Words & pictures by Chris Badenhorst.
Paradise Ridge 4×4 is a trail suitable for the whole family, delivering scenery, nature, a challenge and a real holiday feeling. As kids, we loved playing on the beach with a bucket and spade. As adults, very little has changed; now we play with a bakkie and spade. Paradise Ridge 4×4, also referred to as Klein Krantz, is set in the heart of the Garden Route on a ridge of dunes that guarantees an excellent day of 4x4ing. On arriving at owner Jacques Muskat’s house, a basic cabin that reflects his views on a sustainable life off the grid, you get the impression that Jacques wants you to feel at home and enjoy your day on his trail. The formalities are kept to a bare minimum, and, in no time at all, you’re out and having fun.
Thanks to good numbering and arrowed directions, you can’t get lost; but, if you do, it’s just part of the entertainment! Deflate your tyres at the cabin, as the soft stuff arrives quickly and without too much warning. Within seconds of starting the trail, you’re in thick sand and encircled by dune vegetation. The trail provides many tight turns, short climbs, descents, and a number of challenging sections. However, if you’re not feeling up to it, you can bypass the very difficult sections. Keep a fair distance between vehicles if you are in a group, as the chance of getting temporarily stuck is rather high. You might need to reverse and have another go at an obstacle – keep your wits about you and react quickly, and you might get around the trail without needing help from your buddies.
The Desert Dog descent is tackled at a slow pace, and it’s like riding a river of sand downhill. Simply engage lowrange first, take your feet off the pedals, leave the steering wheel to its own devices, and the vehicle should follow the road to the bottom of the hill, with a little bit of twisting and turning.
The highlight of the trail is the Fugly climb. (Use your imagination as to how this hill got its name). It’s difficult and deceptive, so don’t get lulled into a false sense of security by your first impression of it. It may look easy and beckon you to give it a try, but it’s a challenge that quickly separates the men from the boys.