Ride the heart of the Cape… The Cross Cape is an epic cycle route across the Western Cape, taking cyclists from the coastal Garden Route to the arid Klein Karoo, through the Overberg and on to the Cape Winelands.

+7 Days | ⇔ 739 km | + 10 268 m | ≡ Tar/ Gravel

The iconic Cross Cape Route stretches over 700kms between Plettenberg Bay in the north and Stellenbosch in the south. Curated by Cape Cycle Routes (an initiative of the Western Cape Government) the route offers numerous stopovers in quaint and friendly small towns as well as majestic landscapes along the Garden Route, Klein Karoo, Cape Overberg, and Cape Winelands.

The route is mostly made up of well-graded gravel road ensuring a smooth trip. Along the way riders will have the opportunity to meet friendly locals and experience the rich and diverse culture the region has to offer, from local Cape and Xhosa cuisine to the rich and unmistakable taste of the Cape’s finest wines. But it’s not all feet up and relaxing: each section is challenging and will test your cycling prowess through decent climbs and energy taxing passes both off-road and on.

When you embark on the Cross Cape cycle route, you’re opening yourself up to a multitude of invigorating and unique experiences. The smell of fynbos, the feel of cool ocean breezes, the sights of wide open spaces, the sounds of wildlife and the tastes of local culture will move you like no other journey can. That’s why the Cross Cape cycle route is no ordinary journey. It’s a journey through the senses. Being immersed in your surroundings means you can see, touch, taste, hear and feel all that this captivating landscape has to offer. Our mission is to grow cycle tourism in the Western Cape and with each turn of the pedal, you’ll find yourself closer and closer to the authentic heart of the Cape. This route is open 24/7/365, free of charge. Simply download the map, pick your pace, plan accordingly, and go for a ride. At 40 to 50 km’s a day, leisurely rides will complete the full route in 15 to 20 days. If you’re fit on the bike, and able to easily do over 100 km’s a day, you could cover the full distance within 7 days. It’s up to you!



Welcome to the Garden Route. The ride begins with a cycle up Wittedrif Road, followed by a good climb as you venture deep into the hills. You’ll be treated to 360 degree views before you plunge into the indigenous sub-tropical Knysna forest, where you’ll be surrounded by lush green ferns and misty treetops. When you reach Gouna Road keep an eye out for elephants which are said to roam freely in the area.



As you leave Knysna, you’ll have a spectacular view of the famous ‘Heads’ from the lagoon road. It’s easy to see why this special place was a well-known sanctuary for weary sailors. From there, you’ll climb up Phantom Pass to the small villages of Rheenendal, Karatara and Homtini. Enjoy the view along the Seven Passes Road which showcases the rural side of the Garden Route with a blend of indigenous forests and river beds.


We start with a climb over the Outeniqua mountain range via the Montagu Pass, to enter the Klein Karoo. Be sure to carry extra water as this is by no means an easy climb. You’ll be rewarded at the top with an endlessly winding view down the valley. The second part of the ride is more forgiving than the first as you make your way down the pass, and across flatter land towards Oudtshoorn.



This is amongst the more demanding treks along the route as you skirt the foothills of the Swartberg mountain range. Enjoy the flora and wildlife; you may spot a Meerkat or Giraffe along the way. The red stone hills provide a vibrant splash of colour to the left, before you disappear into the cool shadows of the Groenfontein valley. The next town is Calitzdorp, the Port wine capital of South Africa.


After leaving the oasis town of Calitzdorp, you head out along a flat stretch festooned with ostrich farms towards the mountains in the distance. Rooiberg Pass awaits. This 11km climb is loose and rough with a dusty film during the descent. Enjoy the ride, and the magnificent view of the endless rolling hills below as you head down to the town of Van Wyksdorp.


This part of the route starts off with a long and dusty stretch. Respite comes after you traverse Garcia Pass, named after one of the 1820 settlers of the area, who established a trade route to the interior by forging a route through the mountains. After the summit, you head downhill to re-enter the cool-climate terrain south of the Langeberg Mountain range, and the town of Riversdale.



