South Africa’s vast landscapes are an explorer’s paradise, but reaching beautiful spots often requires an off-road vehicle and some deft driving ability. Here is Getaway’s roundup of ultimate 4×4 trails in South Africa and overland adventures north of our borders.
Brakkeduine 4×4 Sand Trail (9)
Sand, sand and more sand. Here, it’s all about sand and there is probably no better place for it. The 15 km of shifting dunes will keep you busy for at least three hours while grinning from ear to ear (if you don’t bog down for too long – make sure your recovery skills are exercised).
After challenging the ups and downs of the dunes and playing around ‘Banggat’, an area completely surrounded by sand, your confidence in your sand-driving skills will have spiked.
If you’re unsure or want to fast-track it, don’t be shy to request one of Brakkeduine’s experienced guides.
The way there: Brakkeduine is 32 km on the dirt road from Humansdorp towards Oyster Bay.
Accommodation: For accommodation in this area, check out www. getaway.co.za.
Contact: Choppie Lindstrom tel 082-400-3720, or Arthur Loretz tel 082-336-2055
Ferndale 4×4 Trail and Adventure Centre (10)
Ferndale offers four trails (Scenic, Redcone, Wild Route and Diff-lock Alley) that weave through the lush Henderson Heights mountain range near Cathcart.
Although the trails are signposted, you’re given a GPS because they’re all connected, leaving you the choice of which one to attempt and which obstacles you’d prefer to avoid.
It’s a rocky ride, but whether you’re going for a scenic drive or are a hardcore adrenaline junkie (don’t miss the action on Adrenaline Hill or the Play Pit), Ferndale has it all.
The way there: Follow the R351 out of Cathcart and after 2,3 km turn right onto a gravel road. Ferndale is 22 km further on.
Accommodation: A fully equipped riverside chalet sleeps 12 people from R175 a person a night. There’s also a riverside campsite that can accommodate 25 vehicles and costs from R50 a person a night. Children under five stay for free.
Contact: Butch and Jenny James tel 045-843-1714,
Offcamber Adventures (11)
Offcamber Adventures 4×4 – run by Tony Webb and his wife, Sharon – is in the heart of the Elands River Valley. The trail is divided into four sections, the first three being more like obstacle courses, designed to test the driver’s skills and knowledge of the vehicle, and the last one offering more sightseeing opportunities.
All the trails have optional additions that provide extra challenges and therefore attract a wide range of drivers. Tony even offers training and guided tours to those less confident, Nevertheless, be prepared for steep ascents, sharp descents, rock crawling, cambers, pole crossings and river driving on this 4×4 playground.
The way there: Travel on the R334 between Uitenhage and Van Stadens Wild Flower Reserve and turn at the Exel Garage. Offcamber Adventures is on your left after 10km.
Accommodation: There’s a guest cottage from R950 a night that sleeps 10, a bunker at R480 a night sleeping eight and two campsites from R40 a person a night. Contact: Tony or Sharon tel 041-955-5572, email info@ offcamberadventures.co.za, www.offcamberadventures.co.za.
The route, named after the battle of Slagboom, has five sections that wind their way along the Suurberg. To conquer all of these would be a serious achievement, as two of the sections are graded five.
Much of the trail requires low-range to tackle the steep inclines and tight angles. That said, it attracts beginners and experts alike and there’s plenty of time to take in the sights and sounds of the surrounding natural beauty.
The way there: Follow the signs on the R335 from Port Elizabeth.
Accommodation: Slagboom Outdoors offers three self-catering farmhouses from R300 a unit a night and two campsites from R50 a person a night, one of them on the banks of the Slagboom River. Contact: Boy or Boetie Whittle tel 042-233-0578, email slagboom@mweb. co.za,www.greateraddo.com.