first off road trip was at Mont Eco near Montague in the Cape somewhere.
The saying: “The first time is always the worst but it is the one you
will never forget” is very true in this case. The planning started about
two months in advance. It was quite a mission to find off road 4x4 trail places at that
stage. I finally found the details for Mont Eco on the 4Xforum website.
The best part was that I could book and pay online.
we were going alone, I was very worried that I might get stuck somewhere
or something. The route descriptions were quite clear on the difficulty of
some of the off road driving routes, and I was worried that my Land Rover Defender
Td5 was not up to the
job. I shared my concerns with one of the owners and when he stopped
laughing he told me that I have a proper vehicle and should not have too
many hassles. At that stage Mont Eco used a Defender for work on the
reserve and a Unimog to do site seeing.
accommodation at Mount Eco was really great. We took the cottage that was far
away from everybody else. No other buildings or people in sight. And the
price is also pretty awesome. This is not a tourist trap that caters for
Pound and Dollar paying customers only. Normal people can afford to go
there as well. No that I would describe Land Rover Owners as “Normal”.
first trail we took was fairly easy. It crossed a dry riverbed a couple of
times. You have to be careful and clearance on lesser trucks can be a
problem. The terrain is very rocky and it is HOT. Damn HOT. On this trail
we were lucky enough to see some game and the original farm “house”.
This dwelling makes the RDP matchboxes look like luxury condos. Hard to
believe people actually lived there. I also had a very close encounter
with nature. You see being a newbie, I was fascinated with the
Defender’s axle articulation. I still am. So I get out
to take a picture of the axle articulation. After taking the
picture I walked back to the car and I saw that there was something wrong
in the car. When I go to the car my wife was pretty pale. “What the hell
is wrong?” I asked. All she could do was point. As I looked over my
shoulder I saw the biggest damn Puffadder I have ever seen close up,
slithering into the bushes just about where I was taking my picture from!
I often wondered why my wife didn’t yell to warn me. Maybe my Life
insurance is too much…
one difficult trail includes a section called the “Knife’s Edge”.
This had me pretty nervous. The knife’s Edge is a section on the ridge
of a mountain. The Defender just fits. You have a near vertical drop on
either side and a down hill that touches on 40 degrees in some spots. (Ok
OK I may be exaggerating, but it was my first time…) We got through a
bit rattled but content. The other difficult trail had a section called
“THE downhill”. After the knife’s edge I decided to go an speak to
the owners first. “not that bad” he said “Just make sure you miss
the two big rocks in the middle, because you will start sliding when you
are near them.” “Sliding?” I asked. “ Well it is a 50 degree
downhill at this point.” The man said. I was very close to not making
like a Toyota and get out of there. Wel went and when we got to “THE
downhill”, it was well, very downhill. And yes, we did slide a couple of
meters, missing the two rocks. The slide was impossible to avoid. We went
into the slide without even touching the brakes. Just before the rocks we
regained traction again. Scary but a lot of fun.
the down hill I engaged the rear airlocker, and it seemed as if it
assisted in the slowing down of the vehicle. I may have been dreaming or
trying to justify the price I paid for it, but it seemed to help. Or maybe
I am trying to convince myself I really NEED a front locker as well…
Conti Tracs were not in great shape after this trip in the mountains. It
had bits of rubber missing in some spots. But this was only the start of
hassles I had with the Conti’s…But as for the ARB airlocker I wonder
why LR don’t offer these as an option? Make it a model in the range. I
can see it now: The Defender Nemisis. Standard equipment include front and
rear lockers, dual battery system, snorkel, skid plates, roll cage,
Kinetic suspension etc… Ok maybe I am getting carried away a bit but it
would be nice.
by Sats Oosthuizen