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4 x 4 x 4 = four four by four trails in a four by four

35
VIEWS

My recent winter foray to the Cederberg Citrusdal area in a Mitsubishi Pajero Sport was a great way to test the vehicle. I must say, I had my doubts when the vehicle was delivered to our SA4X4 premises but after spending many hours behind the wheel, and many more hours on 4×4 trails of varying difficulty, I can safely report that the Pajero Sport handled admirably. I spent many hours traversing very rocky 4×4 trails with the tyres deflated to 1 bar to avoid punctures. Yes, there were some hairy moments, when angles of lean were getting close to rollover and certain sections were do or die. Slipping off the mountainside and tumbling a few hundred metres down a steep cliff face into the valley below was also a real threat.

8 days of some great 4×4 trail driving in the West Coast Cederberg area

At one point my copilot decided it was safer to walk during a particular hairy section. Luckily, with careful driving, a good spotter and a healthy dose of adrenaline, the only damage to the Pajero Sport was a small crack in the bumper caused by a protruding rock in a river crossing and a few hairline scratches from encroaching Cape Fynbos. This type of superficial damage unfortunately goes with the territory and is almost impossible to curtail, even with the most careful and calculated driving.

Bushmans Cave Mountain Theatre & 4×4

If you’re looking for some excellent off-road and 4×4 adventures, then Bushmans Cave 4×4 & Mountain Theater is a must for your bucket list. It is located at the foot of the Cederberg Mountains, about 35 km outside Clanwilliam. The 4×4 trails are situated on the farm called Oude Muur owned by Erik and Melinda de Milander. The first two days of an eight day trip took us to the Bushmans Cave campsite, and what a fantastic, isolated venue this is. The campsite is called Camp Coenie and is set a short distance from the working farm’s main house.

Bushmans Cave has 4×4 trails offering varying degrees of difficulty

Erik de Milander was incredibly helpful during our stay and even escorted us to the campsite and pointed out the good spots. Being mid-winter, we didn’t mind that the campsite was empty, and that would change dramatically on the second day, we the Jeep Club arrived for their weekend of 4×4 driving and fun. Erik kindly introduced me to the Jeep guys and the following morning they came to the party for a quick photo shoot and other antics.

The main Bushmans Cave dust road was good but others on the trip were severely potholed and washed away

The Bushmans Cave campsite offers large grassed stands and the rustic stone ablutions have good hot showers, sinks for washing up and toilets. Each camping stand has power and there are many trees within the campsite that offer shade. The name Bushmans Cave Mountain Theatre name is derived from the open-air theatre that was built in conjunction with Danie Niehaus and the resultant outdoor theatre is truly magical, with many of the country’s top artists performing there.

Access to the Bushmans Cave 4×4 routes is through various gates along the main dust road

After receiving the route maps for the 4×4 tracks from Eric, we set out on the second day to do some off-road driving and had great fun. Access to the 4×4 trails is through marked gates that border the main dust road that dissects the farm. The 4×4 trails offer varying degrees of difficulty from grades 1 to grade 5. Bushmans Cave also has self-contained cottages for group bookings which have rooms, braai areas and a large common room with fireplace, fridge and table tennis, among other activities. The weekend we were there, the Jeep Club had block booked the cottages.

The Jeep Club took time off from their 4×4 adventures and put on quite a show! 

In between 4×4 driving and camping, you can view some of the best preserved Bushman drawings and the area is covered in Cape fynbos. The area is incredibly scenic. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Bushmans Cave and we hope to revisit this little oasis in the summer. For more information or to book your spot for some excellent off-road driving email Erik or Melinda info@bushmanscave.co.za or contact them on 027 482 2918.

Marcuskraal 4×4 and Camp Site

We arrived at Marcuskraal 4×4 and Camp Site to excellent sunny winter weather. Marcuskraal is situated 20km from Citrusdal just off the N7, approximately 2 hours’ drive from Cape Town. It’s always great to not spend too long on the road to get to a particular venue. We arrived at the campsite reception and were met by Willem and Sonelda Fourie, the farm manager and manageress. Nothing was too much trouble for either of them with Willem giving me all the information I needed relating to the spring flowers, 4×4 trails and lookout points, while Sonelda very kindly brought a TV down to the communal area so we could watch the Boks comprehensively beat Argentina in the rugby test. Thanks again to both of them for their hospitality.

The 4×4 routes at Marcuskraal are testing to say the least

At Marcuskraal 4×4 I participated in one of their 4×4 tracks on a drive that took about two hours. The 4×4 track starts at the bottom of a small mountain, making its way up to the top on some very steep loose rocky inclines. The route then plateaued out followed by a steep descent which was equally difficult with large rock obstacles, loose rock, tight turns and high angles of lean. Initially, about 250 metres from the start, I thought I had taken a wrong turn, such was the very steep gradient presented before me. To ensure I had not taken a wrong turn (the road ahead looked ominously steep and rocky) I had to reverse all the way back along the single lane track to the starting point and relook at the route again. It turns out the route I was on was the correct one, so off I went for the second time, to face the tough conditions ahead. After about two hours of crawling over rock obstacles in the mountains above Marcuskraal 4×4, I made it to the exit gate. Serious off-road driving takes incredible concentration. On this 4×4 track the Pajero was in full low range with rear diff lock and hill descent control activated.

