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4x4 Trail Mateke Game Reserve in Land Rovers

After the customary mad rush over the December period that we normally have at work, we decided to go to the Mateke Game Reserve as it is not too far and there is a 4X4 trail on the farm. I read about Mateke the first time on the Overland website, but the authors couldnít do much of the 4x4 trail due to some serious mud caused by rain earlier. Leisure wheels also did a write up on Mateke.

So we set out for Mateke fairly early in the morning. We were three vehicles: My Land Rover D90 Td5  and two Land rover Discoverys, a Disco Series 2 Td5 and a Disco Series 2 V8. The Discoís were still very new not having done much off road driving. We arrived in the afternoon and were directed to the hikerís/Tree camp. Basic accommodation in two tree houses, both with bunk beds, and a nice lapa a little way away. There were showers that got water from a donkey, and flush toilets. Lights are provided with battery power. All in all all nice set up if you like that sort of thing.

One of the reasons to go on the excursion was to test some new overland equipment I had bought. A Stainless steel Rhino Ref 70L and a dual battery system. The Discoís each had a new toy to test as well. The V8 had a brand new Front Runner Roof rack with all the trimmings, and the Td5 had a canoe rack carrying two kajaks. So each boy had a toy to put through itís paces.

Ok it was HOT, very HOT! The Rhino I bought is a double door. One side fridge, one side freezer. Really useful. There is always a couple of degrees difference between the two. So you donít have to freeze everything like with a conventional fridge/Freezer. You can Freeze some stuff and simply keep other very cold. The Rhino uses the Danfoss compressor like some of itís competitors and I think it really performed very well. It has a thermometer build in and an economy and quick freeze setting. The insulation is not as thick as the competition, but it handles the heat just fine. The outside temp was in the region of 35 to 38 degrees C from early in the morning, and the Rhino kept itís cool comfortably. I really recommend this fridge if you are in the market for one. It is great Value for money. My dual battery system had a 50 amp(Piece of crap I must ad) battery fitted, and it almost lasted very well. But 50 amps is just too small. The fridge started cutting out by the third day. I left it running during the night. So I would suggest a much bigger battery. I am still looking around for a small gizillion amp per hour one.

On the second day we set out to the playground that is also on the farm for some off road driving. Nothing  serious. Just some ups and downs and mud puddles. The V8 decided to stick with a fully loaded roof rack to see how it handles offroad with it. The ECH seems to stablise the vehicle a lot. To the extend tha the driver said he never noticed the rack at all.

We did the Sandton Drive part of the trail first. Nothing serious in the dry, but from the battle scars that is left on the tracks, it looks like it can be a LOT of fun(If you consider being stuck up to your mirrors in mud fun) when it rained. The second and more difficult part of the trail we tackled the next day with two very nervous Disco ownersÖ

Now you will notice a lack of photos of the 90. The reason is that the 90 never had any hassles getting through any of the obstacles. The 90 drove in front, followed by the V8 and the Td5.  The trail favoured trucks with higher clearance, and good approach and departure angle and a shorter wheel base. For this reason the Discoís had a bit more trouble getting through some of the obstacles, and a fair amount of road building was required. Especially at the first dry river bed crossing. It was a really tight to start off with, and there was not a lot of room to change your angle going into the riverbed. And the Discos have that stupid spoiler that is really low, and it really took a beating on most of the obstacles. The V8 got hung up on itís bull bar for instance. The Td5 losing one spoiler spot light. Note the pics have obstacle 1 in the title. 

The next obstacle of note, required crawling over some HUGE diff killers. Again the 90 cruising through. The only photo of my truck is at this obstacle near the end. I would like to find a way of getting 1st gear low range to be even slower for rock crawling. I have BFG Mudders fitted to the standard alloy rims, and I was worried about itís performance on rocks. Well, I had nothing to worry about. The slightly deflated(1.8 bar) mudders really provided great traction on the rocks, and they were not damaged at all.

The Discoís had a bit more trouble but came through just fine. One thing that did get me worried was the TC on the Discos, especially the V8. When going over big rocks, and a wheel starts spinning, the car stands still for a moment, before the TC works. To get the TC to work you must keep your foot on the accelerator. When the TC kicks in, the car LUNCHES forward too fast when traction is suddenly obtained. This provided some scary moments for the outside navigators. It luches forward so powerfully that the dust flies off the bonnet when it hits the ground again. Now I am not critisisng the Disco series two. I really like the car and it does have great off road abilities. But in some circumstances I would rather have something I can lock mechanically, than TC that kicks in. My opinion of course.

The next notable obstacle was a steep down hill. Now I mean sliding steep. Here HDC was a real advantage, but maybe it should start working at lower speeds? The decent starts with a near vertical drop onto loose rocks and earth. You have to be careful not to lock up, as an uncontrolled slide will end up being expensive. Going down the D90 lifted a back wheel on two occasions going down. And again the ARB locker at the back really seems to aid with braking. Really. It was great fun. Apparently nobody has been able to drive UP the decent. The owners even tried with their Buffel, but with no successÖ

The Front runner roof rack on the V8 is really a nice piece of work. I liked the slide in table best of the whole setup. The Front Runner is not cheap, but it is a really nice rack. No I do not sell them.

I recommend anybody in the mood for a nice weekend to take the Friday off and go to Mateke near Thabazimbi. The owners are very friendly, and rates are great.

Submitted by Sats Oosthuizen

 

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