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Sand Driving: Vleesbaai 4×4


Words & Images Anton Willemse

As as far back as I can remember, I’ve been hearing the horror stories of my parents’ sand-driving experiences on their regular cross-border trips. Ever since then, my perception of sand has always been that of a big old monster, waiting around for your tyres to dip into it, so that it can grab hold of you and never let you go.

So, with a potential trip to Botswana over Easter looming eerily over my shoulder, I decided to pluck up the courage to face the sand monster. I decided the best place to start would be a trip to the Vleesbaai 4×4 dune trail, where I could put my skills, or lack thereof, to the test.

The first thing I learnt is that sand or dune driving has rules: develop momentum; stay in the tracks; drive smoothly. The second thing is that the guide always knows best – so it’s best to listen. In my case, the guide was Gerhard Coetzee, an old hand.

If he suggested that you deflate your tyres to 0.8bar before you reach the soft sand, then you should deflate your tyres to 0.8bar, even if you think 1.2bar is more than enough. Luckily, I listened to the guide instead of my gut feeling; others weren’t as lucky and were captured by the dreaded sand monster.

The most important thing that I learnt from my experience in the coastal dunes was that there is a huge difference between momentum and speed. Sand needs momentum.