The Call of Na­ture

JAGUAR F-PACE 20D R-SPORT IN THE LOWVELD

Driven - - Leisure Drive - Re­port by JULIE GRA­HAM | Im­ages © RYAN AB­BOTT

THE WIND WAS WHIP­PING AS JULIE GRA­HAM STOOD ON THE EDGE OF A ROCKY PRECIPICE, OVER­LOOK­ING THE IM­MENSE LANNER GORGE AND THE FLOW­ING LUVUVHU RIVER BE­LOW. THE EX­PE­RI­ENCE WAS A WEEK AT DIF­FER­ENT LUX­URY LODGES AND HIDE­AWAYS, AND THE CAR OF CHOICE, THE JAGUAR F-PACE 20D R-SPORT.

Af­ter a de­cid­edly test­ing past few months, I wel­comed the op­por­tu­nity to get into na­ture and ex­plore the con­trast­ing wilder­ness of the North­ern and South­ern reaches of the Greater Kruger Na­tional Park. What’s more, my trusty steed for the jour­ney was to be the lat­est and great­est Jaguar F-Pace R-Sport – a ve­hi­cle I was as­sured would in­stil ut­most con­fi­dence with its su­perb driv­ing dy­nam­ics and pow­er­ful fea­tures.

PABLO HOUSE TO POLOK­WANE

Pablo House was our first stop af­ter a flight from the Mother City – an in­ner-city oa­sis in Melville, Jo­han­nes­burg that is the sec­ond born of the HELLO PAB­LOS fam­ily (the first be­ing the pop­u­lar eatery, Pablo Eggs-Go-Bar, that of­fers the ul­ti­mate in all-day break­fast din­ing). Af­ter a great night’s rest at this con­tem­po­rary haven over­look­ing the Melville Kop­pies, we hit the N1 in our new Jag.

The spa­cious back seat and cargo area of­fered plenty of space for our lug­gage (bear in mind there were four of us, and we were em­bark­ing on a 12-day trip) as well as am­ple legroom. For a lux­ury SUV, it is sur­pris­ingly prac­ti­cal while blend­ing in an edgy, sporty in­te­rior com­plete with the lat­est con­tem­po­rary bits and bobs. We were ven­tur­ing in the 20d ver­sion, which packs an ef­fi­cient and pow­er­ful tur­bod­iesel en­gine, mak­ing over­tak­ing a breeze. A com­fort­able three-and-a-half-hour drive from Pablo House, and we set­tled in for the night at what is un­doubt­edly Polok­wane’s star at­trac­tion – the Fu­sion Bou­tique Ho­tel, a five-star space where ex­trav­a­gance and art marry con­tem­po­rary de­sign.

THE BEL­LOW OF THE BAOB­ABS

The next morn­ing, ea­ger to hit the road to our next desti­na­tion, I ex­cit­edly hur­ried the troupe out of the plush com­fort of the ho­tel and into the car. I wanted to get out of town and into na­ture. Stat. Next stop: the in­cred­i­bly beau­ti­ful Pa­furi Tri­an­gle in the North­ern Kruger to spend a few nights at The Out­post Lodge and Pel’s Post. I soon dis­cov­ered that, though classy and el­e­gant, the Jag’s built-in In­fo­tain­ment GPS sys­tem proved to be a lit­tle slow to re­spond. That be­ing said, the Blue­tooth worked ex­cel­lently with all the smart­phones on board, and the Meridian au­dio sys­tem of­fered the ul­ti­mate mu­sic ex­pe­ri­ence – match­ing the Jag’s ex­cep­tional per­for­mance. Set­tling for our trusty iPhone GPS to get us to our next desti­na­tion, we hit the N1 and R525 en route to The Out­post Lodge.

The drive to­wards this part of the coun­try gets more beau­ti­ful once past the small town of Louis Trichardt and into the heart of Lim­popo. Bor­ing straight roads be­come moun­tain passes, na­ture re­serves and small vil­lages be­fore the ma­jes­tic baob­abs be­gin pop­ping up.

These trees have al­ways fas­ci­nated me. Steeped in leg­end and su­per­sti­tion, the gnarled bark and bul­bous branches ooze mys­tique and won­der. The bel­low of the baobab was loud… and the Pa­furi Tri­an­gle was full of them.

Though all I wanted to do was put foot and get there as fast as I could, goats and cat­tle be­came reg­u­lar stop and goes on the route into the Kruger Na­tional Park. About four hours fur­ther (with a few photo stops along the way and 15-min­utes of cruis­ing off-road in the Kruger from the Pa­furi Gate – which the mighty Jag han­dled with ease thanks to higher-than-usual ground clear­ance and all-wheel drive). Soon we were wel­comed at The Out­post Lodge, a con­tem­po­rary bush haven, can­tilevered on a hill over­look­ing the Luvuvhu River and Bushveld baob­abs as far as the eye can see.

“…MY TRUSTY STEED FOR THE JOUR­NEY WAS TO BE THE LAT­EST AND GREAT­EST

JAGUAR F-PACE R-SPORT. A VE­HI­CLE, I WAS AS­SURED, WOULD IN­STIL UT­MOST CON­FI­DENCE WITH ITS SU­PERB DRIV­ING DY­NAM­ICS AND POW­ER­FUL FEA­TURES.”

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