Attaquas Kloof – 1 day (adventure bikes)

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1. Total distance of route and date of ride?

50km. Early in January 2014

2. How long did it take to complete? Were you going fast or travelling leisurely?

It was part of a day ride, travelling leisurely. We spent about two hours on this section.

3. Why do you recommend this route?

This is one of those hidden gems. If you are riding in the Southern Cape it’s easy to include this section into your ride. It’s remote and runs through pristine valleys and countryside where you’re unlikely to encounter any traffic. Only you, riding through some of the most beautiful parts of Africa.

This is a historic route, part of the old Ox Wagon route north. The Ox Wagon “N1” if you will.

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4. Please tell us how the route runs.

The route runs between the R328 (between Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn) and the R327 (Running between Herbertsdale and Vanwyksdorp). We started from the R328 side, taking the Haelkraal turnoff (S33 56.680 E22 02.150), travelling west. After about 8km there is a turnoff right (north) with a sign “Bonniedale Adventure Farm” (S33 58.127 E21 58.086). It’s easy to miss, so make sure you don’t.

From here you can’t really get lost. Keep riding towards Bonniedale. The road runs towards the mountains and through a plantation. There are three or four gates. Please leave them as found: if open leave open and if closed please close again. You’ll be passing Bonniedale’s camping site. From the campsite the road through Attaquas Kloof runs west. The road exits into the R327 (S33 54.373 E21 42.696).

If you start from the western side look for the sign (picture below). You enter the route through a gate next to a farmyard.

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5. What kind of motorcycle is the route suitable for?

Adventure or dual-sport bikes. Note that this region has ostriches; slow down and keep quiet.

6. Please name points of interest along the way.

Bonniedale Adventure Farm has several camping spots and other facilities. Stop and look around. Owners Nico and Danette Hesterman welcome bikers.

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7. Are there petrol stations or motorcycle repair shops along the way?

The closest fuel or bike shops will be in Mossel Bay (approximately 50km); or George or Oudtshoorn (both approximately 80km).

8. Are there any dangers along the route?

Find out what the road surfaces are like looks like before you set off. Phone Nico at Bonniedale (044 695 3175). The road is maintained, but sometimes it takes a while to repair after damage, because it is so remote. In good condition only intermediate skills are needed, with the only worry being longish sections of “marbles”. After heavy rain the difficulty rating goes up considerably, depending on the damage. If so, mud and water crossings are possible. Watch out for snakes, especially in the summer months.

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9. What did the trip cost?

Very little. Around 2.5 litres of fuel over the 50 km.

10. Did you use any special gear, e.g. fuel bags, that made your journey possible, easier or more enjoyable?

A Camelbak with water, something no rider should be without, especially in remote areas.

11. Any must-do activities on the route?

Include Bonniedale in your route and spend a night there.

10. Do you have any other comments or advice about the route?

The Attaquas valley was first inhabited by the Khoisan, present until the 1700’s, as there are paintings of horse riders with rifles and wearing hats. A fierce Khoikhoi tribe called the Attaqua also inhabited the valley (arriving after the San), hence the name Attaquas Kloof.

The Attaqua were a particularly aggressive and violent tribe who not only drove the San out of the valley, but also clashed regularly with the other Khoikhoi tribes, such as the Gourikwa, Hessekwa and Inca, stealing their cattle and other belongings.

The first European to set foot in this valley would have been Ensign Isaac Schrijwer, in February 1689. He led an expedition of 21 men and two ox-wagons, sent by Simon van der Stel, to barter for cattle and sheep with the Inca Khoikhoi near Aberdeen. On their return with numerous cattle and sheep, they were attacked by the Attaqua Khoikhoi, who took all the cattle and sheep.

The following morning Schrijwer followed the spoor and killed 41 Khoikhoi in Grootkloof. They returned to Cape Town with the animals they had bartered from the Incas, and the Attaqua’s cattle and sheep that they took after the attack. That was not the last blood to flow in this kloof. If you stay over in the Kloof, ask Nico to tell you about the mass murderer “Bloubaard”.

Isaac Schrijwer’s route over Attaquas Pass opened up the interior and soon this valley was a busy trade route that flourished for 180 years. A town called Woeska was established and conducted brisk trade in this valley. Today only ruins are left.

14. Are there any doctors or hospitals in the area?

The closest medical facilities will be in Mossel Bay, George or Oudtshoorn. George MediClinic: 044 803 2000.

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Ride report by Johann van Tonder, editor of Ultimate Drive and owner of Trailrider Media.

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