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Bedrogfontein 4x4 Trail

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5km from Kirkwood

-33.3763, 25.461

45km, 6hrs, Grade 2-3

+27 42 233 8619 www.sanparks.co.za

Configuration: One way from Kabouga to Darlington or back.

Terrain: Sandy and rocky with an optional grade 5 river crossing.

This is a self-drive, unguided route that must be booked via Addo Main Camp Reservation. It can be attempted from Kabouga or from Darlington. You can drive here throughout the year, but check the river conditions with the ranger if you want to attempt the optional river crossing. Various accommodation options and camping are available at Kabouga and Darlington. This is the only 4x4 option within the Addo Elephant National Park. However, some neighbouring farms also offer excellent 4x4ing (see the Slagboom Trail). The Addo Elephant National Park offers a variety of activities - from standard game drives to horse riding and hiking trails, including the exceptional 2-day Alexandria Hiking Trail. Swimming, fishing and canoeing are allowed at the Mvubu Camp site.

About

The Bedrogfontein Trail is a historic route between Darlington Dam and the Kabouga section of the Addo Elephant National Park. This route was once used by the Boer commandos and British soldiers during the Anglo-Boer War. Driving here will immerse you in breathtaking scenery and early 20th-century history. The rugged mountains will test your vehicle while increasing your respect for the early pioneers' perseverance as they crossed these mountains in ox wagons.

The route travels through a variety of vegetation types: from riverine thicket, to afromontane forest, to fynbos on the peaks and into the arid Nama Karoo vegetation of the Darlington area. Two species of ancient cycads grace the mountain slopes, while towering yellowwood trees pierce the sky and offer much needed shade during the summer. This is not an extremely technical or challenging 4x4 route, but the scenery and views are spectacular, particularly along the Sundays River section. Remember to keep a look out for black rhino while driving through the Rhino Camp on the Darlington side.

As water is scarce and summer temperatures regularly tickle 40°C, 4x4ers should carry enough drinking water. No fires may be lit along the route. A maximum of six vehicles are allowed on the route at any one time, and it is strongly recommended that at least two vehicles travel together for safety purposes. The route is only suitable for vehicles with 4x4 and low range facilities, both because of terrain and to cause minimum impact on the environment. Remember to check the river conditions with the ranger should you wish to attempt the river crossing.

At Kabouga you can opt for the six-sleeper, fully equipped, self-catering Kabouga Cottage (-33.3046,25.3831) or head for the Mvubu campsite. The latter has six stands, accommodating a maximum of four people per stand. One hot water shower, one flush toilet and braai facilities are available. Bring your own firewood and drinking water. Canoes are available for use on the Sundays River and can be obtained by contacting the ranger on duty. Swimming and fishing is allowed in the Sundays River, but please note that there may be hippos in the river and they can be dangerous.

At Darlington the luxury Darlington Lake Lodge is available; otherwise the four-bed rustic Fisherman's Cottages provide a fully equipped, self-catering option.

The easiest access to the Kabouga section of the Park is from Kirkwood. Travel up Sonop Street past the Kirkwood Golf Course and the cemetery till you see the access gate on your left.

Sunshine Coast

Eastern Cape

About

With the most recorded sunshine hours in South Africa, the name Sunshine Coast is no idle boast or empty promise. Situated between Port Elizabeth and East London, the quaintness of the Sunshine Coast is a welcome escape from big-city bustle. 

The area includes the inland towns of Alexandria, Salem and Bathhurst, with kilometres of beaches accessed via Cannon Rocks, Boknes, Bushmans River Mouth, Kenton-on-sea, Kasouga, Port Alfred and the Great Fish River area. The mixed derivations of these names suggest the rich cultural heritage of the area – the primary meeting point of San, Xhosa, Boer and British. The British influence is clear in the architecture of Bathhurst, Salem and Grahamstown.

Driving on the N2 or its tributaries the R67 or R72, the rolling green hills Lord Charles Somerset likened to English parklands were not exactly what the settlers expected. The unique dark golden-green shade of the Albany Thicket biome is due to the dense growth of hardy drought-resistant plants such as aloe, euphorbia and spekboom. Rain falls in winter and summer, and while not frequent, it is at times unpredictable, so the vegetation is built to withstand fickle skies.

