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Doringkloof 4x4 Trails

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87km from Willowmore

-33.5724, 24.0879

5km, 1-12hrs, Grade 2-4

+27 49 839 1160

Configuration: The longest route links the Baviaans to Langkloof; it can be done in both directions.

Terrain: Rock, loose stone, gravel, eroded farm tracks.

These are self drive routes. You can drive here throughout the year, but please book before you tackle any of the routes. There are several self-catering accommodation options as well as a camp site, a dam and a small kiosk . Doornkloof offers five different 4x4 routes in the Baviaanskloof and Kouga Mountains. While visiting Doornkloof, bring along your kayak, mountain bikes and hiking boots to explore the beautiful surroundings.


The Baviaanskloof is a narrow valley, just less than 200 kilometres in length. It is bounded by two mountain ranges: the Baviaanskloof Mountains on the north and the Kouga Mountains on the south side. This is one of South Africa's largest wilderness areas and it is really worth a visit, or two, or three.

On the northern slopes you'll feast your eyes on spekboomveld and valley bushveld while the southern slopes flourish with Cape fynbos. Knysna forest vegetation is concentrated in the long side valleys and the mountain plateaus are covered in rhinoceros veldt and grassland. Following the R332 from Patensie to Willowmore might not be one of the above five 4x4 trails, but it's certainly one of the best approach routes.

Doringkloof, in the heart of the Baviaanskloof, offers five interesting 4x4 routes in this spectacular environment. The longest trail, also known as the Rus en Vrede Trail, is about 78km long. It winds its way from the Baviaanskloof Valley, up the Kouga Mountain range, past Graskop to the summit at 1 110m above sea level. From there it heads down to Kareedouw in the Langkloof. This might not be a particularly difficult 4x4 trail, but some parts are sufficiently demanding to make it interesting and much of the scenery is simply breathtaking. En route one will see a rich variety of vegetation, including cycads that are hundreds of years old.

Of the other four trails on Doringkloof three are out and back trails: Boshoek (a 6km grade 3 trail), Bosrug (a 5km grade 4 trail) and Groenkop (a 6km grade 2 trail). The fourth route is a one-way 8km grade 3 trail named Kortgeut.

At Doringkloof your self-catering accommodation options include two quaint Clay Cottages sleeping four and two Lakeside Chalets sleeping two. There is also the Joachim Guesthouse, a comfortable and spacious farmhouse, fully equipped to accommodate up to fourteen people. One can also camp in the shady Bush Camp - each site has a braai place, water, lights and a 220V power point. The dam with a jetty is an ideal place to cool off during the summer and the ablution blocks have flush toilets and hot water showers. The dam is also perfect for kayaking and angling. Two 40-minute hiking trails offer a nice leg-stretching option.

Leave the tarmac of the N9 and venture onto the R332 approximately 4km south of Willowmore. Doornkloof will be on your right after more or less 83km.

Karoo Heartland

Eastern Cape


The Karoo Heartland area lies in the Eastern Cape province, inland from the busy coastal city of Port Elizabeth. It embraces the eastern landscapes of the Great Karoo and, like the rest of this vast and semi-arid region, it is sparsely populated and little developed.

Rising in the north-west of the region are the Sneeuberg mountains. As their name suggests, the higher reaches are often draped in a blanket of snow during winter. Further east they link up with the Bankberg range. From here the landscape drops in altitude in a series of gentle slopes and rolling foothills.

For the motorist, the steep gradients are traversed via the winding roads of the Lootsberg, Naudesberg, Ouberg and Wapadsberg passes. In the south the landscape flattens out in a sweeping flat expanse, referred to as the plains of Camdeboo. In the eastern extremes the traditional Karoo scrub gives way to waving grasslands, tall slender aloes and tree-choked gorges.

Amongst the koppies and expansive plains are small rural towns like Graaff Reinet, Cradock and Nieu Bethesda. All of these are popular with visitors and well-known for their fine architecture and enduring charm. Graaff Reinet is best known for its magnificent stone church, the historic Drostdy with its colourful Stretch’s Court. It also has tranquil tree-lined streets sporting grand old houses and quaint cottages.

