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  In the town of: Calitzdorp:

Bojaankop 4x4 Trail - Matjiesvlei


   By Colin on Sunday, October 12, 2003 - 10:35 am: Edit Post

A NEW 4 X 4 ROUTE FOR YOU TO EXPLORE . . . .

If you have the vehicle – we can offer you the thrill of a rocky mountain ride. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the stark beauty of this new trail in the Klein Karoo region, approximately 10km from Calitzdorp. Only about 4 hours drive from Cape Town on Route 62 and approximately 15 minutes from Calitzdorp, this is the ideal family trail or for those wanting to try out their newly acquired vehicle.

The Bôjaankop 4 x 4 Trail at Matjiesvlei has recently been opened and offers a self-drive route, or organized trips can be arranged with prior notice. The track begins on the farm, Die Kom, where Bennie and Selma Nel will welcome you at their office. Here you are at an altitude of 230m (Oudtshoorn is 310m above sea level). This route offers driving challenges, such as the rocky crossing over the Gamka River, before climbing steeply up a rugged, fynbos covered hill.

The route traverses the foothills of the Swartberg Mountains, rich in the natural succulent Karoo vegetation, before the highest point, Bôjaankop, is reached at a height of 522 m. In spring the veld is a carpet of wild flowers, stretching as far as the eye can see, and always the imposing and sombre backdrop, is the smudgy blueness of the Swartberg Mountains. The view from the top is magnificent – one looks down onto the Gamka River, which snakes its way quietly through the lucern fields and farmlands. In the far distance the red rocks of the Huisrivier Pass can be observed, and soaring upwards and above is the jagged outline of the Swartberg peaks.

Enjoy the circular Bôjaankop Route, which finally descends steeply to return once again to the bed of the Gamka River. The gradient in places is 31○ and includes steep ascents and descents, striking rock formations, and all the delights of the natural vegetation. The 16km route is challenging most of the way, but there are no dangers. Common sense driving is all that is required. For nature lovers, you can observe the smaller buck species such as Gruisbok and Duiker, as well as the ‘bobbejane’ (baboons), tortoises and otters along the fringe of the river. Provision has also been made for anglers who can fish the Gamka River for a variety of fish species.

If preferred, an extension to this trail can be made which connects Bojaankop with the adjoining farm, Oudehuiskloof, of Marieta and Pieter Nel. The extension of this trail is approximately 20km in length. This is definitely a back to nature experience for 4 x 4ers, as at the end of the trail, you can visit the campsites at the Gamka River and enjoy a plunge in the cool waters of the river.

There is an interesting history attached to this route. The farm has been in the Nel family for five generations but unfortunately some of the land was cut off into smaller portions by heritage and sold off to foreigners. In the old days, this track was originally used by farmers and share-croppers to drag wild plum wood down the slopes with wild donkeys, which they tamed (these donkeys were found along the river bed). The wood was collected, lowered down with donkey carts and ox wagons and used by farmers to make moskonfyt, raisins, and witblits or sold in town by the share-croppers for an extra income.

For full details of this exciting route contact Bennie Nel at:
Box 33 Calitzdorp, 6660. TEL: (044) 2133756. Cell: 073 1741028 or e-mail: matjiesvlei@hotmail.com

This newly established trail is now a member of SCROF (South Cape Route Owners Forum) and will be featured at the SCROF stall at the Kunstefees in Oudtshoorn where more information about the route can be obtained.

Pia and Ursula Schuman from Germany did the Bojaankop trail with Bennie last year, and are so impressed with what the Klein Karoo has to offer that they are planning another trip to our area later this year. Their impressions of their experiences are recorded in a letter, which they mailed both in English and German to Bennie …they write…

"Have a jeep tour of the special kind
From Matjesvlej, on the spacious farm of Benny and Selma Nel, it offers the possibility of an unforgettable excursion with a Willis Jeep which is 60 years old. Over rough ground you come so close to the peaks of the Swartberg-Mountains as nowhere else. On the farm, you are received warmly by Benny Nel who gladly leads you into the everyday life and history of a farmer in the Karoo. You have the possibility, either with your own vehicle or with Benny Nel and his 1942 Willis jeep, to explore the Bojaan Trail. The red military jeep was provided with a convenient construction on the back so that 3 additional passengers could be seated behind the driver and co-driver.

The excursion begins at the farmhouse and first leads, following a course, along the willows to the foot of the mountain range. You cross farmlands repeatedly, so that some gates must be passed, before the ride goes on again over the farm of the Nels. After crossing the river, the stony way increases more and more steeply, up to one lookout, from which a good viewpoint exists onto the farm of the Nels and the entire valley. At the edge of the krantz you will find unique flora that is typical for the little Karoo, -different succulents, cactuses, fynbos, - in order to only mention some examples. In springtime you will find a large sea of blossoms.
After a short stop, where you can learn about the history of the farm and of the valley, the trail now goes up to the highest peak of 500m where the Swartberg-Mountains are as near as you will find anywhere in the little Karoo. The way now increases incredibly steeply so that the jeep only crawls forward very slowly. On arrival at the peak, your host will, upon request, serve you a typical picnic prepared by his wife. Enjoy your coffee, tea, juice, Boerewoors, preserve, cheese and rolls, with views onto the fascinating peaks and valleys of the little Karoo.

The adventurous descent begins after this break. The trail is very steep, however, the experienced driver brings you safely through this difficult ground, on a breath-taking route. A river bed laden with gravel pieces is to be crossed at last, before the excursion ends at the farmhouse.”


[Pia’s notes are available in German for those readers who would like a copy]

Posted by Colin Lumb


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