My dad had a Mercedes and he always told me the “wise man follows the star“. Well, it was only in the Army when I learned how to actually do that. As a child however, I thought he was referring to the 3 point star on the bonnet.
When I got the off-road syndrome, I realised what his comment really meant. Get in your 4×4 and follow its nose. Just drive without having a destination in mind. That is how you discover the hidden gems without expectation or disappointment.
Sadly it is not always possible. And if you and the family plan to go it alone, it is a definite no-no. So plan your trip. The first thing I always do is to pick a direction. As we are close to the sea, south is not a popular direction for us. Secondly, I pick a turn-around point. And depending on the available “time”, the distance from home is next. In order to have a relaxing experience, anything within a 200 km radius from our current location is acceptable.
Then I start by planning my route. How do I get to the turn-around point and back home?
I use Google Earth to do some initial recce work. I seek out roads that does not appear to be paved. Once I get a route, I create a GPS enabled file (*.kml) which I can export to my iPhone or Garmin for navigation.
It does not always work out though. I remember once we had a road marked to get to the top of Hans se kop. When we got there, there was no road left as it was completely washed away after heavy rains.
But once I have a route, I can proceed with the rest of the planning.