Closest Town: Prince Albert
Grading: Moderate | Duration: 3 - 5 hours
Location (Area/Province): Central & Klein Karoo and Western Cape
Configuration: One-way – 40km
Start Point: Prins Albert
Access: Public access along majority of roads; park entry fees apply – pay at Tourism Office in Main Street
Beware of: Extreme heat in summer; dehydration; freezing winters
Facilities: Accommodation, restaurants, shops in Prince Albert
Cell Reception: Limited
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Bang a big mountain down in the middle of the arid Karoo and you can bet your bottom bracket you’re in for a huge MTB adventure. This is exactly what the Swartberg region around Prins Albert delivers: a selection of awesome gravel passes and winding country roads trailing towards the horizon. Country hospitality is big on the cultural menu of this delightful dorpie, which boasts a main street sure to trip you right back into the 1900s. Don’t miss out on a visit to Sampie’s Farm Stall (they sell the best springbok pies in the known universe) or the quaint Swartberg Hotel with its rambling rose garden
On your bike
Opt for less pain and more gain (compared to the Swartberg Pass, anyway) along an undulating and pleasurable ride traversing the foot of Aasvoëlberg towards Gamkapoort Dam.
Relatively flat riding begs exploration along an excellent ride to the Gamkapoort Dam, situated just on 40km to the west of the village. This one starts off flat and breezy until you hit the Gamka River after 25km, then it gets quite sandy in places. Ten km later you hit the nature reserve gates and the road goes a bit up and down bedonnered through the koppies around the dam – surface rocky and very gnarly.
Public access is a given along the majority of roads in the area, but permission is required before venturing onto farms and entrance fees are payable by day visitors to nature reserves. Plus you score bonus points for peace of mind, as Prins Albert probably rates as one of the safest towns in SA.
Off the bike
Don’t miss the Olive Festival in April and the Witblits Festival in August; do the ghost walk.
Telephone: +27 23 541 1366
GPS: 33°13’28.2” South / 22°01’48.4” East