Crossing the length of the Western Cape – from Plettenberg Bay to Stellenbosch – the newly-launched Cross Cape Cycle Route offers a truly unique way to experience the province. From majestic vistas and rugged mountain passes to coastal towns and rustic inland villages, the Cross Cape is a bucket-list experience for cyclists and non-cyclists alike.
Section One:Plettenberg Bay to Knysna: 80km
What to expect: Steep climbs – a mix of tar and dirt – to start you off, before your legs are given a rest on some fast downhill sections. Keep an eye out for the notoriously shy elephants that roam the indigenous forest, before taking on one last big climb and then an epic downhill stretch into Knysna.
Where to eat: This month’s suggestion: Enrico’s
Where to stay: Dunes Resort
Section Two:Knysna to George: 80km
What to expect: Start your ride with Knsyna Lagoon at your shoulder, before turning off onto some gentle jeep track ahead of some seriously big climbs. This section of the route offers a great mix of indigenous forest, dairy farms, and country roads, before finishing up in the town of George.
Where to eat: This month’s suggestion: Old Townhouse Restaurant, La Capannina
Where to stay: Fancourt Golf Estate
Section Three:George to Oudtshoorn: 80km
What to expect: You are about to leave the lush, green forests behind you as you enter the drier, but no-less beautiful Klein Karoo. Steel yourself for the climb up the majestic Montagu Pass, which will certainly drain the legs, but also reward you with magnificent views and lush ferny vegetation. Of course, what comes up, must come down, and the second half of this section is far more forgiving than the first.
Where to eat: This month’s suggestion: Bello Cibo, Buffelsdrift Game Lodge
Where to stay: Mooiplaas Guest House, Buffelsdrift Game Lodge
Section Four:Oudtshoorn to Rooiberg: 127km
What to expect: The vegetation spreads out on this section of the route and best you be prepared for a long day in the saddle. The Rooiberg Pass will be your big challenge for the day – if you choose to take it on – an 11km climb on loose, rough terrain. If it rains, it could be an even longer day than you prepared for, but never fear, there is a magic lodge nestled in the mountain – perfect for you to put your feet up after a tough day of riding.
Where to eat: This month’s suggestion: Ra-Molopo
Where to stay: Rooiberg Lodge
Section FiveRooiberg to Swellendam: 169km
What to expect: This is the longest section of the route and we would recommend you consider hopping on and off here – it’s a tough ride with some long stretches of road. But it’s not without its rewards, including the fantastic section through the Duiwenhoks Valley and a ride-by of the oldest farmhouses in the district. The tar road from Surrbraak to Swellendam offers a welcome respite at the end of the day.
Where to eat: This month’s suggestion: Aanhuizen Guest House, La Sosta
Where to stay: Aanhuizen Guest House
Section SixSwellendam to Greyton: 106km
What to expect: Follow the Breede River, across rolling terrain, through grain fields, before turning off to follow the Riviersonderend River towards Greyton. Swellendam is famed for its natural beauty and eateries along the main road and we would advise taking your time to soak it all in. Be sure to make a pit stop at Die Ou Meul pie shop for a vital refuel before flying into the finish line.
Where to eat: This month’s suggestion: Post House, Searle’s Trading Post
Where to stay: Post House
Section Seven:Greyton to Stellenbosch: 107km
What to expect: If you’ve made it this far without hopping off, congratulations, you’re a biking machine and clearly up for the challenge. This section of the route has a fair bit of tar and two iconic passes for you to get over – the Franschhoek Pass and Hellshoogte (aptly named we assure you). Make sure you sample some coffee and cuisine in the town of Franschhoek, before summiting and free-wheeling down into Stellenbosch for a well-earned rest.
Where to eat: This month’s suggestion: Rust en Vrede, Tokara
Where to stay: Spier Hotel, De Zalze
For more information on the Cross Cape Cycle Route:https://www.capecycleroutes.co.za