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OFF-ROAD TEST

Off-road trail review: Rhino Park 4×4





28 September 2015


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Like sand through the hourglass… these are the days at the Rhino Park 4×4 complex.

Indeed, the sand pit at Rhino Park is unlike any other in Gauteng. Firstly, it is big… big enough for 4×4 enthusiasts to build up a decent turn of speed. There are no dunes, though. You would have to travel a bit farther to get some of that action.

But the big sand pit is just one of Rhino Park’s attractions. The McCarthy 4×4 Club’s official training area consists of 10 obstacles, and it is situated next to the (very cool) clubhouse. The obstacles were designed with basic training in mind so if you are an experienced off-roader, driving serious 4×4 hardware, don’t expect your skills to be tested to the limits here. Rather, beginners and drivers of pavement special 4x4s (in other words, softies that don’t like the rough stuff that much) will have a challenging time on the axle twisters, climbs and descents – without too much worry about damaging their vehicles.

For drivers who do like it rough and tough there is the option of the so-called Walle. This is an old mining area and features a variety of steep climbs and descents, as well as some tricky side slopes. In the summer months, mud is another challenge here – and it is seriously sticky, gooey and challenging mud, too!

The training area as well as the Walle are aimed at 4×4 drivers who want to play around a bit, and test their own and their vehicles’ skills. For enthusiasts who prefer to do a nature trail with some 4×4 challenges thrown in, there is always the popular 12km mountain trail. However, this is certainly no walk in the park and there are a few tough, rocky obstacles to contend with. This trail can only be tackled in the company of a McCarthy 4×4 Club guide, and booking is essential as the number of vehicles per trip is limited.

On this trail the infamous wooden pole bridge over a gorge has caused plenty of heart palpitations among drivers and passengers alike. Here the co-driver or the guide has to act as spotter and carefully aim the vehicle over the narrow bridge.

Once all this done, an even bigger challenge awaits – negotiating a steep, rocky and decidedly scary climb to get out of this obstacle. If you drive a 4×4 with plenty of locking parts and mud terrain tyres and fancy suspension it’s not that tricky. But in a virtually standard 4×4 it does get rather entertaining! The McCarthy Club rates this trail as a 3,5 (out of five) difficulty route.

Thanks to its close proximity to Pretoria, most visitors drive through for the day. There is a modern restaurant (the Rhino Shop) on the property that serves excellent food, but it is open only over weekends. Also available are shaded braai areas (limited number) if you want to do it yourself.

If you are travelling from afar there are several accommodation options. The McCarthy clubhouse has several bedrooms, so you and your friends can rent the (self-catering) accommodation when it is available.

Another option is the upmarket Galagos Country Estate, a few kilometres from Rhino Park (check out www.galagos.co.za for more information).

The venue is normally abuzz with activity over weekends. There is also a model airplane field as well as a small airfield for light planes.

There are specific bike and quad outride tracks (60km endurance track, 25km family ride and 5km fun ride) as well as an international MX track.

That’s the awesome Rhino Park complex in a nutshell… it really is a good place to visit and spend 4×4 family time over weekends.

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