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Berakah 4x4 Trails

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15km from Parys

-26.8232, 27.3673

13km, 5-6hrs, Grade 2-4

+27 82 339 9177 www.berakah.co.za

Configuration: This is a one way trail; there are escape routes, but you can't turn back.

Terrain: Very steep and rocky ups and downs, log bridges, mud and river crossings.

This is a self-drive trail; no guiding is needed. This is a perfect year-round destination. Check in after heavy rains, though, as then some sections might be closed. Self-catering accommodation as well as camping sites are available. There is also a pool at the farmhouse. There is only one 4x4 route at Berakah. While at Berakah you can also go mountain biking or hiking. Bring your own quad bike or hire one at Berakah.

About

The Berakah 4x4 trail is definitely one of the old favourites that should make it onto every 4x4 aficionado's top trails list. If you haven't been here yet you are missing out - and if you have, you know what we are talking about. Berakah is only a short (120km) drive from Gauteng, but it will feel a lifetime away once you're on the trail. The magnificent Vredefort Dome is a huge geological structure comprised of a central core of granite-gneiss. It’s approximately 40km wide, surrounded by a ring of steep inclining rock formations that forms the mountainous area. The structure originated from a meteorite which struck the earth in this area 2.023 billion years ago.

The Berakah trail is made up of several sections, each with its own obstacles. You enter the trail over a raised log bridge at reception from where you'll have to engage low range and stay there throughout the trail. The first section (Riverbed Run) is a twisting track in the area next to the river. You'll have to use every inch between the trees as you make your way to Rocky Mountain. It is peppered with loose rocks. Choosing the correct line up these steep side slopes will get you to the top before you topple back down for another wet crossing. Then it's time to check your precision driving skills as you negotiate a series of pole crossings criss-crossing the riverbed. The easier Farmhouse View section will help you calm down again as you prepare to launch up Elephant Hill - a very steep and very rocky cross-axle climb. The downhill with the waiting narrow log bridge over a donga at the bottom is not for the fainthearted.

Take a break and braai in the Country Crawl area and build up the necessary nerves to tackle the terrifyingly steep Rising Climb; or start working on your excuses to chicken out here. Engage low-range and first gear and start climbing, all the way to the top alongside the tumbling Kleinspruit. The view from the top is stunning and calming enough to prepare you for the Mineshaft. This is one of the steepest descents you'll ever attempt in your life. Just take it slow and remember to breathe. After this a few more obstacles, tight turns and steep ups and downs will take you back to base.

There are some comfortable and serviced self-catering bungalows available and a camping site with good ablutions and electricity. A separate track will keep the mountain bikers and quad bikers happy, while a beautiful hiking trail should also not be missed. A host of activities is on offer in and around this magnificent World Heritage Site. Should you stay for a weekend you can add horse riding and even river rafting to your menu.

Leave Parys on the R53 towards Potchefstroom. Cross the Vaal River, following the Berakah signs, and turn left to Potchefstroom (2nd road). Follow the road over the mountain to the next Berakah signpost, turning left onto a dirt road. Follow the dirt road for ±2km to Berakah Adventures signs.

Kaunda

North West

About

The Dr Kenneth Kaunda region of the North West province lies to the south, bordering on the Free State and Gauteng.

The starring geographical role in this 16 483-square-kilometre area is played by the Vaal River, which ambles along this border and hosts a clutch of towns that benefit from its scenic and tourism appeal.

Farming, industry and education all play a role in the economy of the region, which, through its name, honours the Zambian politician, Dr Kenneth Kaunda. Kaunda championed the principles of non-violent change and is seen by some as the Ghandi of Africa.

Potchefstroom is one of the main towns in the region, highly regarded as an educational centre, playing home to a number of good high schools and one of three campuses of the North West University. 

It is jam-packed with heritage sites, among them the four-part Potchefstroom Museum and the seven-kilometre-long Oak Ave, lined with oak trees planted more than a century ago.

