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  1. #1
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    Default Klein Pella - Easter 2021

    Klein Palla., Easter 2021:
    The trip where we “Drove for Hundreds and Thousands of Kilometres into the Middle of Nowhere, and found IT.”
    I don’t know who said it, but this statement is truer than most of us would have imagined.

    Unbeknownst to most of the participants on this trip, the planning started between Hedgehog and Bex, sometime in 2019; the 2020 struck and alternatives were sought – Easter Weekend 2021 was deemed to be the time.
    After the thread went live mid-November 2020 slots filled up very quickly and all available places were rapidly filled. Then there was the build-up, the anticipation, the planning and the excitement and finally, after what felt like a lifetime, the departure date.

    For most of us, we travelled from Gauteng, however there were a few from North West, Limpopo and Western Cape. Departures from home varied from a week in advance to the day before and anything in between.

    For those of us that left on Thursday, the trip was not uneventful, there was a serious traffic crash on the N14 just outside of Upington that had the road closed for many hours, leading to delays that felt like they would last for days. Ultimately everyone made it to their overnight stop.

    Good Friday, was without a doubt a good Friday, it was the REAL start of our adventure.
    Those of us who stayed over in and around Keimoes met on a dusty corner on the outskirts of town and made our way to meet up with the rest of the convoy at the Berg en Dal coffee Shop in Riemvasmaak. Now that everyone was in one place, the convoy was complete.

    It was now that the reality of the size of our convoy kicked in – 15 vehicles!
    We pulled out and made our way through the settlement of Riemvasmaak and onto the conservancy area with only a single stop for photos – time was already not on our side due to the size of our convoy and therefore the average speed through the area. This on its own would have made for a worthwhile trip. The only downside was the litter along the route, most notably drinks bottles and cans.

    We exited the Riemvasmaak conservancy area close to the Augrabies National Park.
    It as now time to reinflate tyres, as we had a fair amount of tar that was simply unavoidable.
    After an hour or so, we got to our first fuel stop, which was also our last for a few days, this was in Poffader. Poffader was a town that id last been in about 30 years ago, there was a 4-Way Stop, two petrol stations and about a half a dozen houses. Now there are still two petrol stations, a second 4-Way Stop and a few more houses and buildings, but still pretty much as I remembered it.

    Not long after departing Poffader it was time to reduce tyre pressures again – we were hitting the dirt again. It was also time to say goodbye to JohanMaree for a while as his palace on wheels was not going to make it through the route that was planned, but we would meet up again at camp.

    The settlement of Pella, was next on the list to travel through, on our way to Charles’s Pass.
    It does not look like much happens in Pella, and it happens three or four times a day, yet by all accounts it is a growing settlement.
    It wasn’t long before we were onto the approach to Charles’s Pass, not a very long pass, but one worth driving. As we came over the mountain, the vegetation changed a bit, most likely due to the proximity to the Orange River and a little more moisture in the air on that side of the mountain.
    This was now the start of the Namakwa Eco Route. We drove along the Orange River for a while, alongside grape vineyards and past a pump station. We also came across another convoy of vehicles that were clearly doing something similar to what we were doing, just coming from the other side.

    From here onwards, we got onto the route affectionately known as Lelike Pad. There was a bit of softer sand, some rocks and a few tight sections that needed to be navigated. The recent rains that had been through the area had made it even more Lelik, or was it actually Pragtig, well that would depend on you and your preferences.

    It was however rapidly approaching Beer O’clock and the travellers were growing weary.
    Luckily we were so close that the beers could almost be tasted, but not just yet there was a gate, it was closed, but was it unlocked – Hedgehog really hoped so, otherwise camp may have been set up right there at the gate, and beers cracked!
    It was open and we made our way to camp.
    The scramble ensued, sites were picked, tents were pitched and fires were lit.
    The beers were well earned.

