We set off at 6.30 am on a crisp Sunday morning, the 13th November, towards Marburg on the KZN South Coast.

Packing the vehicle the night before is a game changer. For the first time we are on time… Knowing Willie (Deputy President of the Jeep Club) he works to the minute hand of the clock.

A quick fuel stop, mandatory ritual of 2 x Redbull cans (for my brother and I) and breakfast for thirsty 3.6L engine and we’re off. Our roads truly are world-class travelling down to the South Coast along the N2.

We arrive at the meeting point, Shell Marburg, just before 8am. Another fill up is required – no surprise there. Once all the Jeeps have arrived, a quick reminder of convoy rules (Lights on, wait for the guy behind you, etc) and we set off (precisely 08:00 am to the minute) on the +-30km drive towards Nyamazane Game reserve.

Tar roads turn to dirt, we arrive at the entrance gate and pull up along the road. You can instantly feel the excitement as tired faces sport grins. The chatter gets louder as everyone discuss (brags) about their modifications, advice on tyre pressure circulates and the signing of indemnity forms – paperwork! That’s for Monday to Friday! [Snapchat-3177414421315975182]

I, myself, overwhelmed by excitement jump on the highest Jeep I could see to take a pic. These beasts are beauties.

There’s no wasting time, we jump straight into the first challenge. A rock decent into a river bed, and up the other side. Nervously everyone takes a step back, waiting for someone else to go first.

The first time I see the CRUSHER in action – it’s a breeze. Having one of the 2 Standard Jeeps, we are advised to come around the rock descent instead of over it, cross the river and up the other side.

I am immediately advised by the more experienced drivers to reduce my tyre pressure to 1.0 bar. The idea is to increase the surface area to gain more grip. The trail is wetter than usual which means a lot more mud. Definitely a lot more challenging fun is on the way.

Giraffe, WILDEBEES, buck are amongst the first sightings of game.

The next challenge is more of a ballsy dare into the unknown. There is no trail, there is no path. Willie hooks the back of his Jeep onto the Crusher’s winch, and descends down into the unknown. When I say descend I really mean slides down a hill covered in bush that is overgrown to rival a forest. What’s underneath – mud. Just loose mud.

Sure enough he makes it down alive, with Johan as his co-driver – screams of excitement as we look on. Sure enough we see the roof of his Jeep and hear the roar of his engine as he attempts to climb out the other side. All we hear now is tyres slipping and spinning and we head around to the other side of the gorge to try and pull him out before opting for helicopter support. We leave no Jeep behind – generally.

The first mud hill comes up. We are advised that the Standard Jeeps should go around this obstacle – but hells no. My brother attempts it following the others, gunning it up in 3rd. We made it! Just behind us, we watch as a modified white 2 door almost makes it and then slides back down sideways. This proves the capabilities of a Standard Jeep Wrangler (Sahara). I’m impressed.

What’s next?

A sandy, muddy climb up a cliff edge. We get out of our vehicles to have a look. “*&@!” That’s the general consensus. I, along with the most experienced drivers – burst out laughing to distract ourselves from the tremble in our knees. A half fallen tree hanging off the Cliffside didn’t help with motivation. We look on as one by one the most experienced one’s attempt the challenge. Slipping and sliding, re-attempts after having to reverse back down the Jeeps start making their way up and disappearing beyond my eye-sight. That means – it’s our turn next. I convince my brother to let me have a go. “Second gear, keep it steady, don’t let off the accelerator” keeps repeating in my head like a broken record. With all the adrenaline I don’t recall a play by play once I pressed the accelerator but we did make it – or I wouldn’t be writing this.

 

We rejoice and make our way to the Dam for som pics and to catch our breath!

The second most exciting part of the day without a doubt is one of the last challenges. This one is only for the brave and the modified.


 

I jump shotgun into Willie’s jeep along with another passenger in the back – Craig from Jeep Cape Town – who drove all the way down for the outing. That’s Jeep loyalty.

As we hop in Willie reminds us to buckle up. I look at him, surprised, and before I could blink he grins,

“We don’t know what to expect!”

That’s when you know you should have written a will.

My eyes are glued to the pitch reading on his inclinometer. Staring straight ahead at the ground, the rear of the car in the air, Willie navigates us down the rocky decent into the river. We drive along the river, climbing over rocks, sliding down rocks, the car flexing in its natural habitat. Getting out the river is the tricky one. Corne, rams against the river embankment a good few times, slinging mud into the air, the mud raining back down onto us. After a good few attempts we urge him to let someone else have a go. We get back into the car and in one go, Willie’s Jeep conquers and makes it to the top. Everyone stands along the embankment, watching as the others attempt the impossible. Well impossible for most vehicles – but not a Jeep. The Jeeps are out – some doing it by themselves – others requiring a bit of help.   [IMG_20161113_121030]

 

For the last part of our trip we head to a play area, where we test our skills up a muddy hill climb. 3rd gear is the gear of choice. My brother, AR, almost makes it on his first attempt. Not enough speed for the front tyres to make it over the ridge the car stops, tyres spinning and slinging mud in the air. On his next attempt – impressively the Standard Jeep once again surprises all.

We end the day with a prize giving event and braai at the lodge. Waiting for the fire the cold one’s are cracked open, chairs set-up and a small prize giving. Johan and Liz, his wife, are thanked for their tremendous support. Names drawn from the hat for gifts and Jacques won the infamous wooden spoon. If you’d like to know what that’s about – join us on our next adventure. You will not regret it.

Experiences from the day are shared along with advice on modifications and getting to know each other more personally as we braai around the fire. This isn’t a Jeep Club. It’s a Jeep Family.

A special thanks to Nyamazne Game Reserve, Corné and Johan for organizing the event and making sure everyone is comfortable, everyone has fun and everyone learns something new and gains driving experience in a safe environment.  Not to mention the prize winners and especially Craig, who travelled all the way from Cape Town to share the experience with Jeep KZN.