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LOCAL TIME: 02:54 am | Tuesday, 18 February
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Ox Wagon Trail, Heidelberg to Bonniedale, Garden Route

The Ox Wagon trail starts near Heidelberg in the Western Cape, where it crosses the Langeberg Mountains via Gysmanshoek Pass and into the Klein Karoo.

If you are a 4×4 enthusiast or just a nature lover who happens to own a 4×4, then the Ox-wagon Trail must be on your bucket list. Not only do you experience nature without the madding crowds, but you have a front row seat to the change of vegetation from fynbos to the Karoo.

Day 1. From Heidelberg to Bonniedale Guest Farm

We suggest you get to Heidelberg no later than 10h00 for a leisurely trip to Bonniedale.

Ox Wagon Trail Proteas

After Heidelberg, you will reach the Gysmanshoek Pass (Plattekloof Pass). It was opened in 1740 by Migrant Farmers (Trekboers). It was well used with over 4000 wagons making the trip though it and the Attaquaskloof Pass in 1842. Even famous explorers such as William Burchell and botanist Carl Thunberg mentioned it in their travel diaries. How did they ever get their heavily laden wagon over some of the sections, one wonders whilst driving in your 4×4. High clearance vehicles are a must!

The Gysmanshoek Pass fell in to disuse after the construction of the Tradouw and Garcia’s passes in 1873 and 1877 respectively. However, it was handy for a Boer Commando during the Anglo-Boer War – they used Gysmanshoek Pass to flee back to the Karoo after attacking the Headquarters of the West Yorkshire Regiment at the Masonic Hotel in Heidelberg, 14th September 1901.

Ox Wagon Trail Road

The trail runs through three farms, mostly on private roads before you reach Bonniedale Guest Farm. The track is generally well maintained and in a good condition and once you are in the mountains you are alone with little or no sign of civilization.

Not long before you reach Bonniedale, you will see the ruins of one of the old Toll Houses.

Ox Wagon Trail Old Toll House

For the more adventurous 4×4 enthusiast with the right vehicle, there are 2 trails worth doing. We tested the 3 to 4 graded trail and except for two short sections it presented no serious challenges. However, these two sections should only be tackled by an experienced 4x4er. They are quite steep with loose rocks and boulders making it difficult to navigate. Our two Land Cruisers handled the difficult sections without any problem. The picture below gives you a good idea of what to expect. The other trail is extreme and we didn’t tackle it.

Ox Wagon Trail GT-8599sm

Directions to Bonniedale Holiday Farm

Bonniedale Guest Farm

44 874 2160 – Nico and Danette Hesterman

Website  

Please print out the directions as following the map alone could get you lost and there are not a lot of people to ask in this area!

Book ahead of time to ensure you do get accommodation as this is the ONLY place to stay in this area.

Bonniedale offers 4×4 trails from easy to extreme.

Ox Wagon Trail GT-8599sm

 

Day 2. From Bonniedale Guest Farm to Louvain Guest Farm

We did this section comfortably in 1 day. We drove the Volmoed Route and returned to the R328 to continue to Louvain. To drive the Volmoed route, you must turn off left at the Paardebont sign. You will pass Safraans Rivier.

We did not find the section of the ox wagon trail to Volmoed nearly as picturesque as the route from Heidelberg to Bonniedale. The route from Bonniedale directly to Louvain was superb.

Ox Wagon Trail Ostriches

Karoo countryside, ostrich farms and huge open vistas.

Ox Wagon Trail Karoo Vistas

Directions to Louvain Farm

We suggest you print out the directions. Louvain Guest Farm offers 4×4 Trails, Camping, and Self-catering Accommodation.

Day 3. From Louvain Guest Farm to Knysna

After breakfast at Louvain, we decided to return to Knysna via the Montague Pass, the Seven Passes and the Phantom Pass. From the map, you can see there are many ways to get back to the N2 via ox wagon trail routes.

If you want to go via Montague Pass, you will need to turn left out of Louvain onto the N9 and just before the road splits to Oudtshoorn and George, you will see the turnoff to Montague Pass on your left.

After the Montague Pass, you will end up on the main route into George. Continue, keeping left, through town until you come to a sign that says Saarsveld Road and Seven Passes on your left. Follow this road and you will eventually arrive in Knysna.

 Map of Ox Wagon Routes – Please note the Attaskwakloof Pass is closed.
Map of Oxwagon Routes

Click to see large map

More info on the town of Knysna More info on the Garden Route area



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