    Stay tuned for part two……..
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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Klein Pella - Easter 2021

    Awesome Wayne
    _______________________________________
    Andrew van Staden
    With a mild case of "Camping Personality Disorder" or CPD

    I drive a five cylinder bakkie and tow an army inspired van.

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  5. #3
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    Default Re: Klein Pella - Easter 2021

    Some more pics:
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  7. #4
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    Default Re: Klein Pella - Easter 2021

    What a magical and memorable trip it was, likely the best ever!

    A plain Thank You to the organising team and Jors somehow don’t suffice, it needs a repeat

    Cannot wait for all detail te relive this trip.
    Dirk Theron - Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!
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  9. #5
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    Default Re: Klein Pella - Easter 2021

    Quote Originally Posted by Mambo View Post
    Some more pics:
    Whilst the pics may not be in exact chronological order, they are all from Day 1: Riemvasmaak to Klein Pella.

    Day two pics will be posted after Part 2 etc.

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  11. #6
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    Default Re: Klein Pella - Easter 2021

    Part Two……..

    The day of localised exploration and some incredible scenery.

    We had a rather early start, with Bex convincing us all to be ready to depart earlier than any one of us really thought we wanted to, but truth be told, we were all excited to see what the GAMA trail system had to offer.
    Today, our convoy was 18 vehicles, as Bex was our guide and there were an additional two vehicles that joined us. The convoy pulled out, and our day was under way.

    We started with a gentle cruise to make our way into the trail system that quite rapidly turned into a rocky scrubland which initially had quite a bit of grass as we made our way up and over the first mountain. Whist the grades were quite steep, they were not too challenging, however one needed to be a little careful with wheel placement, especially for the vehicles with lower ground clearance as there were some rocks that could have caused some strife should they be knocked at the wrong angle, at the wrong speed.

    Once we started got to the top of the next mountain, the terrain and the vegetation had changed again – it was dryer and rockyer than before. It was at this point that we could get a really good idea of how big the farm really is.
    “You see that mountain over there, behind the koppie? Well, from there, back to the road, and from here to the river…..” that’s more or less the size of the farm.
    For those that are living vicariously through this trip report, it equates to roughly 25km x 10km (the 10km portion is determined by the meandering of the Orange river, and is between 7km at the narrowest point and 13km at the widest) that is one large tract of land. Did I forget to mention that it is the largest date farm in the Southern Hemisphere?

    From this point on, the driving started getting a little trickier, but nothing that could not be handled. The route was passable by all, without the need for any spotting until a message came over the radio from ColinBushBuck in his big green Patrol – “I think I need some help to spot me through these rocks.” No matter how tightly he held his breath in, Colin was not comfortable with how tight the space was. As each one of us passed through the obstacle, it became apparent just how tight it was. It even made the Duster look large through there.
    This was probably the first obstacle of real consequence, get this wrong and you are in a spot of bother. I don’t know what others did, but I selected Low Range 1st gear and tiptoed my down the narrow rocky path, that had a tight right turn about halfway down. As you made that turn, the front right dropped into what felt like a cavernous abyss, all the while there was a pretty serious drop-off on the left.
    There were a few seatcovers that were nibbled on, on this obstacle….

    This obstacle marked yet another change in the trail. From here on out, the trail remained fairly narrow between the rocks, amongst the wide open spaces, with a few tricky cross-axel sections.
    There was one very tight bend between a few large rocks that were looking at the panels of our vehicles, like big bullies looking to steal the younger kid’s tuck money. If it wasn’t for the stellar spotting of JohanMaree, a few of us may still be stuck there. Of the vehicles that I could see, only two made it through that obstacle without having to reverse and reposition at least once, and those were the Renault Duster and the Short Wheel Based Pajero.

    This was the Easy part of the day done! Some members of the convoy decided that it was enough for the day, and they made their way back to the campsite.

