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Closest Town: Compassberg MTB Trail
Grading: Moderate to difficult | Duration: Various
Location (Area/Province): Eastern Cape and Western Region
Configuration: 100km circular, various return options
Start Point: Nieu Bethesda village square
Access: Public access
Beware of: Heat exhaustion, thirst
Facilities: Self-catering cottages, farm accommodation and the Village Inn. No fuel
Cell Reception: Yes
Premium and Curated Trails Only
The Compassberg route passes through the Sneeuberg ranges before meandering along good
gravel roads, ascending in excess of 1 000m over about 100km.
On your bike
A long circular ride towards the Compassberg on dirt roads mostly in a poor state (rocky, potholed) and back around the north face on better, faster dirt roads. There is the option of turning off at Compassberg Farm and riding up to the base of the mountain (186km very poor track one way), leaving bikes there and climinbing the final two hours to the summit.
The trail can be as long as 100km but you can vary it to suit your level of fitness. The route follows public roads and is unmarked, but the roads to follow are well sign-posted and you can enquire at your place of accommodation as to which route to take.
The route winds through 15 farms in the Sneeuberg Mountain range with a blimb in excess of 1000m, mostly on good gravel roads. Beginning in Nieu Bethesda and then ascending sharply towards the Doornberg and The Valley farms. The going gets tougher as you climb the 2505m Compassberg. From there it descends in a loop towards Middelburg before the final testing climb in the home stretch.
Off the bike
Attractions include the surreal Owl house, a monument to the artistic angst of late local artist, Helen Martins, as well as an intriguing fossil museum at Wellwood Farm. A wealth of art, craft and local produce can be found in the village. Graaff-Reinet, the so-called Athens of the Karoo, and the awe-inspiring Valley of Desolation, are both well worth a visit.