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The Cross Cape Cycle Route – A Journey through the Senses

Cross Cape Cycle Routes

When you embark on the Cross Cape cycle route, you’re opening yourself up to a multitude of invigorating and unique experiences.

Cape Cycle Routes

Kilometres: 742
Towns: 10
Sections: 8

The smell of fynbos, the feel of cool ocean breezes, the sights of wide open spaces, the sounds of wildlife and the tastes of local culture will move you like no other journey can.

Around every corner you’ll encounter a new story, an undiscovered gem, be it a local’s delicious culinary offerings, a valley of colourful flowers, or the mystic beauty of a slumbering rural village at dawn.

That’s why Cross Cape is no ordinary journey. It’s a journey through the senses.

Being immersed in your surroundings means you can see, touch, taste, hear and feel all that this captivating landscape has to offer. With each turn of the pedal, you’ll find yourself closer and closer to the authentic heart of the Cape.

The Cross Cape cycle route takes you through four distinct geographical areas of the Cape, each of which offers its own unique sights and experiences.

Plettenberg BayThe Garden Route delivers white sand beaches, natural fynbos, forests and fauna, and 360 degree mountain views. Your departure point is the beautiful holiday town of Plettenberg Bay.

From Plettenberg Bay, the route takes you up the Wittedrif Road and along the Keurbooms River, before climbing steeply into the Garden of Eden, an indigenous subtropical forest which is home to 800-year old yellowwood trees.

Although tough, the short detour to the Spitzkop Viewpoint will be well worth the effort. Be on the lookout for elephants along the undulating Gouna Road (local legend has it that they still roam freely), before you wind down the Old Cape Road and pop out at the edge of the spectacular Knysna lagoon, with the famous ‘Heads’ directly in your sights.

The town of George is approximately 80km from Knysna. From the tranquil Knysna lagoon, you cross over the old red steel bridge before tackling Phantom Pass, named after the rare species of butterfly that’s found exclusively in this part of the forest. Rheenendal, Karatara, and Homtini are some of the towns and passes that you’ll encounter on this river-rich part of the ride. You’ll journey through an even mix of indigenous forest and lush dairy farms before you emerge in the urban hub of George.

The Klein Karoo offers up a breathtaking (in every sense of the word!) reminder of a time gone by. Here, fossilized remains tell the story of an ecosystem which existed hundreds of millions of years ago. Riders will be treated to cloudless skies and endless vistas as they traverse this semi-desert plain. From George you leave behind the moist, green vegetation of the coastal rain belt, heading over the Outeniqua mountain range into the dry and dusty

OudstshoornKlein Karoo (Little Karoo) – a highlight of this section is the ascent up and over the splendid 11km Montagu Pass.

It’s a hard climb, but the effort is abundantly rewarded with cool, ferny vegetation and unparalleled views.

The second half of the ride is more forgiving. It’s a downhill cruise between the two major ranges of the Cape Fold Mountains, into Oudtshoorn.

This town was once the ostrich feather capital of the world, and clues of its prosperous past can be seen in the grand ‘ostrich palaces’ which were built in the 1800s from the profits of these much sought-after fashion accessories.

The next leg takes you into the foothills of the Swartberg mountain range. The surrounding flora thins out and gives way to the iconic aloe. Watch out for meerkats sunning themselves on the road in the gentle morning sunlight. You may also spot a giraffe or two. The red stone hills provide a vibrant splash of colour to the left before you disappear into the cool shadows of the Groenfontein Valley. The next town is Calitzdorp, the Port wine capital of South Africa. After that, it’s a steep climb to the summit of the Rooiberg Pass. This 11km road is loose and rough with a fine dusty film on the descent. Pay special attention if it’s raining and muddy! It’s a trek to the summit, but well worth the effort.

The route from Rooiberg to Swellendam dishes up some long and dusty roads. Here you’ll be taking on the testing ‘rollers’ that skirt the Langeberg mountain range. Near Heidelberg, the valley of the Duiwenhoks is a delight to ride, as it follows the flat river course. But this is paid for dearly with a ‘Big Mother’, known as Heartbreak Hill, which takes you out of the valley and up to Grootvadersbosch. Once you’re past the oldest farmhouse of the district, the road is tarred all the way down to Suurbraak and then on to Swellendam.

