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Glenmore 4x4 Trails

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34km from Willowmore

-33.1774, 23.6955

40km, 7-10hrs, Grade 1-3

+27 44 923 1863

Configuration: Five different trails that all start and end at the campsite.

Terrain: Sand, mud, rocks and stream crossings.

It’s all self-drive; no guide is needed. The routes are suitable for year-round driving. Self-catering accommodation is available as well as a campsite and swimming pool. There are ice and wood for sale and meals available on request. There are five routes on the property and many more in the Baviaans Wilderness Area, e.g. Timbila Game Reserve. While at Glenmore you can go boating, hiking, climbing, caving and mountain biking.


Head into the rugged beauty of the Great Karoo and enjoy real Karoo farm hospitality with a bonus fish eagle wake up call in the morning. Glenmore Farm is a picturesque and peaceful Karoo farm situated in the Groot River Valley just 34km from Willowmore, the gateway to the Baviaanskloof. This is an ideal weekend family getaway destination and a good base from which to explore the area.

If your main objective of the weekend is 4x4ing, you will not be disappointed. Even though the trails are not extreme, there are five of them and they all vary in difficulty from easy to moderate. They are aptly named the Kudu, Springbok, Dassie, Duiker and River trails after the abundant animal and bird life of the region and offer something for every level of experience. The easiest of the trails is probably the Kudu trail, so this is the trail to attempt if you are visiting in a soft-roader or if you are still learning the finer details of the trade. The other trails offer various degrees of difficulty. There are some challenging rocky sections as well as stream crossings and the accompanying mud.  The River trail, which is also the toughest if the lot, is very scenic. However, it can get tricky and a novice might just get bogged down for a while.

As the trails are in the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area, there is an abundance of plants, animals and birds. The scenery is magnificent and changes from rugged mountains to vast open plains. A maximum of 15 vehicles are allowed on the trail at any one time. The trails are all well mapped, so relax and take time out to spot some of the 79 bird species identified on the farm. A pair of fish eagles has made Glenmore its home.

A charming fully-equipped and serviced cottage offers self-catering accommodation for six. If you want to be even closer to nature, you can camp at the bush camp on the banks of the Groot River in the shade of lovely old thorn trees. The campsite has flush toilets and hot water showers and can accommodate up to 26 persons at a time. There are also two Wendy houses available at the bush camp.

While not in your 4x4 you can relax in the invigorating Karoo air, take a walk round the farm, fish in the river or watch the birds. The energetic bunch can try boating on the river (a canoe and paddle ski are provided), go hiking or climbing in the Groot River Mountains or take mountain bikes onto one of the 4x4 trails.

To reach Glenmore take the N9 from Uniondale past Willowmore for about 1km before turning right onto the R329. Turn left 1km later onto a gravel road and travel for 30km, crossing the Groot River. Turn right at the Glenmore Farm Cottage and 4x4 Trails sign.

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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