I can feel the power in my four-wheeler as I take it round the training track at Induna Adventures, just outside the lowveld town of Hazyview. It has a will of its own and I’m grateful for the clear instructions we’d received from guide Shane Nketjane (aka Fifty Four) before we set off, engines roaring.
Kitted out with colourful bandanas under our helmets, we spent some time taming our machines on the practice route; a level area with a few muddy dips and puddles to negotiate.
It comes quickly. After a few laps, the bike is less wilful and more responsive as I get used to the feel of the machine. I can see how the group of riders is learning to anticipate the dips and bumps along the way, with the more confident riders lifting themselves out of the saddle on the up and sitting into the downs. Balance is important on the bike, but bodies generally know instinctively what to do and how to compensate for the terrain – which is beautiful, but bumpy this late summer afternoon.
Induna Adventures has more than 40 Quad Bikes in their fleet of Suzuki quads. There are 3 trails to choose from; 1, 2 or 4 hours in length.
Each trail is guided by one of the experienced Induna Adventure team members; you can even go tandem with an instructor if you still want the adventure, but don’t quite have the confidence to manage your own bike. Big groups are split into smaller ones and the guides are good at assessing the group’s capabilities and adjusting the activity accordingly.
Rain on the previous day has made the route a muddy one and splashing through puddles doesn’t get old as we follow hand-cut quad tracks through indigenous forests and blue gum plantations and fruit orchards. Growing in confidence, we go faster than before and there are shrieks and squeals when the bikes slide or we go over a particularly rough patch or open the throttle a little too wide.
As we ride back into camp even the most inexperienced of us are riding like pros – or at least we look better than we did when we set out. My arms ache from handling the heavy bike and bending its power to my will. Sometimes, that meant just staying on and staying on course, more or less – but that’s half the fun of this kind of activity.
You experience the landscape in a unique way, there is adrenalin and exertion, but also time to stop and enjoy the beautiful views or enjoy one of the drinks your guide carries in his pack. It’s not a crazy ‘free for all’ activity; but is challenged me enough for me to feel a real sense of accomplishment when I disembarked, muddy, thirsty and grinning from ear to ear.