    The next section of the trail lead us into a river section, with soft sand and big smooth rocks. The challenges were again rather different to those that we had faced earlier in the day. Some of the more interesting challenges were those where we transitioned from soft sand onto the hard smooth rocks, whilst navigating a bit of a cross-axel. These did have the tyres scrabbing a bit as the sand was pushed away. In this river section, there was a particular spot, where if you got it wrong there would be some fairly meaningful consequences. Whilst one would not expect it to be too difficult when looking at it, the big challenge is that you simply cannot see! You are coming down onto a large smooth rock, that requires a 90° right turn, before you plunge off the edge, problem is that as you make that right turn, you drop down what felt like an 85° drop, whilst hugging the rockface on your right. Whilst Hedgehog was guiding us down, I had my trusty co-pilot looking out the side window to see his hand signals, as I could still only see sky!

    Safely through, the next obstacle was to get out of the river, this was a fairly steep climb with a cross-axel and another right turn – this one required a fairly healthy dose of right boot as you made that right turn to avoid getting bogged down and having to try reverse back down.
    This was yet again another “climate” change to the terrain, back to the dry rocky stuff.
    The next big obstacle was a long climb up a rocky hill that saw an off-camber right bend near the top.
    This one needed solid momentum, good traction and a solid set of nerves, especially for that bend near the top. It even had some of the more experienced drivers in the convoy questioning some of their life choices up to this point.
    A few of us bypassed this one, and without shame I’ll say I was one of them.

    Shortly after this, we had a quick lunch stop next to the river, some even took a quick dip.
    It was here that some of us also called it a day and headed back to camp.

    As for the rest, Bex had a few more challenges up his sleeve and I’ll have to let either Hedgehog, DCTheron or Rechardt regale you with those stories.

    Back at camp, there were fire lit, poitjies started, bread baked and pap stirred, in fact there was even desert made!
    It was something of a communal braai, with a “Bring and Share” type of structure, stories were told, pucker moments were re-lived and a good old kuier was had, we couldn’t kuier for too long though as Sunday was an early start!

    Enjoy the photos from day two and see you in part three.
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  13. #7
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    Default Re: Klein Pella - Easter 2021

    A few more pictures:
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  15. #8
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    Default Re: Klein Pella - Easter 2021

    And some more...
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  17. #9
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    Default Re: Klein Pella - Easter 2021

    Lekker

  18. #10
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    Default Re: Klein Pella - Easter 2021

    Great report, thank you.

    Although I have never been into the heavier off-road trail thing, it is always very interesting (and comfortable if my own vehicle and life is not directly involved ).

    We have passed through some hairy places in our time on the way to nowhere and everywhere and have done a few trails in our own vehicle on community GTG at various venues.

    It was so great to see your pics of some of the places we have been through.
    Pity we did not know of Bex at the time although we did pass by Klein Pella and the date farm. (Sep.2018)
    So thank you for bringing those memories back to life for me.

    Definitely a very special place, as is the rest of the Namakwa Eco Trail and, of course, the Richtersveld Conservancy and National Park.
    Peter Hutchison
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  20. #11
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    Default Re: Klein Pella - Easter 2021

    Very nice report Wayne and thank you so much for doing it
    _______________________________________
    Andrew van Staden
    With a mild case of "Camping Personality Disorder" or CPD

    I drive a five cylinder bakkie and tow an army inspired van.

  21. #12
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    Default Re: Klein Pella - Easter 2021

    For me trail B and C are absolute stand outs..

    These trails have everything I love about trail driving..

    Both have those moments when you look at where the guy in front of you is going and you think:

    “You gotta be kidding me...”

    _______________________________________
    Andrew van Staden
    With a mild case of "Camping Personality Disorder" or CPD

    I drive a five cylinder bakkie and tow an army inspired van.

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    Bex

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    Default Re: Klein Pella - Easter 2021

    Part Three,

    We all thought that yesterday was an early start, well Bex had us ready to roll just after 6am, it was still dark and we thought that we were on holiday, apparently not.

