Exploring Spectacular MTB routes – Blomfontein
The Karoo is a place where you can find yourself again. Life is basic and abundance is not a word used often in the Karoo. This is where the beauty lies. It refreshes and resets a person to appreciate once again the beauty of nature and life.
The owners of Blomfontein Guest Farm looked after us for the weekend and we had a great time at an impressive venue. There is no way you would expect this type of setup so far away from our major routes and cities.
Exploring the routes
Blomfontein and Witmoskloof Conservancy where we were riding is 45 km south of Cradock, 244 km form Port Elizabeth. (Google maps directions)
Normally this time of the year it can be pretty chilly in the Karoo but we had terrific weather. Early Saturday morning we set out for a solid 4 hour ride to explore the routes in the Witmoskloof Conservancy. Both days we planned to explore the areas in the mountains and were ready for some decent climbing!
To get to the first plateau took us about 25 minutes of climbing. The gradient was steep but manageable. Once at the top we were spoilt with amazing views of the valley below and the mountains in the distance. The wind was quite strong and on a cold day you need to be dressed properly to survive.
Soon we dropped down a really steep descent with lots of erosion prevention humps. At speed this is super fun. Nothing like getting that floating feeling, just managing to stay in control! LOADS of Adrenalin dumping here..
As soon as we were back down in the valley the wind dissipated to no more than a slight breeze. From here we followed a dry riverbed that made for some interesting and relaxed riding. After that it was back onto the main road and a nice ride up the pass back to Blomfontein.
Once again we headed out into the mountains. This time straight into Witmoskloof Conservancy starting with a beast of a climb measuring 7,8 km with 430 m elevation!
The riding on day two was jeep-track. Rugged tracks but without being bumpy and unpleasant. In some places the gradient really kicked up and only the fittest (with proper gearing) will be able to ride all the way without taking a breather. We were certainly not in that league!
Higher up the gradient became easier. As we crested the plateau we were once again greeted with amazing views. Although on the plateau, we kept climbing for the next 30 minutes but at a gradient and pace that made riding very pleasant while sucking in the views.
We went down the other side past an abandoned farm house. The story goes that the farmer accidentally shot himself while cleaning his rifle. The shock was so much for his wife that she left the house with the children to never return again.
Passing the empty house we immediately started to climb back to the top of the plateau. This time a really nice gradient and instead of staying in the jeep-track we followed the cattle paths. Interestingly the cattle paths are right next to the jeep track as they (like us) did not find the regular erosion humps to their liking going up.
(Alternatively download the file and open with Google earth)
We finished the ride with a 5 km downhill. This one definitely only for experienced and skilled riders ( short clip below )
Most of it super challenging jeep-track that got the Adrenalin flowing! After that it was a short 15 min ride back home on the main road.
We only explored a very small fraction of the 50 000 Ha conservation area. The options are endless and it will take at least a week to explore it properly. If mountains puts you off and you like rolling along on easy flat roads then there is a lot to choose from down in the valleys.
550 m descent in 5 km!
Impressions and recommendations riding the area
Where to stay:
You can book as a group at Blomfontein. A relaxed atmosphere in a beautiful setting. They will assist with all information needed to ride the area. (Directions)
- Rugged riding terrain for some proper Mountain Biking
- Options of flat easy sections for the more laid back riders
- Mountains and stunning views
- limitless options in route combinations and selections
We would like:
- Maps for riding the routes
- More information on the area and riding in general
Watch out for:
- Tyre sealant. Top up before riding. Lots of thorny shrubs in the area.
- The state of your tyres. The Rocky downhills can destroy any tyre.
- Cold in the winter and hot in summer.
- Mechanicals. Carry enough tools and spares. The terrain is hard on the bike.
- Distance! This is proper Mtbiking area. You will not average 15 km/h in the mountains.
- GPS skills – To find your way around, make sure you know how to operate one on the bike.
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