Mitzi, Marion’s sister-in-law, owner of Makadas Adventures, planned this private cycling tour, and I assume, dubbed it the “Karoo corridor” too. In 5 days most of us covered 265 km, climbing through 2942 m and descending 2957 m. Some rode more and some rode less – and that is the attraction of a cycling tour the way we do it with support vehicles: everyone rides within his/her capabilities and comfort, and it’s about the journey, the tea stops, not the destination, nor the time nor the average speed, nor red zones, etc.
Days 1 to 3 took us over fairly familiar territory, from Hoek van die Berg, to Anysberg, over Horlosiekrans Pass (better known as Koueveld Pass), to the top of Seweweekspoort, and down to Zoar (see Hell on Wheels, and Seweweekspoort para-cycle tour). Day 1 to the CapeNature campsite at Vrede, Anysberg Nature Reserve, was fairly easy and notable for the Touws River flowing freely. That night at Vrede, a black south-easter sprang up and the next day we departed in steady rain on a gruelling climb in the mud to the junction with the Laingsburg road. For me this was toughest day, having returned the week before from a fairly sedentary six-week visit to the grandkids in Canada. The low point was what cyclists call “a mechanical” when my chain came off a jockey wheel and sheared the derailleur arm, not long after leaving Vrede. Louis, my brother-in-law, displayed his MacGyver-like mechanical skills by cannibalising and adapting the arm from Marion’s bike, and jury-rigging a fitting that lasted for the rest of the tour. We struggled for an hour in the rain, but he got the job done, and then we departed in pursuit of the two other ladies in the group who now had an hour’s start. In the end we arrived minutes after them at Weltevrede Guest Farm, our overnight. But that ride did me in, thoroughly, especially the long climb in the rain after exiting Anysberg. The Karoo’s streams were in spate, and the road was becoming a muddy mess.
The first part of day 3 involved some steady climbing. In the past I had sped down Horlosiekrans, but realised this time that the reverse direction is a climb that does not seem to end, and a fresh easterly headwind did not help matters. After a tea stop at the mouth of Seweweekspoort there followed a glorious freewheeling slalom down the poort. Seweweekspoort, 17 km in length, is surely one of the most spectacular and beautiful of the Western Cape’s many kloofs. The planned route was to ride in the foothills of the Klein Swartberg, via Hoeko and Ladismith to our next overnight at Oaksrest Vineyards Guest Farm, but none of us felt like this, except for Louis who, as part of his rehabilitation from serious injury, elected to ride the R62 to Ladismith with a tailwind.
Days 4 and 5 covered new territory for me. From Oaksrest we followed the Grootrivier, traversed the beautiful landscape of Touwsberg Private Game & Nature Reserve, south of the imposing Touwsberg and then swung north-west along the Touws River through Prinspoort to Prinspoort Klein Karoo Stay. Some of the drifts were flooded, but not difficult to cross.
Our final day took us through stunning landscape south of the Anysberg, including a canyon through which the Touws River flows. From there we set out south and west at a fast pace towards Eyerpoort and entered Sanbona Wildlife Reserve. Sanbona was now traversable by bicycle, the last of the white lions having died the week before apparently, but by now most of us had enough. We loaded the bicycles on the vehicles, while Mitzi decided to cycle alone to the Ouberg-Hoek van die Berg T-junction.
Except for the day of rain we had pleasant, sunny weather. The Little Karoo was exploding with colour and life after the rains. Waterfalls tumbled from the most unlikely cliffs everywhere in the Klein Swartberg. I have never seen it like that before. The route is a highly recommended circuit, with many more accommodation and camping options than a decade ago.
View the tour’s photo album