If you’ve ever driven to the West Coast National Park or taken the N7 north up the West Coast, you’ve driven past Buffelsfontein. But not many people know there’s a fun 4x4 trail hidden behind its gates, because Buffelsfontein is mostly marketed as a nature reserve as well as a conference and wedding venue. A short distance away from these neat facilities lies a sand trail that makes for some great 4x4 driving for you and a few mates – and it’s only an hour’s drive from the city. It’s “only” a grade 2 to 3 trail, but at the end of the Western Cape’s bone-dry summer, Buffelsfontein’s sand is as loose as a packet of Tastic rice. No tyre pressure higher than 0.8 will survive. Part of the fun is having to keep good momentum almost all the time, even on easier stretches of the road. It’s advisable to rather come to a stop facing slightly downhill if you don’t want to get stuck. Rumour has it some meaty Jeeps with huge tyres have dug themselves in so deeply that the farm tractor had to come to the rescue. The trail leads you in a sandy circle of around 14 km through West Coast fynbos, over dunes and down through thick grass and trees, with nice views over the reserve’s natural beauty. Keep your eyes open for game – Buffelsfontein has kudu, buffalo, giraffe, blue wildebeest, zebra and eland, among other animals. There are also a couple of rhinos on the property, but you’ll probably find them further down on the plains rather than the thickets around the 4x4 trail. About halfway through the trail there’s a play pit where you can storm some hills and get rid of even more adrenaline, and just over the hill there’s a big bush camp. There are permanent bush tents set up, as well as flushing toilets and warm water. There’s no electricity though, like a proper bush camp should be.You’ll probably find it hard to believe you’re only an hour from home when your fire crackles out here deep in the dunes. Before you start the trail, you get a map of the entire property with the 4x4 route indicated (a bit small) on it. There are no signposts on the trail though and it’s easy to get lost in the sand. Ask for more directions when you sign in or check if someone from the reserve can jump in for the first round.The trail only takes an hour to an hour and a half so you can easily drive it a few times over the weekend.
PURE NATURE. Buffelsfontein is only about an hour from Cape Town, but you feel far away from everything. There are all sorts of animals, including rhinos, and a bush camp deep in the dunes.
THE LAND OF SAND. Buffelsfontein Nature Reserve’s 4x4 trail is a route through thick sand in the dunes. You can have a lot of fun giving your engine some revs.
PHONE A FRIEND. At the end of summer, especially in the midday heat, the sand is powdery and very loose. Make sure you and you friends bring the recovery gear.