Epic 4x4 -journey to commemorate the Great Trek 175 years ago
A total of eight 4x4 vehicles set off from the Klipbokkop 4x4 Academy near Worcester in the Western Cape on Monday 16 September 2013 to follow the route of the Great Trek leader, Piet Retief, from the Eastern Cape to Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal.
The trip, under the guidance of the Federation of Afrikaner Cultural Organisations (FAK), formed part of the 175th anniversary celebrations of the Great Trek, which took place from 1835 to 1838, when more than 12 000 people left the then Cape Province to settle in what is now known as the Free State Province, Gauteng Province, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal.
The 4x4 “Trek” officially starts at Mooimeisjesfontein, Piet Retief’s original farmstead outside Grahamstown, from where the group of 34 people will follow his ox-wagon route over the Winter Mountains and Drakensberg into KwaZulu-Natal.
Chief executive of the FAK, Dr Danie Langner, said en route that the group will have campfire discussions with historians and descendants of Voortrekker leaders such as Retief, and places of importance on the Great Trek route, such as Post Retief and the grave of Anna Steenkamp (Retief’s cousin), will be visited.
The group passed through Aliwal North en route to Winburg in the Free State before crossing the mountains into KwaZulu-Natal, where they visited the Church of the Vow in Pietermaritzburg before ending off at the Blood River Monument.
Gerhard Groenewald of the Klipbokkop 4x4 Academy was to act as “trek leader” for the group. He said that it would be very interesting to assess the performance of modern 4x4 vehicles and tyres on the route established by the wagon trains of Piet Retief and other “trekkers” 175 years ago.
“While technology will make the journey so much easier, we still expect challenges. The route over the Winter Mountains, the steep slopes of the Drakensberg and the river crossings will for sure test the 4x4 capabilities of our Toyota Hilux vehicles.
“However, compared to the trek groups of yonder who had to rely heavily on their own ingenuity and resourcefulness to overcome obstacles, our group is well prepared with state-of-the-art equipment such as camping and other 4x4 accessories from 4x4 Megaworld, tyres from Goodyear, including support from Hi-Q dealers countrywide, off-road trailers from Jurgens and lighting solutions, as well as fridges from National Luna,” said Groenewald.
A documentary on the epic 4x4 commemorative journey was aired on KykNet. The trip could also be followed online at www.fak.org.za, www.klipbokkop.co.za, as well as on www.kyknet.co.za, www.weg.co.za, www.wegry.co.za, www.rapportinrat.co.za en www.caravansa.co.za.