Piketberg Mountain Gravel Circuit, Western Cape

Get your Vitamin (G)ravel fix the next time you visit the Berg River Tourism Area, approximately 90min from Cape Town. The challenging Piketberg Circuit meanders via the scenic Sandveld plains and boasts a total riding distance of up to 300km, depending on your choice of route.

Piketberg Mountain G-Road Circuit, Western Cape

                                                                                                       – Copy and images : Jacques Marais

Local Buzz:

A whole bunch of hideaway villages are scattered around the breathtaking Piketberg massif, a free-standing mountain rising from the farmlands lining the breathtaking Berg River valley. Eendekuil, Goedverwacht, Redelinghuys, Aurora and the eponymous Piketberg are a few of the dorps you’ll discover across the bars should you decide to pedal around this rugged and imposing mountain.

The charming hamlet of Aurora is one of these charming Sandveld villages, and it would be a great spot from which to start your crank. The town’s square is where you will find one of the region’s most striking churches; it was completed in 1908 and quaint homes line the tranquil streets. This is about as far away from the rat race as you can get.

Morning brings stunning amber light, and you may agree with those who say the town was named for Aurora, the Roman goddess of Dawn, but others insist it may be for the daughter of the first Dutch Reformed minister in the area, Reverend CR Ferreira. I’d like to think it was Option 1 …

The Routes

This is superb gravel riding terrain, with quiet roads and jeep tracks dust-lining along the Piketberg slopes and surrounding plains. From Aurora, head southwest towards the R399 (16km), and then turn left for 14km of fast tarmac cranking to the Goedverwacht turn-off.

This picturesque mission village awaits approximately 11km along this gravel road, with a range of accommodation options, including camping at Januariesfontein (total riding distance of 43km) and premium self-catering at Retreat Guest Farm (49km). You’re in for a solid ascent from Goedverwacht, so this is not a bad place to break out some cold beers and chill after Day One of your ride. Retreat Farm boasts a superb MTB Trail, so bump up your ride with a kickass 24km of singletrack addition!

Your second day starts with an exhilarating downhill ride as you pedal the quiet tar road plunging back down to Piketberg. Negotiate the side-swiping ess-bends of Versveld Pass (10km) before you T-bone onto the R366 (15km), where you will pass the turn-off to Eendekuil (R365) to your right after another 24km. Keep the pedals turning as the R366 curves southwards to Redelinghuys (80km) where Affieplaas awaits with excellent accommodation and meals.

Welcome to Day 3, people! A rather corrugated and sandy (in places) stretch of gravel road awaits as you crank off towards Aurora. Look out for a turn-off to your left towards Danielshoogte Private Nature Reserve after 25km, with proper climbing as you attack the western ascent up Piketberg Mountain. The 9km uphill to Danielshoogte is gritty, but you have another 8km before you top out. Either return to Danielshoogte (51km) or bomb all the way back down to Aurora (63km) where you can book into the Rooi Granaat for some R&R.

Anyone for a Bonus Day in the saddle? Here goes … from Aurora, head southwest for 2km, then keep left for another 15km to the junction with the R399. Keep left again for 3km to the next left as you begin to undulate up the scenic Kapteinskloof valley, passing Banghoek Private Nature Reserve just on 38km into your ride.

You will rejoin your old friend, the R366, again after a total distance of 55km; turn right here towards Piketberg for a fast 40km tarmac crank. Piketberg offers a bunch of accommodation options, and after nearly a 100km in the saddle you will surely need cold drinks, good food and a comfortable bed! I’d check out Lemon Tree Cottage as a starting point!

All in all, you’re in for a 40/60 mix of tarmac versus gravel, with long and undulating stretches and a few gruelling climbs. The northern side of the mountain brims with loads of jeep-track for those keen to explore off the secondary roads, but be aware that you will be riding through farming areas and that all gates should be left in the position you found them.