The town is close to one of South Africa’s Unesco-proclaimed world heritage sites, the Vredefort Dome, which crosses two provinces, the North West and the Free State. This dome was created by a meteorite the size of Table Mountain, which struck the earth about 2 000 million years ago near the present-day village of Vredefort. 

The violent collision created a crater about 90 kilometres wide and 16 to 18 kilometres deep, shifting the earth's crust across a radius of more than 300 kilometres. 

If you fly over the area, the partial ring of hills that can be seen is the result of the meteorite’s plunge into the ground, forcing layers of earth upwards. The geographical features caused by the impact, coupled with the entry of the Vaal River into the area many years later, have made the dome area a paradise for adventure activities, with hiking, rock-climbing, canoeing, white-water rafting and tons of other physical challenges.

Klerksdorp, another interesting centre in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda region, is one of the oldest Voortrekker-established towns, having come into existence in 1837. It is also the birthplace of Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. Klerksdorp services a mining industry and farming community and has a fair share of heritage and natural attractions.

Bloemhof has a number of good nature reserves in its environs, notably the Bloemhof Dam Nature Reserve on the shores of an impressive dam. Christiana came to be in the aftermath of the discovery of diamonds on the Vaal River, but today those frenetic times have been replaced with tranquillity and calm.

Other towns include Fochville, with its borehole, from which 2 000 litres of sulphurous water spurts every hour; Leeudoringstad adjacent to the Wolwespruit Dam Nature Reserve; Orkney with its large Vaal Reef Gold Mine and Stilfontein with its Hartebeestfontein Gold Mine; Ventersdorp with the Eye of the Schoonspruit River, where the water remains at a constant level even in dry seasons; and Wolmaransstad with its diamond-digging past.

Look out for

Bloemhof Dam Nature Reserve – fed by the Vaal River, this 25 000-hectare dam is one of the country’s largest. It is a popular angling site and plays host to championship competitions. Water sports can also be enjoyed. The adjacent reserve has large herds of antelope and attracts a wide species of birds, including waterfowl. A number of types of self-catering accommodation is offered.

Boskop Dam Nature Reserve – Located 20 kilometres north of Potchefstroom in the Mooi River Valley, this angling spot is the site of a number of fishing competitions. About 250 species of birds have been spotted here, while mammal life includes black wildebeest, red hartebeest, zebra, blesbok and springbok. A camping site with basic amenities and a picnic site cater for visitors.

Vredefort Dome – To learn about the formation of the dome, the most clearly visible impact crater on earth, drop by the visitor centre at Venterskroon, where you can watch a DVD and view rock samples. It is open seven days a week from 8am to 4pm but it is a good idea to call ahead. There are all sorts of tours on offer in the dome – geological, historical, cultural and birding. There are also numerous adventure activities, such as abseiling, hiking, hot-air ballooning, rafting and canoeing. Local tourist boards can point you in the right direction.

Wolwespruit Dam Nature Reserve – situated on the Vaal River, the reserve is small and offers good hiking and angling, with species such as yellowfish to be caught. Birding is good and smaller mammals can be spotted. Rustic camping sites and a self-catering cottage will accommodate those who want to stay over.

Klerksdorp Mine Tours – Tours can be arranged on request at the Stilfontein and Klerksdorp Mines, as well at Hartebeestfontien Gold Mine, where you can view a gold-pouring session. Vaal Reef Gold Mine in Klerksdorp is the largest gold mine in the country.

Numerous historic attractions are located in the area, including the birthplace of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Goudkoppie Heritage Hill, The Klerksdorp Museum, the Stock Exchange and Station buildings (also in Klerksdorp) and the numerous national monuments and museums in Potchefstroom, including the Old Gunpowder House, the Kruger Kraal Opstal and the City Hall. The oldest Dutch Reformed Church is located in Potchefstroom and St Mary’s Anglican Church is worth a visit just to see the magnificent stained-glass windows.

Birdwatching at Faan Meintjies Nature Reserve and the Abe Bailey Nature Reserves.

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