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Grootvadersbosch Run Trail & Event

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21km from Heidelberg WC

-33.9897, 20.8136

20 - 30km, 7 - 13hours, Hard

+27 21 789 0188

Configuration: Both routes are circular

General Information: Single- and jeep track through mountainous terrain, forest and steep climbs. The trails are marked with wooden signs. You can tackle this two-day stage race alone or as a relay team. The reserve offers day trails from 2-15km in length. The event takes place in July. You are free to run here during the rest of the year as long as you all well prepared.

There is an excellent campsite with good ablutions. Cell phone reception is quite good along most sections of the trail.


Travel inland from the N2 highway just after Swellendam and you will soon find yourself in the Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve and Conservancy. Here more than 250ha of indigenous forest constitutes the largest block of intact primary forest outside of Knysna. Adjacent to Grootvadersbosch is the Boosmansbos Wilderness Area, one of SA’s Natural World Heritage Sites.

The trails in Grootvadersbosch and through the conservancy on the neighbouring farms will transport runners into a wondrous world of indigenous forest, mountain fynbos and mountain peaks. Spectacular views over the Klein Karoo to the north will stop you in your tracks.

The greater part of the trail network passes through mountain fynbos, remnant forest and rare Renosterveld. There is a variety of fauna, including bushbuck, duiker, grysbok, bush pig, porcupine, aardwolf, caracal and a healthy population of Cape leopard. Birders can see nesting crowned eagles, the elusive nerina trogon, and blue cranes and secretary birds.

There are a number of well-marked trails in the reserve offering day walks from 2-15km in length. The Boosmansbos Trail is a 2-day, 30km trail that takes you through the wilderness area. It only has a very rudimentary shelter (028 722 2412). There is also a 3-day walking trail on the neighbouring farm (

The Grootvadersbosch Trail is a two-day event for experienced trail runners only. The first day’s 30km route starts with a contour climb for 12km with spectacular views of the Langeberg and the wooded kloofs below you. After cresting at 1 257m, the dry northern slope unfolds with endless views of the Karoo. The trail becomes rugged and rocky as you approach the remote huts above the Boosmansbos forest. The 10km descent ends in an awe-inspiring single-track down to the Duiwenhoks River. A final steep climb winds out of the river gorge and to the finish in the forest.

Day two is shorter at 20km, but definitely not easier. From the start, you plunge into the forest with many short steep climbs and descents. The forest trails to the foothills of the mountain offer beautiful views of the mountain and the valley towards Suurbraak and the farmlands below. Passing the halfway mark you descend to Grootvadersbosch Farm, follow the Grootvadersbosch River skirting the Renosterveld and then climbing back out into the forest and the finish.

Grootvadersbosch is a renowned birding destination and offers hiking, walking holidays and mountain bike routes. The closest restaurant or shop is in Heidelberg. Head east past Swellendam along the N2, then turn left onto the R342 after 11km. Drive through Suurbraak on the R322 towards Heidelberg, continuing straight onto the gravel road to Grootvadersbosch  (22km from Suurbraak).


Western Cape


The Overberg is a region that’s easy on the senses and pleasing to the eye. Its landscape is a tapestry of colours and meandering patterns, both natural and manmade. 

The region forms a relatively small part of the Western Cape; it is mostly rural, and is blessed with stunning scenery and unique highlights. Its largest town, Hermanus, is said to provide the best land-based whale watching in the world. It also has exquisite beaches, including the blue flag Grotto Beach, and the nearby Hemel-en-Aarde Valley epitomises the majestic beauty of the region.

Across Walker Bay, the towns of Gansbaai and Kleinbaai are best known for shark cage diving to see great whites at the hotspot near Dyer Island.

L’Agulhas stands at the southernmost point on the African continent, and is the meeting point of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.

The Overberg fauna and flora is protected in the Bontebok National Park, and its nature reserves include De Hoop, De Mond, Salmons Dam, Marloth, and the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. Staying with wildlife, the penguin colony at Stony Point in Betty’s Bay is also a tourist favourite.