    We had a longish drive to get to the AmAm dunes, about 60km or so away.
    The drive out to the dunes was quite fast paced, with a single stop to regroup and to get instructions around how to determine which gates were to stay open and which needed to be closed. Simple yet effective signalling system is to have a rock on the post that is on the latch end of the gate – if there is a rock, it means that the gate needs to be closed. Very useful when there is a long convoy that could be spanning more than one farm gate at a time.

    If we thought that we were in the middle of nowhere at any stage till now, we were not entirely correct, today we were definitely in the middle of nowhere, but there was the random caravan that lead to some speculation…..
    Shortly after sunrise, we were all gathering to deflate tyres to 0.8bar. This was recommended as the optimal pressure, unless situations determined lower.
    Driving along the first ridge on top of the dune, all was going well, except for the fact that each vehicle passing a particular challenge, meant that it got trickier and trickier for each successive vehicle, and with most of us not being the most experienced in sand like this it meant that some extra attempts were required from time to time.
    It was a little counter intuitive for most of us that were used to the slower, more technical type of driving where one would typically tip-toe up to an obstacle and then tip-toe over it. In the sand, one needs to identify the obstacle ahead and then decide how much speed and momentum is needed, and then it is a case of pressing the right foot just enough.
    The trail wound its way along the ridge in the soft sand amongst the scrub grass, with views into next month, never mind next week.
    Not too long into the morning, we got to our first challenge dune, this was rather daunting for most of us, as although but desert dune standards it was not that big, it was a big one to start with.
    What made it a bit more eye opening, was that there was no other way out of the depression, we had to make it up! With this in mind, the Duster was left up on the ridge. Everyone that attempted it, made it, but not without some tense moments. Niera’s intercooler pipe popped off just as his Hilux got higher in the rev range and the turbo produced max boost, this was about a vehicle length from the top – huge disappointment! Pipe was reattached, but didn’t hold the first time, it was once again reattached and voila - we all made it up.
    A short while later, we were at our next challenge dune, this was even more intimidating.
    Other than the Northern Cape locals, I don’t think that anyone made it up first time, this was a fine balance between speed, momentum and gear selection to keep the revs just in the sweet spot.
    Once again, the dune got more and more chewed up as each vehicle attempted to get up, the line had in fact also changed but not the way anticipated and a few of us ended up not making it up. We were running out of time and we had to move on, instead of trying again and again.

    It was starting to get hot, really hot, and the sand was getting even softer.
    Again we were back up on top of the ridge, but now traction was not on our side and a few drivers did not get the balance of power and momentum quite right. We had some STUCK, some un-stuck, but then again some STUCK. Spades came out, recovery bridles were attached, snatch straps employed, engines revved and lots of teamwork. This area of the ridge also saw the need for a tyre to be changed. The grasses on these ridges were tough as can be and somehow a piece of grass, about the size of a toothpick managed to get between the rim and tyre of my front right wheel. We were hot, tired and probably a bit dehydrated, so changing a tyre was the last thing on anyones wishlist, especially in the sand. Luckily there was an airjack close at hand – in the sand, this is a dream machine.

    From here we, went to something of a play area, with various different lines up the same dune.
    Much fun was had.

    After this play area, there was once again a split in the group, with the majority making their way back to camp, and a few diehards going to find even higher dunes to tackle and then the fabled dices that had no photographic proof. Hmmm.

    When back at camp, with the help of Ama-Newbe and the highlift jack of SVA I managed to de-bead my tyre, clean out the debris and get it back in position and inflated – at least now I had a spare for the trip home.
    Sunday night was definitely a quieter night, bodies and minds were tired and most got a fairly early night.

    Monday morning saw a generally slower start, with camps being broken, trailers and vehicles packed and general goodbyes being said, and gradually everyone started to hit the road in their respective directions, some spent some extra time on the road before heading home, some took the long drive all the way to Gauteng in one day, but most made off to an overnight stop somewhere along the way.
    Everyone agreed that it was just too short, and that we would come back one way or another.
    Acquaintances had become friends!

