Words by Bryan Milne. Pictures by Bryan Milne and Janine Breeze.
As life tends to restrict me to one decent overland trip per year, I often find myself needing to escape from the city to enjoy some beautiful scenery and get a fresh perspective on things.
In Cape Town, we’re blessed with many great trails within three hours’ drive, and even a few good ones inside an hour and a half’s travel, but there’s one that’s even closer – the Welgelegen 4×4 trail on Welgelegen Wine farm.
Welgelegen has been in the Bonthuys family for many years. It’s a working farm, tucked away in the valleys of the Bottelary Hills between Brackenfell and Stellenbosch, and with its vineyards, proteas and fynbos, this really is a beautiful place. The trail begins at the campsite, which itself is only a short drive across and up the valley from the entrance gates and farmyard. After a pause to complete the formalities and deflate tyres, you head straight into the first climb, which snakes its way up the side of a koppie overlooking the camp and farm. As you reach the top, the trail u-turns to the right, and you head along the edge of the ridge on two technical rocky sections where medium- to low-clearance vehicles will require spotters to guide the driver through. In the dry, this is the most challenging section of the trail, and the trail map indicates that there is a bypass to this section.
From here, the trail meanders up and around the side of Bottelary Berg, treating one to view after stunning view of the surrounding vineyards and farms. Even in the dry, some of the climbs / off-cambers are loose enough for one to need to pay attention now and again; but in the wet, it seems that you dare not even admire the view in case the front or rear of your vehicle decides to slide off the track while you are distracted. This is exactly what happened to a few of the vehicles on a recent ‘Be a Blessing’ 4×4 outing to Welgelegen, when an unseasonable day of rain made the trail really slippery: in spite of due caution been taken, some vehicles slid into the side of the track…