16 September 2014

Taking My "Toy" Off-Road

One of the benefits (or drawbacks) of living in South Africa is that having a car is a necessity.  The lack of a vast public transport infrastructure means that for most people the daily commute cannot be avoided, but during the weekends having your own vehicle allows you to go out and explore the countryside.  My chosen form of transport is the Suzuki Jimny.  Its a small little car - only 2 doors and a 1.3l engine - but it packs a great deal of adventure into its size.  My sister refers to it as "the Noddy car" and a 10 year old nephew is convinced that if he pushes it hard enough it'll roll over (which it will, but I'm not telling him that).  Oh - and did I mention that it has 4x4 capabilities? 
That it does and I was very keen to go out and test my driving ability with the McCarthy 4x4 Club in Cape Town.  

The location was the Damon 4x4 Route around 200kms inland from Cape Town near Worcester.  It had been raining and snowing on the mountains during the week, but it was bright and the sun was starting to emerge over the mountains and we were looking forward to a magnificent day.  

Our first stop was the old Cape Dutch-style farmhouse where we let the air out of our tires (to increase traction) and picked up a good supply of wood for the fire to cook our lunch.  We were also divided into 2 groups as there were 16 vehicles.  As a complete novice I was just behind the leader in the first group.  This was great in that I wasn't kept waiting, but it also meant that everything I did got seen by the column behind me.  I didn't realise this until I was asked by the leader of the second group what happened that I was going down the hill backwards.  I hadn't chosen the right line around the turn and could only reverse and try again.
We had plenty of opportunities to stop and admire the view
and the last remnants of the snow were just visible

My brief introduction to 4x4'ing came back to me and I was feeling a little more confident about handling my car until we reached the top of the downhill.  The leader gave us all instructions - "Just keep the car in 1st gear and pump the brake.  Remember to pump the brake."  It was fine.  I just went slowly.  You can join me on the journey in the video below.

At the bottom was a Lapa (small hut / basic cottage) where we had a fire and braai'd some meat for lunch.
And after that it was a quick 10 minute drive (slowly, because of our deflated tires) to the farmhouse.  There I got busy re-inflating my tires (with help) and found out that there are a couple more "toys" that need to go on the Christmas present list (my birthday had just passed) to make me a fully-fledged 4x4'er.

The route is named after Damon, a poacher, who roamed the area during the early 1900's.  The Legend of Damon by Ben Mitchell can be found here (retyped as the photocopied version I have is barely legible).

My friends from www.awesomemoon.com joined me on this adventure and the picture of the farmhouse and the braai were taken by them.

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