There are some testing ‘rollers’ skirting the mountains as you head out of Riversdale. As you near Heidelberg, the valley of Duiwenhoks provides a nice flat river course followed abruptly by the monstrous “Heartbreak Hill,” taking you out of the valley and up to the Grootvadersbosch area. From here it’s an easy ride down and through the old mission station village of Suurbraak, and a last stretch going into the historic town of Swellendam.


Your journey through the Cape Overberg starts along the Breede River and its rolling hills through this grain growing region until you reach the Drew Bridge. Grab a bite to eat at Riviersonderend, which is renowned for being the gourmet pie capital of the Western Cape.


On this section the riding is smooth and mostly tarred with the iconic Franschhoek Pass to manoeuvre. Traffic along this section is generally slow, but do keep safely to the side of the road. Check the weather forecasts as the winds at Theewaterskloof Dam can make riding a challenge. As you pass Franschhhoek take advantage of the coffee shops and pastry bistros to fuel up for the final assault.

Thelema Vineyard, Helhoogte Road


Riding through the heart of the Cape Winelands signals the final stretch of the route. This section is all tar, but very worth it, as you wind your way past some of the country’s most superb and well known wine farms. Push over the Helshoogte Pass – the final pass of the ride – and coast down to Stellenbosch for a photo finish, and a well-deserved beverage, at your final destination.


  • The lush indigenous forests and golden beaches of Knysna and the Garden Route.
  • Challenging climbs through scenic passes.
  • The dramatic semi-desert landscapes of the Klein Karoo region with fascinating flora and wildlife.
  • Historic rural towns of Oudtshoorn and Swellendam.
  • Fertile valleys, rolling hills and flowing rivers of the Cape Overberg.
  • The quaint, oak-lined village of Greyton – with superb cuisine and craft beer, with some lovely accommodation to boot.
  • The smooth, mostly tarred roads of the Cape Winelands with 2 iconic passes, Franschhoek Pass and Helshoogte Pass.
  • The gorgeous little town of Franschhoek with a plethora of coffee shops and pastry bistros.
  • The Bike Friendly town of Stellenbosch – known as the Mountain Biking capital of South Africa!


  • Best time to go. The cooler months of Spring and Autumn are the best time to go.
    Accommodation. Use our directory to find bike friendly accommodation options in the region.
  • 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 of the route.
  • 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. Visit the Cross Cape Route to download a pdf route map.
  • 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.
  • Tours and Group Holidays. View tour operators in the region.
  • Transport. Find Transport service providers


Cross Cape Route –  for print version of the map and additional information.

Terms of Use: As with each route guide published on, should you choose to cycle this route, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather and road conditions. Always ride responsibly. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. Bicycle South, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individual riders cycling or following this route.

Cape Cycle Routes, is an initiative of the Western Cape Government to develop cycle tourism in the region.

    A stunning 358km route between Knysna and Calitzdorp, that passes though some of the most beautiful and historic parts of the Western Cape – from lush coastal forest and winding mountain passes to the vast semi-desert of the interior.

    4 – 6 DAYS | ⇔ 358 km | + 7, 212m | ≡ Tar/ Gravel


    Ride the heart of the Cape… The Cross Cape is an epic cycle route across the Western Cape, taking cyclists from the coastal Garden Route to the arid Klein Karoo, through the Overberg and on to the Cape Winelands.

    +7 Days | ⇔ 739 km | + 10 268 m | ≡ Tar/ Gravel

Cape Cycle Routes, is an initiative of the Western Cape Government to develop cycle tourism in the region.


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  4. Matthew

    Can someone who has done it advise if it would be ore enjoyable on a mountain bike or road bike? Obviously with appropriate tyres

    1. This route is a mix of tar and gravel roads, therefore we advise either a gravel bike or mountain bike. As there are no technical sections, it really comes down to what type of bike you are most comfortable riding and if you prefer suspension on gravel roads.

  5. Melissa Jenerette Priola

    Is there a bike touring company that does this specific route?

    1. Day Trippers offer a tour along on the route. Other tour companies offer variations on the route and in the region. You can search for them here:

  6. Eben

    Hi, is it advisable to ride Plett to Stellenbosch, or is the reverse also possible?

    1. This route can be cycled in either direction depending on what works out best for your logistics

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