4×4 Trails in the Western Cape
If you like exploring the road less taken, then there is no shortage of exhilarating and beautiful 4×4 trails in the Western Cape, South Africa. Whether you are an experienced off-roader, or just looking for a good camping weekend with the family, there is a trail to suit every driver.
The Pat Busch 4×4 Trail
- Situated: 9km outside Robertson,
- Difficulty: grade 4,
- Length: 2hours long,
- Phone: +27 23-6262033.
The Pat Busch 4×4 trail is a scenic circular trail for the more seasoned off-roaders, as there are some steep sections with loose gravel. The route offers a gradual ascent up the beautiful fynbos covered flank of Spitzkopf, with majestic views of the Breede River Valley. Picnicking is ideal, though no fires are permitted. So bring the sandwiches but leave the boerewors for when you get back home. You can opt for either a day-drive, or spend the night at the Pat Busch Private Nature Reserve.
The Buffelsfontein 4×4 Trail
- Situated: 18km from Yzerfontein,
- Difficulty: given a grade of 1-3,
- Length: 7km, 1-3 hours long,
- Phone: +27 22 451 2824.
Situated in the Buffelsfontein Game and Nature Reserve, this route is especially gorgeous in the spring, and you have the bonus of checking out the wildlife. Winter is easier to drive, as the sand gets dry and loose in summer. There is an option of self-catering accommodation at a bush camp on the 4×4 route. Facilities are available onsite, such as a restaurant, bar and swimming pool. There is only one route on the game reserve itself, but there are also nearby trails at Blombos and Atlantis.
Tierkloof 4×4 Trail
- Situated: 9km from Rawsonville
- Difficulty: grade 3-4
- Length: 12km, 2-4 hours long,
- Phone: +27 82 578 1853.
This is a circular route with escape routes, consisting of varied terrain such as sand, rocks, rocky steps and climbs. There is a lapa and camping site close to the Brandvlei Dam, where there is often swimming, fishing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, canoeing, fishing and kayaking. What’s great about this route is that it’s in the middle of the Breedekloof Wine Route. So besides 4x4ing, you could plan a whole trip around enjoying quality wines, fine dining, hot springs, fynbos hikes and mountain bike trails.
The Leeuwenboschfontein 4×4 Trail
- Situated: 63km from De Doorns,
- Difficulty: grade 3-5,
- Length: 20km, 4-6 long,
- Phone: +27 23 358 1722.
The Leeuwenboschfontein 4×4 trail is set against the breath-taking backdrop of the Klein Karoo. The route is circular with optional loops, consisting of rocky mountainous terrain with some very steep descents. Bot self-catering and camping facilities are available. Although open throughout the year, there is the possibility of snow in the winter. There are a few other 4×4 trails in the area such as Gecko Rock, Karoo Adventures and Kopbeenskloof. Some of the activities in the area include mountain biking, hiking, fishing, bird-watching and stargazing.
The Kopbeenskloof 4×4 Trail
- Situated: 57km from De Doorns,
- Difficulty: grade 2-4,
- Length: 36km, 5-7hrs,
- Phone: +27 82 829 6308.
Nestled between the impressive Krakkadouw and Waboom Mountains, the Kopbeenskloof trail has both a circular and return section, and consists of steep and deep river crossings, rocks, gravel, sand and dongas. There is great diversity of flora and fauna to marvel at while exploring the dynamic landscape. Mountain biking, hiking and trail running are popular activities on the farm tracks, while fishing can be done at the farm dam. Bot self-catering and camping facilities are available.
Karoo Nuweveld 4×4 Trail
- Situated: 9km from Beaufort West,
- Difficulty: grade 1-2,
- Length: 90km, 12-48hrs,
- Phone: +27 23 415 2828.
The Karoo Nuweveld trail is a circular route with a 7km optional loop, consisting of management tracks and farm roads, rocky outcrops and sandy riverbeds. The trail gives you the opportunity to explore remote sections of the 90 000ha Karoo National Park. Besides a self-catering chalet en route, there is also a campsite, B&B cottages, a fully licensed restaurant, a curio shop and swimming pool at the main camp. Game viewing and bird-watching are the main activities here, but there are also guided game drives and walks, and a Fossil trail.
Swartberg Nature Reserve 4×4 Trail
- Situated: 19km from Prince Albert,
- Difficulty: grade 1-2,
- Length: 29km, 3-4hrs,
- Phone: +27 21 483 0190.
The Swartberg Nature Reserve trail has a simple out and back configuration, with a terrain of rocks, sandstone, challenging ascents and descents. This is a relatively easy trail, but in winter the snow and heavy rain can make the trail more challenging. The Swartberg Pass and the descent into ‘Die Hel’ Gamkaskloof are impressive. There is mountain biking, swimming, hiking and the Donkey Trail to be enjoyed in the Swartberg Nature Reserve. You will need a permit, a minimum of two vehicles and a maximum four to experience the 121 000ha of the Swartberg Nature Reserve between the Great and Klein Karoo. There are no facilities along the route except for the Bothashoek overnight hut, although self-catering accommodation and camping are available in nearby Gamkaskloof.
There are few things better than getting into your Isuzu KB bakkie or Toyota Hilux and getting to know your country a bit better from a different perspective. Hopefully you will have the opportunity of enjoying some of these trails in the near future.
Queenie Bates is an avide reader, writer and researcher based in Cape Town. Along with her partner, she enjoys exploring the Western Cape trails every chance she can get.
- photograph – indigoprime