Closest Town: Ladismith
Grading: Easy to Intermediate | Duration: 3-5 Hours
Location (Area/Province): Central & Klein Karoo and Western Cape
Start Point: Amalienstein: historic orange church.
Access: Public access
Beware of: Slow moving church traffic (on Sundays). Extreme temperatures and acacia thorns.
Facilities: Tea Garden (closed on Sundays)
Cell Reception: None
This little Moravian mission village, situated just off the R62, offers easy access to a selection of gravel roads and footpaths, including the stunning Seweweekspoort Pass route. An amateur anthropologist would probably have a field day in this little rural backwater town, with its imposing Germanic church and vernacular architecture; there are characters of all types wandering the streets, but don’t expect to find the only tea room open on a Sunday!
On your bike
An obvious point of meeting (and departure) would be the historic orange church: you can’t really miss it, and I’m sure its presence will keep your vehicles relatively safe. If you want to do a combo of undulating gravel road with a playful smattering of footpaths, head away from the church down the gravel streets past the Amalienstein dairy (0.5km).
Dodge the mud puddles and pass through an open gate, looking out for a link onto a rollicking little single-track to your left (1.3km). Jolly along this in the direction of the gorge, gambling on whatever you think looks like the main pathway, generally heading right towards Zoar, an adjacent mission village (3.7km). There is a veritable spider web of footpaths, cattle tracks and jeep-tracks around the village, so go mal in your own time.
From Zoar, you can run the gauntlet of devil thorns and farm gates up the valley by crossing the R62, or do a speedy cruise along the tarmac shoulder to the first district gravel road to your right. Follow this into the fertile little Hoeko Valley, passing through the near non-existent little dorp after 7.5km.
Langenhoven, the famous Afrikaans author, lived here, and his house is signposted to your right just before you reach the trading store. Around 3km of tarmac takes you past the Hoeko stretch and on towards Ladismith (just on 39km) along a meandering and remote back road, with some stupendous climbs.
The thing to do here is explore to the side along lesser travelled roads and jeep-tracks, of which there are dozens. The Seweweekspoort MTB Challenge passes through the area, so there is stacks of riding. Just keep in mind that closed gates generally mean public access; as they say in the classics, however, it is way easier to get forgiveness than permission. No route markings.
Off the bike
Ladismith is a real forgotten little town, and it offers a complete escape from the rat race. People greet you in the street, fruit is plentiful, the meat is good and, if you want to play in the mountains, you’ve come to the right place. Seweweekspoort Peak (2325m) is highest in the Western Cape, and it is abutted by some sky-scraping neighbours, including the magical Towerkop, with its myth of an angry witch who bashed a cleft through the hulking granite summit.
CONTACT: Ladismith Tourism
Telephone: +27 28 551 1378
GPS: 33° 31′ 26.4″ S / 21° 27′ 48.1″ E