On its outskirts, the 19 000ha Camdeboo National Park almost encircles the town and protects the habitats and wildlife of the area. Within its boundaries stand the pillars of balancing rock that make the Valley of Desolation so intriguing. Nearby, the Sundays River flows into the Nqweba Dam.

A short drive north, at the base of the towering Kompasberg Peak, is Nieu Bethesda. Its main attractions are the Owl House with its artwork, and the mythical figures in the Camel Yard. The town is loved by seekers of tranquillity who come to escape in its rural charm and laid-back ambience.

In the east the busy, upbeat town of Cradock on the banks of the Fish River boasts a wealth of interesting architecture. The best preserved of examples form part of the well-known Tuishuise.

Each year canoeists converge on the area for the annual Fish River canoe marathon.

Cradock’s natural icon comes in the form of the Mountain Zebra National Park. This expanse was proclaimed in order to protect the endangered mountain zebra, which now number around 300 in the park. The variety of game includes cheetah, Cape buffalo and black rhinoceros. The landscape varies from rugged mountains to plateau grasslands.

Throughout the region there is a cultural richness, and strong traditions still survive in the towns and on the farms. With an extensive network of gravel back roads that lead to hidden farms and stunning views, the Karoo Heartlands is ideally suited to the explorer. It’s also home to large game lodges, 4x4 trails, hiking and mountain bike routes, fishing, and birdwatching.

Look out for

Camdeboo National Park – on the outskirts of Graaff Reinet, this 19 000ha park protects some of the low-lying plains as well as the mountainous terrain in the area. It contains the Valley of Desolation. Within its boundaries are 12 species of large game and 225 bird species. There are several hikes, varying from a 1.5 km stroll to a day walk and an overnight trail. 4x4 enthusiasts have a choice of either the Koedoeskloof or Driekoppe trails. There is a tented camp and some campsites are being developed in the park. 

The Valley of Desolation - is formed by the extraordinary geology of the mountains that create impressive dolerite rock pillars, which are easily seen from various viewpoints along the walking trails. En route to the main viewpoint a toposcope stands on a small koppie, from where there is a magnificent view of Graaff Reinet.

Mountain Zebra National Park – situated 12km from Cradock, the park nestles amongst the craggy heights of the Bankberg mountains in the far eastern area of the region. Proclaimed in 1937, the park embraces undulating plains and plunging valleys where the Cape mountain zebra was saved from extinction. Accommodation is in the restored Victorian homestead at Doornhoek (that sleeps 6), or in cottages and campsites at the main rest camp. There is an à la carte restaurant, a shop selling basic commodities, a fuel station and a swimming pool. Day visitors are welcome.

The Owl House – this iconic house was created by eccentric artist Helen Martins. It became famous by being featured in world-renowned playwright Athol Fugard’s film, ‘The Road to Mecca’. Obsessed with the interplay of light, colour and reflection, martins covered walls, ceilings, windows and other surfaces with bright paint and glass. The effect is amplified by the many candles, lamps and mirrors she collected. The Owl House is rated a premier ‘outsider art’ destination and attracts 15 000 visitors annually, from all over the world. It’s open to the public daily (except Christmas day). Opening times: 09h00-17h00 in April to September / 08h00-18h00 in October to May.

Blouwater Railway - for a rail journey with a difference give Charles Kingwill a call to book a seat on his rail van, which trundles up the 11km-long Lootsberg Railway Pass and back. He can take a maximum of 9 passengers per trip. Trips run from Monday to Saturday between 09h00 and 15h00. It takes 2 hours, and you can take your own picnic and refreshments.

Tuishuise –mention Cradock and the first places that come to mind are the historic Tuishuise. Even if you’re not planning to stay overnight (although you should), make a point of exploring Market Street where they are situated. 

When to go

To Do

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