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58 point where low-range is selected and tyres are partially deflated. The area’s 18km route traverses pure rocky ground. Most of the obstacles average a 3 rating, but occasionally the odd 4 creeps up and threatens to knock your 4×4’s undercarriage. Fortunately, vehicles with below-stellar ground clearance can generally opt for the easy way around, but even then, this trail requires constant concentration and careful line selection. After completing the rocky mountain route, we spend the rest of that day eating, snoozing, hiking, horse riding, and later on, game driving in search of the Shy Five: caracal, porcupine, leopard, bush pig and aardvark. EPIC TIMES That evening, while sitting around a huge bonfire at Buffalo Gorge’s wild bush camp, Johan asks me, “Can you hear that?” I cupped my hands around my ears and put on my best concentration face, but all I hear is the sound of pork chops sizzling on the braai. “Sorry Johan, I can’t hear squat.” It's the right answer. “Exactly”, he replies, “There’s no noise here…. no roads, no cars, no people, no static.” His voice trails off into the silence and I involuntarily take a deep breath, sit back in my chair, peer up at the starfilled sky, and slowly exhale. It's day one of our tour, an ordinary Friday, and it's already an epic weekend. As we explore more of the escarpment’s hidden valleys, I start thinking strongly about the area’s high-low transitions, but also, Johan’s vision of the Loskop Valley Tour becomes clearer to me. As far as I can see, Johan wants to create a tour that offers variety within close proximity of itself, and I’m happy to say he’s done just that. With the tour kick-starting on almost 200km of gravel, it’s a great way to start your Loskop Valley adventure and to quickly transition from the confinements of urban 2002, Eskom had plans to run an extensive power line along the full length of the valley. Ryk objected, saying that the power line would ruin his view and any chance of creating eco tourism in the area, but his cries were met with a mocking smile that suggested the decision was made and that there was nothing he could do about it. However, Ryk did his homework  and spent considerable time preparing his case and argument. In the end, some five years later, a decision was finally passed to install the power line 2km north – away from Avontuur Valley. The story made headline news and Ryk was heralded as “the guy who beat Eskom”. Ryk urges visitors to proclaim the victory in nature’s name, adding, “It wasn’t me that beat Eskom, it was this view”. I watched Ryk sweep his hands through a full 180-degree motion. The valley sweeps from east to west for as far as the eye can see. The scene is spectacularly beautiful and certainly worth fighting for. Since then, the valley has become famous among abseilers and mountain climbers. But that’s just part of the parcel; Ryk’s farm (known as Buffalo Gorge) also sports horseback riding, bush camping, hiking, waterfalls, MTB routes, paintballing, quad-bike safaris and various 4×4 routes. As far as the Loskop Valley Tour is concerned, Buffalo Gorge marks the TOP LEFT: At night, the sound of silence can be deafening. TOP RIGHT: All facilities are top notch. BELOW: Horse riding is a leisure activity that has found huge favour.


1-October-2016
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