Karoo to Coast bike trip – Cape to Sutherland to Prince Albert to Knysna to De Vlugt.
As mentioned in the West Coast bike trip article this trip followed two days therafter and was a longer multi-day trip that started from Cape Town, through Ceres, Sutherland, Merweville, Prince Albert, Oudtshoorn, George, Knysna, Nature’s Valley, De Vlugt, Hartenbos, Swellendam, Ashton, Robertson, and Worcester.
There was no aim to complete the trip on just gravel roads but rather some waypoints that I wanted to achieve. Some of these waypoints included Ouberg Pass, Rammelkop Pass & Allemanshoek Pass, Kammanassie Rd & Pass, Swartberg Pass, Montague Pass, The Seven Passes Rd, and Prince Alfred’s Pass.
Unfortunately I could not complete all the waypoints as planned due to tyre issues.
The rest of the roads were unplanned and open to decision as I went along.
Karoo to Coast Motorcycle Trip Route Maps:
* Areas marked in red are gravel roads.Get it on Google Maps
Day 2: (This route was the intended route for the day but due to tyre issues I had to take an alternative route).
* Areas marked in red are gravel roads.
* The are marked in red was the planned route.
* The area marked in grey was the actual completed route.Get it on Google Maps
* Areas marked in red are gravel roads.Get it on Google Maps
Day 4:Get it on Google Maps
Karoo to Coast Bike Trip Features:
- Bain’s Kloof Pass.
- Mitchells Pass.
- Theronsberg Pass – R46.
- Hottentots Kloof Pass – R46.
- Karoo Poort (Gravel Pass).
- R356 Gravel Road to Sutherland.
- Jukhoogte Pass – R356 (Gravel Pass).
- Thyshoogte Pass – R356 (Gravel Pass).
- Windheuvel Pass – R356 (Gravel Pass).
- Verlatenkloof Pass.
- The Jupiter – Sutherland.
- Stargazing in Sutherland.
- Rooikloof Pass.
- Verlatenkloof Pass.
- Turck Se Pas.
- Matjiesfontein Station and Hotel.
- Karoo Chicken & Chips – Laingsburg.
- Bush Pub – Prince Albert.
- Swartberg Pass (Gravel Pass).
- Schoemanspoort – Enroute to Oudtshoorn.
- Die Smitswinkel – Oudtshoorn.
- Perdeskoendraai Pass.
- Holgate Farmstall – between Oudtshoorn and George
- Montague Pass (Gravel Pass).
- Tolhuis – Montague Pass.
- The Seven Passes Road; Swart Rivier Pass, Kaaimansgat Pass, Silver River Pass, Touw River Pass, Hoogekraal Pass, Karatara Pass, Homtini Pass, and Phantom Pass.
- Prince Alfred’s Pass Road (Gravel Pass/Road).
- Angies G Spot – De Vlugt.
- Prince Alfred Pass (Gravel Pass).
- Beveraas Kloof Pass.
- Outeniqua Pass.
- Hoogte Pass.
- Southern Cross Pass.
- Mossel Bay Pass.
- Gouritz River Pass.
- Soetmelksrivier Pass.
- Goukou Pass.
- Leeuriviershoogte Pass.
- Bakoondhoogte Pass.
- Remhoogte Pass.
- Du Toits Kloof Pass.
Karoo to Coast Bike Trip Report:
Cape Town to Sutherland – motorcycle trip route
As all things never work out as planned I set off on a very late start due to a Christmas party I attended the previous night. This resulted in a change of the route for day one as I knew there was no chance in completing everything on the list before dark en-route to Sutherland.
After a quick fuel stop in Ceres to ensure that there would be no walking the bike to Sutherland, I set off on the R46 in the direction of Karoo Poort to reach the R356 gravel road to Sutherland.
The ride to Karoo Poort was very enjoyable as always and I reached the R356 Turn-off just before lunch time.
Right from the start I realized that the R356 would be slow going as the road was in a glorious corrugated state. Fortunately after the first 10km or so the road turned into a smooth hard-packed gravel surface. I could finally enjoy my surroundings by not having to focus as much on the road.
After another 20km or so the road returned to its corrugated state with large loose rocks, ruts, and potholes of various sizes. This saw me only riding a maximum speed of 40km per hour and 20km per hour in most places.
Kilometre after kilometre this continued and I had to stop frequently to give the mule and my wrists much needed breaks.
The road condition remained unchanged and when the uphill sections started it got even trickier as I struggled immensely to find traction on the rear wheel. This was mostly due to my road biased tyres the Anakee 3’s (which will be replaced to some more decent gravel travel tyres soon).
As I checked my GPS at 4pm I realized I was not even halfway to Sutherland yet and knew that I would have to skip Ouberg Pass due to time constraints. At that point my only aim was to get through the remainder of the R356 before darkness fell.
With a new aim, a quick rest and some of the most stunning views from atop the hills in the mid section of this road, I continued refreshed with a heavier hand on the throttle.
The climbs became steeper and the views became more amazing with each ascending bend. I no longer felt so bad about not being able to complete my waypoint, Ouberg Pass, for the day.
My stops became more frequent for both nature appreciation and rest.
By 6pm I finally reached the first turn-off to Sutherland (also the R356). This short section of the road was in a better state than the previous section and I tried to make up for lost time.
After various drifts and low level water bridges, (obviously no water in the area at the moment as it is experience one of its worst droughts in years), I reached the tarred R354 to Sutherland.
One new waypoint remained for the day, Verlatenkloof Pass. Verlantenkloof Pass is a tarred pass and offers some great climbing and descending bends through a mountainous valley. There are a couple of nice looking farmstalls on this road but due to time constraints I could unfortunately not stop at any of them.
I reached Sutherland just as the sun was shining its last rays over the small town. My accommodation for the night was under the stars in a well know campsite in Sutherland, Sterland.
After I set up camp the challenge to find wood started but unfortunately everything was already closed by the time I got there. I therefore opted for some well deserved refreshments and a meal at The Jupiter.
Sutherland to Prince Albert – motorcycle route
With an early rise at 5am I reckoned I could get an early start only to learn that the fuel station in town opened at 07:30am. The entire town was closed for business and I had to find interesting ways of entertaining myself until fuel pumps started pumping.
While waiting for the fuel pumps I realized that my tyres, the anakee 3’s, were in a not so good state. Various cracks and cuts all over both tyres that must have occurred during the ride to Sutherland the previous day.
Fortunately I had spare tubes and everything needed in case of a flat but this made me doubt some of the sections on my route for the day.
With a fully fuelled tank I set off and left the doubt at the fuel station. I headed back through Sutherland on the R354 to reach the gravel road that leads to Merweville through the Rammelkop and Allemanshoek Passes.
This road was in a very OK-ish condition and I travelled 20km on this road. Hereafter the condition of the road suddenly changed from loose gravel to gravel with sand and sharper gravel rocks.
I made a quick pit stop to heat my hands on the exhaust pipe of the bike as even my heated grips were no feat for the morning cold and light icy wind. As I stood with my hands wrapped around my exhaust I noticed my rear tyre and realized that I would need to change my trip plans. The rear tyre had some very nasty gashes in it and I had only completed 20km of the 140km gravel roads for the day.
I sadly backtracked on the good gravel road and took the R354 tar road towards Matjiesfontein.
I must say that even though I am still gloomy about having to turn around and missing yet another waypoint the tar road between Sutherland and Matjiesfontein is also vary majestic with some great views.
At the end of the R354 I took a left turn onto the N1 towards Laingsburg. I expected heavy traffic on this road due to the time of the year but was pleasantly surprised and made good time and reached Laingsburg by lunchtime.
As you enter Laingsburg you cannot miss the signpost stating “Karoo Chicken and Chips”. This place is a must stop. It was my first experience there and I loved the service, the coffee and the food.
Well rested I set off again on the N1. From the N1 I took the R407 and reached Prince Albert early afternoon. I decided to set up camp at Olienhof Camping and Cottages before exploring Prince Albert and getting wood for the evening braai.
Now just as my luck would have it, I could not find any wood at any of the shops in Prince Albert as everyone was sold out. Luckily one of the petrol attendants at the BP garage informed me I could get wood from their supplier at the edge of town.
