Bokpoort Holiday Farm in the Free State is pretty close to the Lesotho border, so truth is you had better be on good terms with your granny gear.
The ride at Bokpoort Holiday Farm
The ride starts with a downhill, but don’t let this lull you into some misguided comfort zone. There are four potential routes: the intermediate A-loop (10 km), the tough B-loop (14 km), the very challenging C-loop (18 km) and the hike-and-bike D-loop (30 km). We’ll ignore the E-loop option, as this is basically death-by-chain-ring.
Here’s the best way to tackle the ride: ignore the loops and head straight up to the Bush Camp (8,2 km) along the dual jeep-track. This is 98 per cent rideable if you put your mind to it and can deal with nearly 400 metres of altitude gain.
From the camp, go through the stream onto C-loop. When I rode this, it was overgrown and strewn with loose rocks, but Bokpoort promised to clear it on a regular basis. Contour along a sketchy single-track for two kilometres to a fence, then drop down into a valley before climbing back up a grassy ridge to rejoin the 4×4 track.
From here, ascend back up to the bottom section of the D-loop (15,4 km). Turn right, but instead of heading all the way up, stick to the game trails atop the escarpment. A contour drops you back onto the 4×4 dual-track (18,6 km) and to the start of B-loop (20,7 km). If you ride this anti-clockwise it starts with grassy dual-track, which becomes good gravel.
You’ll rejoin the A-loop for an anti-clockwise descent around the koppie, and on to the pièce de résistance: a two-kilometre single-track slip-sliding below a dramatic sandstone overhang. Once in the valley below Bokpoort, a final kilometre climb back up to reception awaits; your legs will feel this one.
The routes at Bokpoort Holiday Farm
Although the routes at Bokpoort are extremely steep, much of the riding is doable, as long as you’re prepared to revert to occasional pushing. Always keep a map on hand to orient yourself on the trail network.
Grading: Difficult (steep)
Duration: Three to four hours
Configuration: Circular route options
Start point: Bokpoort reception
Terrain: Single-track and steep 4×4 and dual-track
Entry requirements: Permit from Bokpoort (R25)
Cell reception: 80 per cent coverage along route
It was freezing when I rode Bokpoort, but I fortunately wore my Icebreaker base layer. The merino wool Icebreaker Viva Cycle Jersey (R1 199, www.adventureinc.co.za) traps warm air naturally and allows perspiration to evaporate quickly to keep you dry. The best thing is you can wear it for two weeks without it getting smelly.
Off the bike at Bokpoort Holiday Farm
Bokpoort offers Western-style riding on quality horses, as well as great hiking, a 4×4 route and trail running. Opt for affordable, self-catering stays on the farm, or go all touristy in Clarens, where the full gamut of foodie joints line the village streets.
Getting to Bokpoort Holiday Farm
Follow the R712 from Clarens in the direction of Golden Gate Highlands National Park, then turn right to Bokpoort after four kilometres. Another 4,6 kilometres of gravel will get you to the farm.
GPS Coordinates: S28° 33’ 32 ”, E28° 28’ 53”
Contact Bokpoort Holiday Farm
Tel 058-256- 1181 or cell 083-744-4245, www.bokpoort.com.
Mountain-biking trails in South Africa
For information on mountain-biking trails across SA, go to www.mtbroutes.co.za.