Thursday, February 26, 2009

Day 7


I was up before sunrise. This is the best time of the day.

I was especially exited about today because it included some roads I have not been on before. Most notably Bosluiskloof Pass and the road toe Gamkapoort Dam. If we can get through Seweweekspoort that is. We were told the previous evening that Meiringspoort flooded in the storm the night before and was closed. Hopefully Seweweekspoort was not damaged to such an extent that we could not get through.

We had an early morning run on tar to Ladysmith and it was just what the doctor ordered. The TransAlp could really clear it's throat for a change. Early morning in the Klein Karoo - the smell of fynbos, the crisp clear air. The intermittent white line next to me seemed to become solid as I aimed for Towerkop that guards over Ladysmith in the distance. The TransAlp just ate up the distance on the R62.

A quick refuel and we headed off to Seweweekspoort. There was no indication that the road was damaged or closed


"The road from Amalienstein in the little Karoo penetrates the Klein Swartberge through the Seven Weeks Poort, possibly one of the most awe-inspiring and spectacular of all the mountain ravines in Southern Africa.

Seven Weeks Pass winds for 17km through the mountains at a level of 600-1000m above sea-level. It crosses the stream 23 times, whilst the mountain slopes on both sides reach 1500 - 2000m.

The magnificent vertical rock folds, reaching for the skies on both sides of the road, reflect the inconceivable forces of the volcanic eruptions millions of years ago, forming the chain of Cape ripple-like mountains.

Seweweekspoort is breathtaking. Truly one of the 7 wonders of the Cape. It's impossible to capture it's magnificence on camera. It's just to big and too close.

During 1859 the authorities decided to build a gorge through the Poort. The initial work was done by a team of convicts, without the presence of a road-engineer. Progress was slow and in 1860 AF de Smidt, brother-in-law of the renowned pass-builder Thomas Bains, took charge of the operations. The road was completed in 1862. There are several stories explaining the origin of the name: it took 7 weeks for mounted troops to escort a gang of highway robbers, being banished from Barrydale, through the Poort; or it took 7 weeks for the authorities to catch a stock-thief who fled into the mountains; or it took 7 weeks for a gang of brandy smugglers to return through the Poort from Beaufort West. The most likely explanation is that the Poort was named after a missionary from Amalienstein, Reverend Zerwick. The local population could not pronounce his name and called it “Seweweekspoort”. (Source)

Barely out of Seweweekspoort you take the road through Bosluiskloof to the Gamkapoort Dam.


"Bosluiskloof lies on the northern slopes of the Swartberg mountain range and includes the foothills of the Groot Swartberg. Besides the western entrance to the Kloof it is surrounded by State- and other nature reserves.

To the south of the reserve lies the well known Gamkaskloof (“Die Hel”), on the eastern border is the Gamkapoort Dam and to the north is the Elands- and Blouberge, partly owned by the State and held as nature reserves.

An interesting aspect is that the reserve borders on the Gamkapoort Dam that is the confluence of the Gamka-, Dwyka- en Bosluiskloof rivers. The confluence of these rivers is the historical departure point of water flowing to the Indian Ocean. When the water passes through the Great Swartberge through the Klein Karoo, the Olifants- and Buffels rivers joins in and eventually it becomes the Gouritz river, which flows into the Indian Ocean, close to Mossel Bay.

What a revelation! I can't believe it took me so long to get here - it's a stunning pass! The road winds through Bosluiskloof Pass and eventually opens up into a Kloof (valley) that was much greener than I expected the Karoo to be. Very scenic indeed!

Soon we started seeing signs that this area did not escape the storm and the further East we rode the worse it got.

Mud and stones - what a wonderful combo.

TKC's make us invinceble!

And finally Gamkapoort Dam. Surprisingly empty for an area that, according to Fox (the "guardian of the dam ) had 40mm in less than 20 minutes two nights before.

This spot is a mere 9.5km from the low water bridge we crossed on Day 1, so we had come full circle of sorts (to get back around to that bridge from here we'd have to ride 172km).

A quick snack and we started heading back. The day was heating up!

Apart from the very basic houses at the dam itself you can also stay in these more luxurious chalets if you decided to do a one night trip to Bosluiskloof.

More of the Pass and Seweweekspoort on the way back:

Back onto the R62 and over the Huisrivier Pass to Calitzdorp:

On a recent ride to Gamkaskloof EttienneNXR told me about a beautiful gravel road along the Swartberg mountains from Calitzdorp so I worked it into this trip. I was not disappointed! Another new road, less than 100km from my home, that I have not ridden before. A beautiful road at that. Thanks Ettienne!

Lots of tight turns and scenery before it opens up into the Klein Karoo.

By now the temperatures hit extremes. Luckily it was just a short hop over Outeniqua Pass to George.

So after 4 Kloofs, 28 passes and 1650km over 7 days we rolled into George satisfied with time well spent.

Thanks Bikevettie for a great trip. Riding partners like you are always a pleasure to share the road with.

En op die einde van die dag:

"Was daar niks waarvoor ons skrik nie!"

Jose Burman, in his monumental book So high the road (1963), said:

No two Cape mountain passes are alike,
either in appearance or evolution;
their stories are human documents,
pages in the saga of a young countries development;
monuments to the vision and labour of great men.

I have ridden these Passes before. I will ride them again. Why the hell not? But there are more passes to see. I am already planning a trip to the Cederberg and also a 3 day trip with my son on his new CRF80 So stay tuned for some Ride Reports from further afield this year.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Trailrider. I kuired at Bikevettie last night and am most jaloers about your trips. He said you were going to post this trip on your site so I "looked see" tonight and there it is. Absolutely great. Mooi-man. Thanks for giving my buddy the ride of his life! (His "past" also makes for interresting history) By the way, we know him as "Ruismier", wil net ries, asof hy miere in sy hol het. Sy tweede bynaam is "Die Ryne Waarhied".
Will catch up with you soon.
WD Tweetie