- 16 Dec 2016
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5 Top 4x4 Routes for Newbies
1. Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve, Western Cape
Highlights: Nestled in the picturesque Klein Cederberg mountain range, Kagga Kamma is 4x4 with a 4-star twist. Stay in luxury open-air rooms deep in the wilderness with the stars as your ceiling. The mostly sandy trail on the reserve – save for one rocky, eroded section and steep Grade 4 descent – is straightforward for any 4x4 with deflated tyres, allowing you enough time to soak up the tranquil setting, vibrant flowers and ancient rock art.
Level of difficulty: 2 (sandy)
Nearest town: Prince Alfred Hamlet
Distance: 100 km (± 6 hours)
Contact: Call 021 872 4343 or visit Kaggakamma.co.za
2. Alkmaar 4x4 Trail, Mpumalanga
Highlights: No list of the best novice 4x4 experiences in SA should be without an obstacle course. Most visitors to the Nelspruit area make do with a daytrip to the Kruger National Park, but off-road enthusiasts turn to Alkmaar. Here you receive training on a bespoke obstacle course before embarking on the farm's magnificent 7km trail, tackling rocky ascents and undulating hills along the Crocodile River valley. The lush Maputo Corridor delivers bird-watching and game-viewing spectacles at every turn, and accommodation – ranging from luxury cottages to bush camps – is superb.
Level of difficulty: 2 (rocky)
Nearest town: Nelspruit
Distance: 7km (± 2 hours)
Contact: Call 083 305 2472 or visit Alkmaarfarmstay.co.za
3. Baviaanskloof, Eastern Cape
Highlights: Adventuring to this World Heritage Site is bucket list stuff. Seemingly unending vistas and spectacular fynbos scenery are the order of the day, but it's getting to the remote kloof that's all the fun. Tap into your pioneer spirit and take the Rus En Vrede route from Tsitsikamma via the Baviaans-Kouga 4x4 trail. It's an undemanding 76 km long, centuries-old jeep track, complete with San cave paintings in the rocky shelters. At the end, reward yourself with a cooling swim in the river at Baviaanskloof Lodge.
Level of difficulty: 2 (rocky)
Nearest town: Uniondale
Distance: 76 km (± 6 hours)
Contact: Call 042 283 7921 or visit Baviaans.co.za
4. Serendipity Eco Trails, Limpopo
Highlights: The secret here – as you skirt up and down the plateau of the gorgeous Waterberg Mountains through river ravines, rocky pools and thick savannah grasslands – is variety. A 4x4 with good ground clearance and low-range gears is a must to get you up the wet, rocky ascents, but the variety of trails on offer on this farm means all skill levels are catered for. A major drawcard is the great weather and indigenous plant and bird life.
Level of difficulty: 2 (river crossings)
Nearest town: Mookgopong (formerly Naboomspruit)
Distance: Varies according to route
Contact: Call 082 553 3266 or visit Serendipitytrails.co.za
5. Thangami 4x4 Trail, KwaZulu-Natal
Highlights: It's uncanny. As you twist through the narrow trails of the Umfolozi valley, you can feel the presence of the Buthelezi, Dingiswayo and Shaka clans that roamed here centuries ago. Bushveld, muddy marshlands and occasional river crossings dictate that 4x4 is a must – especially in the rainy season – and you'll need a panga to cut away overgrown sections. All is a prelude to the reserve's number one drawcard: its invigorating hot mineral springs and mud baths.
Level of difficulty: 2 (muddy)
Nearest town: Vryheid
Distance: 20km (± 2 hours)
Contact: Call 087 808 6577 or visit Thangami.co.za