Sunday, January 20, 2013

Moordkuyl 4x4

Men never grow up, the play pens only get bigger.

In recent times I have had the pleasure to play around on the Moordkuyl 4x4 route with various new 4x4 vehicles. Now this is an AWESOME playpen. I just have to share this gem.

Moordkuyl is situated in the Southern Cape between Groot Brak and Klein Brak, right next to the Botlierskop Private Game Reserve. They offer a wide variety of accommodation and activities ranging from birdwatching to horseback trailriding to 4x4 trails, and best of all they are geared for the local tourist (read affordable). I like this 4x4 trail especially because it will challenge every type of 4x4, with trail ratings all the way up to 5, while it wont break your vehicle (unless you do something really stupid). Moordkuyl is a big farm in a hilly area, and a river runs through it. So the trail runs up and down, offering everything from forest scenes in the valleys to magnificent vistas on the hills, free roaming wildlife and several river crossings. It is for these reasons that I decided to make Moordkuyl the standard by which I will test my future 4x4 vehicles, so I will be adding tests and thoughts on 4x4 vehicles to this post in future.

This first report contains photos of various visits to Moordkuyl, including some photo and video footage of other drivers. I have hyper-linked specific locations in the report. Feel free to click on the links for the Google Earth Placemark. I have also uploaded the Route Map. If you download the map before reading the report you will be able follow the route much easier.

We start our route in the Bush Camp where members of the SA 4x4 Community Forum had their Year-end camp. The Bush camp is a large open area with lots of space and clean ablutions with hot and cold water and no electricity, perfect if you like roughing it a bit.

BTW - Moordkuyl also has a Caravan Park with nice and level sites with electricity if you don't want to rough it too much.

And a restaurant and pub:

The first route (yellow on the Map) starts in the Bush Camp and after our brief we were on our way. Fatb and I were in the Green Wrangler on this day. VERY capable vehicle.

We travel slowly in a group all the way to the first REAL fun - Winch Hill:

Now believe me, photos never do inclines justice. This is HIGH and this is STEEP. Throw into the equation loose gravel and little or no traction and you have a recipe for success. I have seen more than one person grab for their smokes when they see this for the first time.

But first we admire the view:

This photo was taken during my recent test of Chev Trailblazer 2.8 Diesel Auto 4x4. It does not come with Diff lock as standard which had me skeptical at first, but damn, this Chev surprised the hell out of me.

Back to Winch Hill - the idea is to descent slowly and under full control of the vehicle. Well, that is the theory anyway. The thing is, without much traction and with the severe incline sometimes gravity takes over and it's more about keeping the vehicle in the trail than anything else.

Hopefully the people in the background and the angle of the vehicle gives some sort of idea of the type of incline we are talking about:

The Jeep Wrangler Pentastar can crawl at 0,8km/h in low range first gear. It had no problem crawling down this hill. The Arctic Truck Amarok with it's huge wheels had enough traction also and the Hill Descent Control function is awesome. You do nothing but steer. Same thing with the Chev Trailblazer. Fitted with standard road tyres it had less traction so the Hill Descent Control really had it's work cut out on the steepest sections, but that too negotiated the downhill with relative ease.

Trying to go up this hill would be utter madness, not to mention all but impossible. On the day we were there with the Jeep no-one was crazy enough to try. On my second visit I was driving the Arctic Amarok and several people tried...

Land Cruiser and Triton:


It is too steep and there is no traction. To date no vehicle has made it to the top. I have compiled a video showing some of the attempts. Notice in the beginning how the stones roll down the hill after the Hummer and never stop rolling. That gives a good idea of the incline.

Also have a look at the Arctic Amarok in action. Lots have been said about that 2 litre motor. And there has been questions about "loss of power" after the big wheel conversion. I think this video makes it clear that there is more than enough power on tap. The Arctic Amarok never runs out of power, even at the top where it spins all wheels. The runs were done in 2nd low.

After the Winch Hill fun & games Steed Hill awaits.

While you drive down Winch Hill, you have to drive up Steed Hill. It's impossible to get a shot of the whole section, but I'm sure you get the idea that this too is quite a high climb.

The Hummer cresting it:

And so does the mighty Jimny.

Arctic Truck doing it in the wet:

Next the route takes you to the Viewpoint. A nice shot en route:

From here you can see most of the farm.

On this day we were on a sightseeing trip with the new Nissan Murano. While we certainly didn't attempt any of the obstacles with this vehicle it was more than adequate to take us to the scenic places, you just need to watch the ground clearance here and there.

A good shot of the Caravan Park from up here:

Our next route was on the other side of the river, so down we went again. How awesome is this:

The Rivercrossing depth varies with the rainfall. It can get quite deep here at times...

The next obstacle is called Fat Lady. Heaven knows why. A Fat lady would not even be able to walk up here.

The section as seen from afar:

It starts out steep and the climb includes a cross-axle obstacle, followed by a turn (which breaks your momentum) and an even steeper climb with another cross-axle situation just before you crest. The whole thing is designed to catch you out.

This gives an idea of the incline near the top:

What happened here was caught on the video footage that follows.

The view down:

Note the cars in the top left of the photos above. The following pictures were taken from that position.

The Arctic Amarok in action - first section:

Going around the bend - look at the incline of the section ahead:

Almost at the top:

View from the top:

On the day we were here with the Jeep only 5 vehicles made it to the top. The Jeep had no problem dancing up the hill in 3rd low. All vehicles that made it had Diff Lock except one: the new Trailblazer, stock standard. At the Press Launch of the Trailblazer the absence of Diff Lock was questioned, but GM was adamant that with all the driver's aids and systems working together adding Diff Lock to this vehicle would be overkill. I was skeptical, but it's harder to question their statements now. There were some serious 4x4's with custom additions in this group and the Trailblazer stood it's ground.

A second thing I'd like to point out is that I come from a Dual Sport biking background. It's quite intimidating driving between seasoned 4x4 gurus, especially if you're in the latest or a specialized vehicle. If you make a rookie mistake, it could reflect badly on the vehicle. On the day we were here with the Arctic Amarok I was one of the last vehicles to come up. Butterflies galore! With all that was happening I forgot to engage the Diff lock... Talk about a rookie mistake! And I only realized I forgot the Diff Lock when we were steaming towards the last cross-axle section at the top. The Arctic Truck rolled over it without breaking a sweat. With so much traction and suspension travel it simply was not necessary to lock it. Awesome vehicle.


Next up - fun in the river loop:

Moving pictures:

And then we headed for Track 4. Back through the river we go.

At the start of Track 4:

This road takes you to my favourite place on the whole farm: The Tent Camp.

This area has 4 permanent tents and a central kitchen tent, complete with fridge and gas stove.

There are tables and chairs, a central fireplace and the whole setting is under big shady trees. The area sleeps 14 people, or more if you pitch additional tents on the grass.

Trail 4 takes you through a forest area. We did this part with a Suzuki Grand Vitara, so the emphasis here is very much on scenery and the beauty of nature, rather than hardcore 4x4.

The area teems with bird-life. We spotted lots of Knysna Loeries, as well as several species of raptor.

I have always liked these types of trails and without a doubt this is my favourite part of the farm.

Some more random pics on the trails:

Some fun on the trails:

Varying terrain and scenery:

And some excellent areas for vehicle photography (also known as just playing around ).

All while being out in nature.

For more info join Moorkuyl 4x4 on Facebook or have a look at their website:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dag Meneer.

Lyk soos groot "fun". Wanneer gaan ons bietjie.