Keep a look out for jackal- and steppe buzzards, black eagles, bat-eared fox, steenbuck and other small mammals. Leopards are often spotted in the high-lying mountain wilderness, but your chances of seeing them are unfortunately not brilliant. The vistas towards the Cederberg and West Coast, however, will more than make up for that!

Best Time of Year

Aurora has a Mediterranean climate, with most of its rainfall in winter

A Look Around

Squirt Top Tip!

Expert Advice


Yup, it’s the Festive Season, and Santa’s watching you! A clean bike means you’ll get more presents come Xmas, so you’d better break out the SQUIRT Bike Cleaner :-)

The good news is that this world-class product is available either in a ready-to use 750ml spray bottle (or in travel-size 60ml bottles, too), as well as in concentrate solutions in both 1l and 5l sizes (the latter is more economical and therefore perfect for bike shops and event organisers). A handy tip to keep in mind is that the normal dilution of 1:25 is perfect for general bike washing applications, while you should work on double-strength (1:12) or stronger when degreasing your chain. (A side note: if you’re using SQUIRT Chain Lube, there will hardly ever be wax build-up on your chain, which means you won’t even have to think of cleaning it).

Also remember to always leave the foam on the area you’re cleaning for a few minutes before you start to wash, as this allows the powerful degreaser to kick in and soften the gunk, enabling you to gently rinse without the need for heavy scrubbing. The spray bottle is by far the best way to apply the bike cleaner, as it covers a large surface area with foam and equates to minimal wastage. The good news is that SQUIRT Cycling Products are biodegradable and therefore kind to the planet, so even those suds that drips down onto the grass won’t destroy the environment.

Happy holidays from all of us at SQUIRT and MTB ROUTES – now go clean your bike!

Map, Elevation Profile & Flyover(s)

21/01/2022 08:00

Piketberg Circuit - Day 1

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  • Distance Instructions
  • Distance 48 km
  • Time 0 s
  • Speed 0.0 km/h
  • Min altitude 18 m
  • Peak 663 m
  • Climb 850 m
  • Descent 311 m
21/01/2022 07:57

Piketberg Circuit - Day 2

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  • Distance Instructions
  • Distance 79 km
  • Time 0 s
  • Speed 0.0 km/h
  • Min altitude 7 m
  • Peak 751 m
  • Climb 517 m
  • Descent 1143 m
21/01/2022 07:58

Piketberg Circuit - Day 3

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  • Distance Instructions
  • Distance 58 km
  • Time 0 s
  • Speed 0.0 km/h
  • Min altitude 15 m
  • Peak 1023 m
  • Climb 1326 m
  • Descent 1242 m
21/01/2022 07:58

Piketberg Circuit - Day 4

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  • Distance Instructions
  • Distance 98 km
  • Time 0 s
  • Speed 0.0 km/h
  • Min altitude 23 m
  • Peak 352 m
  • Climb 940 m
  • Descent 789 m

Shot on Location

[gamipress_youtube url=”https://youtu.be/SyFpQoYza-c?rel=0″ width=”100%” height=”480″ autoplay=”no” controls=”yes”]

GRADING: Intermediate
DURATION: Approximately 316km (over four days)
START POINT: Aurora Village
GPS COORDS:  32º 42′ 05″ South /  18º 28′ 52″ East
TERRAIN Dirt roads with some sand and corrugated sections; quiet tar roads
MAP: None available
Google various stop-overs for details
CELL RECEPTION: Intermittent coverage
Heat in summer, snakes (especially September – March)

Getting There

Take the R399 from Piketberg and turn right to Aurora

And staying …

Danielshoogte Private Nature Reserve – https://www.facebook.com/Danielshoogte2/

Affieplaas (Redelinghuys) – https://www.facebook.com/affiplaasrestaurant/

Rooi Granaat (Aurora) – https://tinyurl.com/2s9s7k5s

Lemon Tree Cottage (Piketberg) – https://tinyurl.com/y8r4pnkp

Retreat Guest Farm (Piket Bo-Berg) – https://retreatguestfarm.co.za/

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