Cape OverburgThe Cape Overberg region is synonymous with rolling wheatfields.

You start by following the Breede River up to Drew Bridge, before diverting to follow the Riviersonderend River, through the town of Riviersonderend itself (where local pies are the stuff of legend!), and then on to the leafy village of Greyton.

This characterful town serves up superb cuisine, its own craft beer, and some idyllic spots to lay your head before the final stretch of the route.

The Cape Winelands between Franschhoek and Stellenbosch is a real treat for the eyes and the taste buds. Franschhoek has long been considered the culinary capital of South Africa and one would be remiss not to enjoy a gourmet meal in this picturesque village. By that time, you’ll have just completed the Franschhoek Pass, and the reward of a good meal and a good glass of wine will be well deserved! The wind can sometimes howl across the Theewaterskloof dam and make things a bit tricky, but the picture-postcard backdrop of vineyards and mountains makes this region one of the most beautiful in the Cape.

Overview of the full route

Day 1: Plettenberg Bay to Knysna – 80kms

From Plett, up the Wittedrif road, past the lagoon then heading (on tar and gravel) for the Knysna Forest. Pass the Diepwalle forestry station, along the Gouna road, exit the Knysna lagoon and then called it a day.

Day 2: Knysna to George – 80kms

Pass at the lagoon, cross over the red steel bridge and up Phantom Pass, through Rheenendal, Karatara, Homtini – (to name just a few of) the towns & passes that one will encounter on their way, into George.

Day 3: George to Oudtshoorn – 80kms

Climb over the Outeniqua mountain range, crossing over the green vegetation of the coastal belt, to a much drier Little Karoo, then over an 11km ascent up the Montague Pass – down into the valley (between two ranges of mountains), to Oudtshoorn.

Day 4: Oudtshoorn to Rooiberg – 127kms

Into the foothills of the Swartberg, pass the red stone hills and into the fast & flowing Groenfontein Valley (leading to Calitzdorp). Stop for lunch, then toward the Rooiberg Pass (an 11 km climb with a rough and loose surface).

Day 5: Rooiberg to Swellendam – 169 kms

Over Garcia’s Pass into the mountains of Riversdale (near the N2), then through the Duiwenhoks Valley near Heidelberg. Next is Heartbreak Hill, taking you out of the valley and up to Grootvadersbosch. Then its tar road through Suurbraak and on to Swellendam.

Day 6: Swellendam to Greyton – 106kms

Follow the Breede River (rolling terrain), until the Drew Bridge, divert to follow the Riviersonderend River, through Riviersonderend and on to Greyton.

Day 7: Greyton to Stellenbosch – 107kms

On tar road, over the Franschoek & Hellshoogte passes, past the Theewaterskloof Dam (quite windy at times), through Franschoek and down Hellshoogte – freewheel into Stellenbosch.

Total km stretch of the route is 742kms.

You can also join the tour at any departure point (and do a specific leg).

In terms of participation:

Supported option – available at a cost (which includes accommodation in every town, all meals daily, vehicle back-up on all days, transfer of bicycle and luggage, drink & snacks on the route daily, driver/guide) and you can contact Diana – they will then make all your arrangements.  You can also contact another tour operator of your choice.

Self-supported option – you make all your arrangements yourself and carry all the costs – this option will, however, exclude access to the services mentioned above (some participants have opted to camp along the route, or stay at a family or friend’s place on the route).

Cross Cape Cycle Tour website – If you do decide to do it, remember to share your pictures and experience on the website.

Email for more information.

A list of accommodation venues along the cycle route.

Download Route Map

Disclaimer

By using the CCR, you understand that it involves physical exertion and poses other dangers and agree that it is your sole responsibility to be medically fit and safety conscious while riding the CCR. The roads identified in the CCR include busy roads that may not always make special provision for cyclists, thus requiring users to navigate traffic. Cyclists must follow any and all traffic rules to ensure their own safety and to minimise the disruption of any traffic on the roads. WCG, Wesgro or their employees or any of its entities will not be liable for any claim for any damages, losses, injuries or expenses to your person or property, which may arise directly or indirectly as a result of using the CCR or any part thereof.

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



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