Ever seen a 4x4 fly? All you need is sand, writes Tyson Jop­son

Getaway (South Africa) - - Contents -

Now look, I’m not a sci­en­tist but as far as my ‘re­search’ goes the com­pul­sion to fly is one ex­clu­sively ex­pe­ri­enced by hu­mans. No other earth­bound crea­ture I’ve met has ex­pressed as much in­ter­est in the whole af­fair. It’s cer­tainly never crossed a dog’s mind; they haven’t even mas­tered the act of look­ing up. It got me think­ing (of­ten dan­ger­ous, rarely fruit­ful) about the real rea­son why we so ven­er­ate flight. For a very long time it was the ul­ti­mate im­pos­si­ble. And that is what truly sep­a­rates folk from fauna: a be­wil­der­ing urge to do what seems im­pos­si­ble. It’s some­thing we’ve de­vel­oped; an af­ter-mar­ket thrill, retro­fit­ted to our DNA, ma­te­ri­al­is­ing as a stom­ach full of but­ter­flies and cul­mi­nat­ing in a lekker story for the braai. The prob­lem is that in our present, care­fully ket­tled habi­tats there are few mo­ments that elicit that sort of rapture. We have to go find them. One such mo­ment, one that I’d rec­om­mend to ev­ery­one and one that I re­mem­ber with the giddy pal­pi­ta­tion you feel just be­fore or­der­ing a Long Is­land Iced Tea, was on a 4x4 dune tour in the Namib Desert. In her story on page 74, our jour­nal­ist Me­lanie van Zyl took me back so won­der­fully to the time I joined the very same out­fit, Uri Adventures, on the very same tour, to pho­to­graph a 4x4 dou­ble-cab shoot-out for Leisure Wheels magazine. There we were, nine brand-new bakkies in a metal­lic conga line on a desert so silky that it looked like white-gold ic­ing draped over an end­less, bumpy cake. At the head of this rather ex­pen­sive queue was a Nis­san Navara. And at the top of the dune, which re­ally looked more like The Wall in Game of Thrones, was a man who would guide us in turn­ing the seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble task of climb­ing it into a pos­si­bil­ity. His name was Jakkals. ‘Navara, kom,’ rum­bled the voice of the man they called Jakkals over our two-way ra­dios. ‘Full speed!’ And that was when we learnt our first les­son: trust. As hu­mans, most of us have a healthy scep­ti­cism of peo­ple giv­ing us in­struc­tions. We still sniff the milk, even though a col­league just told us it was fine; we think the per­son who writes the as­sem­bly man­u­als for DIY fur­ni­ture is ei­ther a liar or a mo­ron; and when some­one shows us how big the gap is be­tween bumper and wall when park­ing, we only re­verse half that dis­tance. Un­less you’re my grand­mother, who dou­bles the dis­tance and has taken out two fences and a gate. She has too much trust.

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