This epic adventure trans-verses the Southern Cape – from the stark, arid region of the Klein Karoo with her smooth gravel roads and challenging climbs, to the rolling farmlands and wild coastline of the Cape Overberg. Wild open spaces, starry night skies, fascinating Cape heritage and warm South African hospitality make this route a perfect way to explore the region.
The following itinerary is designed as a guide and is by no means fixed. The route enables you to be flexible and spontaneous – mixing up a bit of wild camping with staying in the odd guest house or a motel. We were cycling between 70-150 km’s a day, but with a bit of planning it is totally possible to shorten the distances and extend the trip. The route begins in Worcester, in the Cape Winelands. You can access the start point from Cape Town either by car, shuttle or train (although please be aware that the train from Cape Town only runs in the evening so you will have to factor in an overnight in Worcester).
Day 1 (121km) : Worcester to Montagu.
Leaving Worcester we were greeted by smooth tar roads and sweeping vistas of mountains and lush vineyards. Soon we found ourselves deep in the countryside and on gravel roads heading towards our first pit stop, the Saggy Stone Brewery – now the adventure had really begun! Fueled up on delicious beer and grub, we headed on towards Ashton and the Cogmanskloof Pass. This 6.5 km pass runs through a majestic landscape of towering rock formations and is known for its 16 metres long solid rock tunnel! Arriving in quaint, historic town of Montagu, we made our way to the Montagu Caravan Park, where we pitched our tents in the middle of an apricot orchard for the night.
Day 2 (150km): Montagu to the Klein Karoo for some wild camping.
Leaving Montagu we entered the Little or Klein Karoo and began the next stage of our journey that would see us navigate the gravel roads and passes of this semi-arid region. At 150km, Day 2 was the longest day in the saddle. What started off nice and easy, soon became more challenging as we wound our way up Ouberg pass and into the Karoo highlands. After a well earned rest on top of the pass with some welcome coffee and man-made shade we sped down the other-side of the pass. The good gravel roads, endless gentle descents and a slight tailwind made for some of the best riding I have ever experienced.
Cycling in this remote, semi-desert area can be challenging. The lack of signs, reception and a detailed map made for some tricky decisions at every fork in the road. At one point we had to backtrack 10km when we hit a private game reserve that we were not allowed to cycle through because of the lions! The detour extended our route for the day, and we nearly ran out of water. In such an arid environment this can spell serious trouble (of the life and death kind). Thankfully some road workers had left behind a water tank, and we were able to refill our bottles.
That evening we found a great secluded spot to wild camp in a dried up riverbed, it did however involve us having to port our bikes over some tricky log sections. It was a beautiful warm evening but after seeing a few cape cobras on the ride none of us were brave enough to sleep out in the open, so we set up the tents without the top layer.
Day 3 (83km) : Karoo to Barrydale.
On Day 3 we pushed on through the vast Karoo landscape towards Barrydale. A good part of the route passes by game farms, and we were often rewarded by sightings of wildlife, sometimes very close ones too. Unlike the friendly zebra who had no problem standing in the scorching sun, we took every opportunity to seek out some shade for our coffee breaks.
By midday we were ready for beers and burgers at Ronnies Sex Shop – a legendary roadside pub and oasis for travelers on Route 62. Here we began what had to be one of the hardest sections of our ride. We had already done over 100km and were now fighting strong headwinds as we rushed to get to Barrydale in time to book in to Karoo Moon Motel where we were staying for the night – plus the few beers and burgers under our belts didn’t help 😉
Day 4 (78km) : Barydale to Malagas.
We kicked off day 4 with a big breakfast at Diesel & Creme restaurant, known for their awesome, old fashioned milkshakes. From Barrydale the route took a fun, fast descent through Tradouw pass. A few kilometers from the bottom of the pass we stopped off at Paradise Organic in Suurbraak for a delicious, healthy lunch before tackling the last stretch of dirt to Malgas and the Breede River.
At Malgas we crossed the Breede river on the Malgas Pont Ferry, the last hand-operated pontoon in South Africa! P.S. don’t pay the ferryman until he gets you to the other side 🙂 The Breede River one of the largest and longest navigable rivers in South Africa, is also great for swimming. At Malgas you can also find the Breede River Trading Post, where you can stock up on supplies or you can always have a fish braai for supper.
Day 5 (85km): Breede River Queen to wild camping near Napier.
After a day of rest and bike checks at the Breede River Queen, a charming guest house located on the banks of the Breede River, just south of Malgas, we set off towards Napier. The landscape here is much greener, with rolling farmlands typical of the Overberg region. After a lunch and beer stop at the Napier Farmstall we went to look for a spot to wild camp. A friendly landowner said we could camp on his land but when he offered us the use of a barn he had set up for functions, we decided to forgo the wild camping for some relative luxury.
Day 6 (65km): Napier to Klein Baai cottage.
Leaving Napier on the final leg of our journey we had our last picnic lunch at Uikraalsrivier dam. Set amidst rolling grassy hills it is also a good spot for a bit of fishing and a swim too. From here we wound our way down to the coast, with a quick pit stop for a well deserved ice-cream, we finally arrived at Klein Baai. With its charming natural harbor and rugged coastline, this little seaside village is one of my favorite places to spend a weekend and made for a wonderful end to an amazing adventure.
- Amazing rock formations Kogmanskloof pass and the quaint historic town of Montagu.
- The challenging Ouberg pass with it smooth flowing decent.
- Vast, beautiful semi-desert Karoo landcapes and epic wild camping under starry night skies.
- The legendary roadside pub and oasis Ronnies Sex Shop
- The warm hospitality at the Karoo Moon Motel in Barrydale and Breede River Queen near Malgas
- Fueling up on mouthwatering grub at Diesel & Creme restaurant
- Crossing the Breede River by pontoon at Malgas
- The rolling green farmlands of the Overberg with a variety of swimming and fishing spots
- Serenity at the little seaside village of Kleinbaai
- Best time to go. The cooler months of Spring and Autumn are the best time to go. That said expect high daytime temperatures and cold nights.
- Accommodation is in a mix of guest cottages, motels and wild camping with the route designed to allow the traveler to be spontaneous. Keep your group small to make it easier to wild camp and get bookings at campsites, restaurants, guest houses etc
- Getting there. The route starts in Worcester which can be accessed either by shuttle bus or by train. Check train schedule as the train usually arrives in the evening and you may need to overnight in Worcester.
- Water & Food. Take lots of water, especially when cycling through the remote semi desert Karoo area where water is scarce. Food and supplies can be found at various shops and restaurants along the route, but stock up for the longer sections.
- Gear. Take warm clothes for the evenings and sun protection for the day. We found that cycling in a loose long sleeve cotton top is a good way to keep the sun off.
- Navigation. Take a good printed map showing the area in detail. There is not always mobile reception so you can’t rely on GPS navigation.
- Road Conditions. You will be riding primarily on roads with no bike lanes and car and truck traffic. You should be comfortable riding in some amount of traffic. Please ride responsibly and stay alert.
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Six friends take on an epic adventure traveling from the Cape Winelands through the Klein Karoo to Kleinbaai on the Cape’s coast.
6 Days | ⇔ 483 km | + 4 897 m | ≡ Tar/ Gravel
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