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Off the Beaten Track – to one of the original South African “highways”

I love the Garden Route! The people, the places, the things to do……you’ve got to love it!

Spent some time with two of my favourite people today. Nico and Danette run a beautiful guest lodge in Attaquaskloof in the greater Mossel Bay area. From horse riding and 4×4 routes to mountain biking and hiking this farm has something for everyone – with more to come according to Nico. Keep an eye on www.bonniedale.com for upcoming attractions. Anyway, I digress. We were there to see how the Subaru XV would fare on the farms Oxwagon Trail.

This interesting route was the main road to Calitzdorp and towards Graaf Reinet and still has the old toll house standing there. It is reputed that in 1843 alone over 4 000 wagons paid a toll there. How many more may have paid a toll there that wasn’t recorded or how many never paid the toll is a matter of speculation. Current South African history would indicate that most people didn’t bother. Wonder what Sanral did back then?

Access to the route and the first kilometre or two constitutes steep descents and ascents, a river crossing and a steep rocky climb. We were in a Subaru XV manual and I will now admit to some trepidation at the time. This looked like low range, huge ground clearance type terrain. Gulp.

I decided that discretion was definitely called for and handed the tiller to Nico. A veteran off road driver who has run his own training academy, I figured he was the man for the job.  I needn’t have worried and he made it all look so easy. Driver skill and experience is the major contributing factor in successfully driving off road and Nico demonstrated this perfectly. The descent and the crossing of the river were dispatched without bother and the little Subaru climbed the steep bank on the other side without breaking a too much of a sweat. The steep rocky climb that followed needed the 2.0l motor to maintain at least 1 500 r/min to prevent bogging down but the car coped admirably – I should point out the car we were driving had barely covered 1000km and I’m sure that properly loosened up the motor would have probably used less revs.

Once over the worst part, the path undulates its way over 20 odd kilometres. No challenge here, so we chose to retrace our footsteps as we were pressed for time. Once again the little XV showed that its 220mm ground clearance and minimal front and rear overhangs contribute to surprising off road performance. A cup of coffee and a tour of the facilities and it was time to drive back.

If you are in the area, pop in to Bonniedale. From ancient mass graves to sweet fynbos, this farm is worth a visit. It is also a great base to explore the area and the Hesterman’s are a wealth of information.

Do it in a Subaru hired from Action Rentals and you will be sold on both!