I love obstacle courses – they get your adrenalin pumping, determine your 4×4’s abilities and put your driving skills to the test. But let’s face it, 90 percent of courses are hideously ugly and if you’re anything like me you’re torn between trails that offer beautiful scenery and courses that are fun to drive.Words by Grant Spolander Pictures by various
Unfortunately, most obstacle courses are carved out of old mining quarries or bulldozed through a farmer’s backyard, so they’re not the prettiest places around. Except for Kungwini, which is a course so naturally beautiful it could be entered into a Garden & Home competition. I didn’t plan to write this trail review, in fact, I didn’t even know Kungwini existed until I went there for a Midas / Monroe team-building event.
However, after walking the course, seeing the campsite facilities and admiring the various landscape touches, I felt compelled to tell people about this very unique trail and obstacle course. But it’s not all glitz and glamour – the obstacles at Kungwini are challenging and include a steep hill ascent / descent, a series of cross-axles, a narrow bridge crossing and a twin track seesaw that has to be manually adjusted to your 4×4’s track width. The richly toned clay course bends, slopes and twists around emerald green plants, lilac flowers and a small stream that demarcates many of the obstacle’s boundaries. The ambience here feels balanced, a symbiotic refuge for man, machine and even the birds to enjoy. Nearby you’ll find numerous campsites dotted amongst a forest of bluegum and black wattle trees.
There are 10 sites in total, most of which can accommodate anything from six to 10 vehicles, so there’s ample space on offer. The trail owners, Hugo Prinsloo and Johan Klopper, have gone to great lengths to keep Kungwini natural and authentic; this is thanks to Johan’s past experience as a game ranger in many of southern Africa’s well-known reserves. Johan also mapped Kungwini’s Eco Trail, which leaves from the main camp and takes drivers on a mountainous journey up the Magaliesburg mountains. The route is not challenging but there are a few narrow sections that cut between big boulders and skirt around ancient Basuto ruins – the objective here is to tread lightly as many of the ruins date back 200 to 300 years. On the return leg of the Eco Trail you’ll notice a deep ravine along the mountain slope. Johan and Hugo have cleverly demarcated several extreme obstacles that continuously enter and exit the ravine, making for a rare natural obstacle course. Lastly, to wrap up Kungwini’s many offerings, the trail also boasts a 4 km bird route that’s easy to drive – perhaps a 1 or 2 on our trail rating chart (see Trail Info panel).
Perhaps the best thing about Kungwini is its location. Just north of Bronkhorstspruit dam, the trail is a mere 30-minute drive from Pretoria. What’s more, because the trail opened its doors only a year ago, not many people know about it, so make a booking soon! I was most impressed by Kungwini’s obstacle course. It’s so meticulously groomed it looks like Mr Miyagi works here with a pair of scissors and a plant comb. This is not just an obstacle course, it’s a trip through a botanical garden in your 4×4.