One of the 4×4 routes at Marcuskraal takes you high onto a plateau 

Marcuskraal has 13 terraced camping stands, all with power and water. The camping stands have lush green grass and are spacious. The ablutions are exemplary with cleanliness levels that get a 10. Most of the camping stands enjoy shade from trees. Also available at Marcuskraal are 4 chalets, 6 luxury rooms with kitchen and braai area, and 5 basic rooms with en suite bathrooms. Dishwashing facilities are also abundant for campers as well as a communal undercover braai area for groups of campers to enjoy.

There are excellent sand hazards & obstacles at Marcuskraal to test your skills

I bumped into Ernst and Marina van Schalkwyk who were enjoying some time off in one of the chalets and they could only enthuse about how wonderful their accommodation was and the surrounding Cape Fynbos. I had spotted them earlier as they had just finished walking the mountain route. The mountains above Marcuskraal are majestic and offer excellent hiking opportunities. The spring flowers were out in full bloom when we were there, which is any photographer’s dream and the stuff for nature lovers flock to this area for. Even though it was winter, there were quite a few other campers, caravanners and chalet dwellers, testament to the popularity of this beautiful venue. It is also a working citrus farm and the oranges were ripe for the picking. We just had to pluck an orange and taste the fruit grown within feet of the campsite, delicious.

The ever helpful farm manager Willem checking my tyre pressure

Marcuskraal is blessed with a few 4×4 trails which range in difficulty, for those who want to test their off-road abilities. The campsite also has a large swimming pool with an adjoining lawn that I’m sure is full of children and adults during summer. Marcuskraal is completely safe and the farm is self-contained, which allows visitors to enjoy safe walks in nature and on the surrounding mountains within the farm’s fenced borders. There is a small kiosk that sells necessities such as braai wood, ice and memorabilia such as Marcuskraal caps and stickers.

There are some particularly steep ascents with lots of loose rock

Marcuskraal offers highly affordable rates and is a must weekend getaway for campers and 4×4 enthusiasts wanting to explore and experience the true splendour of the Cedarberg and West Coast Regions. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Marcuskraal and we plan to visit again in the near future. At least we know we can safely watch the rugby if there is a test being played while we are there. To book time away and make use of the wonderful 4×4 trails and campsite at Marcuskraal, simply email them on info@marcuskraal.co.za and the Marcuskraal staff will get hold of you regarding availability and pricing.

Koningskop 4×4 & Campsite

If you are ever looking for an oasis set in the picturesque region of Citrusdal, then look no further than Koningskop. It is the ideal campsite to release the stresses and strains of your busy work schedule and enjoy this pristine environment and scenic surrounds. We spent two days at Koningskop and we were reluctant to leave, as it is such an amazing camping venue. There is a large central dam with a super tube for the kids to enjoy during summer, mountain biking, swimming pools, hiking trails, 4×4 routes, fishing, kayaking, bird watching and various other activities to keep young and old entertained. And, if you decide you don’t feel like being entertained, simply sit back in your comfortable camping chair with your favourite beverage in hand and watch the world go by. You’re on holiday, you’re allowed to do as you please. You deserve it!

I found an old quarry in the mountains above Koningskop to take a few photos

Izak and Liza-Anne Spreeth are the owners of Koningskop and Mari heads up at reception. What kind and generous hosts they all are. They even invited us for a gin tasting and pizza night during our stay and what delicious fare it was with good conversation. Nothing was too much trouble and Izak took time out of his busy day to take me on the 4×4 routes on the Koningskop working farm which produces citrus and Rooibos tea.

If you do get a chance to taste the pizzas at Koningskop after your 4×4 adventures, go for it!

The 4×4 trails at Koningskop range in levels of difficulty and I was fortunate that Izak the owner accompanied me on the trip to act as a spotter and to suggest the best routes. We undertook the slightly easier 4×4 track and later I ventured up the more difficult track where I eventually had to turn around due to failing light. A word of caution here: if you do attempt a tight single lane 4×4 track with a very steep gradient, it is incredibly difficult to turn around and head back the way you came. I had to either reverse out for about a kilometer due to thick encroaching bush or turn around in an incredibly tight maneuver. I decided the latter would be more fortuitous and after a 37 point turn I was able to extricate myself from the claws of the Koningskop 4×4 trail and head back before sunset.

The views from the 4×4 trail above Koningskop are spectacular

The thatched central lapa overlooks the large dam and is a great setting for any function. They can seat up to 120 people with enough space left for a dance floor. The lapa and function room is available for functions and has its own whiteboard, projector, sound equipment, catering, and bar facilities. There is also a shop and restaurant for holidaymakers to enjoy. The large outdoor pizza oven is offers traditional wood-fired pizzas to be enjoyed with a glass of wine on the deck while admiring the surrounding nature? The Lapa is open for all campers on Saturdays and sports can be viewed on the large screen TV.