Although unattractively scrubby to some, the Thicket contains 20% of the 316 threatened plant species found in the Eastern Cape, making it an important centre of endemism.

One is tempted to describe this beautiful and unusual landscape as “untouched”, but the area has long been farmed, with cattle, sheep, ostriches, pineapples and chicory among its historically successful concerns. Many farms have since been converted back into game reserves, such as the world-class, malaria-free Kariega and Shamwari Reserves. Game fences line the long, quiet, tarred roads and drivers are often startled at the sight of elephants, giraffes or other game grazing along the fences.

Drivers should also look out for smaller wildlife - porcupines, small antelope, hares, snakes, owls and tortoises - crossing the roads at dawn, dusk and at night.

The beaches and dunes of this coastline are magnificent. The Alexandria dunefield - famously the largest active dunefield in the world - and the exquisite Alexandria State Forest have been absorbed by the Greater Addo Elephant National Park. 

While Kenton-on-sea and Port Alfred are the main seaside attractions, the family-oriented Cannon Rocks, Boknes and Kasouga are popular places to buy holiday homes and have a few lovely self-catering and guest cottages.

The Dias Cross at Kwaaihoek is a replica of the padrão erected there by Portuguese explorer Bartholomeu Dias on his 1488 cruise past the South African coast. At the Cross there is a deck for dolphin sightings and whale-spotting in late spring and early summer. In season, southern right whales are sighted all along the Sunshine Coast.

Despite its fairly good roads and obvious attractions, this area is still, miraculously, relatively unspoilt and undeveloped. With the exception of the graceful Port Alfred Marina, attempts to beat its bush and rivers into commercial shape have been abandoned and it remains gentle, peaceful, simple, pristine and soul-enriching.

Situated on the Indian Ocean, one needn’t expect the “bath water” temperatures of KwaZulu-Natal  - Sunshine Coast swims are invigoratingly cool and sometimes chilly, but seldom as achingly cold as the Western Cape.

The area doesn’t have the same flashy allure as other popular seaside destinations, but if you think of the coast as a place to relax and unwind, rather than paint the town red, there is no better place to visit.

Look out for

Addo Elephant National Park, 30 minutes from PE, features the “Big Seven” (the Big Five, plus southern right whales and great white sharks).

Explore Alexandria’s dunefields on the two-day Alexandria Hiking Trail or the seven-kilometre Dassie Day Trail, named for a rare tree dassie in the area.

Bathurst - founded in 1820, this “English country village in Africa”, 10 minutes from Port Alfred, is home to the Pig & Whistle, the oldest pub in South Africa, and the 16,7-metre-high Big Pineapple.

With unspoiled beaches, the tiny villages of Cannon Rocks, Boknes, Kleinemonde are a fisherman’s and bird-watcher’s paradise. Cannon Rocks is named for its two cannons and anchor. The Dias Cross at Kwaaihoek is an uplifting thee-kilometre walk from Boknes across incredible sandy beaches, or a six-kilometre walk at low tide from Bushmans River.

Bushmans River – the second-longest navigable river in South Africa, with 22 kilometres of navigable water, is a favourite with canoeists, sailors, water-skiers and fishermen.

Kasouga – maintains its rustic beginnings with dirt roads and no streetlights, hotels and shops, wonderful birdlife and an exquisite lagoon.

Port Alfred – enjoy the elegance of the Royal Alfred Marina. Famous for its annual powerboat race, Port Alfred offers provides great shopping, dining, and beauty retreats.

The Sunshine Coast, and nearby holiday meccas such as Great Fish River, St Francis Bay, Cape St Francis, Jeffreys Bay, Tsitsikamma and the Wild Coast, offers excellent surfing, adventure and water sports, fishing, nature reserves and world-class hikes, mountain biking, canoeing, beach horse-rides, bird watching, 4x4 trails, game-viewing, golf, and as well as rich local arts and culture.

When to go

To Do

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