Get ready for some great gravel road-tripping and seriously gritty MTB trails at Camelroc Guest Farm, near the Lesotho border. Know one thing though: the Free State is NOT flat, so this is a high-altitude ride that comes with a serious PK of punch …
– Photographs & Copy: Jacques Marais
“Fourie’s a jolly good fellow”! Ja bud, you know how it is when you’re all by your lonesome in your cabbie, on a road trip, and you sing out loud? Well, that was my chorus right there as I tripped via Fouriesburg towards the Lesotho border – and my trail destination for the evening – Camelroc Guest Farm.
There are two Caledon Rivers here near the Caledonspoort Border Post, and Camelroc is slap bang in between them, nudging up against those towering Maluti ranges. The farm itself is in the shadow of some spectacular sandstone cliffs, with one specific outcrop shaped like a camel’s head, hence the name.
The surrounding Rooiberg foothills make for a great riding destination, with some varied (but bloody steep!) purpose-built single-track, thus ensuring an authentic mountain biking experience with glorious views towards the ‘Mountain Kingdom’ next door. A traditional sandstone guest house – boasting a fireplace in the lounge and bedrooms with heaters and electric blankets – is just what you need to survive the extremely cold nights here!
Camelroc is a perfect stayover if you are traveling between the Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, or if you’ve missed the border crossing into Lesotho – www.camelroc.co.za
Heads up, peeps … this is a proper MOUNTAIN bike trail, so you better bring your climbing legs. The route itself is serenely beautiful and varied, with 98% single-track great for riders keen to push their technical capabilities. Excellent views are guaranteed along the ride and you can expect the 10km option to take you at least an hour to 90min.
The mountain biking trail is a relatively new addition to Camelroc, and you have the option of two routes. A shorter 10km figure-of-eight route trips along the ridges within the farm boundaries, making full use of the steepening ridge lines here in the eastern Free State. Everything goes, from wooden bridges, rocky plateaus and near impossible inclines, and it will take guts (and sizeable cojones) not to put your foot down on your first circuit.
The second route is 30km, with some short-cut options to reduce the route to either 10km or 20km in distance. This route is damn tough, with an extreme climb right from the start that is sure to severely spike your heart rate. And don’t think it’s ‘flat’ once you reach the mountain summit circuit, either.
Both trails start from just outside the lodge, and are pretty well marked, with Blue & Green colour-coding showing the way. The longer route to the mountain top is more of a hiking trail and segments of it need to be cut down annually to make it rideable – check first before you crank skywards.
Both trails are predominantly single-track and – depending on your level of fitness and skill – would be termed Intermediate to Advanced. Riders are therefore advised not to ride beyond their capability (read: if in doubt, ‘get off and push’). You will however find that the more you ride it, the easier it becomes to get your rhythm.
All in all, the trail has been well laid out with great variety. Everything goes, from berm dips winding through trees, steep ascents into the teeth of the mountain and a few white-knuckle downhills (where you lose all the altitude you’ve gained in seconds)!
Care should be taken on the technical and rocky segments zigging along the precipitous edge of the escarpment, high above the Small Caledon River. The views are absolutely breathtaking over towards the Maluti Mountains and rural Lesotho, but it is probably best to enjoy these while taking a breather rather than at warp speed.
Best time of Year
Good year round destination. Summer has rainfall while winter is dry and can be extremely cold at night.
FAST FACTS BLOCK
|GRADING:||Intermediate to Advanced|
|DURATION:||10km (1-2 hours) 30km (4-7 hours)|
||Camelroc Guest Farm|
||S 28° 41’ 35.1” / E 28° 14’ 23.4”|
||Di Plaas-Stoep Restaurant, Fouriesburg. (083) 331 0714|
|ACCESS||Riding free for guests; fee payable for day visitors|
||Signal varies; check that data is off when connecting to Lesotho ISPs|
||Self-catering chalets and guesthouse rooms|
||Dermot – (058) 223 0368|
From Fouriesburg, take the road to Caledonspoort border post until just before the parking area at border post security. Turn left at the Police Barracks fence, then immediately right onto a gravel road. Keep left, crossing a narrow bridge over the Little Caledon River before winding uphill to Camelroc, approximately 800m from the border post.