Mastering 4x4 obstacles in a feminine way

Four-wheel drive training for ladies

We gazed over the course. I’m sure some of us had our jaws touching our toes. Holes in the ground, big enough to swallow the wheel of a vehicle sneered at us. Slopes worthy of causing our vehicles to topple over and roll into a heap of scrap metal at the bottom taunted us. Would we conquer these obstacles?

 

We have lift off! Rear right wheel in a hole.

We have lift off! Rear right wheel in a hole.

Off-road adventures with Bush Babe Adventure and Safari Club

In 2011 my husband and I were in the Drakensberg enjoying a thrilling helicopter flip. Shortly after we landed, my heart still pumping adrenalin, my phone rang.

It was Leilani Basson. At the time she was a photo journalist for Leisure Wheels magazine. Leilani was the pioneer for Bush Babes, an adventure and safari club – for women only. She had launched it with 6 other ladies to assist her, in 2010.



Leilani Basson taking photos

Leilani Basson taking photos

Earlier in the year I’d entered a competition through Leisure Wheels and she contacted me regarding the outcome of that. They had chosen 10 winners out of all the entrants and she was pleased to announce that I was one of them. What had we won? A weekend away in the Waterberg. The main objective of the weekend was to teach a group of ladies introductory 4x4 off-road skills. André de Villiers, notorious in South African 4x4 circles would be guiding and training us.


Driving up a slippery slope, we each had to wait our turn

Driving up a slippery slope, we each had to wait our turn

You may well say it might not be a typical pastime for ladies, but my husband and I felt it would be worth it if I learnt some skills for those times we drove in off-road conditions while we travelled. It would give me more confidence to handle off-road situations.

 

Our chalet at Thaba Moia

Our chalet at Thaba Moia

Love the Zebra toilet seat! Inside our cottage at Thaba Moia. Rustic but comfortable.

Love the Zebra toilet seat! Inside our cottage at Thaba Moia. Rustic but comfortable.

The Waterberg

We arrived at a place called Thaba Moia. Our accommodation was rustic but adequate for the weekend. We settled in and had a welcome braai (barbeque) to get to know the other ladies. There is nothing like a good ‘kuier’ around a huge fire. What is a kuier? It’s a South African term for visiting or socialising. We were each allowed to bring a friend – ladies only, apart from the instructor and his team of male helpers. To be honest, I think he needed some moral support amongst a bevy of 20+ beautiful Bush Babes.

Typical South African braai (barbeque)

Typical South African braai (barbeque)

 

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The following morning, Saturday, we spent a few hours listening to the boring but necessary theory and then we were allowed loose on the tracks. Pfft! I won’t bore you with the details… I was more interested in playing in the mud.

More 4x4 instruction from Andre de Villiers

 

 

Roaming Fox’s hot tips for 4x4 driving:

Slow, and steady.

Keep the momentum going.

Deflate your tyres appropriate to the terrain.

Consider the environment.

 

 

Real women aren’t afraid to play outside and get dirty

We tossed our high heels to one side, touched up our lipstick and exchanged our facial powder with dust while we traversed through a few little hindrances that where in our way.


Yip, I’m sure that hole is bigger than the wheel

Yip, I’m sure that hole is bigger than the wheel

 

Here are a few examples:

We pulled some jitterbug dance moves as we staggered through craters, one wheel in a ditch and one spinning in mid-air.

 
 

Avoided face planting with a free nose job while driving down a steep slope.

Bums up! Steep descent over a ‘little’ mound

Bums up! Steep descent over a ‘little’ mound

 

Narrowly missed seesawing on top of a mound and prevented an exfoliating belly rub in the bushveld sand.


Even a little bump could have you see-sawing

Even a little bump could have you see-sawing

 

Some of us however, wheel spun in mud, like high heels on a slippery floor at a shopping mall.


After driving through water, the ascent was muddy and slippery

After driving through water, the ascent was muddy and slippery

Steep muddy slope

Steep muddy slope

Slippery enough to get the wheels spinning while going nowhere

Slippery enough to get the wheels spinning while going nowhere

Nasty rocks on both sides as well

Nasty rocks on both sides as well

 

We all conquered steep inclines without parking on our rear ends.


Bear in mind you can’t see over your bonnet but you have to keep the momentum going…just enough

Bear in mind you can’t see over your bonnet but you have to keep the momentum going…just enough

 

Drove no-one up the wall and instead drove around in circles at a 45-degree angle. (Ah, ok, maybe we drove André up the wall from time to time)

 

 

How ladies learn to conquer 4x4 terrain

Throughout the training adrenalin was seriously pumping overtime. There were squeals of delight when we mastered the obstacles. Some even shed a tear or two when they struggled to master the technique, but eventually and triumphantly they made it.



Yes, the wheel was still spinning

Yes, the wheel was still spinning

Stuck in a rut

Stuck in a rut

 

Soon our confidence rose and we managed to master a few more skills. By the end of the weekend we were thrilled with what we’d achieved and were filled with confidence when we left on the Sunday. Naturally we were pleased as punch that we conquered what was at that time, primarily a playground for men.


Individual 4x4 training

Individual 4x4 training

This of course led to further ‘ladies only’ 4x4 excursions…but more about that another time. Did I mention we had fun?

Oh, yes, for sure, we certainly did!

 

P.S. Years later after I’d interviewed Gillian Mclaren, Travel Writer, from @jetset_gillian did I realize that I had met her before at this Bush Babes event. It’s a small world! 


Going down!

Going down!

Mastering four-wheel drive off-road skills

Mastering four-wheel drive off-road skills

We each were given a certificate to prove we mastered 4x4 skills

We each were given a certificate to prove we mastered 4x4 skills