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Whether its gravel or tar, the Haval H9 is comfortable on any terrain.

Haval H9 – a gentle giant with lots of energy

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Driving a large vehicle can sometimes be intimidating but when it comes to Haval’s top of the range model, the H9, the bells and whistles on this robust beast make you feel at ease, comfortable and confident behind the steering wheel.
Polokwane Observer’s regular road trips saw two members of the team heading in the direction of Leydsdorp last Thursday.
The seven-seater SUV looks daunting with a chrome plating design that improves the luxury quality sense. The family-style front design emerges a high-end mighty off-road vigour and the horizontal lateral trim bars enhance the lateral expansion of the vehicle. The low-front and high-rear waist lines run through the sides of the vehicle to improve the visual length and promote the sporting feeling of Haval H9.
With self-cleaning xenon headlamps and LED daytime running lights, the modelling is fashionable and technological. The headlamps can sense light source intelligently and switch on and off automatically.

The interior is spacious with all bells and whistles for a luxurious drive.

The cabin of the H9 is big and adding to the spaciousness is the full-length sunroof and flexible seat combination. The second row seat is capable of 4/6 folding and the third row seat is capable of 5/5 folding. Through the folding and conversion of the rear row seat, a 747 litre luggage boot capacity can be achieved after the third row is folded, which effectively expands the storage capacity of the luggage boot. Most impressive is that none of the seats are manually adjustable – it all happens by the touch of the button.
The large and luxurious interior space builds a humanised and comfortable driving and riding experience. The flexible 7-seat design enables you to plan the riding space freely, in order to meet various space utilisation demands of driver and passengers under different conditions.
The H9 is equipped with so many features that one does not know where to start and what to test out first. The eye immediately catches the dial with different driving modes and gear shift paddles fitted behind the steering wheel. The sport mode was tempting and the H9 has no hesitation when you put your foot down. The 2,0 litre turbo engine is matched to a German engineered ZF 8-Speed automatic transmission which delivers great launch feel, improved economy, ultra-smooth gear changes and outstanding overtaking performance.
When it comes to taking corners on Magoebaskloof or taking a gravel road as we were about to enter Leydsdorp, the H9 has outstanding stability. The multi-link non-independent rear suspension, provides through multi-link design, the controls in multiple directions, greatly reduces the forward and backward forces from the road, ensures a more reliable travelling path of wheels, and effectively improves the smoothness and comfort during acceleration and braking.
Double-wishbone independent front suspension, with a classic structure of a strong off-road SUV, has two wishbones that could absorb motion transverse forces at the same time, so that the support only bears body weight. Therefore, transverse rigidity is high enough to ensure the tyre contacts ground closely, and the body is stable under various road conditions. The upper and lower wishbones with unequal length can change camber angle when wheels are moving up and down to reduce tread variation and tyre wear, also guarantee comfortable driving and seating.
In conclusion the Haval H9 is a perfect family vehicle but if you are single you will find something to do with all the space and the driving pleasure is sure to keep you entertained.
For more information or to book a test drive visit BB Polokwane Haval on the corner of Landdros Maré and Devenish streets or contact them on 015 295 8154.

Story/photos: RC Myburgh
>>rc.observer@gmail.com

Leydsdorp – a magical place where past and present engage

Intrigued by history. Japie van Deventer and Melinda Koolen give pointers about the elusive riddle supposed to lead the way to the Kruger millions.

In the heart of Limpopo exists a magical place with a rhythm of its own. In this bushveld enclave, where the senses are under constant attack, one gets swept away by vast expanses of land and a silence that at first can be deafening, by reminders in relics and voices from the past that still visit the present and generous doses of humour and hospitality that go a long way.
From first glance its seclusion wouldn’t guarantee Leydsdorp five-star visitor grading some time soon, but deviating from the R71 between Tzaneen and Gravelotte the outsider stands to be pleasantly surprised when turning off onto the gravel stretch that leads into the dusty one-horse town. The cluster, that apparently was a hive of activity when existing as an erstwhile mining hub way back in 1891, is characterised by minimal activity and small town sentiments and is steeped in history.
Here one is met by remnants of a period when an estimated 12 000 miners and their families would have made Leydsdorp their home, trekking after gold and other treasures expected to still be hidden in the mountainous terrain that forms part of the Murchison range.

Leydsdorp-based anti-poaching and animal tracker John Locke speaks passionately about the past during a stop at the defunct smelter en route that forms part of the historic tour of the surrounds.

