Words and pictures by Chris Badenhorst
Trail Review: Bôjaankop, Calitzdorp, Western Cape.
As you turn off the R62 at the Matjiesvlei sign and head north, you’re almost immediately presented with a mountain vista which sets the tone for this trail. Bôjaankop is a high point on the Nels’ farm, and it’s from this point that seven mountain ranges are visible!
Arriving at the reception area after turning off the R62 doesn’t take long, with the gravel road being in such good condition. As you sign in, you fully appreciate that this is a working farm. Bennie Nel is the fifth generation of farmers here, and one can only begin to appreciate the effort that his preceding generations must have put into this piece of land. The farm was originally bought in 1821, and the history of the last 193 years is evident in places. By way of example, it’s recorded that in 1899, during the Anglo-Boer War, Commandant Scheepers and 600 troops rode into Matjiesvlei looking for a route through to the Great Karoo.
But our destination – the trail – was closer at hand. There are two methods of driving the route: either clockwise, which is easier going but still challenging, or anti-clockwise, which will present the driver with a very steep climb within a few minutes of starting out on the trail. We chose the more leisurely option.
The trail crosses the Gamka River and, although it was dry when we drove the trail, the debris in the thorn bushes nearby suggests that the trail could disappear during a flood. There are a few gates to open as you drive through a private nature reserve and, as you pass through a young olive plantation, the trail throws itself at the driver. The climb begins with a Grade 2 climb, but small loose rocks can get the wheels spinning unexpectedly.
The trail hugs the top of the koppies, and when you arrive on Bôjaankop you are able to take in the seven mountain ranges. These are the Gamkaskloof, Swartberge, Rooikoppe, Outeniqua, Rooiberg, Huisrivierberge and Sambokberge. With nary a cloud above, the 360° view of these mountains on all sides is quite simply indescribable.