Islands in the SAND
Friday afternoons are best for sneaking out of the office for an adrenaline- fuelled 4x4 dune- drifting adventure at Atlantis, to relieve some of that work stress. followed by a couple of laughs and steaks on the braai, it’s the perfect way to relax and start the weekend. We give you a sneak peak of our recent jaunt where we did just that.
The midday sun beat down hard and a screaming engine revved high. A modified Defender 110 pick- up slid down the crest of a dune at speed, with its undercarriage straddling the A- shaped sandy ridge. Wheels spun and sand flew everywhere. At the bottom of the dune, the vehicle lurched forward and sprayed sand on the awe- struck bystanders.
An entourage of 4x4 enthusiasts gathered at Atlantis dunes, situated 40 minutes from Cape Town along the Cape West Coast. It is a great place to head to if you’re a regular city slicker with a 4x4 vehicle and a desire for some excitement on the weekend. Why trek all the way to Namibia to play in the sand when you have a desert playground right on your doorstep? The wide open landscapes of Atlantis beckon off- road drivers and 4x4 adventurers keen to test their mettle on its soft sandy terrain, deep ditches and soaring dunes. Trails here may take just a few hours, but should you get stuck by yourself, you could spend several gut- wrenching days in this white desert.
The group of 4x4 manne in our group may be petrol heads, but they have boundless respect for the Atlantis dunes. It is an important conservation area that protects the Atlantis aquifer which supplies water to the Atlantis area. Many plant species and birds inhabit the area.
Clearly very confident in their abilities behind the wheel, Mike ( Defender 110 Pickup), Hein ( Discovery 2 V8) and Bruce ( Defender 110) boasted impressive drifting and driving skills down the dunes, like a well- oiled team of Dakar Rally drivers.
Bruce’s Defender 110 with bead locks, modified suspension and 33- inch tyres ( which are deflated to 0.2 bar) tackled the next dune. One by one, they approached the dune with speed; once they reached the summit, these high- performance brutes
slid and drifted down the dune in an intense and adrenaline- charged display.
Getting into Mike’s car ( the Defender pickup), we cruised and drifted over the dune. The entire experience felt like a ride on a rollercoaster, only in the Kalahari Desert. Like an excited child, I kept saying, “Let’s go again!” I was immediately hooked. We spent the next hour ramping over slopes and criss- crossing the vast sandy expanse.
Suddenly, a massive dune ( about 10 metres high) stopped us in our tracks. This was an invitation for our Land Rovers. They took turns surfing down the long, steep slope as gracefully as Swan Lake ballerinas in the 30 ˚ C heat. Everyone was covered in sweat and sand as we continued up and down the seriously steep dunes. With wheels spinning and a brisk breeze blowing, the fine sand was everywhere, coating cameras, clothes and cars, but nobody seemed to mind.
All too soon, the adventure neared its end. The view from the top of a dune was like food for the soul. Atlantis may be just 40 minutes away from the stresses and bustle of the city centre, but it feels like it’s worlds away.
No dunes were harmed during the making of this documentary.