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Bojaankop 4x4 Trail

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12km from Calitzdorp

-33.4733, 21.6269

15km, 2-4hrs, Grade 2-3

+27 44 213 3756 www.matjiesvlei.co.za

Configuration: This is a circular route to the top of Bojaankop.

Terrain: Steep ascents and descents on loose rocks and gravel, stony river crossings.

This is a self-drive route; no guiding is needed. The owner can accompany you by prior arrangement. This is a year-round destination, but in spring the veld is a carpet of wild flowers. Several self-catering accommodation options are available as well as a campsite. There is only one 4x4 route at Matjiesvlei, but there are several routes in the area, e.g. Gamkaberg & Bonniedale. You can enjoy fishing and hiking as well as swimming in the nearby Gamka River.

About

Situated in the foothills of the Swartberg Mountains between Calitzdorp and Ladismith, Matjiesvlei Guest Farm will offer you the thrill of a rocky mountain ride within the stark, but striking beauty of the Klein Karoo. Farming here dates back as far as 1821 and so does the origin of the Bojaankop trail. It originated as the farmers and their sharecroppers dragged wild plum wood down the slopes with wild donkeys to make moskonfyt, raisins, and witblits or sell the wood in town. Most of the Bojaankop route follows these drag paths or the wagon trails along the lower lying areas where they loaded the wood on ox wagons and donkey carts.

The circular trail starts off running through and along the Gamka River before climbing steeply up a rugged, fynbos covered hill. These rocky river crossings can be very interesting, especially when the river runs high. The route traverses the foothills of the Swartberg Mountains before reaching the highest point of the trail at 522m on top of Bojaankop. The view from the top is magnificent as one looks down onto the Gamka River snaking its way quietly through lucern fields and farmlands. The imposing and sombre backdrop of the Swartberg Mountains is impressive as the peaks soar upwards creating a jagged outline on the horizon. And if you look for it you might just recognise Gamkaskoof/Die Hel seen from an unusual angle.

From here the route descends steeply to return once again to the Gamka River. The gradient reaches 31° in places as you drive past striking rock formations. The 15km route is challenging most of the way, but there are no dangers. Common-sense driving and low range for most of the trail is all that is required.

Your self-catering accommodation options are excellent. Six historic cottages are nestled in the picturesque valley. All offer braai facilities, bedding, oil lamps, candles and hot water.

The Dam River Camp is a grassed and shady 4x4 bush camp on the banks of the Gamka River, with an ablution block with hot water and flush toilets. Try to spend some time here after your 4x4 trip and enjoy the fishing, swimming and boating in Die Dam - or explore more of the area on foot.

Take the R62 from Calitzdorp to Ladismith, then take the Matjiesvlei turnoff to the right after 5km. Turn left 4km further down this road and travel the last 2km to the Matjiesvlei Guest Farm.

Klein Karoo

Western Cape

About

The name ‘Karoo’ is synonymous with vast semi-arid landscapes, small rural towns, large farms, and few people, and here it is no different, except for that small word ’Klein’ (meaning little). There’s really nothing small about it, and only its modest title differentiates it from its big brother to the north, the Great Karoo.

The reason the Klein Karoo is dry is because it lies in the rain shadow between two long ridges of the Cape Fold mountains - these are made up of the Swartberg and Little Swartberg ranges in the north and the Outeniqua and Langeberg in the south. 

The 125 000ha Swartberg Nature Reserve, which includes the lost valley of Gamkaskloof, embraces most of the Swartberg range from De Rust in the east, past Oudtshoorn and Calitzdorp, and on towards Ladismith. It achieved World Heritage Site status in 2004. A section of the popular tourist ‘Route 62’ passes through the Klein Karoo from east to west, and is sometimes referred to as the ‘mountain route’ because the visitor is never out of sight of the impressive ridges. 

Getting to and from the region, the traveller has a choice of interesting options through or over the mountains. 

