Trail review: Wupperthal, Western Cape


Words and image by Andrew Middleton

Even if all 4×4 trails were created equal, some would be more equal than others, and perhaps some of the most equal of them all would be the Western Cape’s Cederberg’s 4×4 routes. There are many different trails around the Cederberg region, all offering drivers a challenge, spectacular views and lots of rocks in varying degrees. But, for our trip, the Wupperthal 4×4 route caught our fancy– and, in particular, the Tra-Tra trail. Although the actual 4×4 route starts in the small missionary town of Wupperthal, the fun really begins as soon as you get past Clanwilliam, taking the R364 toward Wupperthal. Greeted by mountains, flowers and amazing passes, the senses are immediately awakened.

After about 40km of driving on the curvy R364, take a right at the Englishman’s grave to Wupperthal. Nobody knows the name of the brave soldier buried here, but it’s fabled that the man stood up to a group of Boer commandoes during the second Boer war and was shot dead after refusing to back down. After about 40 minutes of gravel driving from the Englishman’s gravesite, you’ll descend into the tiny Moravian mission town of Wupperthal − sometimes spelt Wuppertal.

Village life is quiet: a quaint coffee shop and South Africa’s oldest shoe factory (which sells fantastic veldskoene) were the highlights that I spotted during my curious meander. After tracing the line of local homesteads east out of Wupperthal, you turn right into the first river crossing. It’s at this crossing that the trail begins climbing. Drive past some more houses, click your beast into low-range and start the ascent. The trail eases you into the drive, and if you follow the road most travelled, you shouldn’t get lost, as most of the side roads loop back onto the main trail. Although mild at first, the trail quickly escalates into territory best explored by experienced off-roaders only.

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