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1-October-2016

59 ADVENTUREZONE life to sudden open views and the rumbling melody of a gravel track. The tour then jumps onto an adrenalin-fuelled rocky trail, and ends at uBhetyan for a one-of- a-kind game-viewing experience. The drive from Buffalo Gorge to uBhetyan is a quick one through dense corn crops. Upon arriving at our destination we soon meet owner Deon Cornelius, a big guy with a booming voice, a friendly manner and incredible hospitality. uBhetyan serves as a game farm for antelope, but it’s best known for its carnivore breeding programme, which includes leopard, lion, hyena, wild dogs, cheetah, and even tigers – one of which is the world’s largest Siberian in captivity – a whopping 390kg of tawny terror. At the tiger enclosure, Deon casually opens the gate and strolls inside. The two big cats instantly notice his upright form and one of the tigers jumps to its feet and charges through the grass. Deon crouches down, picks up a twig, breaks it in half, and when the tiger is mere metres away, he sternly commands it, “Stop!” The vicious-looking predator rises on its hind legs, and within moments, man and beast are locked in a playful embrace. It's at this point that Deon asks if I’d like to enter the enclosure for a better photograph. Part of me is keen, but with a “Nah, it’s cool Deon, I’m more of a dog person”, I decline the invitation. A DARK ABYSS We spend most of that day relaxing in the game viewer while exploring the farm’s unforgettable scenery. Dozens of valleys lay strewn about, some of them appearing to crisscross one another and disappear into a thicket of tall trees. As the sun sets on the deathly quiet horizon, and our legs dangle over the dark abyss, my travelling buddy Gary Swemmer looks out at the scene and says, “A man could do a lot of thinking out here”. That evening, we dine in style and sleep in the lodge’s comfortable yet surprisingly affordable chalets. The next morning is a Sunday, and the official end of the Loskop Valley Tour. As we make the 2.5-hour journey back to Pretoria, Johan asked for my thoughts. It takes me a while to answer; I have to think back to all we’ve done. I then realise how many activities we’ve crammed into just one weekend, but it doesn't make sense, as we also spent a huge part of our time relaxing. Where did all the time come from? That’s when Johan’s vision of the Loskop Valley Tour hits me: quick transitions of variety and activity will guarantee fulfilment without the burden of time. Fittingly, a similar sentiment can be used to describe the Highveld escarpment – a place of drastic change and immeasurable diversity.  I finally snap out of my daydream and give Johan an answer. “It’s certainly a tasty pie, Johan.” ABOVE: On the 4×4 sections, trails vary in difficulty and are clearly marked.


1-October-2016
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