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My 7 day adventure MTB trek around the Baviaanskloof - by Richard Grant
The Baviaans Lodge makes a perfect stop-over on a cycle tour round the Baviaanskloof
By Richard Grant (email@example.com)
My 6-day route 14 to 19 November 2012
South Africa has some of the best cycle touring trails in the world, and the Eastern Cape Province is particularly well endowed with an extensive network of gravel roads passing through spectacular scenery and almost devoid of traffic. Just west of Port Elizabeth is the well-known Baviaanskloof which is a popular mountain biking destination. However in recent years, with the introduction of black rhino and buffalo, the officials at Cape Nature Conservation have required that cyclists in the big game areas are escorted by a motor vehicle. This prompted me to investigate a circular route round the reserve rather than through it andin November 2012 I discovered what must be the jewel in the crown of MTB trails in the Eastern Cape. I took six days to get round the 325 km of mostly gravel road that encompasses the Baviaanskloof and passed through a scenic wonderland that I’m sure most people don’t even know exists! I started and ended in Steytlerville. Mark and Jacques at the Karoo Theatrical Hotel let me leave my vehicle in the hotel’s fenced enclosure while I was away. I spent a very comfortable night there so I
could leave refreshed and early on my first day of cycling. The phone number of the hotel is 049 8350010.
DAY 1, 50 km
After following the Willowmore road for about 13 km turn left at the sign to Bosfontein and follow
the road to Fred Nortjie’s farm at the foot of the Baviaanskloofberge. From Fred’s farm there is a very
rough track over the mountain that comes out at Studis but it is on private property and you need his
permission to use it. I would also suggest getting some waypoints off Google Earth, particularly
where it starts, because it is not signposted and not obvious. The track is very rough, so expect some
hefty pulling and shoving to get to the top and then down the other side onto the main road that runs
through the Baviaanskloof. The views along the way are well worth the effort! Get Fred Nortjie’s
contact details from Rob Le Roux or the Lamprechts.
The Doornkloof campsite near Studis makes an ideal overnight stop. You can also arrange the next
day’s ride along the 4X4 trail to Baviaans Lodge with Tanya and Chris Lamprecht at Rust and Vrede.
DAY 2, 36 km
The 4X4 trail starts at the Rust and Vrede farm and is signed where it needs to be but a GPS and some
waypoints from Google Earth will give confidence when the track is faint or there is a turnoff. The
route runs up and over the Kougaberge and again the scenery is spectacular. Don’t be fooled by the
short distance, with a bike loaded with panniers it will take you the best part of the day! You come out
on the road to the Baviaans Lodge and after a last steep downhill you are assured of a warm welcome
and cold beers from Rob Le Roux. There is a variety of accommodation at the Lodge. The campsite is
basic but very scenic and there are chalets if it is wet or very cold. Rob can also cook up a fine meal.
Rob is best contacted by email at "Rob le Roux" <>
Next time I do this trip I intend spending a rest day here. There are some lovely walks over the
mountains, rock art sites and a kloof to explore.
It’s a long and winding road over the Kougaberge
DAY 3 , 77 km
Follow the road from the Lodge towards Kareedow. The crossing of the Kouga River is spectacular.
Keep left to stay on the gravel and cross the Dieprivier at Uitvlugt. About half way to Patensie look
for somewhere to camp. I pitched my tent in an uncomfortable spot next to the road but there are
many farms in the area and approaching one of these at the end of the day would, in hindsight, have
been a much better idea. The road surface improves but for the first 30 km or so it was soft with many
loose stones which made for slow progress. Don’t miss the left turn at Rietvlei like I did or you will
end up in Humansdorp! You can see on the map where I had to double back.
Kouga River crossing
Day 4 , 65 km
The scenery here reminded me of New Zealand as there had been good rain and the countryside was
lush and green with flocks of sheep on the hillsides. All the streams had water and the farm dams
were full. After much climbing the road does finally start to go downhill and the last part of the ride
along the R 332 and then through the Droekloof and over the Gamtoos River into Patensie is
exhilarating. I stayed at the Ripple Hill Hotel which offers budget accommodation and warm
hospitality in the bar.
Lush green farmland on the way to Patensie
Next time I will insert another rest day at Patensie. The locals are friendly and there is hard work to
DAY 5 , 48 km
Head west towards the Baviaanskloof but after about 5 km turn right onto the Elands River road.
Follow this to the Telkom tower. The road climbs some 800 m in about 15 km and provides great
views of the south side of the Cockscomb. At the Telkom tower take the road to Grootrivierpoort.
This passes through spectacular country and crosses the Groot River at Hadley’s Drift. Prepare to be
amazed by the scenery and to work hard! After climbing up the other side of the pass I found a
friendly farmer who let me camp on his lawn.
The spectacular Grootrivierpoort
DAY 6, 48 km
The road settles down to mostly horizontal and its surface steadily improves as you move away from
the Baviaanskloofberge and back into the Karoo. Soon Steytlerville is laid out below and a short
downhill brings you into town. You can make your victory lap up the main street, any side you like,
there is hardly any traffic, and be assured of a warm welcome back at the Karoo Theatrical Hotel.
The end in sight!
Total distance 330 km.
Total height gain 6791 m.
(Height of Kilimanjaro 5895 m)
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