An Extraordinary Adventure Through the Stormy Cederberg

Eight Defenders, seven journalists, rugged terrain, billions of stars, and torrential rain. YLA joined Land Rover on an experience like no other

By Juliet McGuire

I live an extraordinary life thanks to the career I chose. I drive different cars in exotic places, but like any job, after 16 years, it can become a bit monotonous. Then Land Rover invited me on a three-day journey to explore the Cederberg in the Western Cape in an array of Defender models. I knew my passion might just reignite. Even a level-five weather warning was not going to deter me; in fact, it did the opposite.

I was handed the keys to a Defender 110 as we set off from Durbanville Hills Winery and made our way to Simbavati Cederberg Ridge Wilderness Lodge, which is nestled among fynbos and starry skies. Our route took us via a few local eateries such as the quaint Homegrown Bakery Café in Ceres and Oppi Hoek coffee shop in Citrusdal as the rain continued to pelt us. The Defender did its job in keeping us warm and cosy, especially with the seat heaters activated, which we were ever so grateful for as we watched the outside temperature drop to just six degrees Celsius.

Due to the storm, we were unable to fully immerse ourselves into the starry world that the Cederberg boasts. But Land Rover was not going to give up that easily. Professor Peter Dunsby of UCT, an expert in gravitation and cosmology, put together an indoor presentation of photographs he has personally taken of some of the most incredible celestial wonders I have ever seen. It was an absolute shame to not be able to see it through a telescope in real-time, but the passion this man evokes is unmatched and he made us feel as if we had been sitting under the Tarantula Nebula ourselves. Bryan Habana closed the night off with some regaling of Rugby World Cups and his long-standing relationship with Land Rover.

The next morning, again despite the pouring rain, we headed to Skimmelberg where we had a life-changing tea tasting. Now there is a sentence I never thought I would write. But the Buchu and Rooibos combination honestly changed my view on tea. I am more of a stock standard Five Roses kind of girl, and I now find myself drinking this new concoction as I feel the benefits of both these native plants. Another reminder of just how fortunate we are to live in such an incredible place.

The final day allowed our inner children to come out as the catastrophic rains had turned the gravel roads into river-like rollercoasters, showcasing just how capable the Defender is. Every Defender model, whether it be the 90, the 110 or the 130 was as capable as each other. We were cocooned in comfort, warmth and most of all, safety.

This trip was not only a reminder of what the spirit of the Defender is all about, but it was a moment to step back and take in the wonders that the Western Cape has to offer. Again, a stark reminder of just how grateful we should be!

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