Swellendam and the small mission towns of Genadendal and Elim are amongst the Overberg’s historic icons. Others that are popular with visitors are Greyton, Stanford, and Napier.

In summer the farmlands are dominated by shimmering shades of brown, the fields stripped of their winter crops and the bare earth ploughed into meandering combed patterns dotted with tightly compressed wheels of straw awaiting collection. Labourers’ cottages hunker down beneath old blue gums and on a cold day smoke drifts from their chimneys.

Throughout the year the early morning and late afternoon sun accentuates the sensual curves of the ridges wreathed in fynbos. When the winter rains return, the undulating, sometimes tiered fields shrug off their brown and slip into the vibrant greens of wheat, barley, and oats, and the brilliant yellow of the iconic canola. On still, sultry mornings, blue cranes, South Africa’s national bird, float overhead craaaaaaking as they go.

The coastline is punctuated by long sweeping bays and rocky outcrops that fringe the southern boundary of this landscape. Here one can spend hours sitting on the white sand, being mesmerised by the eternal activity of the sea.

Add to this a scattering of charming inland villages; locally produced beer, cheese, and wine; lighthouses, bird watching, and wonderful food, and it becomes evident why one needs plenty of time here.

Look out for

Southern-most tip of Africa - at L’Agulhas, which is also the official meeting point of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. 

Shark cage diving - near Gansbaai there are several operators who do trips daily out to the Great Whites’ favourite hunting grounds near Dyer Island. 

Whale watching - the Overberg offers great land-based and boat-based whale watching (best between July and November). 

Beaches - the Overberg beaches are amongst the finest in South Africa. They include the longest beach in the southern hemisphere - at 14km - which curves along the coast at Struisbaai. 

Swellendam - is the third-oldest magisterial district in South Africa. At the base of the Langeberg Mountains on the N2 highway the town has an array of historic buildings including the Drostdy Museum.

Hermanus - On the coast in the west of the region. It is the largest town in the Overberg and popular with visitors all year round. It’s especially well known for its superb land-based whale watching.

Hemel-en-Aarde Valley - near Hermanus - this scenic area produces a range of wines and is known for its Pinot Noir.

Bontebok National Park - The smallest of South Africa’s National Parks, it not only protects the fauna within its boundaries but also endangered flora in the fynbos biome. In addition to the bontebok, the park is also home to Cape mountain zebra, red hartebeest, grey rhebuck, and Cape grysbok as well as 200 bird species. There are hiking and mountain-biking trails and fishing and swimming in the Breede River. The accommodation and campsite are situated at Lang Elsie’s Kraal amongst a riverine thicket of trees and aloes near the banks of the Breede River. This consists of 10 self-catering chalets with wheel chair access, and caravan and camping sites. There are also picnic spots with braai and ablution facilities for day visitors.

De Hoop Nature Reserve - Each year between June and November whales return to the rugged coastline of this 34 000 hectare reserve near Bredasdorp to breed. During this time the marine reserve supports 40% of the world’s Southern Right whale population. Although these may be the drawcard for many visitors there is much more in the line of nature-based activities for the visitor. Lowland fynbos is the dominant vegetation throughout the reserve and this supports bontebok, Cape mountain zebra, grey rhebuck, eland, and baboon, as well as many smaller mammals. It’s a great destination for ‘twitchers’, with the De Hoop vlei attracting a large number of water birds and pushing the recorded species to an impressive total of 260. Besides being able to walk anywhere in the reserve there are several day hikes and the popular 5-day whale trail. Accommodation options are varied from cottages and rondawels to restored houses and neat camping and caravan sites amongst the milkwood trees. Most accommodation is around what is known as Die Opstal near the fresh water vlei and park reception.

Wines - The region has some top class wineries that offer tasting and sales.

When to go

To Do

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