Words by Jess Fogarty. Photos by QuickPic.
Waking up at dawn, to a breathtaking view of the Witteberg mountain range and a convoy of iced Isuzu KBs on your doorstep… Is there a better way to start a weekend? I doubt it!
After receiving an invite from Isuzu to attend their off-road academy event, we jetted off to Moolmanshoek Private Game Reserve in the eastern Free State. Moolmanshoek is a magnificent farm − and a South African Natural Heritage Site − hidden between Ficksburg and Rosendal, in the valley of the Witteberg Mountains.
This 3 300 hectare reserve has a lot to offer: horseback riding, walking, hiking, fly-fishing, mountain biking and 4x4ing. You can also take a game drive to see a variety of wildlife indigenous to the area, including springbok, black wildebeest, blesbok, eland and gemsbok. It’s also a favourite destination for off-road enthusisasts, making it the perfect playground to showcase the 6th generation Isuzu!
We tackled the Langesnek 4×4 trail, (one of four routes on the farm) which starts by traversing a wetland area, moves over rocky plates and then takes a short, steep, rough climb to the plateau − where panoramic views of the surrounding mountains can be seen. Alternating grasslands and rocky plates lead through an almost lunar landscape where drivers can pit their skills against the solid rock face, with extreme descents leading back to the flatter areas.
The erosion in the Free State is a bonus − obviously not for the farm owners, but great for those who are keen to get their adrenalin pumping. One of the first obstacles took us down a gulley and out at the other end: a nice combo of sand and rock where we could give the Isuzu’s drivetrain a test, using the gears to take us slowly down the steep decline. Thereafter, the trail was mostly sandstone, (the type that splits in layers) making it a very tricky and slippery surface.
The trail passes through a variety of terrain types, allowing us to test the Isuzus in various conditions. The sandstone boulders were the most challenging, as we faced steep inclines (some teetering on apexes), and a damned-near-vertical downhill. It’s a well-balanced trail, with smaller challenges up front to get you settled before things get truly hardcore.