    A big thank you needs to go out to Hedgehog and Bex (Andrew and Jors) and who ever else was part of the organising committee – this was an experience that will not soon be forgotten, nor with it be replicated. If this trip were to be done again, whilst there will be similarities it will undoubtedly be a fresh experience.

    On the trip was:
    Hedgehog
    Grant
    Rechardt
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  25. #14
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    Default Re: Klein Pella - Easter 2021

    A few more from part 3:
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  27. #15
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    Default Re: Klein Pella - Easter 2021

    Quote Originally Posted by Hedgehog View Post
    Very nice report Wayne and thank you so much for doing it
    Most welcome.

    I would like to encourage anyone else that was on the trip to share some of your thoughts and views of your experiences.
    I have tried to post this report as inclusively as possible, but am aware that these are largely my views of the trip and others may differ.

    Once again, thank you for the behind the scenes work to make this trip a success, and the management of the convoy to keep us, more or less on schedule.

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  29. #16
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    Default Re: Klein Pella - Easter 2021

    Thanks Wayne.
    Excellent piece of writing. Making us relive the experience.
    Was a great GTG, FOREVER memorable. Until next year...
    RechardT

    Now- Toyo GD6 2.8- Creed

    One day is One day- Dodge Ram 6.7l TD.

    You can go anywhere you want in life as long as its in a 4x4.

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  31. #17
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    Default Re: Klein Pella - Easter 2021

    Magic Wayne
    Estee = S T = Sean Towlson

    Total 4x4 Novice with no experience whats-so-ever

    ''Nothing makes the Earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes''. H.D. Thoreau.

    Hummer H3 V8

    W.A.P Objectivist

  32. #18
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    Default Re: Klein Pella - Easter 2021

    Excellent report

    I will still try to get the videos together, just running around a bit and need to get the Namib videos at least organized while my memory is still fresh.

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  34. #19
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    Default Re: Klein Pella - Easter 2021

    Quote Originally Posted by Hedgehog View Post
    For me trail B and C are absolute stand outs..

    These trails have everything I love about trail driving..

    Both have those moments when you look at where the guy in front of you is going and you think:

    “You gotta be kidding me...”

    What is amazing about this report is that most of the very good parts are not on film, because there just was no time to capture it.
    So what we are seeing here are in general, the more relaxed bits... The areas where people had time to photograph and film.

    A Further Highlight for me:
    The route from Riemvasmaak to Klein Pella:

    The sudden hit that the landscapes give you in the stomach from just outside of Riemvasmaak and the feeling you get of traversing some rough terrain with your 4x4 and adding the trailer into the dynamics I thoroughly enjoyed, and I am soooo happy it could be included in the trip.

    I have to applaud the team for the way you faced the challenges that I threw at you that first day...., the sudden escalation of driving challenges that I gave you, especially the very technical drive from Pella to Klein Pella via Lelik Pad was maybe a bit unexpected for all of you, bar a few, but you all just dug down and pushed through.

    I must say, I had not expected that the trail would have been as affected by the resent rains as it was... I enjoyed every minute of it. My wife kept asking if I was mad
    Last edited by Hedgehog; 2021/04/20 at 06:10 AM.
    _______________________________________
    Andrew van Staden
    With a mild case of "Camping Personality Disorder" or CPD

    I drive a five cylinder bakkie and tow an army inspired van.

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  36. #20
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    Default Re: Klein Pella - Easter 2021

    Quote Originally Posted by Hedgehog View Post
    For me trail B and C are absolute stand outs..

    These trails have everything I love about trail driving..

    Both have those moments when you look at where the guy in front of you is going and you think:

    “You gotta be kidding me...”



    I heard the line " Are you sure we have to go there? " so many times on the trail, and it usually goes with that incredulous look on the face of the person asking that you just have to smile, I do enjoy that and I try not to drive my own car on a drive through so I can see and film more of it, but this time I had passengers so less time for filming.

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