Between a rock… and some more rocks
The Moegatle 4×4 trail in the North West Province has long been known as one of South Africa’s terror trails. In other words, a 4×4 trail where passengers scream in panic, drivers scream in panic and 4x4s may not look quite the same after they’ve completed the trail. But for some 4×4 junkies, the standard trail is just not, well, enough ‘terror’. For them, there is a special route at Moegatle. They call it… The Rock.
There we were, standing at the base of the intimidating Koos se Klim, one of the Moegatle 4×4 Trail’s most fearsome challenges. It’s a seemingly impossibly steep climb up a massive rock. A few metres into the climb there is an axle twister that has made wheels lift… and subsequently caused the death of a few 4×4s over the years. A young man was standing next to his Ford Ranger, at the start of the climb, dragging heavily on a cigarette. He was next in line to attempt the climb. “Almost there,” he said. “I just need another cigarette.” Finally, he was ready, and he aimed the Ranger’s nose up the infamous rock. Off he went but at that axle twister… the Ford ground to a halt, all four wheels spinning aimlessly. Down he went again, deflating the tyres more. Up he went again, with the same result. He tried another 10 times, but he couldn’t get past that twister.
Finally, and after a calm bit of encouragement from his female companion, he threw in the towel and conceded defeat. Sounds pretty extreme, doesn’t it? For most of us it certainly does, yes. But there are some 4×4 drivers who reckon this climb is big old yawn – it’s just way too boring. 4×4 Muscle Trucks’ Hansie Coetzee is one of those people, and to feed his need for near-death experiences and put his extreme 4×4 hardware to a real test, he teamed up with Moegatle’s Alex Fullard to create a new 4×4 trail on this same rock, which is known as Tsogwe. A trail that is considerably more extreme than Koos se Klim or even other legendary Moegatle obstacles such as God’s Road, or Klipdrift. They call this… The Rock. Alex Fullard uses a shortened and highly capable Toyota Hilux (solid front axle) with big wheels and big suspension to guide 4×4 groups through the obstacles. When he arrives at the start of a climb and parks his Hilux and says “There is no way I’m going up there, thanks” you know it must be a heck of thing. This route essentially starts on the other end of the Koos se Klim rock.
Coetzee’s Jeep Wrangler called Hellboy, featuring 40-inch wheels and more flex than an Olympic gymnast, headed up the mountain. A spotter is absolutely essential, as are very low tyre pressures and a calm demeanour behind the wheel. The long-wheel-base Hellboy completed the first part of the test without issues. A second Jeep Wrangler Rubicon was driven by Lourens Rautenbach. This is a three-door though, and it takes the “oh-my-greatness!” moments to new levels. Wheels lift high in the air in the shorty, and at times the 4×4 slid precariously sideways, at acute angles. This kind of driving is not for the faint-hearted, and it’s no wonder that Rautenbach has fitted a special roll cage. With a few more “ohhhhh *&%%&!” moments on the way up the mountain, and with Coetzee and Fullard working out the ideal route between the trees and rocks, the Jeeps finally made it up the mountain. It had taken about three hours to cover a few hundred metres.
From this point, the route heads down either Koos se Klim, or via an equally challenging route that is also only the reserve of big-wheeled, specialist 4×4s like these Jeep Wranglers. Essentially though, The Rock route is based on the same rocky mountain outcrop that hosts Koos se Klim – except the notorious Koos se Klim is the easiest route of the lot. To put that into more perspective: Coetzee takes great pride in the fact that he has never had to winch Hellboy out of a predicament before. That changed on The Rock… the Jeep’s winch saved the day and dragged the Wrangler up a particularly tricky climb. This extreme route is clearly not everyone’s cup of tea, and you need (at the very least) a 4×4 with 37-inch wheels, plenty of ground clearance, excellent approach and departure angles, a winch, plenty of recovery gear and as many locking differentials as possible.
A double cab bakkie with a suspension upgrade, mud terrain tyres, snorkel and bull bar will not live to tell the tale here. Moegatle’s Alex Fullard will co-ordinate outings on the extreme trails on The Rock, and it most certainly is not a self-drive excursion. If you, like Hansie and Lourens, are bored with the same-old, same-old Koos se Klim, here’s a unique new challenge to take up. And a challenge it most certainly is… better pack some brave pills, though.
4×4 Muscle Trucks
This 4×4 trail review is brought to you by 4×4 Muscle Trucks, who specialise in creating off-road leviathans. Their most recent builds include the R2 million Hilux called Godzilla and Hellboy, the big and mean Jeep Wrangler featured on these pages. 4×4 Muscle Trucks is owned by Hansie Coetzee, who also owns TJM Pretoria-East. More information: Tel: 012 809 0090; tjmptaeast.co.za
I WANT TO GO, TOO
Name The Rock, Moegatle 4×4 Trail
Location North of Brits, North West Province
Accommodation Camping, safari tents and chalets
Food Bar and restaurant at Moegatle base
Other activities Mountain biking, 4×4 trails (suited to normal 4x4s too),
Difficulty level Grade 5
Vehicle required At least 37-inch wheels, plenty of ground clearance, excellent approach and departure angles and preferably front and rear locking differentials. A winch is also highly recommended.
Self drive No
Price R300 per vehicle
Contact Alex Fullard Tel: 082 823 1004; [email protected]