I’m not an extreme outdoorsman nor do I consider adrenalin-pumping adventures to be a good time. So, imagine my surprise when I found myself at the Welgelegen Farm on a grizzly Sunday afternoon in amongst a sea of Landrovers, Fortuners and Jeeps. Yes, chaps, I was about to embark on my first 4×4 trail drive.
These drives attract a host of four-wheeler enthusiasts who like nothing more than a challenge. While there are some who consider the sport unnecessarily risky, these are experienced (men and women), drivers, who’ve spent many a weekend clambering over rocky uphills, descending steep paths and squelching through knee-high mud. These men and women aren’t dare-devilish maniacs, they know exactly what they’re doing – and are able to calculate the dangers involved while being belligerent about safety. After spending an afternoon with them, I can understand the thrill of the sport, it’s fun and a good way to unwind.
If you’re a newbie to the experience, the first thing you ought to know is that it’s going to be a bumpy ride, that much is obvious considering you’re cruising over jagged rocks. Get used to being jolted around a bit. What’s more, your first descent will be undeniably terrifying where on certain occasions you are seemingly freefalling with the back tires in mid-air. My advice is to sit tight, trust the driver and embrace the butterflies flittering around in the pit of your stomach. And, if it all gets a little bit too much for you, you can always exit the car and witness the mad skills of these drivers from the outside.
While mainly comprising of individuals and their families driving around in their trucks, it is by-and-large a social activity. If you get stuck in the mud, experience some engine trouble, a punctured tyre or needing an extra set of eyes to manoeuvre your car across obstacles – no man ever gets left behind with the several pairs of helping hands onboard.
Not only an adventure for thrill-seekers, the drive out to Welgelgen presents unparalleled vistas of mountains and vineyards – sites you wouldn’t have seen as clearly if you weren’t onboard a 4-wheel drive.
While not quite ready to buy my own Jeep just yet, I do consider myself a convert to the sport. It’s fun, gets the heart racing and certainly a unique way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon.