Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Kango Road

Sign on Montagu Pass
I wasn't sure if it was called the Oude Muragie Road, but that is what the sign said when I thought I was lost and had to consult the GPS to see if I was actually where I wanted to be. I am in the Southern Cape and at last I have the opportunity to do some of the roads that I was looking forward to for the past couple of months. My biking buddy's bike has a problem and has been under repairs for almost a week now, so it was me alone on my first road trip through the Klein Karoo. I was looking on the map last night to see what options I had, so I decided to do a road that runs between De Rust and Schoemanskloof. On my way there I figured that I could do the Montagu Pass as well, making my trip there about 98% on gravel. I still was not sure on which road I was going to return, but the idea was to keep it also on gravel as much as possible.
Section of Montagu Pass
I left my "base camp" in Reebok at 7am, with two hotdogs and a bottle of water. My family was there to see me off and it  felt as if I was going to cross the African continent. I first had to fill up at Great Brak River, and from there on it was my first gravel toward the Montague Pass. As I was approaching the pass I was certain that this was going to be a wet road and yet again, covered in mist. It was still around 18 degrees Celsius, but I could already feel the heat of the sun on my black bike jacket. As I was going down to the bottom of the valley before the road starts snaking up against the Outeniqua Mountains, I passed a warning sign which made me feel a bit uncomfortable at first. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the road was not as bad as the time when my wife did her mountain bike training for the Karoo to Coast Mountain Bike race. The clouds also disappeared and soon I was riding up in perfect conditions. I stopped to take a picture and was yet again silenced by the beauty of this pass. I am still in awe when I ride the Montagu Pass, whether it is in my car, on my mountain bike or on my motor bike. The motor bike however gives you the best of all worlds; not caged up in a motor vehicle and not using your legs to get to the top.  

Klein Karoo scene
Klein Karoo scene
 When you reach the top of the pass then you are in the Klein Karoo. The vegetation changes and the temperature rises very quickly. From the Montagu Pass road I crossed the Uniondale road and found myself on the Paardepoort road. I was a bit disappointed when I reached Paardepoort. I was expecting something like Meirings Poort, but this was just a couple of turns running along a nameless river. I got off and had my first hotdog with some water. This was real Karoo country and the temperature was already in the high twenties. It was only around 8 am.

The Paardepoort road runs through many ostrich farms. This is ostrich country and everywhere were signs warning against ostriches on the road. They are not running wild, but they do get chased from different camps for feeding purposes and when you meet a bunch (I don't know if you call it a flock or herd of ostriches?) around a corner you might get a big fright. It is much scarier to ride into a bunch of ostriches than a bunch of cattle. Ostriches all look very nervous and scatter in all directions when they get surprized. Cattle only check you out suspiciously and slowly just move away from the vehicle to stay out of reach. Fortunately I didn't encounter any ostriches on the road, only a lonesome tortoise and a couple of sheep.

Farm near Dysselsdorp
 When I reached Dysselsdorp I was looking around to find a liquorice factory. My dad asked me to find him a sample of the Karoo plant they use to make liquorice from in that area, but all I could see is a town that looked like it was closed for the day.  It was already 28 degrees Celsius and I think everyone was taking a midday nap to escape from the heat. Just passed Dysselsdorp I got onto the tar road again for a few kilometers and then turned into what I was though was Oude Muragie Road. My dad later told me that it is in fact called the Kango Road. My dad grew up in this area and when he tells me about this world I wish he was the one writing the blog. He knows all the roads, their names, where they lead to, who lives there, you name it. I wish I had him on the back of my bike as tour leader on my trips. My post would've been so much more interesting.

Sexy chicks
 On the Kango Road  I was amazed at how beautiful that part of the world is. The road runs parallel to the Swartberg Mountains. It curls through the valleys with some beautiful farms situated in this area. I stopped to take a picture of some of the ostriches here and had my second hotdog. The road was in a very good condition but later it became clear that the further away you ride from the De Rust main road, the less maintained it became.  But the road was still pretty much in a good condition. I just rode on and enjoyed the scenery. At some point I passed the Koos Raubenheimer Dam which provides water to Oudtshoorn and soon after that I was on tar road again heading for the Kango Caves. I didn't go into the Kango Caves, but this is a definite must-see for tourists. Along the way local kids were selling ostrich eggs and feathers. I believe there are 21 chicken eggs in one ostrich egg, but I haven't tasted it myself. It is 25 rands for an empty egg and 35 rands for a full egg.

Route Map
Kids selling eggs
After my stop at the Kango Caves I had to decide which road I was taking back to my "base camp". I had a quite a few options but because I wanted to fill up, I decided to go back to Oudsthoorn. This was on tar. After I filled up at Oudtshoorn, I decided to head back home via the Robinson Pass. After the Robinson pass there are more gravel roads that could bring me back to Reebok.

The whole trip was about 240 km. I didntt take as many pictures as I would've liked to, but I was so impressed with the scenery that I actually wanted to push on rather than stop. One never knows what might meet your eyes around the next corner. I arrived in Reebok at around 1 pm. My biking buddy told me that his bike was ready and that we should plan our next trip. It was really a nice ride that I did today. It was a bit hot but the roads were good and the scenery spectacular. I think 75% of my 240km was on gravel today. I cannot wait for our trip tomorrow.


  1. Hi, Very interesting article!

    Is the road accessible by “normal” motor vehicles (sedans)?

    Thanx, Detlef

    1. Detlef, yes for sure. The road is quite good and is used by all the local farmers.

    2. Thank you so much for your quick reply!

      That's very nice! I’ll use the Kango road during my next stay in Nov in S.A.

      Best regards, Detlef