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Off-Camber 4x4 Trail

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40km from Port Elizabeth

-33.8241, 25.2322

17km, 4-6hrs, Grade 2-4

+27 82 970 0668, +27 79 896 5324 goo.gl/g5UnmC

Configuration: Out and back, with escape alternatives for difficult sections.

Terrain: Sand, mud, rocky, dongas, river crossings.

The route may be driven guided or unguided and the owner offers training if required. The route is suitable for all-year driving, but check in after heavy rains as some sections can become impassable. Self-catering accommodation, a camping site and a rock swimming pool are available on-site. There are two more 4x4 routes on the property. Quad bike trails and training, hiking, swimming, game viewing, bass fishing, team building.

About

Off-Camber Adventures 4x4 boasts some spectacular off-road 4x4 trails on one of the oldest farms in the area. It’s situated close to Port Elizabeth, in the heart of the scenic Elandsriver Valley.

The trail actually consists of four sections, of which the first three are actually more short obstacle courses designed to test you and your vehicle. You can expect a range of challenges, from pole crossings to cross-camber sections.

The fourth and more scenic section of trail winds along the kloof and river, over koppies and through mountains, following in the tracks of old ox-wagon trails. You'll be hanging onto your steering wheel, trying to remind yourself to breathe while you negotiate the many steep climbs, sharp descents, rock crawling, cambers, pole crossings and river driving sections.

None of the technically extreme segments are obligatory - there are well-placed, easily accessible emergency exits available as escape routes. However, it is important to note that you will need a co-driver's assistance on some of these sections. All trails are one-way and if you are going solo, a minimum of two vehicles are required. Guided trips require at least five vehicles; no more than ten vehicles will be allowed at a time.

Off-road enthusiasts can come for day trips, or stay longer and try their hands at quad biking or some of the other adventures on the farm. If you do not have your own 4x4, you can opt for a 4x4 piggyback trip. Driver training is included in the cost, and booking is essential.

Accommodation options include a fully equipped ten-sleeper cottage, or a rustic eight-sleeper at Bass Dam with no electricity or bedding. There are two camping sites: the grassy Base Camp with a lovely rock pool, or the 'get-away-from-it-all' Bush Camp.

Get to Off-camber Adventures 4x4 by taking the R334 to Uitenhage from the N2 just west of PE. Turn left onto a dirt road at Uncle Freddies and carry on straight for another 9km.

Sunshine Coast

Eastern Cape

About

With the most recorded sunshine hours in South Africa, the name Sunshine Coast is no idle boast or empty promise. Situated between Port Elizabeth and East London, the quaintness of the Sunshine Coast is a welcome escape from big-city bustle. 

The area includes the inland towns of Alexandria, Salem and Bathhurst, with kilometres of beaches accessed via Cannon Rocks, Boknes, Bushmans River Mouth, Kenton-on-sea, Kasouga, Port Alfred and the Great Fish River area. The mixed derivations of these names suggest the rich cultural heritage of the area – the primary meeting point of San, Xhosa, Boer and British. The British influence is clear in the architecture of Bathhurst, Salem and Grahamstown.

Driving on the N2 or its tributaries the R67 or R72, the rolling green hills Lord Charles Somerset likened to English parklands were not exactly what the settlers expected. The unique dark golden-green shade of the Albany Thicket biome is due to the dense growth of hardy drought-resistant plants such as aloe, euphorbia and spekboom. Rain falls in winter and summer, and while not frequent, it is at times unpredictable, so the vegetation is built to withstand fickle skies.

Although unattractively scrubby to some, the Thicket contains 20% of the 316 threatened plant species found in the Eastern Cape, making it an important centre of endemism.

One is tempted to describe this beautiful and unusual landscape as “untouched”, but the area has long been farmed, with cattle, sheep, ostriches, pineapples and chicory among its historically successful concerns. Many farms have since been converted back into game reserves, such as the world-class, malaria-free Kariega and Shamwari Reserves. Game fences line the long, quiet, tarred roads and drivers are often startled at the sight of elephants, giraffes or other game grazing along the fences.

Drivers should also look out for smaller wildlife - porcupines, small antelope, hares, snakes, owls and tortoises - crossing the roads at dawn, dusk and at night.

The beaches and dunes of this coastline are magnificent. The Alexandria dunefield - famously the largest active dunefield in the world - and the exquisite Alexandria State Forest have been absorbed by the Greater Addo Elephant National Park. 

While Kenton-on-sea and Port Alfred are the main seaside attractions, the family-oriented Cannon Rocks, Boknes and Kasouga are popular places to buy holiday homes and have a few lovely self-catering and guest cottages.

The Dias Cross at Kwaaihoek is a replica of the padrão erected there by Portuguese explorer Bartholomeu Dias on his 1488 cruise past the South African coast. At the Cross there is a deck for dolphin sightings and whale-spotting in late spring and early summer. In season, southern right whales are sighted all along the Sunshine Coast.

Despite its fairly good roads and obvious attractions, this area is still, miraculously, relatively unspoilt and undeveloped. With the exception of the graceful Port Alfred Marina, attempts to beat its bush and rivers into commercial shape have been abandoned and it remains gentle, peaceful, simple, pristine and soul-enriching.

Situated on the Indian Ocean, one needn’t expect the “bath water” temperatures of KwaZulu-Natal  - Sunshine Coast swims are invigoratingly cool and sometimes chilly, but seldom as achingly cold as the Western Cape.

The area doesn’t have the same flashy allure as other popular seaside destinations, but if you think of the coast as a place to relax and unwind, rather than paint the town red, there is no better place to visit.

Look out for

Addo Elephant National Park, 30 minutes from PE, features the “Big Seven” (the Big Five, plus southern right whales and great white sharks).

Explore Alexandria’s dunefields on the two-day Alexandria Hiking Trail or the seven-kilometre Dassie Day Trail, named for a rare tree dassie in the area.

Bathurst - founded in 1820, this “English country village in Africa”, 10 minutes from Port Alfred, is home to the Pig & Whistle, the oldest pub in South Africa, and the 16,7-metre-high Big Pineapple.

With unspoiled beaches, the tiny villages of Cannon Rocks, Boknes, Kleinemonde are a fisherman’s and bird-watcher’s paradise. Cannon Rocks is named for its two cannons and anchor. The Dias Cross at Kwaaihoek is an uplifting thee-kilometre walk from Boknes across incredible sandy beaches, or a six-kilometre walk at low tide from Bushmans River.

Bushmans River – the second-longest navigable river in South Africa, with 22 kilometres of navigable water, is a favourite with canoeists, sailors, water-skiers and fishermen.

Kasouga – maintains its rustic beginnings with dirt roads and no streetlights, hotels and shops, wonderful birdlife and an exquisite lagoon.

Port Alfred – enjoy the elegance of the Royal Alfred Marina. Famous for its annual powerboat race, Port Alfred offers provides great shopping, dining, and beauty retreats.

The Sunshine Coast, and nearby holiday meccas such as Great Fish River, St Francis Bay, Cape St Francis, Jeffreys Bay, Tsitsikamma and the Wild Coast, offers excellent surfing, adventure and water sports, fishing, nature reserves and world-class hikes, mountain biking, canoeing, beach horse-rides, bird watching, 4x4 trails, game-viewing, golf, and as well as rich local arts and culture.

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