Trail review: Kroonland 4X4, Villiersdorp, Western Cape
It had been a while since I’d driven a 4×4 trail, and as the months passed, the yearning grew inside me. Though I have the wonderful privilege of using my Defender as my daily driver, I always have this nagging thought that she’s not being used to her full potential. I even find myself eyeing the concrete slopes under the bridges on the N1… low range, first gear… easy!
I like doing trails I’ve never done before, and because I wanted to do a leisurely one-day trip, I opted for Kroonland 4×4 just outside of Villiersdorp. A visit to their website (www.kroonland4x4.co.za) was my point of departure. The site provides you with the history of the farm and allows you to download the indemnity form, which you need to complete and hand in on your arrival. The photos on the website of the trail certainly made my 4×4 blood run faster.
For me, the excitement of a new trail begins with the preparation of my vehicle the day before… packing the tyre gauge, recovery kit, air compressor, fridge and camping chairs, and not forgetting something to nibble on while driving. Driving to Villiersdorp is a beautiful scenic drive no matter which route you opt for, and it allowed for a geocache hunt along the way. About one kilometre outside Villiersdorp, when driving along the R43 towards Worcester, you find the signboard indicating Kroonland 4×4 turn-off!
The road to the farm meanders over a pass with spectacular views: a prelude to the views we would find on the route. On arriving at the 4×4 office on the farm, we found nobody home. After hanging around for a while, we opted to do the route and return afterwards to pay the R180 trail fee. Fortunately, I have T4A loaded on my GPS, and used it to find the start of the trail.
It starts off through some apple orchards, where we decided to give the first obstacle, a mud pit, a miss as we were travelling alone. I decided to deflate the Defender’s tyres to 1 bar when we reached a dam wall. The first ascent we’d driven had featured lots of loose gravel, but I prefer driving on rock with lower tyre pressure; in my experience it gives better grip though it does leave the sidewalls very vulnerable. The route didn’t disappoint. There were several challenging sections, ascents and descents, which had me selecting low-range-first with the centre diff engaged.
I followed the routemarkers which number each section, but despite this, the route became confusing at times. I trust that the trail owners normally provide you with a route map to eliminate confusion, because there are many tracks that cross the trail.