Closest Town: Parys
Grading: Intermediate to difficult | Duration: Depends on your choice of route
Location (Area/Province): North West and Southern Region
Configuration: 12km to 23km circular routes
Start Point: Berakah Camp
Access: Entry fee payable
Beware of: Summer heat, thorns, snakes.
Facilities: Toilet at start. Berakah has a beautiful camp on top of the mountain where there is a water point.
Cell Reception: None
The unique, geological features of Vredefort Dome were shaped two billion years ago when a colossal meteorite struck Planet Earth to form a huge mega-crater. This is good news for mountain bikers keen to explore the grasslands, dense kloofs and craggy kopjes scattered within the 200km inverted dome.
Rated as one of South Africa’s original World Heritage Sites, the Dome Land Conservancy is mainly in the hands of private landowners. This does mean that operators lack cohesion, with the result that adventure activities are presented in a rather haphazard way. A multi-day Dome crank would be great, but unfortunately there is little route-sharing amongst the various destinations at this stage.
On your bike
There are a handful of trails worthy of a good crank in the area, and Berakah Adventures is a good place to start. The MTB route follows their quad bike trail (you’re bound to hear the bikes and will probably outride them, though). Don’t expect the most flowing of rides, but the trail here is great if you want to work on your technical skills and endurance.
The trail head is at reception, and immediately passes through a small gate to meander in an anti-clockwise direction through the valley below the farm buildings. Negotiate your way through a poplar grove to pass above the office (at around the 3km mark), and then continue up-stream along the quad bike trail.
Expect steep, rocky climbs and drops as you pedal through typical bush veldt environment.
An escape route option at around 8km allows you to cross the river and follow a winding route back to the start, or otherwise you could keep going along the Mountain View loop to extend your ride to approximately 23km.
The Berakah trail system has been used for MTB races, and will be achievable to average riders. The venue – famous for their 4×4 and quad bike routes – boasts dramatic natural beauty as you crank through open savannah, bush veldt, riverbeds, mud, water, hill climbs and rugged outcrops.
Steep, rock-strewn footpaths alternate with dual- track, and in the lowlands there are dongas and a few sketchy log bridges. Berakah is not for the faint-hearted, as it combines a bit of danger with a lot of sweat. However, a bit of perseverance will deliver a satisfying crank on the edge of the Vredefort crater rim.
The routes are not that well-marked, but amap of all the Berakah Eco Trails can be found on line at www.berakah.co.za It may be a good idea to print this out before you set off.
Off the bike
This World Heritage Area offers great hiking, bird watching, bouldering and mountain biking within an ecologically distinctive biome. The lush swathe cut by the mighty Vaal River adds options such as fishing, canoeing, rafting and access to a range of accommodation establishments.
Route information: Berakah Adventures
Address: PO Box 1649, Parys 9585
Telephone: +27 56 818 1313 or +27 82 339 9177 (Lenie) +27 82 598 0559
GPS: 26 49′ South / 25″ 27 22′ 20″ East