In the north, the amazing natural gateways of Meiringspoort and Seweweekspoort wind beneath the plunging cliffs, while the high altitude route is via the Swartberg Pass. In the south the Outeniqua and Robertson passes are no less sublime.

Big, bold scenery aside, the Klein Karoo has lots of smaller natural wonders that make it interesting, one of these being its wealth of plant species - the region is part of the succulent Karoo biome. 

Plant lovers will be happy to know the region takes a healthy third place in the succulent diversity rankings in South Africa. Many of these unusual plants are tiny and finding them requires the donning of hiking boots and a sun hat and stepping out into the veld. Other outdoor pursuits are plentiful with hiking trails, mountain bike routes and bird watching being popular.

The Klein Karoo also has a wealth of tourist attractions, many of which are centred around the region’s biggest town, Oudtshoorn. The fascinating Cango Caves, for example, attract around 250 000 visitors a year.

However, every town along the route has something unique on offer.  

As part of the longest wine route in the world, each town has either wine estates or a wine co-operative. Running parallel with this viticulture, but not as well known, is the R62 Brandy Route. This should bring a gleam to the eyes of many a South African, as Brandy is amongst the nation’s favoured spirits. Producers include Mons Ruber near De Rust, Kango Wine Cellar and Grundheim in Oudtshoorn, and Boplaas in Calitzdorp. 

As a destination the Klein Karoo is generous in its offerings which, like all good things in life, should be enjoyed slowly.

Look out for

The Cango caves are situated at the end of the R328, about 40km north of Oudtshoorn. Of the 5.3km of caves, 1.2km is open to the public and the Standard Tour is an easy walk through the first six largest and most spectacular halls to the ‘African Drum Room’. The Adventure Tour lasts 90 minutes and takes one deeper into the caves, but is strictly for lean, fit people who are definitely not claustrophobic because adventurers have to squeeze through narrow fissures. There’s an interpretive centre offering a short film, a museum, gift shop, bureau de change, bar and coffee shop, and a photographic Fantasy Theatre; plus a restaurant specialising in ostrich dishes. Open 363 days a year, but closed on Christmas Day. 

Wine, Port, and Brandy tasting - each town has at least one cellar where visitors can sample some of their produce, from Mons Ruber in De Rust, through to Kango Wine Cellar and Gundheim in Oudtshoorn, Boplaas, De Krans, and Calitzdorp cellars in Calitzdorp and Ladismith Wine Cellar in Ladismith.

Swartberg pass - This sinuous road, which climbs and dips between Prince Albert in the north to Matjiesrivier valley near the Cango Caves is widely regarded as one of the most spectacular mountain roads in the world.

Gamkaskloof, or Die Hel, as it is more commonly known – this lost valley, which was only connected to the outside world in the 1960’s, was once home to a remote group of people for over a century. At the time, they were described as ‘the most isolated community within a community of their own kind in the world’. The valley is now a nature reserve and offers overnight accommodation in some of the restored houses from that amazing era, as well as camping. Getting there is half the experience.  It takes more than two hours along the narrow gravel road from the top of the Swartberg Pass to cover the 50km to the end of the valley.

Meiringspoort - is the eastern gateway into the region and once in the poort the serpentine road winds around sheer cliffs of orange rock and across the mostly serene waters of the Grootrivier (Great River), which it crosses 25 times. It falls within the Swartberg Nature Reserve and there are numerous well-maintained picnic sites along the way, some with braai facilities, and it’s easy to spend half a day exploring from one end to the next. Make a point of stopping at Waterfall Drift picnic site and taking the short stairway to view the waterfall with its 60m drop culminating in a deep pool.

Seweweekspoort - This spectacular gateway through the Swartberg Mountains is situated 24km west of Calitzdorp and winds below the imposing 2 325m Seweweekspoort peak - the highest in the Swartberg. In many ways it’s similar to Meiringspoort, except here the road is gravel and the atmosphere is more primitive. Visitors can also picnic in the poort itself, and one spot that’s perfect to break out the sandwiches is at the thatched umbrella below the cliffs.

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