Text and Photography: Leilani Basson
“A couple of lekker bumps, eh?” remarked the dude standing next to the Isuzu bakkie as Delia got out of the spanking new Pajero 3,2-litre DI-DC to see why we had stopped. Again. Isuzu Dude is a super careful driver.
He took it quite literally when André de Villiers, our instructor for the day, said “Jy moet eers die hindernis loop”(You must first walk the obstacle). Since we’d embarked on the mini obstacle trail in convoy, we stopped at every ditch, bump, lump, hump or loose rock on the road.
Getting back into the spacious cabin, Delia is blushed.
“What now?” asked Alet, trying to keep strands of hair from blowing in her face. Using the air-conditioner on a 4×4 track is said to be a bad idea. “For a moment I thought it was some kind of pick-up line and that he was referring to my boobs,” said Delia, and burst out laughing.
It was already about 4pm. By that time the two relatively careful and self-conscious women have morphed into stunt drivers who know no fear and thrive on self-ridicule.
“Vat hom, Vierwiel, vat hom!” and “Gee hom gas, Deliana, vroom-vroom!” and other similar phrases were repeated, and followed by hysterical laughter.
Our winners were having fun and their confidence had skyrocketed since we left Randburg at 6am to be at Safari Centre’s branch in Pretoria East at seven. The training would be held at Digger’s Hole, a farm not far from there.
At the office earlier that week, it was decided that we would give the upgraded Mitsubishi Pajero a run for its money and test its 4×4 capabilities in a different way – just as a first-time 4×4 owner would when hitting the bundu without really getting to know the vehicle first.
Judging from our two “action heroes”, the Pajero is so smooth it slides uphill with ease – even in second gear and with the difflock engaged.
“I made it. Whoo-hoo!” was Delia’s spontaneous cry as she conquered the first steep incline. Tik-a-tik-a-tik she came crawling over the bend with André giving instructions and tips while “walking” the car through the obstacle.
Then it was Vierwiel’s turn again and so they kept swapping drivers until they both mastered the amazing concept of traction and momentum on all the obstacles, “feeling” the speed and gear they needed.
The last part of the day’s course was navigating the 4×4 route on the farm and applying all the skills they had learnt in theory as well as in practice. Whether it was the very forgiving nature of the luxury SUV or our winners just letting their hair down and taking control was not clear. But on our way back to Johannesburg, Deliana Jones and Vierwiel van Zyl sounded like real buccaneers while planning their first trip to Botswana and Mozambique. You go, gals!
SAFARI CENTRE OFFERS A RANGE OF COURSES FOR THE OFF-ROAD ENTHUSIAST
Basic 4×4 – Group sessions take place one Saturday per month and includes lunch.
Driver and vehicle: R995 (including certificate)
Second Driver: R695 (includes certificate)
Passenger: R95 (no certificate)
Children under 12: R60 (no certificate)
For more information on Safari Centre contact 021 809-4410, www.safaricentre.co.za, corner of Hans Strydom and Bendeman Boulevard, Pretoria East