Closest Town: Clarens
Grading: Difficult to Extreme | Duration: 3.5 hours
Location (Area/Province): Central Free State and Free State
Start Point: At reception
Access: Guests ride for free, day visitors are welcome and a fee is payable
Beware of: Rocks on track, technical sections and extreme temperatures
Facilities: Ablutions, horse riding, hiking, hunting, clay pigeon shooting, archery, restaurant
Cell Reception: Cell reception good for most of route
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The core activity of Bokpoort is horse-riding, but mountain-biking is encouraged on a technical 12km trail, exclusively marked for mountain bikes. This trail is the steepest and most difficult part of the annual Clarens MTB Classic. By alternately pedaling and pushing your bicycle, it is possible to access the rock pool and waterfall on the property or take some time out to watch resident herds of springbok, black wildebeest, blesbok and mountain reedbuck. This is a very demanding circuit with potential for portage. A word of caution – do not attempt technical sections that are beyond your current sills level.
On your bike
Surprise, surprise … the ride starts with a down-hill, but do not let this lull you into some misguided comfort zone. No sir, after that first 1.1km downhill cruise, gravity kicks in with what can only be termed a vengeance. So buckle down and grit your teeth, pardner.
There are four potential ‘route options’ from Bokpoort: the intermediate A-loop (10km); the tough B-loop (14km); the very challenging C-loop (18km) and the hike/bike D-loop (30km). We’ll ignore the E-loop option, as this is basically death-by-chain-ring.
The optimal way to tackle the ride (if you’re of a reasonable level of fitness and experience) is to look at a combination of route options. To gain maximum elevation, stick to the jkeep track and head straight up to the Bush Camp (8.2km) along the dual jeep track. This is 100% rideable if you put your mind to it, and deals with nearly all of the 400m altitude gain en route.
From the Bush Camp, head through the stream bed onto the C-loop; when I rode it, it was quite overgrown and strewn with loose rocks, but Bokpoort management promissed to get it clear of rocks and stones. Contour along a sketchy singletrack for 2km to a fence then drop down into the valley before climbing back up a grassy ridge to rejoin the 4×4 track.
From here, climb back up to the BOTTOM section of the D-loop (15.4km); turn right along this, but instead of heading all the way up, stick to the game trails along the escarpment contour. After a couple of km, drop down back onto the 4×4 dual-track (18.6km) and then follow it to the top of B-loop (20.7km). Ride this anti-clockwise; it starts of as grassy dual-track, but becomes good gravel as you progress.
Again, do not follow B-loop all the way back to the 4×4 track; look out for a tree hide in a copse of poplars, and skirt around the top of this along an obvious track to join A-loop at just shy of 25km. Keep going in an anti-clockwise direction around the kopje, and onto the piece de resistance of the whole route. A stunning 2km section of single-track drops below the sandstone overhang and onto the route you suffered up a few hours back (28.3km).
Slip-slide into the valley below Bokpoort, then mission up the final 1km ascent back to the reception at Bokpoort. Believe me, your legs will feel this one but sightings of wildebeest, eland and stacks of other plains game along the way make it all worth while.
Off the bike
Bokpoort offers western-style riding on what rates as arguably the best range of horses in the region. There are also excellent hikes, the 4×4 route (obviously) and superb trail run options. A great range of affordable accommodation is on offer on the farm, and Clarens offer the full gamut of touristy – if slightly over-priced – delis, craft shops and cafés.
There is also an art gallery and chapel for quieter pursuits, while the more active might try game-viewing, horse-riding, hiking, hunting, clay pigeon shooting and even archery. After a hot shower, relax in the pub before dining in the restaurant.
The Golden Gate National Park is on your doorstep and nearby Clarens has arts and crafts and restaurants galore.
Route information: Christo, Bokpoort Farm
Address: PO Box 25, Clarens, 9707
Telephone: +27 58 256 1181 / +27 83 744 4245
Website : www.bokpoort.co.za
GPS: 28° 33′ 32.5″South / 28° 28′ 53.4″ East