Climb every mountain

Posted by Ondela Mlandu on 4 July 2018

The 30th of April marked World Land Rover Day and the British marque celebrated 70 years since the original Land Rover was first showcased to the world, in 1948 at the Amsterdam Motor Show.

It’s no secret that at Getaway magazine, we love exploring rugged terrain and discovering new destinations. When some of my colleagues and I were invited to Damarakloof Farm in Stellenbosch to get behind the wheel of the Land Rover Discovery and the Range Rover Sport, for a half-day course to learn about off-road 4×4 skills and the Land Rover’s capabilities, we jumped at the opportunity.

Ready, set… drive! Image by Michelle Hardie

We were welcomed on arrival by Pierre and Estelle Versfeld, who own and run the Land Rover Experience in the Western Cape. The newly built Western Cape branch invites anyone who would like to improve their driving, have a team building events, or brush up on their 4×4 skills.

The Land Rover Experience is available in the Western Cape and Gauteng province. Image by Michelle Hardie

First we were treated to snacks and drinks, followed by a well-explained Powerpoint presentation by JP Versfeld, which taught us about locking differentials and traction control, in an easy-to-understand manner. JP also highlighted the settings that we would be using during the course.

The Land Rover Experience allows you to tackle a variety of off-road terrain as part of the course. During the briefing, we learned useful skills from the experts who are alongside us throughout the morning. Once the theory side of things was out the way, it was time to put our skills to the test.

Land Rover instructor, Wynand Bohnen was extremely patient and helpful during the course and even as a nervous off-road driver, I felt at ease.

We traversed the miniture custom-built obstacle course at the training facility before heading for the Welgelegen 4×4 trail in the Bottelary Hills area, between Stellenbosch and Brackenfell.

Michelle Hardie and Ondela Mlandu from Getaway Magazine. Image by Elise Kirsten

Putting your skills to the test is the fun part. We took part in five different obstacles. The first obstacle tests your hill climb and descent skills (in fact, all you need to do is steer the vehicle along the correct line, as the Land Rover’s hill descent control kicks in and does all the hard work).

The second obstacle had us navigating through a water crossing. The third obstacles entailed maneuvering the vehicles along an embankment at a 27-degree angle. It might not sound like much when you read about it, but I can assure you that sitting way higher than the adjacent passenger seat is not a natural driving experience!

The final obstacle before heading out to the Welgelegen 4×4 trail required us to get the vehicles through deep, pothole-like ditches that caused one of the wheels to lift into the air, above the hole, and the traction was electronically distributed to the wheels that still had contact with terra firma. The Land Rovers negotiated these obstacles effortlessly.

Listening attentively to a few off-road tips and tricks. Image by Michelle Hardie

The Land Rover Experience is a wonderful team building course too! Image by Michelle Hardie

In a nutshell, the Land Rover Experience is mind blowing, especially driving through the Stellenbosch winelands on the steep, rutted track, which took us up the Bottelary Hills to enjoy magnificent views.

Then we trundled down again in convoy, with Land Rover’s hill desecent control system making short work of any steep decline. It’s amazing to be able to take your foot off the brake and know that the mechanics and technology in these vehicles allows you to navigate safely down.

Once you have braved the obstacle course and the 4×4 trail, your reward is an off-road driving certificate. Be warned though, getting back into your own manual-transmission vehicle without all the bells and whistles may leave you sad for a couple of hours.

Address: Damarakloof Farm, R304, Klipheuwel Rd, Stellenbosch, Cape Town, 7600

Contact: 0218520728

The expert instructors at Land Rover ease you into the course, allowing you to get the full experience. Image by Michelle Hardie


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