There exists an incredible gravel riding adventure right on our doorstep in the Western Cape in the form of the Cape Cycle Routes Cross Cape. Local travel is very popular at the moment, and that isn’t a problem when you think about all the incredible sights and sounds that South Africa has to offer! From the mighty Drakensberg in KZN, to the majestic Blyde river canyon in Mpumalanga, the unique Cederberg landscape in the Western Cape, the vast expanses of the Karoo, and so many others. There is more than a lifetime of things to do on our doorstep so let’s get out and explore!
The Western Cape itself is a treasure trove for outdoor fun and adventure; myself and Doug recently plunged right into the heart of it with a 5 day gravel riding epic from Plettenberg Bay to Stellenbosch with a whole heap of other interesting adventures thrown in along the way. 5 days of gravel grinding might sound like heaven to you or it may sound a bit intimidating (or a lot intimidating)! If that is the case, it is worth noting that the route we rode has been created to be enjoyed however you like it. Choose your favourite segments and take it easy in the luxury accommodation options along the way, smash out back-to-back 6 hour riding days, or ride the route in smaller chunks to take your time enjoying the unique character of each region, you pick what suits you!
The route we would cover was taken out of the Cape Cycle Routes portfolio, a collection of stunning gravel routes that have been curated and made accessible for free to get more people out exploring the beautiful Western Cape! Ride the whole route, ride a section of it, drive it, bike-pack it, go solo, or bring your friends and family along for the good times! You can slice and dice them however you want! We had previously taken on the 360km Karoo Crossing from Calitzdorp to Knysna but this time we were in for the Mother (in-law) of all routes, the Cross Cape. 742km spanning from Plettenberg bay to Stellenbosch! This would take us through the towns of Knysna, George, Oudtshoorn, Riversdale, Greyton, Franschhoek, and a few others en route to Stellies.
We would take 5 days to cover the Cross Cape riding some choice segments, stopping to enjoy delicious local food and interesting activities, and then cover the rest of the ground in our Hilux before coming to rest in stunning BnB / lodge’s along the route. Check out the photo story below or watch the videos!
We’ll take you through our adventure with a photo story so you can get a better taste for what is out there waiting for you! Details on our accommodation and activities can be found at the end of the article.
The sun was out, so a stop at Bitou Kayaks made all the sense in the world! Operating out of Emily Moon Lodge on the Bitou river just outside Plett, putting paddles in the water was a great way to ease into the flow and pace of a 5 day adventure!
Bike choice on a gravel ride can be quite a tricky one it seems. Some swear by the purpose built gravel weapon other prefer a more traditional hardtail mountian bike etc. Our weapons of choice were Cannondale Sclapels which we find ride as efficient as you could want when locked out with comfortable and familiar mountain bike geometry, as we spend most of our time on trail bikes. They also allow for some fun off the gravel when the opportunity presents itself.
Journey’s such as this are brilliant avenues into the deeper reaches of our country and its provinces. The unexpected people and places you encounter along the way open your mind and broaden your understanding of the diversity we are blessed with in our nation. To travel on a bicycle, even partly, naturally causes your pace to ease and give you time to reflect, enjoy, and be present. There is something unique about it and what the Cape Cycle Routes team have opened the door to with their gravel routes is something special to be embraced. What will your journey be?
We are itching to be back on the road again. If you’d like more info on any of our route highlights, have a look below or reach out to us on our Instagram!