Is­lands in the SAND

Land Rover AFRICA Magazine - - FEATURE -

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.

To see an awe­some video of the dune drift­ing pros, scan this QR code to your smart­phone.

No dunes were harmed dur­ing the mak­ing of this doc­u­men­tary.

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