When you think of Africa you think of lions and elephants roaming freely in the streets. School children piggy-back riding a giraffe to school. Utter nonsense!
The reality of most African cities is urban sprawl that has claimed the habitats of the once wild roaming animals. Most ‘game’ has been translocated to national parks and conservation areas. However, on the outer rings of peri-urban Johannesburg, many land owners have stocked their fenced-farms with a variety of Africa’s largest; Rhino, Zebra, Antelope, Giraffe and even a few cats.
Sure, it’s not a true safari by any stretch of the imagination, but it is still spectacular to spot one of these beasts. And for me the ultimate is combining a safari with a quad bike ride. Only in Africa! I love this continent.
November through to March is a great time to don a crash helmet and head into the wilderness. Did I mention the views over the Cradle of Humankind?
45 minutes north of Johannesburg (with no traffic!) the rolling foothills of the Magaliesburg range is the ideal spot to arrange a quad-back-bike-safari. There are several operators and land-owners that do guided tours. I chose Segwati getaways on the Hartbeeshoek Road (R400) just before Hartebeespoortdam.
Price: A 1,5 hour adventure is about R500pp (US$34)
The Linhai Rustler Xl260 is the most commonly used work horse for quad safari’s in sub-Saharan africa. Dependable, and rugged like a honey badger, this Chinese import is more than capable. I stand to be corrected, but in order to limit their liability and prevent serious accidents, most operators have had to de-tune the quad’s engines. There is always one over-zealous tourist who lacks impulse control and needs to affirm their penis size with a burn-out and a doughnut!
My tour began with a quick orientation. The Linhai is idiot proof so even if you’re sub-normal you can ride this quad. Automated, hydromatic, systematic. You know the tune! Minions lined up our safari headed out into the hills.
The ride isn’t particularly technical. If you’re a novice the occasional incline on loose stones will provide you with an after glow. For me, the reduced power diluted my enjoyment. However, the game viewing more than made up for it.
Segwati has enough animals to hold your interest. A shy giraffe in the distance and the ubiquitous zebra were a welcome sighting.
The tour was enjoyable. The terrain varied between hilly, rocky outcrops and meandering, sand paths where I could open up and feel the wind on my face. Call me weak, but I thought carpal tunnel syndrome was limited to too much, um, playing on your smart phone. With a quad the throttle is a thumb-lever. After 90 minutes of continuous use I was spasming!
I reckon everyone needs to do a quad back safari at least once every decade. It’s a great morning out and let’s face it, it beats walking in a mall.
Disclaimer: ScooterSteve prefers his scooter!