Every year, thousands of cyclists travel from across the globe to take part in the Argus Cycle Tour; a gruelling 109 km race that traverses Cape Town’s steepest roads and most beautiful mountain passes. And each year I ask the question: “Why?” Why would you put yourself through that? One hundred and nine kilometres of aching knees, gasping lungs and the likelihood of a bruised bum. According to a mate of mine (who’s cycled the Argus six times in a row,) he does it for the atmosphere and camaraderie – but also because he loves seeing Cape Town from a new perspective.
I contemplate this last point as I peer down at the Isuzu’s odometer and note the mileage: 17 km down and 61 to go. The fact that we’ve only travelled 17 km makes me feel frantic and strangely claustrophobic. I want to scream at the thought, but instead I turn to my co-driver. “Hey, Kobus, guess how far we’ve travelled since I last asked you?” He thinks for a minute, keen to prove his off-road calculation skills. “Hmmm, I reckon 10 kilometres,” he says.
His reply lightens my mood a little; I can now laugh at his estimation and tell him how dead wrong he is. “No, bru, we’ve covered two kays since I last asked you! That’s two measly kilometres that I could’ve crawled faster than we’re driving.” I think back to my mate’s description of the Argus Cycle Tour, and his appreciation of the Cape’s stunning scenery. Suddenly I kill the Isuzu’s engine and climb out of the driver’s seat. We’re on a hilltop overlooking a dozen more hilltops. The view is indescribably beautiful; it’s a side to the Baviaanskloof that very few people get to see.
I take a deep breath and think back to the last time I was in this valley. It was in September ’11, I was exploring the Baviaanskloof with two close chommies, and we were having a jol of a time. Back then we’d made it our mission to explore every aspect of the region; however, there was one road that had eluded us – a mysterious trail that few people know about.
If you enter the Baviaanskloof from the west (Willowmore), you’ll exit the other side at Patensie (the east). Other than a u-turn along the way, there’s no other way to enter or leave the region. It’s just a single gravel track (R332) that travels between two mountain ranges: the Baviaanskloof Mountains to the north, and the Kouga Mountains to the south. All the kloof’s sights and attractions exist along this road.
During our stay back then, we’d bunked at a well known campsite called Doringkloof Farm. While chatting to the farm owner, Chris Lamprecht, we were told about a 78 km trail that summits the Kouga Mountains and descends into Kareedouw – making it the only private track that enters, and exits from, the Baviaanskloof valley.
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