2013-05-24 Calitzdorp Mini Tour (3 days)

The group, consisting of 5 riders, Paul, Ben, the Nav & me on our KLRs and Erich on his Suzuki 650, left for our 3 day adventure to Calitzdorp on the Friday morning. We rode through extremely heavy mist until we got to Bainskloof, our first leg stretch after a somewhat stressful start. It is NO fun riding through Friday morning traffic and the mist didn’t make it any easier! 

The weather cleared beautifully after Bainskloof and made for perfect riding weather during the rest of the weekend (except for Sunday when rain was predicted). We were often the only motorcycles on the gravel roads we explored on our route. In places it was very dusty but once I got into ‘my groove’ I kept a good distance between myself and the rider in front of me to avoid swallowing too much of their dust. We maintained good travelling speeds and at one point I found myself travelling at 110kms/ph on the Sutherland Road on route to Laingsburg. Most of the gravel roads along our route was in superb condition.

The route

Day 1

Cape Town through Bainskloof to Ceres (breakfast at Wimpy)
Matjiesfontein on the Patatsrivier road to Laingsburg
Through Seweweekspoort to Calitzdorp where we stayed at the Calitzdorp Spa (self-catering)

Highlight of the day had to be the Seweweekspoort Pass which is one of the most scenic rover passes in the Great Karoo. Almost a mirror image of Meiringspoort, it is perhaps more beautiful and rugged. The untarred road closely follows the course of the river. At the beginning a road through Bosluiskloof leads to Gamkapoort Dam.

The road from Amalienstein in the Klein Karoo penetrates the Klein Swartberge through the Seven Weeks Poort, possibly one of the most awe-inspiring and spectacular of all the mountain ravines in the country.

The Calitzdorp Spa (thank Ben for recommending it) is a MUST visit. We enjoyed the natural hot water spring and just what the doctor ordered (that’s Ben again) as it was soothing after a long day of riding. The Nav was in charge of dinner and prepared a scrumptious chicken casserole. We did the self-catering bit and purchased supplies on route. 

Misty start to our 3 day adventure
Beautiful Bainskloof Pass - finally out of the mist
4 Angry birds in a row.  NOT
Proud Shark supporter (Paul)
Nothing beats a Wimpy breakfast - Ceres
Bo-Swaarmoed -old farm settlement unfortunately at present in a state of rotting decline 
This bell across the road from the derelict farm house may have been used to summon slaves a few centuries ago
Bo-Swaarmoed - Spectacular view
Bo-Swaarmoed - Paul enjoying the scenery

This location definitely possesses the necessary "genus loci" to pique interest and warrant a stop
The Nav & Paul waiting for the rest of the group
we took a right
and right again...
Love the stark contrasts of the Karoo
Mesmerised I am!
Paul leaving me in his dust
The 'pretty picture' - my KLR on the Ceres/Matjiesfontein Road - blending in beautifully!
Ben enjoying a leg stretch on the Ceres/Matjiesfontein Road
Erich giving the route a thumbs up! (Ceres/Matjiesfontein Road)
Fantastic gravel roads in the Karoo (Ceres/Matjiesfontein road)
The Nav smiling broadly for the camera.  In his element in the Karoo
Spot the odd one out
The picture says it all - awesome gravel road! 
The Nav showing the group the way
The Nav and Ben about to venture through the Seweweekspoort Pass 

Seweekspoort Pass

During 1859 the authorities decided to build a pass through the Poort. The initial work was done by a team of convicts, without the presence of a road-engineer. Progress was slow and in 1860 AF de Smidt, brother-in-law of the renowned pass-builder, Thomas Bain, took charge of the operations. The road was completed in 1862. The pass winds for 17km through the mountains at a level of 600 - 1 000m above sea level. It crosses the stream 23 times, whilst the mountain slopes on both sides reach 1 500 - 2 000m.
Paul speeding up to join the group
Paul & Ben about to enter Seweweekspoort Pass 
and there comes Erich
Ever changing skyline in the Klein Karoo 
Ben and his trusted steed
Erich - still a happy chappy if that smile is anything to go by
Dutch Reformed Church in Calitzdorp
The Dutch Reformed Church, a national monument, was originally built in 1857 and holds a magnificent organ, large even by European standards, where free classical music recitals can be enjoyed every week from Monday to Sunday.

Our main attraction in Calitzdorp - The Spa!  Magnificent after a long day in the saddle
Calitzdorp Spa - http://www.calitzdorpspa.co.za/
The Nav relaxing in the natural hot spring pool
Our chalet - view from the back
Chalet no 2 (or 3 as in this case)
View of chalets which are located right next to the hot spring pools

Day 2
Calitzdorp to Vanwyksdorp 
Over the Rooiberg Pass to Riversdal (breakfast at Spur)

Vermaaklikheid to Witsand on to Malgas

Bredasdorp to Napier (self-catering)

A highlight on Day 2 was the spectacular Rooiberg Pass (built in 1928), a pleasant detour from route 62 just after Calitzdorp. Nobody can blame the author and poet C Louis Leipoldt for calling the Rooiberg Pass one of the "seven wonders" of the old Cape Province.  The magnificent vertical rock folds, reaching for the skies on both sides of the road, reflect the inconceivable forces of the volcanic eruptions millions of years ago, forming the chain of Cape ripple-like mountains. Often the con-verging slopes leave only a narrow pass, just broad enough for the Huis River to pass through, whilst the precipices of naked, distorted rock-faces tower like walls of a natural rampart, obscuring the sun.

