Closest Town: Clanwilliam
Grading: Moderate to difficult | Duration: 2-3 hours
Location (Area/Province): Cape West Coast and Western Cape
Configuration: Interlinking circular options
Start Point: Sanddrif camp site
Access: permits at reception, 3km from starting point; free for ovenight guests
Beware of: Snakes; dehydration in summer, snow in winter
Facilities: Shop, wine sales, wood, ablution facilities, campsite and cottages
Cell Reception: Poor
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Sanddrif, tucked away on the lush banks of the Dwars River at the foot of the Wolfberg, is the ideal base for nature lovers and the adventurous, accessible yet remote, especially when you realise they have five stunning and clearly marked MTB trails starting right from their camping grounds! The riding is moderate to difficult, covering distances from 7km to 30km.
There’s been a lot of work done on the Dwarsrivier MTB route and, rather than a glorified gravel road with the odd bit of hiking trail, it now features some purpose-built singletrack to delight members of the fat-track tribe who do head here.
On your bike
Start off from Sanddrif Camp Site on the Wolfberg Trail (7km) and crank the gravel road to Wolfberg Cracks parking lot (2km) via the Valley of the Red Gods. The road gets a bit rough from here but continue for another 1km until you reach a stand of pines where you swoop left onto a stretch of stony single-track which T-bones onto the Rietgat jeep-track. If you turn right here and stay on the Wolfberg Trail, you’ll loop back to the camp site, but what would the fun in that be?
Rather judder right to continue onto the Kliphuis Trail (21km) along the deteriorating jeep-track, persevering until you hit the contour single-track to your left at around the 5km mark (look out for the trail marker). Bomb this sweet little stretch until you reach the rather technical river crossing. Cross along the wooden boardwalk and rocks, then bear left to follow the old irrigation channel through the Rietgat camp site and onto the Main gravel road.
Left here would be the quick way home, while right links you onto the Lot’s Wife Trail (27km) along 1.6km on an easy dirt road cruise to a copse of trees overhanging the road. Again, there is a trail marker directing you left onto a jeep-track meandering into the stony ridges. This section has a wild and remote feel to it, and if you were going slower, you’d probably notice the Cape mountain leopard spoor and the klipspringers on point duty along the rocky ridges. Pedal wild for just on 2km where a left turn will take you back onto the Main road and the camp site.
If you still need more cranking, you can link right onto the technical Black Tierkop Trail to test your skills, as well as the Maltese Cross Trail from the Lot’s Wife Trail. Both options are good fun and will eventually bang you back onto the dirt drag about 3km from the Sanddrif camp site.
This is about as close to a sandstone Moab fix as you will get in South Afirca
Off your bike
There are more than 250 marked hiking routes in the Cederberg ranges, but activities include fly-fishing on the Olifants River or an evening of star-gazing at the Cederberg observatory, just down the road from Dwarsrivier. Most Saturday evenings see amateur astronomers from Cape Town presenting astronomy lectures and slide shows at this charming, open-air venue. Both wine and beer aficionados will be delighted with the renowned Cederberg Wines (www.cederbergwine.com) and a taste of Boggom and Voetsek from the Cederberg Brewery (www.cederbergbrewerycom).
How to Get There:
Follow the N7 north for 200km, continuing through Citrusdal. Turn right onto a gravel road about 28km after Citrusdal at the Algeria/Cederberg sign to cross the Olifants River. Continue along this road past Algeria and over the Uitkyk Pass. Look out for Dwarsrivier/Cederberg Wines on your right, after about 46km of gravel road. The Sanddrif Reception office is located here, and this is your 1st stop; the Sandrif Resort (and the start of the trails) is about 3km from here.
Telephone: +27 (0)27 482 2825 / +27 (0)44 004 0060
Website : www.sanddrif.com
GPS: South 32º29’15.55”/ East 19º16’07.76”