Closest Town: Beaufort West
Grading: Moderate | Duration: 1 – 4 hours
Location (Area/Province): Central & Klein Karoo and Western Cape
Configuration: Various ; 12–34km
Start Point: Olive Grove Chalets
Access: Guests at Olive Grove have free access to trails. Day rides may be organised by prior arrangement.
Beware of: The rainy season brings mud and flashfloods, plus thorns and the odd reptile are bound to pop up on any given ride day.
Facilities: Full and self-catering accommodation, a restaurant and shop.
Cell Reception: Intermittent
This Karoo farm rates as a perfect mountain-biking escape, offering three route options suited to anyone from your stock-standard tarmac ‘trapper’ to full-on fat-track superheroes.
Expect some sand, although the overall surface is a well-packed combination of gravel, clay and stone. It gets hot here during summer, and you need to take care at river crossings during thunderstorm flash floods.
On your bike
A relatively flat circular route on Olive Grove, a 7,000ha game farm and getaway in the Karoo near Beaufort West. Most of the riding is along dual-track roads winding through the undulating and scrubby plains, with a handful of roughshod ascents, stony downhills and sandy river crossings. Expect some sand, although the overall surface is a relatively well-packed combination of fine gravel, earth and stone. Awesome game sightings are part of the deal; I saw a stunning kudu bull, herds of blesbok and springbok, a 30-year old mountain tortoise, a smattering of steenbok, and a couple of mongooses/mongeese/mongii (or whatever the plural may be).
Hunting Lodge Circuit
Start off from the Olive Grove chalets, heading west along the main entrance road towards the N12 for just on 1km, then take the fork to your right just after the dry stream bed. At 1.8km you will pass through a gate; continue along the northerly dual track route with occassional sandy patches, ascending gradually into typical Karoo ‘rantjes veldt’. At around 5km, you will reach a windmill and a dam, and pass through another gate before the route starts wending in a westerly direction again.
After a nice warm-up for the calves, you start dropping slightly towards what in the rainy season is a muddy pan (8km). If it is wet, skirt around the left hand side, otherwise just stick to the road until you reach your third gate at 11km. Nothing much changes, and you can pump up the big ring as you blast along a rollicking up-and-down stretch to an earthen dam at 11km. The road does a bit of a how’s your mother here, with tracks leading off right, but you stick to the left around the dam and climb along a gradual sandy stretch.
Look out for the bontebok as you approach closer to the N12, but stick right to dual-track heaven as you drop down a rocky stretch towards an olive grove. At 17km, you T-bone with the entrance road back to Olive Grove, but the jol is not over yet. Hang right and blast through the river (there’s usually a bit of water here) and dog-leg right along the N12 for 300m before turning left into the Karoo Midaz Farms gate (also part of Olive Grove). A quick 2.5km along a good dirt road brings you to right below a steel-pylon power line (odometer should read around 20km by now).
Turn right along the faint dirt track and bomb through a bushy kloof, then climb up a low hill. The surface is very rocky, and the best ascent is along the right hand side of the loop, so stick to the right where the road forks. About 3km up, on your right you will pass the Hunting Camp, and the road forks again. Keep left and start descending down along the power line again, soaking up a few rough patches along the way. Turn left as you hit the Midaz Farms road until you’re back on the N12 (29.5km), and then hit the home run as you burn those calves back to Olive Grove (31.8km).
Start off from the chalets yet again, but this time head past the olive shed to a double gate (300m). Pass through these and to the right around the massive earth dam, then enter through the gate on the right at 1.1km. This dual-track trail runs straight as an arrow, climbing gradually along the scrubby Karoo plains for exactly 5.5km before ending at a small earth pan.
From here, back-track along the rather sandy trail to the gate and turn right to continue along the edge of the large dam near Olive Grove. This section of the route is also dual jeep-track, and, although very sandy in places, is nonetheless quite rideable. You cross a sandy stream-bed twice, and this could be muddy during the summer rains.
After a couple of kilometers, you will reach a locked gate. Don’t pass through, instead turning right along the rocky dual-track following the fence line. Look out for the herd of oryx as he trail starts looping around to the right, bending back on itself. The route becomes faint in a couple of places, so keep a sharp eye as you bomb along.
Rated by : Jacques Marais
Off the bike
The Karoo National Park and a number of private hiking and 4×4 trails.
Telephone: 023 414 3397
GPS: 32°30’45.3” South / 22°34’94.4” East