SA4x4

SHEER MADNESS

When I was given a chance to drive Baboon’s Pass in Lesotho as part of a group tour organised by Riaan Jooste of Complete 4x4, I was extremely interested. I had heard it was tough, and at times Grade-5 tough, but definitely something to tick off one’s bucket list. So, I had a look at some videos on YouTube - and particularly one from Andrew St. Pierre White, who had driven a stock-standard Land Rover Discovery 4 up this 26km obstacle-course. (He did have two Defenders on call, both shod with 33-inch tyres.)

I thought that, in comparison, my Hilux Legend 45 D-4D manual was pretty well-kitted out: it had a suspension lift and upgrade, replacement bumpers front and rear, and a set of 265/70 R17 mud-terrain tyres.

Not a lot of information is available about Baboon’s Pass, and much of it underestimates the severity of the terrain available - calling it mostly Grade 3, with an occasional rougher section. One magazine even said the pass “used to” be rough. Well, in that case, I think I might have driven the wrong pass. It is tougher than tough – full stop!

The pass was apparently built in the 1960s so that supplies could be delivered to the missionaries in the valley. They used to drive trucks down the road; but in the last couple of decades, there has been little-to-no maintenance on this stretch. Rain and snowfalls have eroded sections, and rocks weighing over a ton have blocked the passage. And, with the next rainy season around the corner, I guess it will get just that much tougher.

The journey starts

The bunch of adventurers who had signed on for this challenge - timed for mid-March to miss the winter rains -

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