If you want a 4x4 trail that not only has beautiful views but also offers a challenge, The Meadows outside Port Elizabeth is the place for you.
When we talk about 4x4 trails, there are usually two kinds: The first is a chilled day trip where you can enjoy beautiful views, maybe see some game next to the road, and where your bakkie doesn’t get a challenging workout. The second is the type of trail where you also enjoy the scenery but at the same time you put both your own and your bakkie’s abilities to the test. The Meadows in the Elands River Valley fits squarely in the second category.
If you want a 4x4 trail that not only has beautiful views but also offers a challenge, The Meadows outside Port Elizabeth is the place for you. Text and photos Evan Naudé
For the past decade The Meadows has been a popular destination for 4x4 events and training courses. With a guesthouse and a bush camp it’s a great weekend destination for the family as well, but if they want to accompany you on the trail they should prepare themselves to hang on for dear life because this trail has all the ingredients for an adrenaline cocktail.
The trail is roughly 15 km long and it’s divided into three loops – with escape routes at each one. In dry weather you can start your tyres on 1,8 bar and in wet conditions at 1 bar or even lower. You begin next to the farmhouse and follow the signs with the red arrows. At the most difficult obstacles you’ll see a green arrow indicating an easier detour. The first big obstacle is the Tree Sisters: three inclines with a steep gradient of 35º. If you’ve ever wondered whether your bakkie’s hill descent control system works properly, this is the place to test it. Make sure everything inside your vehicle is secured or your stuff on the backseat might just end up on the dashboard. >
The trail starts winding up the mountain and there are spectacular views over the Elands River Valley before it drops down to the main dirt road.
Then the trail starts winding up the mountain and there are spectacular views over the Elands River Valley before it drops down to the main dirt road at the entrance to the farm. Here you can either turn back to the farm if you’ve had enough or you cross over for the second and third loops of the trail. The next part of the trail immediately drops down into the rivercourse and crisscrosses over river rock and sand. This interchange continues for the rest of the route, plus there are a few nice steep up- and downhills. In between you’ll also encounter some twists and turns through woods where your bakkie will more than likely lift a wheel or two. If you have a long bakkie you’ll need a rear diff lock for traction. The last section of the trail runs past the bush camp on the riverbank before you end at the farmhouse.
A BIT OF EVERYTHING. The route offers stones, gravel, sand and mud, plus some rather steep inclines and descents. You’ll have fun, provided you’re brave enough.