The Old Postal Route, deep in the Cederberg mountains, is one of my favorites. It’s challenging and it features amazing landscapes and scenery. We decided it’s time to revisit this spectacular route on our bikes, seven of us, from West to East. A true adventure. Caution: this is a challenging route. Plan carefully and do not attempt on a heavy bike with road tyres.
Total distance of route and date of ride
Total distance completed: 663,1 km. I’d say three quarters of it was on dirt roads and jeep tracks.
Date: 19 November 2016. A bit late in the year unless you don’t mind temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius and more.
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How long did it take to complete? Were you going fast or travelling leisurely?
This is an overnight trip from Cape Town. The roads don’t allow for speeding, so we kept at a safe pace. There were seven of us, so getting all through the gates was quite time consuming. I’d suggest a smaller group of riders for this specific trip.
Why do you recommend this route?
The Old Postal Route is famous with the 4×4 crowds for all its impressive rock formations and views. We decided it’s time to revisit this spectacular route on our bikes. This route is for the more adventurous rider. There’s no running water, no toilets, no cold beer (well, unless you pack smart) and you will need solid sand-riding skills. It’s special because of the amazing scenery and terrain you’ll cross on route.
Please give an overview of the route.
We ventured from the vineyards of the Boland towards Piketberg where we headed west via the Banhoek Kloof into the Sandveld and all its dusty glory and north towards Clanwilliam. Then we changed to an easterly direction to ride over the Pakhuis Pass into the Cederberg and Tankwa Karoo via the Biedouw Valley and Old Postal. The next morning we headed back from the Tankwa Karoo and on to Ceres, crossing back into the Bokkeveld via the Katbakkies Pass.
What kind of motorcycle is the route suitable for?
An adventure, dual-purpose or plastic bike will do. Avoid riding the route on a heavy bike. It’s not the easiest route and a heavy bike is hard work on this kind of terrain. The ideal motorcycle for this trip would be a dual-purpose or good old scrambler or enduro bike – lightweight with a 21” front wheel.
Please name significant points of interest along the way.
Travellers Rest: Lunch, cold beer & accommodation. GPS: -32.0704998, 19.0733554,17
Tankwa Tented Camp: Tented camp accommodation. GPS: -32.3380777, 19.7146065,17
Tankwa Padstal: Food, supplies, beer. GPS: -32.8707274, 19.7734809,1
Are there petrol stations along the way?
No petrol stations nearby. Take extra fuel if you ride a KTM or if your bike has a range of under 300km. We fuelled up in Clanwilliam and the next fuel stop was Prince Alfred Hamlet.
Are there any dangers along the route?
This route can get pretty dangerous as soon as you start ascending the Old Postal route. You should be comfortable with riding in deep sand for long distances. A deep layer of small loose rocks also poses a challenge. Beware the steep drops to your left as you start descending the Postal route towards the Doring River. Take it slow and look ahead. Beware of the erosion at the bottom of the route; it gets rocky and can cause serious damage to an engine if it doesn’t have a bash plate fitted.
What did the trip cost in fuel, meals and accommodation?
Fuel: 2,5 tanks for me. We had a lovely traditional lunch at Travellers Rest for about R150 per rider, beers included. We had braaivleis for dinner, which we packed ourselves and the next morning breakfast at Tankwa Padstal at R100 each.
Did you use any special gear?
Yes, some of us packed Desert Fox fuel bags, some for fuel, some for water. It came in handy when a KTM ran out of fuel.
Any must-do activities on the route?
Stop for lunch at Travellers Rest and have the bobotie. This farm stall/restaurant is on the Pakhuis Pass, on the right-hand side. It has a swimming pool at the back of the yard; perfect for enjoying some beers and cooling off from the summer heat.
Do you have any other comments or advice?
Pack lots of sunscreen, insect repellent, water and fuel.
Are there any doctors or hospitals in the area that you know of?
Not at all. Pack a first aid kit and hope for the best.