Escape into the rural hinterland along the R62 and avoid the temptation to stay too long at the infamous Ronnie’s Sex Shop because the spoils at the glorious Touwsberg Private Game and Nature Reserve – your intended destination – far outweigh Ronnie’s selection of previously owned lingerie.
Touwsberg is the kind of place you need to visit for the whole weekend. Remote self-catering cottages offer easy access to the network of gravel roads, jeep-track and 4×4 routes, plus you can explore forever along the game tracks mish-mashing throughout the reserve.
An excellent map is available from reception and its inclusion of topographical information makes it simple to orientate yourself during the ride.
I headed in a westerly direction from Kyknet Cottage, cranking onto a steep 4×4 track into the Lootzrivier section at 7,5 kilometres. Follow the gravel road below the sandstone cliffs until you reach Fonteinskloof (9,1 kilometres), the only perennial stream during the sizzling summer months. It’s fed from Rehoboth Eye, an artesian borehole a few minutes upstream which flows at an incredible 150 000 litres an hour, and is a great place to fill up water bottles.
A high-speed run past Rehoboth Dam (13,8 kilometres) bombs you down to the Wolverfontein Gate (15,1 kilometres), where you turn left onto the Plathuis gravel road for a circular route back to Kyknet via the reserve’s main entrance (23 kilometres). However, there’s loads more riding on the cards from this entrance, so split right to Bobbejaan Krantz (25,3 kilometres).
Keep left again after the windmill (29,4 kilometres) to head into the Mooikloof region, where you’ll have a selection of 4×4 tracks, gravel roads and hiking paths to choose from. Take note most of the paths are rocky and loose, so trust your balance as you bang into koppies.
From Mooikloof (38,3 kilometres, depending on route choice), it’s a fast downhill blast to the Wolverfontein turn-off to your right (42,1 kilometres). Kyknet Cottage is just down the drag, making for a total distance of 45,2 kilometres.
One of the main attractions of Touwsberg is that you’re free to ride after sunset, an unheard of bonus in most reserves. Not everyone can spend big on a bike light, so best you settle for a multi-purpose 200-lumens headlamp such as the waterproof Black Diamond Icon (R660, www.rammountain.co.za).
Drive onto the R62 and continue northeast until you reach Barrydale. Touwsberg Private Nature and Game Reserve is on your left, about 45 kilometres beyond the town.
Need to know about the Touwsberg mountain-biking track
Although day visitors can be accommodated at Touwsberg by previous arrangement, the area is best explored as a weekend visitor.
Ladismith (about 15 kilometres from the reserve) is where you’ll find the nearest shops and its immediate environs buzz with outdoor options, including hiking along the Elandsberg Mountains and rock climbing on Towerkop. Find out more at www.ladismith.org.za
Duration: 2,5 to four hours
Configeration: Network of return and circular routes
Start point: Kyknet Cottage
Terrain: Gravel roads, 4×4 tracks and rough game footpaths
Entry requirements: A daily permit from reception costs R35
Cell reception: None
GPS Co-ordinates: S33° 38’ 31,8”, E21° 0’0,5”
Contact: Tel 028-551-2175, www.touwsberg.co.za
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