’ and ‘Boyz to Men’ routes which are slightly more challenging than the 4x2 or ‘soft-roader’ options available.
Gecko Rock also offers driver training for those hoping to gain a little more experience in off-road driving before breaking new ground. You can also take the scenic routes less travelled by day, and go star-gazing by night – Gecko Rock has plenty you can do once the adrenaline finally stops pumping.