The town took its name from Willem Johannes Leyds, the secretary of state serving under President Paul Kruger, who seemingly had the nucleus granted city status that would allow him to sign official documents while retiring to State House situated opposite the hotel on Longmarket Street. Nowadays the former official residence is not in use and appears run down, but faces the promise of restoration by Kobus and Kodri Smuts who own the accommodation establishment and Leydsdorp Kapiri Hills bush camp, it was learnt.
The sign upon crossing the threshold of Leydsdorp Hotel, a structure that has apparently always served that purpose, summons one to step back into history and into a large inviting lounge-cum-dining area that opens up onto a courtyard with rooms for a stay-over in the area. Whereas hotel manager Margaret Locke favours Room 4, assistant Melinda Koolen laughingly points at the myths that exist about ghosts that visit Rooms 2 and 6.
Koolen evidently has a fondness for history and the stories caught between the walls and below the floor boards of the fortress. Displaying a quick-witted humour, she turns to the counter in the hotel bar where a riddle is carved into the wood. The map is supposed to lead the worthy solver of the mystery to the spot where the Kruger millions would have been hidden. Her intrigue with the past lures one down a steep ladder into the cellar below where corpses were believed to have been stored until the deceased got buried in the days of the mining frenzy. In the lit-up cellar the search for the name of Joe Black, who is reported to have left behind the riddle that still fascinates those with an interest in the happenings of the time, leads to the re-discovery of the word BlackBLK.

In conversation with SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary trustee André Grobler.

In the company of Japie van Deventer, a legal mind with a penchant for reading and historic facts, Polokwane Observer goes walkabout past the abandoned stately house with its wide verandahs and swimming pool, up Lydenburg Street past another adjacent structure in private ownership and the ruins of the old hospital behind the two nurses’ homes that presently double as accommodation. The only significant other building that stakes its claim in the main street is that of the local farmers’ union, that apparently still serves its purpose to date.
A drive past the sturdy ruins of the Leyds residence on the outskirts of town signals the return from a historical tour with anti-poaching and animal tracker John Locke. He speaks with passion of the area and its history during a ride and the odd steep climb along a mountain route, past signs of the remainder of settlements to three defunct shafts and a smelter only reached by ox wagon in yonder years. From the highest point along the somewhat treacherous track negotiated in a modern-day game viewer, the eye meanders towards the hazy blue folds of the Drankensberg Mountains in the vast distance and the borders of Kruger National Park beyond. Time stands still and makes way for sensory appreciation.

The inner courtyard at Leydsdorp Hotel with its inviting fountain keeps the secret to questionable stories of ghosts visiting two of the rooms.

Back at the hotel sumptuous lunch baskets and icy cool drinks, served with warm-hearted hospitality courtesy the hotel’s management, await prior to taking to the road for a 10 km drive to SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary and a talk to trustee André Grobler. His narration speaks of a passion for the species kept on the 3 000 ha property, the ones rescued from death and dire circumstances like zoos or circuses abroad, the ones that perished at the hand of poachers and a four-year devastating drought, astronomical operational costs and a distinct preference for animal above man. At SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary all emphasis is on the protection of the species.
With reference to 35 long years of commitment to a life-consuming project, Grobler tells about his wife’s death last year and harmful allegations by activists having crippled the operation that eventually led to international funding drying up. However, the operations continue and guests can indulge in a break in the bush, checking into the five luxury or standard self-catering tented units in the camp. Rates include a daily game drive.
It is with regret that the sun hinting at its imminent disappearance behind the horizon is noticed, preventing a viewing of majestic elephant in their natural habitat.
With trepidation the return trip is met but in the comfort of the Haval H9 the ride is a brisk one that delivers one back to the centre of reality way too soon. And so the promise to return to Leydsdorp is swept away on the evening wind.

Story/photos: YOLANDE NEL
>>observer.yolande@gmail.com

Hotel entrance.

A stuffed animal head finds a place on a wall above framed black and whites in the cool interior of Leydsdorp Hotel.

The cool ambience of the lounge of Leydsdorp Hotel hints at nostalgia of times gone by.

The wide verandah at the hotel makes way for a sign that advertises the tours presented by anti-poaching and animal tracker John Locke.

A sign at the hotel entrance.

The remains of the Leyds residence on the outskirts of town.

John Locke shares information from the driver’s seat.

Taking the turn to the Flying Dutchman Shaft en route up the mountain.

Parts of remnants of a bygone era are left where it belongs.

Animal print underplates await serving on a table in the dining area of Leydsdorp Hotel, where stuffed animals form part of the interiors.

The hall of the Leydsdorp Boerevereniging (Farmers’ Union).