56 U ntil recently, I’ve not known much about the Highveld region. The name would conjure up thoughts of thunderstorms, a radio station, and blue and white licence plates. However, after exploring part of the region with tour operator Johan Klopper on his new 4×4 route, The Loskop Valley Tour, I’ve come to appreciate the Highveld’s northern magnificence. The Loskop Valley Tour is designed as a mini 4×4 trip, an affordable weekend jaunt close to Jozi and Pretoria. The tour kicks off on a Friday, meeting at the ever-popular 4×4 trail and off-road driving academy, Kungwini, at Bronkhorstspruit. From here, your convoy of four vehicles or more heads in a horseshoe direction along the northern reaches of the Highveld. The focus of this tour is to follow the area’s many crags and valleys along the escarpment, where the Highveld meets the Lowveld. The route follows three unofficial stages: gravel travel, rocky adventure, and wildlife wonder. With a long dust trail billowing behind our Cruiser on Middelburg’s back roads, Johan describes the Highveld by saying: “You should think of the area as a giant pie, each piece representing one of its many valleys and cliff faces.” The analogy is an accurate one. Within a few short hours of starting the tour, we've sliced our way through countless streams and valleys, and I'm soon questioning my preconceptions of the area. Capetonians are often criticised for their geographical ignorance outside of the Western Cape, and I must confess that I’ve frequently classified the Highveld as mere Gauteng country. Needless to say, I'm surprised to hear that the Highveld also forms part of the Free State, as well as sections of Lesotho, the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces. In fact, with a total area of 400 000km², the Highveld covers roughly 30% of South Africa. What’s even more interesting is that it acts as a giant catchment and water drainage area for the country, effectively feeding our country’s most prominent rivers (the Orange and Vaal) and their many tributaries. Thanks to eons of rainfall and thunderstorms, dozens of valleys and cliffs have weathered along the escarpment. One of these pie slices is called Avontuur Valley, also known as ‘The view that beat Eskom’. The valley was made famous when nearby farmer Ryk Diepraam fought Eskom in a legal battle to protect the valley’s breathtaking view. Back in ADVENTUREZONE BELOW: Overnighting in the veld at the Buffalo Gorge Camp.
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