Social Media never ceases to amaze me. Not only the extent to which the various platforms have become so intertwined in our everyday lives, but even more so when the social element transcends into the physical space. Blows my mind every time!
And so it was that Bryan Milne and I made contact. After initially commenting on one of my Cape West Coast Adventure posts on Twitter (see the start of that series of posts here) one thing led to another and soon Bryan and I had plans to go 4×4’ing on my next Cape Town trip. Which was just the other day. Add to the mix the fact that I would be driving the Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4×4, and things were shaping up for us to use this magnificent machine for the very purpose for which it was built.
The off-road tracks of Bot River!
I picked up Bryan early on a Saturday morning, filled with excitement for what lay ahead. Bryan is somewhat of a 4×4 expert and enthusiast and shared aspects of his knowledge as we headed for the Bot River Valley. I am the exact opposite of Bryan when it comes to 4×4’ing but have a keen and willing spirit! Also, having recently driven the Ford Ranger 2,2 Auto with Ford on the sand dunes on Mossell Bay, I knew that these vehicles were well equipped to handle just about any terrain.
Capable machine paired with an expert guide, the only thing left was for me to explore and have fun!
Driving over Sir Lowry’s Pass we took a detour en-route to our destination. Rather than driving the current Houwhoek Pass, with a summit at 340m above sea level on the N2 national road between Grabouw and Bot River in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, we opted for the much less travelled old Houwhoek Pass. This weathered track runs through the Bot River Valley and afforded many stunning views, with a wonderfully quaint railway line running adjacent to the road.
Coming out of the old Houwhoek Pass, we soon arrived at our destination, Honingklip Farm in Bot River. The farm also incorporates the Ruwami Private Nature Reserve, so we were on the lookout for Rheebok and Blue Cranes. On the lower slopes of the farm pomegranates, olives and proteas (the King Protea is South Africa’s national flower) are farmed.
The farm also offers a 4×4 course with various obstacles to test your abilities, from beginner to advanced skill sets. I am proud to say that, with much guidance and assistance from Bryan, I was able to conquer some of the medium level obstacles.
Coming out of one of the obstacles I managed to get the front passenger wheel literally stuck in the mud (aka sand). I shrieked with excitement when I got out the Ranger and saw the state of affairs, loving every moment of it!
Rear diff engaged and I soon managed to free the Ranger from this predicament, moving on to yet another obstacle that required me to place the front and rear driver side wheels on this rather thin log. Pulled out all the stops to get this one right!
We ended off our 4×4 course driving through some soft sand which is always fun, opting to rather skip the water obstacle for fear it would be too deep. Wasn’t sure how I would let Ford know that their Ranger was submerged somewhere in Bot River and, if they would send another one, so decided to play it safe.
Bryan and I ended off our time together at the Honingklip Brewery and Restaurant on the farm, enjoying the magnificent cuisine of chef Jon Light paired with one of the craft beers made at the brewery. The facility has striking views of the Elgin Valley and Worcester Mountains and is pet friendly with a children’s play area.
No better way to end off a great time together. Over lunch we discussed the performance of the Ranger and Bryan was rather impressed by it’s ability to handle the obstacles as well as its comfort when driving on the national road. A true South African legend on both terrains!
Check out this little video I put together of our exploits with the Ford Ranger!