With this new information I cheerily headed with the directions in my GPS to the said location. I reached the house and yes! They had wood! The only problem… they only sold in pieces of 30… one piece was the size of three pieces in Cape Town standards… Now you can think what a trick this was to get 30pieces of wood to fit on an f800gs…
With the mule fully loaded I reached the campsite without loosing one single piece. And yes I had a massive bonfire that night.
Prince Albert to De Vlugt
I got up early morning in good spirit and loaded the bike. I was in good spirit as this would finally be one of the days on the trip where I would be able to reach all of my waypoints. And some exciting waypoints they were!
I left Prince Albert and headed for Swartberg Pass. I have completed this pass various times before but never from Prince Albert’s side. This stunning pass remains a wonder in its own right and requires no further explanation as it is one of the most well know gravel passes in South Africa.
The ride up the pass was a very enjoyable experience even though the pass was full of traffic.
From the foot of Swartberg Pass I rode through Schoemanspoort to Oudtshoorn. In Oudtshoorn I had a quick refreshment stop and then headed on the N12 to George.
Just past the Hollgate farmstall I took a left turn onto the N9 to get to the turn-off for Montague Pass.
On my previous trips I have always wanted to ride this pass but due to time constraints I never got round to it. I was in my element to finally get onto this gravel pass.
The Montague Pass is a very very very narrow pass and in most parts of the road there is very little space to pass oncoming traffic.
There was a lot of oncoming traffic on the day I rode the pass and I had to take it very slow as you cannot see the oncoming traffic around the blind corners.
I encountered issues where idiots thought it was a good idea to ride up the pass with their caravans which resulted in me having to get off my bike and ride/walk it into a ditch to get them to pass.
I spoke to a lot of people later about this and they said this was a rare appearance and mostly visitors from other provinces that know no better. Anyway, the views were magnificent and overall it is an amazing pass. I have placed it on my list of favourites.
After I completed Montague Pass I rode through George to get to the start of the Seven Passes road.
The Seven Passes road is quite the treat as you experience so many different elements on this road. The various tar and gravel passes, the river bridges, and then ultimately the lookout over the tree tops in Knysna.
The gravel roads and passes on this road are also in very decent condition and very enjoyable. There were lots of traffic on this road, but the road is wide enough and everyone on this road was more relaxed.
Some of the passes on this road included; Swart Rivier Pass, Kaaimansgat Pass, Silver River Pass, Touw River Pass, Hoogekraal Pass, Karatara Pass, Homtini Pass, and Phantom Pass.
It was time for another refreshment stop and I decided to refuel in Knysna to not have any issues the next day.
My next stop was Prince Alfred’s Pass Road. This road starts at the informal settlement just outside Knysna and leads through the mountain valley to De Vlugt.
The Prince Alfred’s Pass road is all gravel and is quite a long road at an estimated 60km consisting of various bends and climbs. The road is badly corrugated in many places and in other places ridden with potholes. In the mid section of this road the declines/inclines are very steep and situated within bends with lots of potholes, smaller boulders and corrugation.
All in all it is an experience and it was a very technical slow ride but great fun! The views overlook various angles of the valley and makes for great photographs. If you are lucky enough you might even encounter a wildcat or small leopard as they are found roaming in the area.
I reached my overnight camping spot, Angies G Spot, just before dark and was welcomed by one of the campers by an ice cold beer! It does not get better than that.
Rest day at Angies G Spot
After chatting to Angie and Harold the previous evening I learned that they had some trouble to get their IP phone and internet online after the forest fire in Knysna destroyed all the lines. I thus remained there this day to try to resolve the issues for them and luckily we got them sorted out.
De Vlugt to Cape Town
With this day being new year’s eve I had to be back in Cape Town by 6pm for a pre arranged new years party and knew that I had to complete just under 600km for the day. I rose early and packed the mule for her final adventure of the year and made haste through Prince Alfred’s Pass (R399) to get to the R62 and thereafter the N9.
From the N9 I rode on the N12 through Outeniqua Pass to George and then the N2 for a quick pit-stop to my childhood holiday destination Hartenbos. Hartenbos has certainly changed a lot since my last visit almost 10 years ago.
After reliving some childhood memories I refuelled in Mosselbay and got back onto the N2 in the direction of Swellendam.
