It’s difficult to believe that some 4×4 owners in the Western Cape haven’t yet discovered the Klein Tafelberg 4×4 trail, especially when you consider that Olof Bergh already noted this miniature version of Table Mountain in his journals way back in 1682.Words and pictures by Koos Pieters.
This trail lies in the heart of the Sandveld, more or less midway between Redelinghuys and Elandsbaai, and is arguably one of the most popular trails in the Western Cape. The trail was developed some 12 years ago and draws many 4WDs with its exhilarating sand driving, wonderful scenery and the challenging rock section.
The trail begins a small distance from the pleasant camp area; and from the word go you’re challenged, with a sudden steep winding climb up the first hill. This initial section is a sand track which requires a fair amount of skill, especially in summer when the sand is deep and soft.
It snakes its way through typical Sandveld fynbos, taking you ever higher up the steep hills via a number of challenging climbs, which will dent your ego if you don’t carry enough momentum. The sand section continues over a series of rises and eventually offers you a breather at a natural cave half way to the top.
As you gain elevation, the surrounding area produces pleasing views and scenery. Round about lunch time you arrive at a picnic spot from where you can enjoy the fascinating flora and breathtaking views, while quenching your thirst and getting your pulse rate back to normal.
The next part of the trail offers a rock section which ranges from 4 to 5 on the difficulty scale, and requires a good measure of driver skill, good vehicle ground clearance, and low-range. The combined track is about 18 kilometres long and takes about 3 – 5 hours to complete, depending on driver skill and the time of the year.
Stephen Burger, owner of the trail, is always around in his tried and trusted Landy, and offers advice and assistance all along the route. Drivers with a smaller appetite for adrenalin can opt to do just the sand section and extend their picnic in the magnificent surrounds, while the rest of the drivers apply themselves to the challenging Adoons-route, as the rock section is aptly named.
Afterwards, the track continues along the sandy slopes, and the final part of the trail offers some thrills and spills at Heartbreak Hill. This is the final challenge of the route and puts you through your last paces before returning to the camp at the bottom of the hills.
There’s also a rewarding hiking trail which is adequately sign-posted and takes the hiker high up into Klein Tafelberg; a walk that takes about three hours to complete. Halfway up one of the two cliffs is a Verreaux’s Eagle’s nest, visible from the camp, and these magnificent raptors can often be seen flying around the area. The venue is well known for its 30 shady camp spots and excellent ablution facilities. The owners recently constructed four well-appointed selfcatering chalets and a further two ablution blocks for campers. Each of the four chalets can accommodate four persons. There are two separate bedrooms with two single beds in each, a spacious bathroom and a separate shower and toilet. The spacious lounge / kitchen area is large enough to accommodate an additional bed or mattress on the floor. The chalets are air-conditioned, and have an outside braai area for every chalet. Linen is not normally supplied, but can be hired if necessary. And, to make sure you don’t miss out on any important rugby matches, there is a central television room which is open only while the game is on.
If you visit in a group, there is a communal kitchen area and covered lapa where 40 to 50 people can meet and eat and be merry. There is also a veldt pool to keep the kids occupied, while dad practices his off-road skills on the trail. The natural vegetation and lush flora surrounding the camp is home to many bird species, and visitors are treated to the sporadic song of birds like the Bokmakierie, Cape Robin and several others. In the flower season, which extends from late July to the end of September, the area around the camp abounds in magnificent flowers, and early-morning walks will produce a rewarding display of species like Ericas, Proteas and a variety of typical Sandveld flowers like Wolfdoring, Gifappel and Bobbejaantjies.
But be warned. As the name Sandveld implies, this is seriously sandy terrain, and many a first-time visitor has been caught unawares when entering the gate of the camp area. It is a good idea to let some air out of the tyres of your vehicle even before entering the camp. If, however, you do get bogged down on your arrival, consider yourself part of the sand-clan and rest assured that a fellow visitor, or the owner, will soon come to your rescue.
Trail info Klein Tafelberg 4×4
Province: Western Cape Nearest town Redelinghuys 15 km
GPS: S32° 33 441’ E18° 28 408’
Nearest fuel stop: Piketberg, Veldrift and Elands Bay
Directions: – From Cape Town, follow the N7 towards Piketberg. Just before Piketberg, turn left on the R399 towards Veldrift. Continue for about 28 km and then turn right to Aurora. Go through this small town and proceed about 18 km in the direction of Redelinghuys. Look out for the trail’s signboard, where you turn left and go another 5 km to the entrance gate, also on your left.
Terrain: The largest portion of the trail is sand, and about one third of the trail is rock interspersed with sand.
Distance: 18 km / 3 – 5 hours
Guided / unguided: Guided unless otherwise arranged
Will I get lost? Not easily
Recovery facilities: Yes
On-site compressor facilities: Yes
On-site high-pressure wash facilities: No
Min / Max number of vehicles: Negotiable with trail owner
Time of the year: All year round. Sand is a bigger challenge in summer, but in winter the landscape and flowers compensate for the easier driving conditions.
Difficulty – The sand section is mostly 3, and the rocky section scores 4 to 5
Sand section: Low-range and some off-road experience required
Rock section: Technical trail for the experienced
Minimum ground clearance: 190 mm
Tyres: Most tread patterns will do
Underbody protection: Advisable for rock section
Soft-roader friendly: No
Precautions: Malaria No
Exposure to heights: No
Accommodation Chalets R500 per night. Camping R150 per vehicle for 4 persons per night. R50 per extra person per night.
Bring your – Wife and kids. Your kids will love the swimming pool. The owner takes kids on a ride around the soft sand of the camping area on a quad-bike with a fat-tacky trailer behind the bike.
Food and supplies: Bring everything with you
Firewood: Bring your own
Braai grid: Bring your own
Swimming costume: Yes
Quads / motorbikes: No
Mountain bikes: Too sandy
Also in the area: You could drive to Elands Bay for good surfing and crayfish. Verlorenvlei offers good birding and kayaking.
Costs: Trail R200 per vehicle
Contact: Booking is essential. Contact Stephen Burger 082 558 4575.