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.

Go! Camp & Drive - - Contents - Text and pho­tos Evan Naudé

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.

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