Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Plan: Karoozin' 2011 - Day 2

I have to break this into two maps because of a missing connection where Google Maps doesn't have a section of road, but I'm 100% sure there is one.  More about that later.  We're starting day two at Jeffrey's Bay in the Eastern Cape, heading north towards Baviaanskloof.  Baviaankloof road was built between 1880 and 1890 by Thomas Bain, South Africa's most famous road engineer.

From there we'll be heading past Uniondale, where we hope to meet up with the Uniondale ghost.  :)  We'll be taking the back roads to Louvain Farm to start the Duiwelsberg (Devil's Mountain) ox wagon track.

So, the destination below stops at the missing section of road.  I really look forward to this part of the trip.  Having been on Bergplaas plantation several times to do GPS work, I've often been told of this track and I've seen the start, thinking it'd be great to tackle that on a bike.  A bit of history on the track (Bonniedale Farm):

Duiwelskop was described by the early explorers and travelers as the most difficult pass to cross in the 18th century.   Many an ox wagon crashed down the steep cliffs alongside the pass pulling their oxen down with them.   However, Thomas Bain realigned the pass in 1864 and the present 4x4 track follows this alignment along the Western slope of the mountain, rather than over the summit.  The pass was regularly used by timber merchants transporting timber to Graaf-Reinet from 1776 to 1869.   The opening of the Montagu pass (1847) and the Prince Alfred pass (1867) was the final knell to this pass.   On 3-11-1778 the first recorded wagon crossing was made by governor Van Plettenberg, traveling South from the Langkloof.  For todays 4x4 travelers the Duiwelskop pass features magnificent views of the Garden Route and the Indian Ocean, the original tracks of ox wagons and the unparalelled beauty and characteristic smell of mountain fynbos.   The 30km trip starts at the farm Louvain and ends at Bergplaas.

With a description like that, how would you not want to conquer it?

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So, from here we pass through Bergplaas plantation, an active forestry plantation and one of the oldest in the Southern Cape.  I want to head back via Wilderness and Kaaimans Pass and into George, where we'll probably just stop for a quick bite.  Then the last stretch for day two will start with Montagu Pass.  This pass was built by Henry Fancourt White, an Australian road engineer.  The pass was the first (in South Africa I assume) to be constructed exclusively by convict labour, built between 1844 and 1847.  The original toll house is still there.  It's a beautiful stretch of road and apparently has it's own ghost.  We'll be overnighting in my old home town, Oudtshoorn.

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