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!Khwattu San Trails Yzerfontein, Western Cape

I love it when an MTB plan comes together, especially when there’s stacks of single-track involved. Such a plan ‘came together’ in the most unlikely of places; I mean, who’d have thunk you’d find a kick-ass crank in the Yzerfontein hills?

                                                                                            – Photographs & Copy: Jacques Marais

Local Buzz:

Bru, if it is endless beaches and secret breaks you’re looking for, then Yzers should top your list. But mountain-biking … maybe not so much, hey? Yup, that’s what I thought up to a week or so ago when I discovered the !Khwattu San Trails, just a few kays inland from Yzerfontein. They rock, but let first talk ‘dorp’ for a wee while.

You get miles of unspoilt beach (in fact, at around 25km, this is the longest beach in SA) and an endless swathe of Big Blue, plus the whole shebang of associated ocean add-ons. Picturesque fishing boats chasing deep-water snoek, open-air crayfish restaurants, kiff coffee shops … if you’re one of those hipsterish sea dog types, then this is a match made in heaven.

The West Coast climate is welcoming year-round, though summer winds can be hurricane strength, while the icy Benguela Current necessitates a walrus-thick wetsuit. The wildlife loves it though and the area is a haven for birds and marine critters of all kinds. Explore the indigenous flora on terra firma along the Bokbaai Vygie Trail, while watching whales and dolphins cavorting in the waves.

Leisure options include fishing from the beach and rocks, collecting mussels or visiting historical sites such as the old Fish House and lime kilns. Superb marine birding can be had at Dassen Island, about 10km west of Yzerfontein, or go chill with a sundowners at Pearl Bay Heights while your eyeballs soak up the beauty of Table Mountain at sunset.

More info at www.khwattu.org or www.yzerfonteintourism.co.za

The Routes

Trail Low-Down: 

The !Khwattu San Centre is situated on a low hill overlooking the Yzerfontein coastline and at first glance my MTB sensors did not kick into Amber Alert. Once you wander past the Reception and Restaurant area, things change when you notice the Trail Signage, and you soon realise that Michael Daiber has put in a massive effort here.

Kick off on a dippy little downhill with half a dozen cheeky kickers where the trail crosses old irrigation walls. Watch your air though, as the landing zone can be loose and gritty in places. Less than a kay in, you bang across a narrow wooden bridge, and then start slowly contouring upwards along a gentle ascent.

Best of all is that you are riding pure, purpose-built single-track all the way with negligible sand, despite the hectic drought in the area. The trail-builder did a great job of using old agricultural contour walls, zigzagging you along them in long, loopy ess-bends to keep the ride edgy amidst the Renosterveld ridges.

Keep going clockwise around the hill until you summit at just on 5km, with a spectacular view over the scrub-covered plains unfolding towards the icy Atlantic Ocean. Drop down another kay and you reach the Khwa Ttu boma, where guided riders may experience some good old West Coast hospitality.

That single-track will be calling your name though, so saddle up for a technical rock-drop into an old quarry; it is relatively tame, but you do have the option of a chicken run if the idea a Moab- descent scares the bejesus out of you.

Fast-forward down into the valley and then knuckle down onto a final climb as you contour clock-wise along the adjoining koppie. You pass a replica Bushman Village on the way, and if you keep your eyes open, chances are 99% that you’ll see zebra, eland, springbok, bat-eared fox and other game.

The last kilometre of downhill to !Khwattu is a play zone of note, with superb little jumps along a speedy trail section. The ride makes for a superb 10kays out on the bike, but the good news is that you have another 30km waiting along the Red Route. All you need to do is bomb the fence stile, and two hours of wild cranking awaits along a combo of even more single-track and gravel roads.

Best time of Year

Weather is great year-round, but expect rain and the occasional icy tempest in winter.

FAST FACTS BLOCK

GRADING: Intermediate
DURATION: 1-3 hours
START POINT:
!Kwattu San Reception
COORDINATES: 33°21’44.55″ S / 18°16’14.12″ E
MAP Map boards & superb signage
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:
Permit upon paying entry fee
FACILITIES Ablutions, restaurant, shop and secure parking
CELL RECEPTION
Excellent
BEWARE OF:
Jumps with loose landing zones
CONTACT:
www.khwattu.org / 022 492 2998 – speak to Michael

Getting There

How to Get There
!Khwattu San is exactly 70km from Cape Town city centre on the R27 (West Coast Road) on the right hand side 4 km before the R315 intersection to Yzerfontein /Darling.

 

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