THE GARDEN ROUTE:
KNYSNA TO DE VLUGT
The ride begins with a cycle via the challenging Simola and Gouna climbs, before settling into a peaceful rhythm of ups-and-downs through the lush indigenous sub-tropical Knysna forest – just beware of elephants. No, really, keep your eyes peeled, you might just be lucky enough to see one. Leaving Kom se Pad, the road opens up and the tree canopy makes way for African skies… and more climbing as you scale the first portion of Prince Alfred’s Pass - a Thomas Bain masterpiece – before a helter-skelter descent to De Vlugt.
DE VLUGT TO BUFFELSDRIF ROAD
Get ready for a 13km climb to open up the lungs, as you are taken through the start of your Karoo experience. Roads, fields and the Kamanassie mountains loom over you as you get closer to Uniondale and your last taste of ‘civilisation’ for a while. Make your way into the surprising beauty of the Kamanassie road, with its mixture of fertile farmlands and brutal veld. Kamanassie is an ancient Khoi-San word meaning “mountain of water”.
THE KLEIN KAROO:
BUFFELSDRIF ROAD TO DE RUST
Be sure to leave early to avoid the inevitable heat that will hit as you leave the lush roads along the river for some big-sky country and the semi-desolation of the Central Karoo. Next, you will pass through the outskirts of Dysseldorp and into De Rust, via a picturesque farm road along the Olifants River.
THE CAPE KAROO:
DE RUST TO PRINCE ALBERT
Meiringspoort is a bucket-list cycling road. It is tarred, and fairly busy, so keep left and single file, as it curves its way through 25 crossings of the Groot River. Stop halfway and take a short hike to the 60m-high waterfall, complete with swimmable rock pools ideal to cool off in summer. While the idea of mermaids in the Karoo may sound completely bizarre, it is firmly believed by locals that the legend of the Karoo Mermaid is true. A left turn at the top of the poort takes you onto the only gravel of the day, journeying into Prince Albert.
PRINCE ALBERT TO MATJIESRIVIER
Situated at the foot of the Swartberg Mountain range you will make your way into Prince Albert. Cycle through beautifully preserved Cape Dutch, Karoo and Victorian buildings – thirteen of which are listed as National Monuments. Stop at one of the many restaurants and taste the Karoo lamb. The region is also emerging as a quality wine-producing area. Pack some food and lots of water as you journey 22km from Prince Albert to the summit of the Swartberg Pass. But after the 1 000m climb, you will have conquered one of the legendary South African ascents.
THE SWARTBERG MOUNTAINS:
MATJIESRIVIER TO CALITZDORP
Descend carefully to Kobus se Gat, thereafter joining the ever-changing scenery of the Groenfontein road into the historic Calitzdorp, a town snuggled between the Outeniqua, Swartberg and Rooiberg mountains. Ideally situated as a hub from which to partake in all that the region has to offer, including the majestic mountain passes, Cango Caves and unique Karoo architecture.