From Swellendam I took the R60 to Ashton. Some locals at my pit stop in Hartenbos mentioned to me that this road was less congested. They were right and I reached Ashton in record time.
I quickly refuelled for the last time in Robertson and headed for Worcester. In Worcester I quickly stretched my legs and continued onward through Du Toit’s Kloof Pass to get onto the N1 to Cape Town.
As I passed Paarl my bike suddenly dipped. I tried to correct by opening the throttle but no luck. The throttle was stuck and could not open.
After quick removal of a panel and a few taps later the throttle was free again. I repacked the tools and got back in the saddle for the final stretch to Century City. I reached my destination just after 6pm.
With another trip done and dusted it was time to celebrate the end of a year full of great outrides and many gravel travel experiences. I look forward to a new year of exploring more roads and new gravel adventures! Thank you for reading my blog and hope you have a prosperous year!
Karoo to Coast Bike Trip Videos:
DAY 1 – Cape Town to Sutherland:
DAY 3 – Prince Albert to De Vlugt:
DAY 4 – Prince Alfreds Pass Road
Karoo to Coast Bike Trip Galleries:
Unfortunately all batteries were dead due to not having electricity for two nights. Therefore I could not take any photos on the final day.
Important Notes For Planning This Bike Trip:
- There is little to no traffic on the R354 in case of an emergency. Suggest riding this road in a group or well prepared with tools, medic kits, fuel, etc.
- Sutherland – Fuel stations and shops close early make sure you either pre-arrange wood or arrive on time.
- Montague Pass – Traffic. This road is very narrow and passing oncoming traffic is an issue. Be careful of oncoming traffic as most of the corners are blind corners and you cannot see oncoming traffic.
- Prince Albert – Wood. Not readily available, ask the petrol attendants and they will give you the contact details and address of the supplier where you can find wood at the edge of the town.
- No electricity – Angies G Spot. Make sure you can either charge your phones and cameras on your bike or have backup powerbanks
Link to website: https://sutherlandinfo.co.za/sterland-caravan-park/
Contact number: +27 82 556 9589
The small campsite is situated just before Sutherland and offers well shaded campsites, stargazing, a splash pool and electricity at all campsites. Each campsite has its own brick built braai, you just need to bring your own wood and braai grid as they do not supply this.
They also offer pre-arranged stargazing expeditions at an extra cost.
Olienhof Cottages and Caravan Park:
Link to website: http://princealbert.org.za/olienhof-1/
Contact number: +27 72 465 8314
The campsite is located in the heart of Prince Albert. Electricity is available at the campsites as well as braai drums. You need to bring your own grid and wood as they cannot supply this. The hosts are very friendly and they took special care of me by moving me to their front lawn to have more shade. They even went out of their way to supply me with an electrical lead to ensure that I had electricity.
The only downsides were that even though I tried to shower early morning there was no more hot water left and there are lots and lots of ants everywhere. If you leave your tent open for a minute you will find it crawling with ants. Also be prepared to no walk bare footed as they bite!
Angies G Spot:
Link to website: https://www.angiesgspot.co.za/
Contact number: +27 81 309 9272 (Whatsapp Only!!! There is no cell reception.)
This rustic campsite is situated in De Vlugt on the Prince Alfred’s Pass road. As most adventure bikers will probably by now know they went through a very difficult time with demolishing orders. It was remarkable to see how well they cope with everything and how well they have “temporarily” rebuilt while they await their final paperwork to be finalized.
I was fortunate enough to spend two nights there and it was an amazing experience. The property is situated right on the river and the tranquility of the surroundings is surreal.
Not only are Angie and Harold welcoming guests but they go that further mile to make you feel at home and special while you enjoy your stay there.
Their stocked bar and fantastic food is definitely one for the books and when you do stop there I recommend one of their burgers!
They offer two options for accommodation; camp in your own tent or camp in one of their pre-set tents (with beds and bedding included).
There is no electricity and no cell phone reception. But you will not even notice this when you become one with the surroundings.
Yes they do have flush toilets and yes they do have hot water to shower. The shower is heated by wood fire and is possibly one of the hottest showers I have ever taken.
The only disappointment for me was that I could not stay longer!