TRAIL GUIDE DUNE BUGGY
The days of driving on South African beaches are long gone. Today, there are only a handful of places where you can still drive a 4x4 next to the ocean. Vleesbaai is one of those places.
Vleesbaai is a tiny holiday town roughly 35 km from Mossel Bay. There’s only one small shop and a beautiful unspoilt beach. Over Christmas and Easter the place is bursting at the seams, but it’s close enough to take a day trip to Dana Bay, Mossel Bay or Hartenbos. The Vleesbaai 4x4 dune trail is on the farm Misgunst, a short distance outside of town. It lies in the Fransmanshoek conservancy, and the 16 km circular trail meanders through a stretch of dunes located above a concealed beach between the Fransmanskraal peninsula to the north and the Kanon Private Nature Reserve to the south. The trail is open year-round and is guided. The people who live on the farm will accompany you and explain the tricks of dune driving (or recover you if you get stuck). It’s a working farm, which is why it’s essential that you book, especially in December. And, of course, the trail gets very busy – from 12 December a group departs every two hours. The trail starts at the farmhouse, where you have to deflate your tyres. The correct tyre pressure will differ from vehicle to vehicle but you should start with at least 1,2 bar. The first 3 km is pretty tame and gives you an opportunity to get used to the sand. Close to the 4 km mark there’s an area marked “Hardebaard” (hardcore) and the name is very fitting: There’s >
a set of demanding dunes with narrow turns and short run-ups that will really test your abilities. It’s not only a challenge for experienced drivers but with the instructions from the guide it’s an opportunity for beginners to learn how. Over the next 5 km the trail takes you in a south-westerly direction down to the beach. You’re not allowed to drive on the beach itself and you should be above the high-xtide mark at all times, but if you feel like a quick dip in the sea there’s a parking area near Langduin (long dune). As the name implies, this is a monster of a dune with a mild incline but it’s a long climb that will test your bakkie’s abilities. Langduin is the last obstacle before you head back to the farmhouse. While you wait for the adrenaline rush to subside you can make a stop at the Fransmanshoek lookout point next to the farm or go relax on Vleesbaai beach. You can also bring some meat and have a braai next to the ocean. And if you feel like staying longer, there are campsites with a view over Vleesbaai, a lapa, hot showers and ice chests.
TO THE TEST. The Vleesbaai dunes will challenge a wide variety of off-road enthusiasts, from relative beginners to the truly experienced 4x4 fundis. Four-wheel drive and low-range gearing are a must.