I’m already yearning for winter, despite the fact that summer’s only just begun. Ordinarily, I find Western Cape winters to be too dark, too cold and too darn wet, but next year I have something to look forward to. I first heard about Voorhoede 4WD from a mate of mine.Words and pictures by Grant Spolander
I told him I was keen on a muddy 4×4 weekend and he suggested this trail: “You’re gonna get stuck, no questions,” he said. Unfortunately, it was too late – winter was drawing to an end and the heavy rains had stopped. But I wanted to check out the trail all the same, just for a sneak preview.
Voorhoede’s circular mountain trail is approximately nine km long. You enter a dense forest somewhere near the start and shortly after that you begin a rapid ascent of the Klein Swartberg Mountains. The trail’s route is clearly signposted with red arrows but you’ll also find green markers highlighting a mountain bike track, which isn’t open to 4x4s.
The trail winds its way through some tight turns and thick vegetation but once you’re free of the shrubbery you’re suddenly surrounded by a sprawling view of Caledon and its tartan quilt of yellow-green farms.
While trekking our way to the mountain’s summit we noticed dozens of gullies and washaways that’d been formed by heavy rains prior to our visit. Happily, the trail owners keep a watchful eye on the track and regularly send a tractor to repair road damage or bypass a bad patch.
The trail’s track consists of firm, compact gravel, but as you near the mountain’s summit the road becomes so er with loose stretches of tractionless terrain. Momentum will do the trick but it’s important to check your tyre pressures and if you have a diff-lock be sure to engage it before reaching the summit; this will help to minimise road damage.
The mountain trail is a scenic, easy drive that most 4x4s with low-range (a prerequisite for the trail) could handle, however, you need to be on the look-out for stray rocks which could damage your 4×4’s undercarriage or 4WD Trail a sidewall.
For those of you seeking more action, there’s a shorter six km route closer to the foot of the mountain; here you’ll find dongas and mud holes and you’ll be required to drive in convoy – at least two vehicles. The trail owners also advise a winch. ankfully, escape routes are in place.
The only drawback to the Voorhoede trail is its price – at R300 per vehicle it’s one of the more costly trails around, but for good reason: it’s very well maintained and you don’t have to worry about scratching your 4×4.
Accommodation options are aplenty: camp close to reception, opt for the secluded campsite near the dam, or pick from one of three farm houses. The campsite at reception boasts lush green grass, a small stream and dozens of tall oak trees with ample shade on offer. The ablution facilities are clean and there’s hot water. My only critique of this campsite is the freeway noise. The N2 highway is a few hundred metres away – it’s unobtrusive in that you can’t see it, but you can hear its tar-drumming hum all the time.
The campsite near the farm dam is secluded and isolated; if you book a site here you get the whole camp to yourself. is campsite is set on a grassy slope right beside the water’s edge. Fish can be caught at the dam or you can paddle around in your own canoe or inflatable raft.
From a 4×4 point of view, Voorhoede is best known for its wet wintery months – its busy season – but thanks to its facilities, features and varied offerings, it’s an enjoyable place all year round and a magic spot to take your kids. While we were there I kept day-dreaming about a wet and muddy winter, but I’m keen to return to the farm as a family man too, with a couple of bicycles strapped to my 4×4’s roof.