Koningskop 4×4 trail vary in difficulty for easy to hard

Koningskop has 50 generous camping stands to choose from and all have grassed with trees offering good shade. The campsite is well manicured and the ablutions are clean and neat with hot showers and outside washing up facilities. The camping stands are suitable for caravans, motorhomes, trailers and tents and each is equipped with electrical points.

Koningskop boasts a variety of indigenous fynbos and wildlife. You can even view the Bushman paintings at the top of the mountain by either walking or driving the 4×4 trail. The Hiking Trail, which is marked out by arrows, takes about one and a half hours to complete and the views of the valley below are impressive. For more information regarding the great 4×4 trails and bookings phone Lize-Anne or Mari on +27 (22) 125 0619 or email them at info@koningskop.co.za.

Boegoeberg 4×4 

If you do ever venture to Boegoeberg which takes the dust road off the Graafwater road from Clanwilliam, you will get to meet Sybri de Beer the owner. Though he is called Sybrie, he is one of 5 generations of Sybrand Abraham de Beers. The receptionist is Ben, the Australian sheep dog, who appears out of nowhere to greet you when you arrive. He will pop in often during your stay to check on you.

As it was mid-winter, and that we arrived much later than expected due to about 50mm of torrential rain, we had to go in search of Sybrie. We found him making his own boerewors and as luck would have it, we were the recipients of two packs of wors to throw on the braai fire. Seeing that the two of us looked like a couple of drowned rats, he kindly offered us a chalet for the night and brought us four bags of firewood to see us through the two day stay. I was simply too muddy and rainy to use the campsite. Boegoeberg 4×4 is situated on the farm Lambertshoek, in the Engelsman se Berge overlooking Graafwater, Elands Bay, Lambertsbay and Clanwilliam.  Sybrie is committed to making Boegoeberg 4×4 an eco-friendly, family orientated venue and it is clear he has achieved just that.

The 4×4 trails at Boegoeberg have great views and lookout points

At the Boegoeberg 4×4 trail I also put the Pajero Sport through its paces and here too, it proved it was up to the task, negotiating rock obstacles, steep gravel roads, encroaching bush, mud and thick sand. This is where the Pajero Sport’s bumper took a hit during the river crossing, as the departure angle, the bumper overhang and a protruding rock in the stream were in conflict. In typical girlie fashion, the videographer Nathalie screamed out from the river bank above “You’ve torn off the bumper!” My heart skipped a beat as I envisioned the bumper bobbing off down the stream leaving a naked Pajero in its wake. This was not the case, and a slight exaggeration by the videographer. Much to my relief, there was only a slight crack in the bumper. Boegoeberg has three 4×4 trails of varying difficulty and the “Tree of Shame” in the main campsite is adorned with bumpers, fenders, mud flaps and other shiny bits that have be torn off 4×4 vehicles while out on the off-road trails. So drive carefully!

Expect some scenic and tough 4×4 drives at Boegoeberg

The main camp area is situated near the central lapa covered with a large stretch tent and within close walking distance of the restaurant and pub for complete convenience. The ablution blocks, made from sandstone mined on the farm, are neat and clean with a donkey boiler to heat water for hot showers. There are washing up facilities outside the ablutions blocks. There is a huge swimming pool next to a large scenic dam which kids and adults alike can enjoy in the hot summer months. The dam is surrounded by large trees and willows that are the perfect spot for the chattering weavers to make their intricate nests. There are 30 campsites, sandstone cottages, a rustic camp in the mountain and a self-catering guest house up for grabs for those not wanting to camp.

Now do you understand why it is good for the soul to get into nature?

There is a sandstone mine on the farm where sandstone building blocks are still handcrafted to perfection and the sandstone has been used at very well-known destinations and buildings. Rooibos tea is produced on this working farm as well as Buchu, which is harvested annually high up in the mountains. The need to get to the Buchu, via many mountain tracks, is how their fantastic 4×4 trails originated.

The “Tree of Shame” at Boegoeberg is adorned with parts torn off various 4x4s during their off-road meanders.

Don’t forget to ask Sybrie to show you the wonderful Anatolian sheep dog recently introduced on the farm in conjunction with the Leopard Trust to protect the sheep from Leopards and Caracals. Over a 5 month period, Sybrie lost more than 20 sheep to larger carnivores in the area. Since the introduction of Jumbo the Anatolian sheep dog, no more sheep have been taken from the farm.

The scenery in the Boegoeberg area is fantastic!

There are three camping sites at Boegoeberg offering a variety of spacious shaded stands. The Main Camp Site has 30 camping stands. It has hot water showers (donkey powered), a lapa with two indoor fire places, a communal outside fireplace, a swimming pool and big trees. “Die Kliphuis” is a rustic camp up in the mountain set next to a cliff, which offers protection from the elements. It has a donkey boiler for hot showers and flush toilets. “Buurman se Gat” is merely a sand stone shelter with bucket shower and long drop toilet. It is set in the mountain allowing those who make use of it to enjoy extreme tranquility. To book your spot at this popular 4×4 and camping resort give Sybrie or Julize a call on +27 (0)27 482-2933 or cell +27 (0)83 632-2634. Alternatively email them at boegoeberg4x4@mylan.co.za.