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Waterfall Safari Lodge 4×4 Trail

27 February 2017

  • The first stint of the trail is a treacherous trek up a mountain – especially for those without a rear-locking differential.
  • Leaving the waterfall behind, the track is quite steep.
  • Braai facilities are available mere metres from the waterfall.
  • Descending into the jungle around the waterfall

Legend of the fall

Picture a waterfall. Add a ragged track with sharp rocks that leads to said waterfall. Frame that picture with the beautiful green Kranspoort mountain range. The result? The beautiful Waterfall Safari Lodge’s 4×4 trail.

THE Waterfall Safari Lodge is nestled in the Kranspoort Mountains in Mpumalanga, a mere rock’s throw from the Loskop Dam. Part of the Forever Resorts portfolio, the lodge offers quaint yet luxurious lodgings, a restaurant and several activities. This includes the 4×4 trail, which the lodge enthusiastically claims to be a grade five test. For this outing, our steed was 4×4 Muscle Trucks’ beefed up Toyota Hilux 2.8GD-6 4×4.

Turning onto the trail, which starts near the main lodge complex, a sign greeted us with a stern warning: “Only experienced 4×4 drivers are allowed to continue.” This wasn’t just a casual warning either. Almost immediately, the track started to climb up the mountain with some loose rocks that easily shifted under the weight of the vehicle. This section required the use of the Hilux’s rear differential lock. This provided enhanced traction allowing driver Hansie to keep the speed low, and avoid expensive dings to his Toyota. It takes about 10 minutes to reach the summit of this mountain, up that narrow, rocky track. On the summit there are two options: a look-out point, with a view into tomorrow, or continue on the 4×4 trail to the waterfall.

The track descends at a reasonable gradient towards the waterfall, and there are a few slippery sections where you have to keep your wits about you. We also encount-ered an uprooted tree blocking the track, and we had to move it to be able to continue. The track is very narrow and there is no space to circumvent such an obstacle. Closer to the waterfall, the track leads into what can essentially be called a mini jungle. You can almost envisage Tarzan swinging through the trees here. And then the waterfall. We visited after some heavy rain-fall in the area (about 150mm in the two weeks prior to our visit) so the waterfall was an impressive sight of cascading water, with a thin layer of mist hanging about.

After exploring the waterfall area (it is also easily reachable on foot from the main lodge), the 4×4 track continues through the waterfall stream, up the next mountain. The first part of this climb is relatively straightforward; it’s pretty steep in places, but not too difficult. But then you arrive at the final climb before the summit, and this section, which is about 30m long, is quite tricky. With a relatively steep gradient, narrow track and plenty of loose, slippery rocks, this bit will be very challenging for a 4×4 without at least a rear differential locker. You have to balance momentum, direction and grip to reach the summit. But oh boy, when you reach that summit, it is so worth it. With an unparalleled view of the Kranspoort Mountains, and with the Loskop Dam in the distance, it really makes the 2.5 hour trek worthwhile.

After taking in the sights and sounds, you have to head back down the same track as there is no circular route. So you head down some of the steep declines and once you’ve passed the waterfall again, you have to head up the steep track that you came down earlier. And lastly, you traverse that rocky section to reach the main lodge.  As Hansie Coetzee from 4×4 Muscle Trucks noted, this track offers a good balance between 4×4 driving and a scenic outdrive with beautiful scenery. It’s situated about two hours from Pretoria, so it’s a cool day out for city-bound families, too. If you prefer to spend more time in the area, Waterfall Safari Lodge offers plenty of accommodation options.

Name Waterfall Safari Lodge 4×4 trail
Location Off the N11, between Middelburg and Groblersdal, Mpumalanga
GPS co-ordinates S25°26’39.2”/ E29°25’38.0”
Accommodation Guesthouse, cabins and camping
Food Restaurant, and braai facilities
Difficulty Grade 3 (grade 4 when wet)
Vehicle required 4×4 with transfer case and plenty of clearance. Underbody protection and more robust all-terrain or mud terrain tyres are recommended (because of the rocks). A rear differential lock is highly recommended, too, otherwise a few extra grey hairs will be added to your scalp, especially on that last climb before the summit.
Price R150 per vehicle, no additional charges
Self drive Yes
Contact CJ van Dyk @ 083 629 7410

Photos: Deon van der Walt