2013-02-23 Weekend in the Cederberg

Apologies to my loyal followers who have been REMINDING me to "please update the blog"... seems it's more than just David and I who enjoy these wonderful excursions!  Glad to know that my blog is enjoyed by so many and thank you for your continued encouragement and enjoying our journeys with us.

Ask and you shall receive!  Grab a cuppa and enjoy the entry.

Firstly, some good news that I just have to share!  My 16 year old daughter Emma has finally become ‘legal’ after passing her motorcycle learners this week and although she won’t be joining us on any of our ‘gravel road’ trips (not her thing she says - tut tut, teenagers!), she will join us on a select few trips on her Honda XR125 in and around the Peninsula on tar.   Well done my girl, we are so proud of you!

It has been a busy two weeks since our absolutely awesome weekend trip to the magical Cederberg.   For those of you who look forward to the route map, sorry to disappoint this week.  The Nav didn't email it to me and I was happy about that as I prefer the surprise element and TRUST me... I had a few surprises - pleasant as they were after the fact, with the most memorable being a really long, very sandy in places and winding gravel road on route to Lamberts Bay called Kapteins Kloof.  Kurt Darren's song "Kaptein span die seile" kept playing through my mind as we meandered along this picturesque edge of the Sandveld.   At times I wished I was in a boat rather than on my KLR as things got a bit slippery but as usual we got through it and enjoyed looking back knowing that we had 'been there, done that' and now have the memories to share!

After an early morning start on Saturday morning, we stopped at Malmesbury for a welcoming cuppa and a hearty breakfast.  Sadly, it turned out that my newly acquired camera was not working too well or at all.  In fact and I managed to take only a few photographs before it gave up on me.  Thankfully, I had the GoPro and my cell phone as a backup, so I had to get creative.

After our ‘fill’, with Moorreesburg in our sights, we travelled along a few familiar gravel roads (Biesiesfontein) where I stopped for my first and only windmill pic of the weekend.   The sleepy town of Moorreesburg was abuzz with town-folk doing their weekly grocery shopping at the local Spar.  I took a pic of an interesting looking 3 wheeler scooter parked at the entrance and would highly recommend acquiring one to those who have trouble mounting their steeds.  No skill required.  The owner was on and off in a jiffy and even had a place to pack his groceries.

From Moorreesburg we took the Koringberg gravel roads behind Piketberg, eventually joining the tar road to Velddrif. We turned right into Kapteins Kloof which we followed for around 35km before joining the Lamberts Bay tar road for about 10km before it too became gravel. 

We turned off right again towards Paleisheuwel which takes you through citrus orchards and an interesting gravel pass before spitting you out on the N7 between Citrusdal and Clanwilliam. 

After fuelling at Clanwilliam, we returned to take the Algeria road into the Cederberg. The road crosses the Olifants River which was well behaved beneath the low-water bridge, as the last time we were here in August it was in full flood. We carried on through Nieuwoudts Pass which joins the Algeria Valley in the Northern Cederberg with the coastal hinterland to the west. It is 13kms in length and provides magnificent views of the Algeria valley. 

On arrival into the Cederberg you are treated to an awesome view over Uitkyk Pass. It didn’t get that name for nothing and we stopped to catch our breath and enjoy the contrasting blue sky, Karoo landscape and never-ending view across the valley. This really is unspoilt territory with the most awesome energy for those who need their batteries recharged – and BONUS, only an hour or two from Cape Town! There is no cell-phone reception in this area and knowing that the kids and dogs are well looked after back at home, it doesn’t really matter and we enjoy the solitude that this ‘freedom’ provides us for the next 24 hours. 

The road to Oasis was a little dry and sandy in places, but nothing too onerous. We travelled slowly (40 – 70km/hr) and enjoyed the winding roads and the peaceful hamlets that we passed along the way. It was wonderful to see Gerrit, the owner of Oasis again. As expected (and anticipated after a long day in the saddle) Gerrit’s wife Chantal served up her famous steaks at dinner time. We shared a table with three adventure riders who were let out on a ‘boys weekend’ and shared some riding experiences and routes. One meets interesting folk on these trips that’s for sure! 

On Sunday we had a generous breakfast of scrambled egg and bacon at the Oasis before setting off in the direction of Cape Town. We followed the main drag out of the Cederberg. Just as the road turns to tar, we took a left turn which takes you over two passes (Katbakkies & Swartruggens) to the R355 between Ceres and Calvinia. Reputedly the longest gravel road between two towns in SA! 

This was really the nicest part of the trip. The road over the Swartruggens and Katbakkies passes just has to be seen to be appreciated. You climb and descend steep slopes and the views from the top are breath-taking. We only saw two cars on these passes, so you virtually have them to yourself. What an experience! 

At the R355 we turned right towards Ceres, and after about 35km, took the Bo-Swaarmoed Road through to Ceres for our regular and very welcome ice cream stop. Thereafter the picturesque Slanghoek Road and Du Toitskloof Pass back to Tokai. We covered +/- 780kms over the two days, 340kms being tar and the rest gravel. The weather was perfect, reaching temperatures in the mid 20’s which made for awesome riding. 

The very first ride we did when we got our KLRs 18 months ago was to Ceres - to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary.    I remember how we were both exhausted after the 180km tar one-way trip.   Now it is a small part of the day’s ride – time wise at least, with us averaging between 350 – 400kms per day. 

Lovely breakfast stop in Malmesbury - www.cherrylaneontop.co.za 
The Nav in action - meandering Moorreesburg 
Baa Baa Baa, Baa Baa Boo Ram......
This one can be mounted from the left or the right - no thinking required 
Koringberg turn to the right
Contrasting landscapes
At the top of Kapteins Kloof Road - the views are worth it! 
A welcome stop in the shade on route to Lamberts Bay 
Clanwilliam to the left
View from Nieuwoudts Pass 
The Nav enjoying both views
Which way to go?  Ceres it is....on route to Oasis
A welcome sight and aptly named - The Oasis
Early morning view of Oasis campsite - everyone still asleep
Leaving Oasis on route to Swartruggens Pass
The magic must come to an end, sadly..
Left to Swartruggens on route to Ceres
Katbakkies Pass ahead
The Nav enjoying the view from the top of Katbakkies/Swartruggens
Yip... proof that I was there... am never too far away from my KLR!
Thumbs up from the Nav - Ceres here we come
Swartruggens Conservancy
Awesome road
Right towards Ceres - LONG and dusty road!
The picture says it all!

Another fun weekend spent with the hubby on our KLRs. This was a special one as we celebrated the Nav's birthday and no doubt, we'll be back to celebrate another special  occassion next year.

The Nav planned an awesome 7 day tour to the Namakwaland and Tankwa Karoo and although we have just returned from a shorter trip, we are making hay while the sun shines and will leave soon on our 7 day trip.  Only a few more sleeps before we leave!  Can't wait!  

Till next time....

Safe travels everyone
email: adventureridersct@gmail.com
"4 wheels move the body, 2 wheels move the soul"