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.

Go! Camp & Drive - - Contents -

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 drive

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.

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