Louvain is a working sheep, ostrich and crop farm, set in an area rich in history. One of its main attractions is the Old Voortrekker Pass over the Outeniqua Mountains. Nowadays it’s one of Louvain’s two 4×4 trails but for about 100 years (from about 1772 to the late 1800s), the Old Voortrekker Pass was an important trading route between the coast and the Langkloof. After the opening of the Montagu Pass and the Seven Passes Road between George and Knysna, it fell into disuse – except for 4×4 drivers, that is.
While one section of the Old Voortrekker Pass is on Louvain, another runs through a state forest. You will therefore need a permit to complete the trail over the Outeniqua Mountains. Permits are issued at Louvain, and are included in the trail cost. The trail is graded 2-3, which means your vehicle must have low-range and good ground clearance. It is well maintained, and vegetation is trimmed to limit vehicle damage.
It will take you 2-3 hours to do the 30 km trail from Louvain over the mountain and through the Bergplaas State Forest, to the junction with the Seven Passes Road near the Woodville shop. You could, however, give yourself a bit more time to look at the proteas and fynbos, and take in the views over the lake area at Wilderness, Sedgefield and Knysna. The route starts with a gradual climb through an indigenous forest and then through forestry plantations to a gate.
From the gate, the trail becomes increasingly narrow as you drive next to the Diep River for long stretches, crossing it a few times on causeways. Eventually, you reach more open areas, and now’s the time to engage low-range, because from here on you will be scrambling over rough, rocky terrain. Wheel positioning is important, and it’s the only way you will get over the rocks without damaging your vehicle’s undercarriage.
The stony terrain eventually evens out but you are still climbing, between proteas and other fynbos. After about 1½ hours, you reach the lookout point (more than 1 000 m above sea level) on top of the Outeniqua Mountains. From here the trail starts to drop slowly, and suddenly the fertile Langkloof opens up before you. On the other side of the kloof you can see the outline of the Kammanassie Mountains, while the dark blue Swartberg stands guard in the background.
For the Forest Drive, a natural one-way obstacle course that runs in and next to a riverbed in a forest, you need a proper 4×4, low-range and good ground clearance. The practical side of 4×4 training at Louvain takes place on this trail, with obstacles like The Gorge, The Staircase and The Donga. It can get very slippery, especially after rain, when you’re in for a muddy time.
[Trail Grade] 2-3
[Type of Vehicle] 4X4 & 4X2
[Accomodation Available] Camping & Chalets
[Min/Max Vehicles] Max Vehicles: +5
[Trail Distance] 15km
[Time to Complete Trail] 3-4
[Guided / Self Drive] Self Drive
[Low Range] Yes
[Good Ground Clearance] Yes
[Best time of year] All year round