The Story of Willie and Marlize
9:42am. It’s rainy. The sky’s opened up and turned the once rocky mountain tops into muddy, slippery obstacle courses. Gorges of mud. They rigged their bakkie themselves to be ready for this trip of two weeks camping in Magoebaskloof.
Not only was the bakkie packed to the brim, but they also had their camping trailer with all their gear too. Bursting at the seams! For Willie and Marlize Tennant, they’ve got this trail in their 1400 utility bakkie – that’s not a 4x4 we might add. Just a small bakkie. Talk about bold!
Magoebaskloof is one of the most scenic mountain passes in South Africa. With lush tropical vegetation, thick stands of pine, deep gorges and the horizon filled with green and blue mountain ranges.
The bushveld, big grass lands and towering trees make you feel as if you’re transported into an African fairytale. Iconic thick layers of mist rise from the dams and rivers in the mornings, unlocking the beautiful forest in the Limpopo province. Now that was the original plan, to spend two weeks in this paradise. Away from everyone and everything.
Just off the main road, only about 4km to drive to reach the campsite. Little did the Tennant’s know how steep it really was. How the mountain from far looks deceiving but is (in layman’s terms) 17 stories steep! And not just straight up steep, ups and downs of rocks, loose dirt roads and rough 4x4 terrain.
Off they went with their 1400 bakkie and camping trailer but didn’t get very far. Willie quickly realized that their vehicle was too heavy, and with no traction in the two front wheels – absolutely no way they would be able to get over the mountain. There’s a reason they call it Magoebaskloof.
Any overlanding enthusiast will immediately tell you how important it is to have the right gear, and especially the correct vehicle to attempt such a steep trail such as Magoebaskloof. 446 vertical meters to summit at 1400m above sea level.
So, back to that morning, there they were. Stuck! In the rain, with nowhere to go. The solution? Reduce the bakkie’s weight! They offloaded everything, left the trailer, and started taking batches of their stuff to the campsite. Back-and-forth, over the rocks and enduring the slippery slopes of the kloof.
While Willie was practicing his 4x4 driving skills to the campsite, Marlize had the brightest idea! She needed to take one for the team to give her partner the stamina he needed. Right there in the middle of the kloof in the rain, she quickly fired up their 4-year-old Megamaster Camper Portable Gas Braai. She made breakfast with one hand and their two yorkies on their leashes in the other. As Willie came by for the next load, he would take a few bites and head on out again.
Finally, everything was at the campsite – except the trailer. They thought this would work just to tow the trailer through the kloof with an empty bakkie – still, nothing. The bakkie didn’t move. Another round of offloading but this time everything out of the trailer, for a few more back-and-forth trips to get its contents to the campsite. With an empty bakkie and empty trailer, they finally made it to their destination. Everything was wet, but the adventure was so worth it!
It got off to a rocky start, but this is where their overlanding adventures all began for them as a couple. Their love for the outdoors. For just being, under the stars at night and in the comfort of a tree’s shade during the day. This is where their thirst for adventure got awakened, on the foothills of Magoebaskloof, together in the mud and the rain. And a bond of mud, can’t be broken.
As luck would have it, on their last day it started raining again. Willie, with the help his brother this time, decided to change their approach to get Jurgie the trailer out of the bush. After struggling this much with a single piece of equipment on one holiday, it needed a name. So, they dubbed it Jurgie.
With nylon ropes and ratchet straps, they formulated a ‘backpack’ system. Willie made loop like backpack straps and pulled the trailer, and his brother pushed from the back. Every 3-4 steps, they stopped, put a rock behind the wheel and regrouped. For what felt like kilometers on end but was only 3, a good samaritan with a real 4x4 came to their rescue and towed the trailer out.
It's easy to say that the 1400 utility bakkie didn’t stay in the Tennant family for too long after this holiday. They upgraded, tailored, and became experts in what to take with and how they should rig the right vehicle for the job.
Another staple is they always make sure now that they have a small portable gas braai, like our Origin 2 Burner Tabletop Gas Braai, and an extra gas cylinder. Don’t get us wrong, any outdoor trip should always have a campfire at night to sit around. But when you’re hungry, it’s a quick start up to get the gas braai going. Rule of thumb in the camping world is to get more efficient the more experienced you get.
For people like us, for Willie and Marlize, camping is a family affair. Being outdoors, out of the hustle and-bustle of the city. Camping is cooking together, braaiing together, being together. Camping is listening to the sounds of birds early in the morning.
However, the journey to paradise doesn’t only start when you arrive in the bush. It starts in your driveway, enroute to your destination. That’s Willie and Marlize’s philosophy, that life is an adventure. The only thing you must do is to find it, embrace it and pass it on to the next generation.