I highly recommend this detour to Van Wyksdorp via the Rooiberg Pass. Be sure to stop at the top near the cairn built over the years by travellers who placed stones there as a token of their gratitude for a safe journey.

After breakfast at the Spur in Riversdal we said our goodbyes to Erich who returned to Cape Town due to work commitments. We made our way to Witsand via Vermaaklikheid and rode down to the little harbour where we stopped for a few photos and took in the fresh sea air. First time for myself and Paul at Witsand and don’t think we will rush back there in a hurry as not much happens in this little sleepy town. 

Situated at the mouth of the Breede River, Witsand is known as THE whale nursery in Southern Africa. It is apparently also the best land based vantage point from where to observe these 58 ton gentle giants of the sea.

Next stop was the Malgas Pont where we crossed the Breede River and ended another long day in the saddle at our farm in Napier.


Sadly leaving Calitzdorp Spa to explore roads less travelled
Next stop Vanwyksdorp
Erich setting off ahead of me - an early morning dusty start
Beautiful valley 
We took a detour to Van Wyksdorp via the Rooiberg Pass and stopped at the top near the cairn which has been built over the years by travellers who placed prayer stones there as a token of their gratitude for a safe journey.  We placed our stones as well and safely continued on our journey!  There are stunning views of the valley to the east, towards Oudtshoorn, bounded by magnificent mountains
Gamkasberg Prayer Stack (direct translation...)
Loving the cloud formations
Paul, Ben & the Nav at the end of the Rooiberg road
Muiskraal/Riversdal to the right
next stop Riversdal for breakfast 
Ben is amazed by the width of this rope at the entrance to this farm outside Riversdal
I was intrigued by this creative postbox
The inside view
Breakfast at the Spur and saying goodbye to Erich as he heads back to Cape Town
Paul & Ben trying to befriend this beautiful ostrich
The poor boy had a quill stuck in his right foot
Did you know that an ostrich has just two toes on each foot (most birds have four), with the nail on the larger, inner toe resembling a hoof. The outer toe has no nail. The reduced number of toes is an adaptation that appears to aid in running, useful for getting away from predators
The Nav
The Nav took us via Witsand - first time I visit this little seaside village

Witsand harbour
Malgas - the boys waiting for the pont
Paul and the Nav up ahead of the group as we cross the Breede River at Malgas by man-drawn pontoon
Did you know that it is the last pontoon in existence in South Africa?
The Nav chatting to a 7 year old on his little 50cc travelling with his dad on their motorcycles to their home nearby
Instead of taking a left initially.... we did a roundabout trip and ended back up here eventually heading to Napier via Bredasdorp
The cows were so intrigued by the KLRs that they tried to join us but were quickly  herded back by the biker boys.
The farm is always beautiful, whether overcast or sunny!
Napier cottage
Time to relax
Day 3 

Napier to Cape Town via the N2 (due to rain)
Breakfast at Peregrine (Grabouw)

After coffee and rusks we packed up and left the farm in the rain heading back home to Cape Town. It is NO fun riding gravel roads in and around Napier/Caledon in the rain as most of the gravel roads are clay. At one point Paul's KLR did a 90 degree turn in front of me as he tried to keep his KLR on the gravel/clay road. The nice thing for me about riding behind the more experienced guys, is that I can ‘avoid’ their lines when I see that they have hit a snag in the road. I did just that and made my way through the slippery bits and regrouped with the guys on the tar road. We decided to do the quickest route home. The N2 is not usually our first option back home but we were left with little choice as we wanted to get out of the rain as quickly as possible. We stopped for breakfast at Peregine in Grabouw and headed back home via Sir Lowry’s through Somerset West and Baden Powell .

Rain started falling just as we decided to leave the farm on Sunday morning
Goodbye Napier
Warm & dry inside Peregrine Red Tractor where we stopped for our last meal together
Last stop before home - Peregrine Red Tractor Restaurant
I LOVE the dust cover on the Flying Brick luggage - kept my bag dust free & dry!
Home safe & sound - now for the cleaning

Thanks Nav for planning yet another superb ride and thanks to the rest of the group for joining us on this awesome ride.  This one definitely makes the top 3 list of favourite rides to date.

Safe travels everyone

- Angela - 
4 wheels move the body, 2 wheels move the soul

email:  adventureridersct@gmail.com