Nestled at the top of Bain’s Kloof Pass, just outside the picturesque town of Wellington, lies Tweede Tol campsite. With unsurpassed vistas, an abundance of indigenous flora and fauna and clear mountain streams, it is one of my favorite micro adventure destinations in the Cape Winelands area.
ON THE RAILS
Located, 72km from Cape Town, Wellington is easily accessed by rail. You can jump on the train with your bike in the city centre and within an hour you are out in the countryside watching the mesmerizing scenery slip by. Traveling by rail adds a whole new dimension to microadventures – throwing you back to an age where the pace of life was slower and people had time to connect with each other. As we got deeper into the countryside we were warmly greeted by locals, dressed in their Sunday best and heading to church. Nobody seemed to mind the rag tag bunch of travelers, taking up a good portion of the carriage with bikes and bags.
All too soon we had arrived in Wellington. Established in 1840, Wellington has a rich cultural heritage. If you have time it is worth exploring some of the historic buildings around town or visiting the Wellington Museum, or ‘Ouma-Granny’s’ House that provides a window on life in Wellington in the late nineteenth century. Even cycling through you can’t miss the grand old Dutch Reformed Mother Church, which holds a landmark position in the centre of town. The town has a variety of coffee shops, restaurants and food shops where you can stock up on supplies and fuel up before conquering Bain’s Kloof Pass.
Built in 1854 by the famous Scot, Andrew Geddes Bain, Bain’s Kloof Pass was once the sole gateway to the north. Originally built for horse-drawn traffic and later tarred, it reaches 594 metres at its highest point. That said, the gradient is gentle, but at 18km long, it is a steady climb. Unfortunately the day that we chose to ride Bainskloof a gale force headwind was hurtling down the pass, turning what is usually a gentle climb into a true challenge. There were even sections where the wind was so strong that it took two people to hold a bike steady! Once out of the wind zone, we could truly appreciate the raw beauty of this pass, with its unsurpassed sweeping vistas and smooth roads.
Having driven the pass a few times before in a car, I relished the freedom the bicycle gave me to stop off and explore, and dip our water bottles in the little streams dribbling down the mountain. I was blow away by the detail of the landscape – lichen and moss, interesting rocks, lizards and bird-life, all this missed when you whizz by in a car.
At the top of the pass we stopped off for a much needed drink at the local pub before rolling down to the campsite. Situated in Limietberg Nature Reserve, The Tweede Tol camp and picnic site was once the location of the original Bainskloof tollgate! The campsite has 20 standard sites, each with its own braai area as well as six fenced-off private campsites. Because of its proximity to the city, the campsite can get really full in the summer months, so it’s a good idea to book early to avoid disappointment. If you like your solitude, like we do, then visit during the winter or autumn months. We were lucky to have the campsite to ourselves and chose a lovely spot right next to the river. That night we sat round the camp fire and chatted about life, our bikes and next adventures, because even when you go camping out for one night, the adventure bug bites!
Nothing beats waking up to crisp mountain air, freshly brewed coffee and the sight of your bike parked up against a tent. A few of us brave enough took an early morning dip in the deep, icy Witte River rock pools, a great way wake up before striking camp and heading home. If you are spending the weekend here, you won’t be disappointed. The area is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream with various hikes that will take you through wild mountain trails with stunning views, clear river pools, and historic sites.
- Scenic tarred roads and challenging climbs
- Breath taking vistas and lush landscapes
- Shady camping in the Limietberg Nature reserve. Go to sleep under the stars
- Great swimming and hiking in the reserve.
- Must Stop Spot: The Stone Kitchen at Dunstone Country Estate for a lazy lunch on the way home.
- Best time to go: September – April if you enjoy warmer swimming weather. If you prefer your camping quieter, go during the winter and autumn months.
- Bookings & location Contact Cape Nature. Book way in advance to avoid disappointment. Favorite campsites Number 1-5 on the Wolwekloof River.
- Taking the train: Choose your departure time carefully, as bikes aren’t allowed on the train during peak hours. It is best to travel on the weekends as bikes are allowed on throughout the day. Expect to pay an extra R20 (at the time of writing) for carrying your bike. Use the GoMetro website to plan your train trip. Alternatively have a look at the Metro rail website to check train schedules and times for the Area North line that runs from Cape Town central to Wellington.
- Bike shops: The closest bike shop is Adventure Cycles in Wellington.
- Supplies and food: There are plenty of shops and restaurants in Wellington. There is no shop at the campsite but fire wood is for sale at the reception.
- Electricity: There are no power points available at the campsite.
Photographs © David Malan and Paul Lipschitz.
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