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SUV Challenge promotes road safety, heritage and social cohesion in KZN

Published Nov 10, 2021


Travel writer MaryAnne Isaac shares her experience touring Northern KZN on the SUV Challenge.

No thrill-seeker can ever deny the excitement around a road trip adventure. Whether it’s driving through the country-side taking in the fresh mountainous air and diverse greenery, or embarking on a scenic drive on a breath-taking stretch of coastline – the sense of adventure is intrinsic and enriching.

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Adventures are my thing and so is making new memories and discovering the many aspects of life. This year’s SUV Challenge was an adventure that was new to me – it was a SUV road trip along Northern KwaZulu-Natal. A first for KZN, the challenge aimed to promote road safety, travel and tourism, social cohesion and development in rural areas.

Launched in 2018, the SUV Challenge is a unique community initiative and social innovation. The tour was founded by Siyavuya Mbete in efforts to facilitate coherent engagement between civil society, government and corporate South Africa. It seeks to mobilise communities, civic organisations inclusive of traditional structures, donor organisations and private sector to partner in a social justice movement.

On day one of the KZN SUV Challenge, a convoy of SUVS were led by RTMC national traffic police and our first stop was at Musi primary school, just before Richards Bay. The SUV Challenge team, accompanied by South African celebrities, encouraged pupils to never stop dreaming and to never give up on their dreams. The pupils were excited to welcome us and took each word of hope in as they were encouraged to dream big and to never give up despite the challenges they may face.

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The next stop was at Tisand Technical High School in Empembeni, where the team donated a new printer to the school. Thereafter, we got into our SUVs and headed towards Jozini. Don’t be fooled by the gravel and dirt roads or the cows strolling across – Jozini is a beauty in its own right. You may be familiar with Jozini’s Tiger Lodge & Spa or the popular Jozini dam. After five hours of driving and a busy schedule promised for the next day, we were able to relax and unwind in Tiger Lodge suites overlooking the Lebombo Mountain range and picturesque Lake Jozini.

For day two, it was time to hit the roads again and our next stop was Drakensberg. The journey was long but fascinating, as we got to enjoy scenic views of sugarcane farms and grazing livestock. The convoy promoted road safety and highlighted the many struggles of damaged road infrastructure and potholes.

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On day three, a social rally was held against gender-based violence (GBV) at the Underberg Community Hall. Celebrities encouraged residents to support the fight against GBV and pledged their support, and paid homage to those killed by their partners.

On day four, we drove back to Durban and spent the remaining two days there.

The SUV experience was not just a road trip, it was also a rude awakening of the plight of our fellow South Africans. I have also discovered that Northern KZN is captivating, tranquil and has full of potential for tourism and investment.

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