The Ox-Wagon N1 Exploring new horizons with Subaru

The Ox-Wagon N1 Exploring new horizons with Subaru

The crack of dawn…

Moon and sun fighting for ownership of the early morning sky. I’ve always loved sunrises but this one especially makes me pause to look. Also distracts me from the slightly nervous tingle in my stomach. Easy to say Attaquas Pass – pass? -not a chance! I’m all in.

But now that the time is approaching I start to wonder. Last night’s investigative reading all contained phrases like “low ratio” “transfer box” and “graded 3-4”.

Off to Bonniedale Farm – from where the real trip will commence. Always such a pleasure to visit this farm. A haven of tranquillity with activities like cycling and hiking ruling the roost. And moves afoot to introduce some new entertainment! Keep an eye on for updates.

But I digress. A long chat with Nico brings loads of comfort – ‘don’t worry, we have all the necessary recovery equipment here” is paired with “we’ve never lost anyone….. yet!” Thanks Nico. That’s exactly what I want to go tell “Action Rentals” who hire out Subaru SUV’s – including the Forester I’m currently driving.

On a more serious note, Nico is always a wealth of information and as a 4×4 instructor with vast experience can offer solid advice on how to tackle the terrain ahead. I know the first kilometre or so is the toughest and extra care will be required. So off we go. A steep descent into a short river crossing is negotiated slowly but without drama. Care is needed to avoid the large rocks, both when entering and when exiting the river bed but the Forester copes without a problem.

A steep rocky climb follows and this too is dispatched without drama. Wow! I’d love to take the credit but I think this comparatively easy progress is as a direct result of predominantly 3 things – Subaru’s CVT automatic gearbox, the X drive system and the 220mm of ground clearance. A slow steady speed and a carefully chosen path will see this car through most terrain.

Back to the route. This pass was the main “road” for well over 150 years, connecting the coastal areas with the Klein Karoo. It is one of the earliest roads in South Africa, having been used by explorers like Thunberg, Von Plettenberg, van Reenen et al. Both history and folklore abound. From the grave of “Bloubaard” (Swanepoel – the last man publicly hanged in South Africa) which is to be found behind a large gum tree at the Attaquas hiking trail hut to tales of the ghosts of Grootkloof, there is enough legend there to scare children of all ages!

It’s hard not to feel like a pioneer when you are armed with this type of knowledge and traversing such rugged landscape. But if you’re still not feeling it, what about the sign next to a ruined toll house –  4 283 ox wagons paid tolls in one year – 1843. One year! I think that’s more than has been collected from the e tolls imposed on Gauteng motorists. More ruins including a fort with unfettered views, stretching for miles, used in the Anglo Boer war will extract your pioneering spirit.  Imagine manhandling an ox wagon through this pass – no trail, no X drive, no CVT gearbox………..

Convinced? You should be. It’s a 20km drive which you should allow yourself at least 4-5 hours to complete. Besides the due care needed so as not to damage the car, frequent photo opportunities as well as short walks to get a better view will be the order of the day. And if you are fortunate enough to have a glorious blue sky day like I have just had, it will create memories that will last a long time. Although you may need to do it again just to confirm it really was that good!

Go on – Rent a Subaru and Explore the Garden Route!


Footnote:  Guided self-drive tours to both here and Die Hel as featured in last month’s issue are under consideration. If you are interested in participating – either in your own vehicle or in a rented Forester from Action Rentals, please send an e-mail to the author at The anticipated fee is around R 1 500.00 per car (excluding rental costs) to cover trail costs, guide fees and the like. We will try to do the tours during June and July, if sufficient interest is received.